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Behavioral Science/Health Education

Overview

Public health professionals analyze and develop programs that protect the health of individuals, families and communities in the United States and abroad. Using education, development of healthy lifestyles, research and program implementation, public health professionals are agents for disease prevention and health promotion.

The United States is placing a high priority on building up the nation's public health workforce.  A career in public health opens the door to diverse opportunities in a variety of sectors, including federal, private and non-governmental organizations.

What does this mean for you?  It means that with a degree in public health, you’ll be in high demand – and on a career path filled with advancement opportunities.

With a career in behavioral science/health educationyou help to improve public health by encouraging people to make healthy choices. For instance, you may develop community-wide education initiatives on health topics ranging from nutrition and fitness to injury and disease prevention. 

If you pursue a career in this field, you may:

  • Help to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS
  • Help young people recognize and avoid the dangers of unprotected sex, alcohol and drug abuse
  • Reduce obesity and related health problems in youth and adult populations
  • Improve the quality of life for the growing population of seniors
  • Investigate and implement health promotion programs, such as smoking cessation initiatives, water and sanitation projects and occupational safety courses.  

Public health professionals in this field also research complex health issues in order to help people make better use of health services, adopt self-care practices and become more active participants in their community's health system.

Working Conditions

Working conditions in this profession vary by subspecialty.

NOTE: Salary ranges, as listed, are the actual salaries earned (adjusted for inflation using the national CPI - Bureau of Labor Statistics) within one year of graduation, as reported by the most recent nationwide survey of graduates conducted by the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health (ASPPH). 

Academic Requirements

The social and behavioral sciences of anthropology, psychology, political science, sociology and health education are nationally recognized subspecialties in public health research, practice and education. If you concentrate on behavioral science/health education, your coursework is likely to include:

  • Health education and behavior change
  • Health promotion and disease prevention
  • Health system strengthening
  • Maternal and child health, sexual reproductive health and/or healthy lifestyle promotion
  • Mental health
  • Public health practice
  • Social research

You can search for schools in this field on the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health's (ASPPH) website. SOPHAS is the centralized online application service for students applying to a school or program of public health accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). A complete list of accredited schools and programs can be found on the CEPH website.