Reuel A. Stallones Building in the Texas Medical Center in Houston
At six campuses across Texas, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health works to improve the state of public health in Texas every day. Each of our campuses is strategically placed to meet the public health education and research needs of the diverse populations across Texas. UTHealth School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation with regional campuses.
The main campus, located in the heart of Houston’s Texas Medical Center, offers students unmatched opportunities for research and employment. The School of Public Health’s five regional campuses are in Austin, Brownville, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. Each campus has its own faculty and research specialties. Students can attend class at any of the six campuses via Interactive Television (ITV).
UTHealth School of Public Health is one of six schools of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the most comprehensive academic health system in The University of Texas System and the U.S. Gulf Coast region. In addition to the School of Public Health, UTHealth is home to schools of biomedical informatics, biomedical sciences, dentistry, medicine and nursing. It also includes a psychiatric hospital, multiple institutes and centers, a growing network of clinics and outreach programs in education and care throughout the region.
The School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) and the university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences seeks to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent disease through the application of social and behavioral sciences. Enjoying the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.
Health promotion is based on this critical human right and encompasses a positive and inclusive concept of health as a determinant of the quality of life and physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. It is a core function of public health and contributes to the work of tackling communicable and noncommunicable diseases and other threats to health.
At The UTHealth School of Public Health, students in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are surrounded by faculty who make differences every day in the areas of childhood obesity, cancer prevention, AIDS/HIV prevention, sexual education for teens and teen pregnancy prevention. Numerous opportunities exist for students to participate in teaching, research and service activities.
Research & Centers
Improving Health in Texas
Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences conducts exciting research on diverse topics that cross age, cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. Active research projects in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences include:
Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) A program in elementary and middle schools across Texas that has shown positive results in reducing child obesity and has proven to be cost effective.
It’s Your Game is an interactive gaming program designed to educate middle school students about HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention. It has shown a reduction in risky sexual behaviors and a delay in sexual initiation.
Latinos in a Network for Cancer Control (LINCC) One of 10 Cancer Prevention Research Networks across the US, Latinos in a Network for Cancer Control is a network of academic, public health and community partners working to accelerate the use of evidenced-based cancer control in communities through community-based intervention and dissemination research.
A World Health Organization Collaborating Center, the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research (CHPPR) conducts research to develop, evaluate, and disseminate health promotion and disease prevention programs in diverse settings and populations. Our vision is to promote healthy lives in healthy communities.
The University of Texas Prevention Research Center is one of 37 Prevention Research Centers funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a mission to impact Texas child and adolescent health through a collaboration of academic, public health, and community partnerships engaged in scholarly, community-based prevention research, research translation, and education.
The vision of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living is healthy children in a healthy world, with a mission to serve as a state, national, and international leader in the promotion of healthy living. The Center seeks to achieve this through the prevention and control of childhood obesity by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, policy and environmental change, and professional education and community service.
Academic Programs in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences
The Department of Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences offers three options for degree-seeking students:
The Master of Public Health in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences is the basic professional degree and integrates the core public health disciplines with behavioral and social sciences. The majority of full-time students take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the degree, with 45 hours including 6 hours of thesis and practicum combined.
The DrPH degree in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences is designed to develop leaders in health promotion practice. Students are trained to contribute to and apply scientific discoveries in professional public health settings. It is primarily designed for those who plan careers involving professional practice, teaching, or research. DrPH students are required to complete a minimum of 48 semester credit hours of required coursework (a maximum of nine combined credit hours of practicum, thesis or dissertation count toward the minimum of 48 credit hours), two minor areas of study in one of the five public health disciplines (separate from Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences), or one minor area and one public health breadth area. A disciplinary minor requires the successful completion of at least nine semester credit hours that address competencies as specified by the student’s advisory committee. All entering DrPH students in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are assigned an academic advisor to assist them in planning and completing their program of work.
