The Curriculum

Courses in the concentration allow students to explore the ways in which the social, political, behavioral and biological sciences contribute to the understanding of national and international health care systems, resource allocation, and the distribution 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.

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.

  • PHP 0310 Health Care in the United States (usually taken as a freshman or sophomore - fall semester)
  • PHP 0320 Introduction to Public Health (prerequisite to PHP0850; best taken as a freshman or sophomore - spring semester)
  • PHP 0850 Fundamentals of Epidemiology (should be taken by end of junior year - fall semester)
  • PHP 1501 Essentials of Data Analysis (prerequisite to PHP 1910; should be taken as a sophomore or junior - fall semester)
  • PHP 1910 Public Health Senior Seminar (taken as a senior - fall semester;
    NOTE: Classes of 2021 & 2022: required for non-honors students only; Classes of 2023 & beyond: required for all students)

Courses to be chosen from the lists of approved options in each area.

Classes of 2021 and 2022 only:

  • One Environmental Health and Policy elective
  • One Health, Health Care Systems and Policy elective
  • One Social and Behavioral Science for Prevention elective
  • One Humanities/Fine Arts/Humanistic Social Sciences - Public Health elective
  • One Biology/Human Physiology elective

Classes of 2023 and beyond:

  • One Environmental Health and Policy elective
  • One Health, Health Care Systems and Policy elective
  • One Social and Behavioral Science for Prevention elective
  • One Global Health elective 
  • One Health Disparities elective 
  • One Biology/Human Physiology elective
  • One Humanities/Fine Arts/Humanistic Social Sciences - Public Health elective

Class of 2021 and 2022: Two additional approved electives, no more than one of which may be Biology (BIOL) courses. Any PHP or BIOL course can be counted as a general elective.

  • See the University Bulletin for the list of electives. Also see the related file below.
  • The electives may be selected from all PHP or BIOL course offerings as well as the courses approved in the defined content areas listed above or the approved general electives.

Classes of 2023 and beyond: General electives are not required

An Honors track is available in the Concentration in Public Health. Honors track students are required to enroll in PHP1980: Honors Thesis Preparation with their primary thesis advisor both semesters of their senior year. Students who wish to be considered a candidate for Honors should discuss their plans with their identified thesis advisors before submitting the required prospectus.


  • Class of 2022 will take two semesters of PHP1980 in place of PHP1910: Senior Seminar during fall of senior year.
  • Classes of 2023 & beyond will take two semesters of PHP1980 in addition to PHP1910: Senior Seminar during fall of senior year.

To receive Honors, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Be in Good Academic Standing as defined by University rules.
  • Demonstrate academic excellence. In addition to two semesters of PHP1980, the student must also successfully complete 11 courses for the concentration. The student must achieve a balance of A’s over B’s in all graded courses taken to fulfill concentration requirements. Remember that an S with distinction is equivalent to an A. However, since the S_Dist does not appear on the internal transcript, the student must inform us when they receive this grade. Students with questions regarding whether they qualify should contact the Honors Advisor.
  • Submit a prospectus to the Honors Director by the first Friday in May (first Friday in December for .5ers) of the student's sixth semester. Students must identify a primary advisor for their thesis who signs off on the thesis prospectus. A second advisor must also be specified, but does not have to sign.
  • Must complete two semesters of PHP 1980, which is an independent study during which their thesis work and guidance will take place. PHP1980 must be taken for a grade in both semesters of senior year, and cannot have a grade of INC in either semester; an INC disqualifies the student from Honors. Two writing assignments with feedback from the primary advisor will meet the WRIT criteria required for the first of the two PHP 1980 courses, and will be submitted to the Director of UG Studies.
  • Submit an Honors Thesis judged to be of superior quality by each of the two advisors.
  • Deliver an oral presentation, based on the Thesis, which is reviewed favorably by the Department faculty. For May graduates, Honors Thesis presentations occur in mid-April; for mid-years, presentations are  in November.

For students graduating in May, the final copy of the thesis is due on or before May 1. For students who are finishing in mid-year, (as “.5ers”), the thesis is due on or before December 1. In order to meet the deadline, students should plan to submit a next-to-final draft of their project to their advisors at least one month before the end of classes.

Please refer to the guidelines below that outline the Honors Track as well as specify the expectations of the faculty who serve as honors advisors.

If you have any questions, please contact Patricia Risica.

2021-2022 Honors Guidelines (PDF)

2021-2022 Advice to Honors Thesis Advisors (PDF)

Honors Prospectus Template (doc)

To get started, attend an Information Session and/or meet with an OIP advisor at the Office of International Programs

General information:

  • It is recommended that students study abroad during the second semester of junior year
  • UG/MPH students cannot study abroad during their senior year. Contact Elizabeth Jackvony for further clarification.
  • Students can transfer up to two credits per semester abroad towards the concentration
  • Students are required to take core and required public health selective courses at Brown. Students may petition to use transfer credits for Biology or Humanities electives, or for public health courses that count towards graduation, but not public health concentration requirements.
  • Students can petition to have a course considered, however, most do not meet the requirements or do not provide the ability for requirements to be assessed
  • Students interested in pursuing honors and spending the second semester of their junior year abroad should identify a topic and their primary and secondary advisors before they leave

Transfer Credit Approval Forms (from the Office of the Registrar) 

To obtain concentration credit for courses taken abroad:

  • Meet with your concentration advisor before going abroad to discuss your study abroad course plan
  • Provide your advisor with course syllabi for any courses you plan on taking abroad and petitioning for concentration credit
  • Manually enter planned courses into ASK and upload course syllabi
  • If approved by your advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, your advisor will post a comment stating approval in ASK
  • Upon arrival, re-enter the courses taken abroad into ASK from your IAR

ASK Resources for transferring credits:

Global Brown’s information on International Travel Risk Management