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Behavioral Science and Health Equity, M.P.H.

Students organize diapers into packets to be distributed in the St. Louis region.

Students who receive a Master of Public Health in Behavioral Science and Health Equity from Saint Louis University can improve public health by developing, promoting and researching community-wide initiatives encouraging healthy living practices to prevent disease and injury.

In SLU's behavioral science and health equity M.P.H. concentration, we couple a team-based experience with learning experiences beyond the classroom, all tailored to your interests by professors who know you by your name.

Behavioral science and health equity concentration students study why people behave the way they do in relation to their health and wellness. After you graduate from SLU’s nationally recognized, competencies-based M.P.H. program you will be able to:

  • Apply conceptual models and theories at multiple ecological levels (intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community and policy).
  • Examine risk factors and determinants of specific health threats at multiple ecological levels.
  • Assess needs, assets, resources and capacity for social and behavioral science interventions at multiple levels (intrapersonal, interpersonal, institutional, community and policy).
  • Plan theory and evidence-based interventions (program/policy/environmental change) to improve health.
  • Collaborate to implement public health-related programs, policies and environmental changes.
  • Develop programs, policies and environmental strategies that address social determinants.
  • Conduct evaluations (process, impact, and outcome) of public health-related interventions using multiple methods.

Curriculum Overview

Learn to design and evaluate interventions that promote healthy lifestyles and prevent illness and injuries. Students in the behavioral science and health equity concentration develop the skills to understand, research and address social, cultural, behavioral and environmental determinants of disease and injury. 

Behavioral scientists and health educators can use their advanced epidemiological skills to recognize and understand important health research and trends in their work, making them much more valuable to your employers in this data-driven era.  

Behavioral science and health equity students have the ability to combine this concentration with any number of certificates in the college to add additional skill sets in the field of public health. Students can learn to apply their BSHE concentration topical areas more deeply with certificates in global health, maternal and child health, biosecurity and infection control, or public health preparedness and response. If students want to add additional technical expertise, they may choose to couple this concentration with a certificate in epidemiology, biostatistics, or health management and policy, for example. 

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

As a Master of Public Health student at SLU, you will be required to complete an internship, referred to as the Applied Practice Experience, or APEx, with an approved organization and preceptor. This valuable experience is designed to enhance your educational experience and to develop professional competencies in behavioral science and health equity.

Students work with the M.P.H. internship coordinator and their faculty advisor to identify an appropriate internship in St. Louis, nationally, or across the globe. Students who choose to concentrate in behavioral science and health equity have engaged in practice experiences at many organizations including the American Diabetes Association, March of Dimes Missouri Chapter, Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI), St. Louis Area Foodbank and the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition.

The M.P.H. program is designed to give students the practical skills needed for any public health career. Over 50% of M.P.H. students work on research projects with faculty outside of a class requirement.


With a concentration in behavioral science and health equity, you can work in a variety of public, private and nonprofit settings to:

  • Assess and implement health promotion interventions, such as smoking-cessation programs.
  • Develop programs and effective communication strategies to help young people avoid alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Help curb the spread of STDs, such as cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS.
  • Identify and promote health literacy and health communications strategies through the improved translation and dissemination of health discoveries.
  • Improve the quality of life for the growing population of senior citizens.
  • Reduce obesity and chronic health problems in youth and adult populations and in underserved urban or rural communities.
  • Research complex health issues so communities can improve access to important resources and services.

SLU’s public health graduates are employed at federal, state and local health agencies, consulting firms, consumer advocacy organizations, community-based organizations and health care centers, hospitals, research centers and universities.

Within the first year of graduation, the vast majority of M.P.H. graduates are beginning their careers, participating in fellowships or furthering their graduate education.


Tuition Cost Per Credit
Graduate Tuition $1,370

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

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Information on Tuition and Fees

Miscellaneous Fees

Information on Summer Tuition

Scholarships and Financial Aid

The College for Public Health and Social Justice offers several ways to help finance graduate education.  Opportunities include a limited number of merit-based scholarships and graduate research assistantships.  Awards are made to applicants with the highest combinations of GPAs and test scores who complete their applications by the priority deadlines.

For more information, visit the student financial services office online at


Saint Louis University's College for Public Health and Social Justice is fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). To see our most recent accreditation documentation, please visit the College for Public Health and Social Justice website.


Evidence-based Approaches to Public Health

  • Graduates will be able to apply epidemiological methods to the breadth of settings and situations in public health practice.
  • Graduates will be able to select quantitative and qualitative data collection methods appropriate for a given public health context.
  • Graduates will be able to analyze quantitative and qualitative data using biostatistics, informatics, computer-based programming and software, as appropriate.
  • Graduates will be able to interpret results of data analysis for public health research, policy or practice.