DrPH program requirements: completion of required coursework; completion of a planned, supervised, and evaluated practicum experience that includes the application of public health science and theory; a minor in another department other than Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences; an area of breadth in a topic of interest; a dissertation focusing on social and behavioral aspects of public health or the development and evaluation of health promotion interventions
The PhD in Behavioral Sciences focuses on the aspects of public health and the development and evaluation of health promotion interventions. The PhD program provides training in social and behavioral science theory and methods as applied to public health, and is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to succeed in academic and research positions. The emphasis in this degree program is preparation for independent research and teaching. PhD students are required to complete a minimum of 48 semester credit hours of required coursework, two minor areas of study in one of the five public health disciplines (separate from Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences), or one minor area and one public health breadth area. A disciplinary minor requires the successful completion of at least nine semester credit hours that address competencies as specified by the student’s advisory committee. All entering PhD students in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are assigned an academic advisor to assist them in planning and completing their program of work.
PhD program requirements: completion of required coursework; a minor in another department other than Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences; an area of breadth in a topic of interest; completion of a preliminary exam with a passing grade; a dissertation focusing on social and behavioral aspects of public health.
PhD program - An earned master’s degree or equivalent in a social or behavioral science, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, education or communications
DrPH program - An earned master’s degree or equivalent in public health
At least a 3.0 average (on a 4.0 system) in prior academic work
Graduate Record Examination with scores over 1200 (old GRE) or 308 (new GRE) is preferred
At least two letters of recommendation from faculty knowledgeable about the applicant s academic work
Acceptance by the faculty in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences with a faulty member who is willing to serve as an academic advisor
Submission of a writing sample that demonstrates competence in written communication for academic work. The applicant should be the sole or first author on submitted work. Theses, publications, or other academic work are preferred.
The Cancer Education and Career Development Program is for doctoral students in all departments of UTHealth SPH and has an established track record in helping to launch academic research careers in cancer prevention and control. Pre- and post-doctoral fellowships are available.
Health Promotion at Work
Career opportunities in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences are diverse, and may involve working with individuals, families, schools, worksites or communities. Work settings include universities; federal, state, and local agencies; healthcare organizations; corporations; and non-profit organizations.
A Community Health Educator plans, develops, implements, and evaluates health education strategies, interventions, and programs to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of diverse populations. These professionals use a variety of health education methods and approaches to improve the health of individuals and communities.
A Health Promotion Research Scientist plans and conducts scientific studies to identify and solve public health problems and provides scientific expertise to various agencies and organizations. Researchers identify and find solutions for critical public health issues that impact individuals and communities.
A Federal Agency Directorplans, develops, manages, and evaluates policies and activities in areas such as primary health care, maternal/child health, HIV/AIDS, infectious diseases, population/family planning, nutrition/micronutrients, and environmental health.
A Director of Community Health and Wellness in a non-profit organization oversees day-to-day activities including the quality, marketing, and promotion of its programs; participates in strategic planning and visioning; provides effective facilitative leadership; and keeps abreast of health promotion trends and anticipates future needs.
Additional Health Promotion and Behavioral Science positions:
On behalf of the Faculty, staff and students in the Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, I welcome you to the School of Public Health.
As a graduate student in our department, you will have an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and skills in the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to promote healthy behaviors. Faculty members in the department come from diverse academic backgrounds including anthropology, clinical and social psychology, sociology, social and behavioral epidemiology, dietetics, and qualitative and quantitative methodology. Our research interests encompass a broad array of important public health topics including physical activity, nutrition, smoking prevention and cessation, HIV, STI and pregnancy prevention, substance abuse, dating/partner violence, cancer screening, cancer survivorship, HPV vaccination, disability, mental health, and occupational health. Faculty members in the department have funded research projects that provide opportunities for student involvement, and we welcome your participation.
After graduation, you will find opportunities to use your education to make an impact on public health in a variety of settings including government agencies such as state or local health departments, national agencies and organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health, private sector organizations such as the American Cancer Society, as well as health care settings, and academic institutions, among others.
We are here to facilitate your education and we look forward to working with you toward that goal.
Sally W. Vernon, PhD
Professor and Department Chair Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences