New master’s program aims to help change health behaviors

Poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking are often cited as causes of preventable illness and death in the United States.

A new master’s program in Applied Health Behavior Research launching this fall is designed to teach practical skills and provide resources to help make a difference by improving behaviors and creating healthier lives. Specifically, it will address the science of health behavior, evaluation of health programs, management of projects in clinical and community settings and the collection and management and analysis of data.


“We believe that too many people are dying prematurely from preventable causes,” says Mario Schootman, PhD, associate professor of medicine and the program’s director. “We think there’s a way to help change this. There are a lot of opportunities to change behavior, whether through policy or changes in the community, but in many instances it comes down to individual changes in behavior.”

The degree program is aimed at working professionals in the field of health behavior. It emphasizes practical skills in day-to-day management of health behavior programs, Schootman says.

“We have designed this program to give students the tools they need to be successful, to change behaviors and to affect that change in individuals,” he said. “Students will learn how to collect data, how to improve behavior overall, how to coach individuals and how to manage a project. They will be able to apply what they learn in class right away.”

Students may choose between two areas of study: health education, program planning and evaluation; or health behavior research. Schootman says courses will prepare students for current and future job demands.

The degree program is sponsored by the School of Medicine and offered through University College. Students must complete 30 hours of graduate-level course work with 12 units of required core courses and 18 units of required and electives, with a concentration in one of the two areas of study. A Certificate in Health Behavior Planning and Evaluation is also available.

The degree can help students prepare for careers as program managers, health educators, health and wellness coordinators, outreach coordinators, health communications managers, health program planning analysts and research study managers.

For more information, contact Irene Fischer, associate director, at at or visit