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What is Health and Human Development?

Diverse fields of study that share one
common goal: enriching the lives of others.

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Penn State's Biobehavioral Health program is designed to help you learn about the critical connections among genetics, biology, behavior, environment, and health.

Solving Problems of Human Health

The Biobehavioral Health undergraduate program uses methods and insights from multiple fields of study, allowing you to explore all factors that influence the health of individuals and groups throughout the lifespan. You will learn to look at health issues from all angles.

Graduates work in many settings, including in the medical field, public health, private industry, and community health promotion. The program has a great deal of flexibility and allows you to tailor your degree to meet your career goals. It also provides an excellent groundwork for graduate school, including medical school and other clinical fields.

In addition to coursework, you will have the opportunity to work on research projects with faculty members and researchers. Through hands-on research, you can gain lab or field experience, help researchers prepare genetic assays, interview patients, or complete clinical tests.

You will receive support and guidance from faculty and staff as you apply for internship opportunities. Internships range from working on employer health promotion programs to conducting community health assessments or similar practical experiences. Additionally, you can benefit from our well-established professional connections and our devoted alumni.


A bachelor of science (B.S.) degree in Biobehavioral Health will help you learn how to address and solve problems of human health and illness.

The program is designed to help you prepare for jobs in a range of biomedical and health-related areas, including in research, laboratory management, and biomedical products. It also provides excellent preparation for advanced study in areas such as medicine, public health, environmental health and safety, and human services.

With courses in biology, physiology, and genetics, you will have the opportunity to understand the science behind health. Additional classes in psychology, human development, health policy, and other social and behavioral sciences help you explore the connections among biology, behavior, and health.

You may use your skills and expertise in the workforce to understand the basic processes that influence health and disease. You may also use your training to plan and implement health promotion programs, helping people lead healthier lives.


The Global Health minor is designed to help you understand the issues affecting the health of various populations around the world. You will be encouraged to explore the global connection of current population health problems. You will also be challenged to think critically about how particular global health challenges might best be solved.

This minor is an excellent fit if you have any interest in health services careers or would like to understand health from a global perspective.

Professional Development

Student Organization

The Biobehavioral Health Society facilitates a positive learning environment in the undergraduate program and to foster communication between faculty and students.

Professional Interaction

Alumni of the program regularly return to campus to take part in professional and social events. You will have the opportunity to meet and work with a number of these engaged alumni and learn from them.

Volunteer and Work Experience Opportunities

There are a number of ways to expand your skills and knowledge including opportunities with groups in and around Penn State, including:

  • HealthWorks — the peer health education program of the Office of Health Promotion and Education, providing services to Penn State students in the areas of nutrition, wellness, sexual health, and alcohol and other drugs.
  • Lions Share — a program of the Student Organizational Resource Center designed to place students in community service experiences.
  • Student Health Advisory Board — Students from a variety of majors work with the University Health Services administration to improve the quality of Penn State's health services.

Professional Resources

American Public Health Association

The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the profession of public health, share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research.