Public Health and Health Care Systems

  • Graduates will be able to compare the organization, structure and function of health care, public health and regulatory systems across national and international settings.
  • Graduates will be able to discuss the means by which structural bias, social inequities and racism undermine health and create challenges to achieving health equity at organizational, community and systemic levels.

Planning and Management to Promote Health

  • Graduates will be able to assess population needs, assets and capacities that affect communities’ health.
  • Graduates will be able to apply awareness of cultural values and practices to the design, implementation, or critique of public health policies or programs.
  • Graduates will be able to design a population-based policy, program, project or intervention.
  • Graduates will be able to explain basic principles and tools of budget and resource management.
  • Graduates will be able to select methods to evaluate public health programs.

Policy in Public Health

  • Graduates will be able to discuss multiple dimensions of the policy-making process, including the roles of ethics and evidence.
  • Graduates will be able to propose strategies to identify stakeholders and build coalitions and partnerships for influencing public health outcomes.
  • Graduates will be able to advocate for political, social or economic policies and programs that will improve health in diverse populations.
  • Graduates will be able to evaluate policies for their impact on public health and health equity.


  • Graduates will be able to apply leadership and/or management principles to address a relevant issue.
  • Graduates will be able to apply negotiation and mediation skills to address organizational or community challenges.


  • Graduates will be able to select communication strategies for different audiences and sectors.
  • Graduates will be able to communicate audience-appropriate public health content, both in writing and through oral presentation.
  • Graduates will be able to describe the importance of cultural competence in communicating public health content.

Interprofessional Practice

  • Graduates will be able to integrate perspectives from other sectors and/or professions to promote and advance population health.

Systems Thinking

  • Graduates will be able to apply a systems thinking tool to visually represent a public health issue in a format other than a standard narrative. 

Admission Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in a biomedical or social science is preferred, but other majors will certainly be considered. Professional experience in a health-related field is highly valued.

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until classes are full. Apply using the centralized application service SOPHAS

Review Process

All applicants are considered using a holistic application review process, including an in-person, phone or Zoom interview with the graduate admissions director.

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Transcript(s)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Résumé/curriculum vitae
  • Professional goal statement

Apply using the centralized application service SOPHAS.

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Financial documents are required to complete an application for admission and be reviewed for admission and merit scholarships. 
  • Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include:
    • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
    • Practical laboratory work
    • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
    • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
    • Any honors or degrees received.

WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Program Requirements

Required Courses
PUBH 5010Mission and Practice of Global Public Health2
PUBH 5020Ethical Issues in Public Health (Students with the HMP or PHP concentrations will take HMP 5390 instead)3
PUBH 5030Methodological Approaches to Understanding Population Health3
PUBH 5040Generating Evidence from Public Health Data3
PUBH 5050Health Care Across the Life Course: From Policy to Practice3
PUBH 5060Environmental and Biological Determinants of Health3
PUBH 5070Translating Evidence and Theory for Community Practice3
PUBH 5910Practice Experience in Public Health1
PUBH 5950Special Study for Examinations0
PUBH 5960Capstone in Public Health Practice3
Choose one:
Total Credits42

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Students must earn a B- or better in all required courses. Elective courses may be passed with a C or better. 

Behavioral Science and Health Equity Concentration

BSH 5000Behavioral Science and Public Health3
BSH 5310Health Communication3
BSH 5400Assessment, Intervention Development, and Evaluation I3
BSH 5410Assessment, Intervention Development, and Evaluation II3
Total Credits18

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Behavioral Science and Health Equity Concentration

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
BSH 5000 Behavioral Science and Public Health 3
BSH 5400 Assessment, Intervention Development, and Evaluation I 3
PUBH 5010 Mission and Practice of Global Public Health 2
PUBH 5030 Methodological Approaches to Understanding Population Health 3
PUBH 5070 Translating Evidence and Theory for Community Practice 3
MPH Professional Development Series: Completion of 6 sessions required during Year 1 (prerequisite for PUBH 5910).  
BSH 5410 Assessment, Intervention Development, and Evaluation II 3
PUBH 5020 Ethical Issues in Public Health 3
PUBH 5040 Generating Evidence from Public Health Data 3
MPH Professional Development Series: Completion of 6 sessions required during Year 1 (prerequisite for PUBH 5910).  
PUBH 5910 Practice Experience in Public Health 1
Year Two
BSH 5310 Health Communication 3
PUBH 5050 Health Care Across the Life Course: From Policy to Practice 3
PUBH 5060 Environmental and Biological Determinants of Health 3
ElectiveElective chosen from Departmental Attributes MPH Electives - BSHE 3
PUBH 5950 Special Study for Examinations 0
PUBH 5960 Capstone in Public Health Practice 3
ElectiveElective chosen from Departmental Attributes MPH Electives - BSHE 3
 Total Credits42

Apply for Admission

For additional admission questions, please contact:
Bernie Backer
Director of graduate recruitment and admissions