The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health prepares students pursuing a behavioral sciences degree to apply theories, concepts, and methods of the various social and behavioral science disciplines to the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs that prevent illness and promote health. BCHS applies research on the dynamics of health behavior change to improve community health.
All diseases are shaped by behavioral and sociocultural factors. To improve health outcomes and promote health, we believe these diseases must be understood as a function of the individual, family, organizations, communities, and public policy. This system is dynamic and shapes things like access to care and adherence to care recommendations. Accordingly, the behavioral and community health sciences within public health assess the health needs of populations and communities, design interventions to prevent disease and increase adherence based on social/behavioral theory, and use research methods to evaluate these programs and recommend improvement, often within community-based settings.
The Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences emphasizes community-based programs and works with grass roots, nonprofit, private, philanthropic, and governmental organizations. We also collaborate extensively with other departments and centers within Pitt Public Health and throughout the University to carry out the teaching, research, and service mission.
Areas of expertise
BCHS students have the option of developing expertise in the following areas:
- Community-based participatory research and practice
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (LGBT) health and wellness
- Global health
- Maternal and child health/women’s health
- Health equity
- Public health and aging
Find a research program for your interests
The department is well-known both for its Institute for Evaluation of Science in Public Health and for the faculty and staff’s utilization of community-based participatory research strategies. Research topics include:
- Cancer screening
- Maternal and child health
- Healthy aging
- Health equity
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health
Pursue a career in behavioral and community health science
BCHS graduates pursue positions in a variety of public health and non-profit organizations, including federal, state, and local governmental organizations. Graduates provide program planning, implementation and evaluation, , management, and oversight for community health programs designed to improve the health status of populations. Career examples include:
- Regional director for Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Director of a statewide HIV/AIDS education program
- Health Coach at UPMC Health Care System
- Program director with an international relief agency
- Evaluation and research director for a regional reproductive health program
- Research and evaluation specialist for the City of Pittsburgh School District
- Health and Wellness Coordinator at Gwen's Girls, Inc.
BCHS offers a master’s degree program which prepares students for careers in public, voluntary, and private organizations that focus on public health concerns and two doctoral degree programs. The doctoral programs prepare students for careers in research, leadership, and teaching in academic and practice settings.
BCHS also offers joint degrees with other graduate schools within the University of Pittsburgh.
With the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Department of Anthropology:
With the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs:
With the School of Social Work: