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Health Behavior and Health Education

Elective Courses & Specialization Areas within HBHE

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

Our elective courses give students greater depth of 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.

Elective Course Offerings and Specialization Areas

The very breadth of HBHE course offerings, however, can sometimes be challenging for students to navigate. To help students identify how our course offerings connect to different HBHE-related topics, we have identified several groupings of courses in particular topic areas. We call these “Specialization Areas” within HBHE.

The current HBHE Specialization Areas are:

Community, Networks, and Ecological Practice
Gender, Sexuality, and Population Health
Health Communication
Health Disparities
Health over the Life Course
Research Methods

In addition, HBHE tries to offer a variety of other elective courses on topics such as ethics, genetics, and violence prevention that may touch upon specialization areas, but are not central to those areas.

Course Mapping and Course Planning

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

Please note that course availability both within and outside of Specialization Areas 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.

The Choice of Whether to Pursue a Particular Specialization Area

All HBHE students should use the above information about the topical areas covered by HBHE elective courses to identify available courses that align with their particular interests.

The HBHE faculty believes that, for many students, taking a variety of elective courses will give them the broadest range of future career options. Students seeking to receive an MPH degree from HBHE are NOT required to pick a Specialization Area, and nor does the HBHE faculty encourage or expect students to do so.

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.

If students require documentation of completion of a Specialization, MPH graduates 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 acceptable and available from Wolverine Access). However, the expectation is that most students will find it sufficient to simply note their Specialization Area on their CV or resumé.

Graduating MPH students may also request 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.