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Health Behavior and Health Education

Specialization Areas within Health Behavior and Health Education

HBHE offers a diverse faculty, multidisciplinary research initiatives, and a curriculum that includes theory, research, and practice.

Our varied courses give students knowledge and skills that can be applied toward many health issues and professional settings. For many students, taking courses in a wide range of topic areas can be the best way to prepare for the many different challenges that can arise in a career in public health.

The very breadth of HBHE course offerings, however, can sometimes be challenging for students to navigate. To help with students identify our course offerings connect to different HBHE-related topics, we have identified six “Specialization Areas” within HBHE.

The six Specialization Areas are:

The HBHE faculty believes that a broad exposure to HBHE topics and skills is often the best way to prepare for a career in public health. Students seeking to receive an MPH degree from HBHE are not required to pick a Specialization area, and nor is there any expectation of doing so. For many students, taking courses across multiple Specialization Areas will give them the broadest range of future career options.  For students who know that they have a particular area of interest, however, focusing on a Specialization Area may be beneficial.

Course Mapping

To see how HBHE course offerings map onto these six specialization areas, please click here to download a copy of the table.

Please note that course availability may vary from year to year, especially in order to accommodate faculty sabbatical leaves. Students should work with their advisors to anticipate such issues and ensure that they can take the courses they are most interested in.

Certification of Completion of a Specialization Area

All HBHE students should use the above information about Specialization Areas to identify areas of overlap between their interests and available courses. HBHE recognizes, however, that some students may desire or need specific recognition of the depth of their training in a particular Specialization.

To that end, HBHE considers students who complete 4 courses within a Specialization Area to have completed a Specialization in their target area. Such students are then considered to be eligible to use the language “with a Specialization in {Specialization Title}” on their CV or resumé:

  • For example: “Ms. Educator received her MPH degree in Health Behavior and Health Education with a Specialization in Gender, Sexuality and Population Health.”


  • A “Specialization” is a Department-level term and does not appear on a graduate’s official University of Michigan transcript.
  • Attempting to complete a Specialization Area does not confer priority or guaranteed enrollment in the related courses.
  • Students who take 3 or more credits of Independent Study may be able to count these credits as 1 out of the 4 required courses for completion of a Specialization if and only if the faculty member is willing to certify the topic as directly related to the Specialization Area.

To provide documentation of completion of a Specialization, MPH graduates in 2012 and later years may submit a request to the Department Chair for a letter of Documentation of Specialization. Such requests should include a letter explaining which courses are to be counted towards the Specialization and a copy of the student’s transcript for verification (unofficial copies are available from Wolverine Access).

Graduating MPH students may also receive a similar letter (upon request, same requirements) during their final semester in the program. Letters for current students will state that the student will meet the terms of a Specialization upon successful completion of their final term courses.