Public Health


Public Health is an interdisciplinary concentration through which students examine a variety of health issues, including population health and disease, health policy, cross-cultural and international aspects of health, the organizational and social structures through which health services are delivered and received, and the public health system. Courses in the concentration allow students to explore the ways in which the social, political, behavioral and biological sciences contribute to the understanding of patterns of population distributions of health and disease. The concentration also provides students with courses in basic research methods and statistics necessary for problem solving and critical thinking in the emerging emphasis on evidence-based health care and public health.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Explore the breadth of population-level health issues and gain awareness into key theories and methodologies for understanding the distribution of disease, health, and wellness across populations, with an emphasis on vulnerable communities
  • Identify the role of cultural, social and behavioral factors, among others, in determining disease expression, disease prevention, health promoting behavior and access to care
  • Develop skills to organize and communicate information pertaining to a public health issue, including policy implications, priorities and recommended course of action
  • Work collaboratively on an original project related to public health through the Senior Seminar Capstone, or for eligible students, an honors thesis.


Requirements are listed here. Information regarding declaring the concentration can be found here. Prospective concentrators must attend an informational meeting with Barbara Dailey before declaring.

Honors and Capstones

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All concentrators develop and execute a culminating project. Non-Honors students complete a capstone project as part of the required Senior Seminar course, PHP1910, taken in the Fall semester of the senior year. Students pursuing Honors write an Honors thesis, completed through two senior year semesters of PHP1980, Honors Thesis Preparation. Both PHP1910 and PHP1980 are WRIT-designated and, thus, can fulfill the second writing requirement for Public Health students. 

Students apply for the Honors track at the end of junior year. To be eligible for Honors, students submit a thesis prospectus to the Honors Director by the first Friday in May (or November) of their sixth semester. The prospectus must be signed by the primary thesis advisor and must identify a secondary advisor; at least one advisor must be affiliated with a Public Health department.  At the time of submission, students must be in good academic standing and demonstrate academic excellence by having achieved a balance of As over Bs in all graded courses taken to fulfill concentration requirements.

Approved honors candidates enroll in PHP1980 for a grade in both semesters of the senior year. They establish written expectations and a timeline for deliverables with their thesis advisor(s) and   meet regularly throughout the year. Finally, they submit and orally present a thesis judged to be of superior quality by both faculty advisors. Honors students are expected to continue to demonstrate academic excellence as above (students can take up to two (2) courses S/NC).

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Expand your reading skills
  • Collaborate fully
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Experience scientific inquiry
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Affiliated Departments

  • Behavioral and Social Science
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Services, Policy and Practice


Director of Undergraduate Studies

Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors
201343 43 17 
201453 53 17 
201535 35 12 
201667 67 23 
201754 54 16 

Alumni Pathways

The Public Health concentration is relevant for students with career interests in public health, disease prevention and health promotion, health policy and epidemiology, clinical health care delivery, health care administration, international health, and health law.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

Dept. Undergraduate Group

Student Leaders:

  • Isabel Blalock
  • Elizabeth Waisel
  • Emerson Wells
  • Dana Rubenstein

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.