Social and Behavioral Sciences

ZulligHello and welcome to the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. My name is Keith Zullig and I am the department chair.

Public health professionals recognize that inequalities in health result from multiple factors, including lifestyle choices and underlying socio-economic forces. The Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at WVU focuses on cost-effective improvements in population health that not only address, but go beyond individual behavior modification to create larger impacts on policy, the environment and culture in order to promote broad, systematic and measurable changes in the health of entire communities.

Our department provides the leadership necessary to move this venture forward through targeted research, nurturing talented students, and supporting public health practitioners.  We offer Masters Degrees in Public Health and School Health Education as well as a Doctoral degree in Public Health. Our degree programs are designed to provide hands-on experience along with intensive study of theoretical underpinnings of what works and why.  Moreover, our academic, research and service programs incorporate the latest advances in the social and behavioral sciences as we tackle health disparities in West Virginia and the global community.

We believe that experiential instruction, coupled with critical thinking skills, and a focus on research translation enables students to be informed health practitioners, researchers, and consumers.  Our relatively small department allows us to work closely with our students and cultivate meaningful relationships and mutually beneficial experiences. This dedication to students is also reflected in our research efforts where students not only work with faculty on their research projects, but also submit their own proposals for funding. This applied learning environment is predicated upon the applied nature of public health research and practice.
I invite you to review our website to learn more about our faculty, our academic programs, and our students. Please feel free to contact us with your questions – we look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you and be well.


Areas of Expertise

Our renowned faculty are experienced in a wide range of research methodologies and our departmental research agenda and educational mission focuses on issues that impact the state of West Virginia, the surrounding Appalachian region and the global community. Specific research areas include: 

  • Obesity;
  • Diabetes;
  • Tobacco;
  • School health;
  • Health equity;
  • Adolescent health;
  • Maternal and child health;
  • Substance abuse prevention;
  • Physical activity and wellness;
  • Intentional and unintentional injuries.

Pursue a Career

Our graduates can be found in a variety of academic, public health and non-profit organizations, including the following diverse systems:

  • School systems;
  • Health care organizations;
  • Colleges and universities;
  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • Applied health research programs;
  • Federal agencies (CDC, NIH, FDA);
  • State and county health organizations.

Health care is the largest industry in the United States and will continue to grow. We equip our students to face the career challenges of the future in, for example:

  • Worksite wellness;
  • Public health advocacy;
  • Translating evidence-based interventions to reach audiences most in need;
  • Nontraditional settings such as ambulatory care and out-patient surgeryclinics, home health, and other alternative delivery systems, where increased emphasis will be placed on cost-containment.

We invite you to join us in meeting these challenges and encourage you to explore concurrent job posting websites in public health:


SBS degrees are designed to enable current public health and health care professionals to enhance their skills in developing, implementing and evaluating programs to have an impact on the health of the public. In addition to Master’s degrees in Public Health and School Health, the Department of SBS also provides a state of the art doctoral education in the theory and application of social and behavioral science to a select group of highly qualified and committed students who desire to transform public health.

SBS is committed to a competency-based education as defined by the Council on Education for Public Health’s (CEPH) for our MPH and PhD programs and by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) for our MS program. Delivered entirely online, the MS in School Health provides teachers-in-training with the knowledge and skills necessary to instill in school-age students the information needed to make healthy decisions regarding well-being.