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Degree Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The Department

Biobehavioral Health (BBH) is an innovative interdisciplinary program that enables students to explore all factors—biological, behavioral, social/ cultural, and environmental—that influence the health of individuals and groups throughout the life span.

The Program

The graduate program in biobehavioral health is a part of Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development—the first college in the country with a combined emphasis on human development and human health. The graduate program in Biobehavioral Health applies an interdisciplinary, translational approach to training on biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental influences on the health of individuals, groups, and communities. Biological and behavioral perspectives, in particular, are emphasized equally as fundamental and interacting influences on health and disease. Scholars and professionals who can bring this integrated perspective to their work are needed in research, teaching, and policy roles in a variety of settings, including the health care field, research laboratories, government agencies, universities, and medical schools.

The Penn State Difference

Penn State is one of the leading research universities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, it consistently ranks among the top 15 major U.S. universities in research expenditures in science and engineering fields. Its graduate programs attract students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and from more than 100 countries all over the world.

Penn State has an enrollment at its main campus—University Park—of nearly 45,000 students, some 7,000 of which are graduate students. The University invites students to consider its graduate programs, whether they aspire to conduct research that will contribute to global knowledge or to hold a leadership position in their field with government or industry.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The Ph.D. program is designed to cultivate competence in basic and applied research, in the development and evaluation of intervention strategies, and in university teaching. Psychological/behavioral, biological, and social/cultural/environmental issues are all emphasized within the program and are seen as fundamental and interacting influences on health and disease. The program emphasizes both individual and public health issues.

All students are currently required to take six core courses in biobehavioral health, a course in professional development, and 9 additional credits in research methodology and statistical analysis. The remainder of each student’s program is designed individually in consultation with the student’s adviser and committee.


Ph.D. graduates typically are employed in a wide variety of settings, including academic, government, and industry settings. Many move directly into positions as university/college professors, health scientists, research scientists, and scientific directors after completing postdoctoral training. Please take a look at some BBH Alumni Profiles to learn about the careers of some of our graduates.


Through innovative research projects, faculty members explore all factors—biological, behavioral, social/cultural, and environmental—that influence the health of individuals and groups throughout the life span. Health and disease are examined in various populations, from cells to societies, using a multilevel approach. The interests of our research faculty are described here.


Shannon Anthony

Graduate Program Staff Assistant
219 Biobehavioral Health Building
Phone: 814-863-7424
Fax Number: 814-863-7525