Family Medicine and Public Health

[ graduate program | courses ]

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice. Updates may be found on the Academic Senate website:

The Department of Family Medicine and Public Health’s mission is to improve health through both clinical care and research. Studies undertaken by departmental members focus on epidemiology as well as behavioral and clinical research, education, and clinical care. The department has a major education mission and hosts both an undergraduate degree and a doctoral degree in public health. It has a major role in teaching in the School of Medicine curriculum and hosts four separate medical residencies in Family Medicine (two), Family Medicine-Psychiatry, and Preventive Medicine. In addition, the department hosts the self-funding master of advanced studies (MAS) degree in Leadership of Healthcare Organizations.

The Undergraduate Program in Public Health


Public health seeks to improve human health through the development and application of scientific knowledge that helps prevent disease and protects the public from exposure to potential harm, as well as promotes health throughout the state, the nation, and the world.

The Department of Family Medicine and Public Health offers a bachelor of science (BS) degree in public health with the options of three different specializations (epidemiology and biostatistics; social and behavioral sciences; and health policy) or an individually tailored program. The epidemiology and biostatistics specialization offers courses on the determinants and distribution of disease at the population level with a focus on analyzing and interpreting public health data using statistical methods. A social and behavioral sciences specialization is offered for students interested in how behaviors influence disease. The health policy curriculum emphasizes the structure, process, and outcomes of health services and policies that are commonly used to motivate people to healthier lifestyles.

All courses taken for the major, including prerequisites, must be taken for a letter grade, with the exception of FPMU 199, which may only be taken P/NP. Students must receive a grade of C– or higher in any course to be counted toward fulfillment of the major requirements.

Lower-Division Requirements

Biology (twelve units)

Quantitative Methods (at least four units)

Public Health Sciences (eight units)

Social and Behavioral Science Electives (twelve units [at least two courses must be in the same discipline])

Upper-Division Requirements

Core Disciplines (twenty-four units)—All Public Health Majors

Environmental/Occupational Health (one course, four units)

Epidemiology and Biostatistics (two courses, eight units)

Health Policy (two courses, eight units)

Social and Behavioral Sciences (one course, four units)

Electives: six courses (twenty-four units)

If a student chooses one of the three specializations, taking at least sixteen units (i.e., four courses) from that particular specialization is recommended. Additional units may be from courses listed under any of the three “Specializations” or from those listed under “General Electives” or “Independent Study/Research.”

Epidemiology and Biostatistics Specialization
BICD 136, BIMM 114, BIEB 100, ECON 120A, ECON 120B, MATH 111A, MATH 111B, MATH 181A, MATH 181B, MATH 181C, MATH 181E, MATH 183, MATH 186, REV 160GS, REV 165GS

Health Policy Specialization
ECON 120A, ECON 120B, ECON 130, ECON 140, ECON 141, POLI 160AA, SOCI 152/USP 133

Social and Behavioral Sciences Specialization
BIBC 120, BIPN 108, PSYC 134, PSYC 155, PSYC 179, PSYC 181, PSYC 184, PSYC 188, SOCI 137, SOCI 134, SOCI 136E, SOCI 136F, SOCI 137

General Electives
ANSC 147, ANSC 148, BICD 134, COMM 109D, ETHN 103, ETHN 142, ETHN 157/USP 149, ETHN 183, ETHN 185, ETHN 190, HDP 115/COMM 102C, HDP 122, PHIL 148, PHIL 163, PSYC 104, PSYC 155, SOCI 104Q, SOCI 108, SOCI 113, USP 144, USP 145, USP 147, ECON 125, ECON 142, ECON 143

Independent Study/Research
FPMU 199—No more than eight units of FPMU 199 may be used to meet elective requirements.

Description of Upper-Division Specializations

The programs outlined below are strictly examples for the three areas of specialization, plus an additional example for premedical students. The purpose is to illustrate possible programs that fulfill the requirements of the public health major. There are many possibilities, and the choices made to construct these sample programs may (or may not) fit any particular student’s needs and may (or may not) coincide with actual courses offered in a particular year/quarter. These examples can serve as a guideline to the creation of individual programs. Detailed sample four-year course plans for the different specializations can be found on the website for the major and through the student adviser.  

Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Epidemiology is the core discipline of public health and is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease, disabilities, and death in human populations; the characteristics and dynamics of human populations; and the natural history of disease and the biologic basis of health. Closely linked to epidemiology is biostatistics, which is the development and application of statistical reasoning and methods in addressing, analyzing, and solving problems in public health, health care, and biomedical, clinical, and population-based research. Upon graduation, a student specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics should be able to:

  1. Explain the importance of epidemiology for informing scientific, ethical, economic, and political discussion of health issues.
  2. Define the basic concepts and terminology used in epidemiology.
  3. Calculate basic epidemiology measures.
  4. Describe the leading causes of mortality, morbidity, and health disparities among local, regional, and global populations.
  5. Describe the risk factors and modes of transmission for infectious and chronic diseases and explain how these diseases affect both personal and population health.
  6. Apply epidemiology measures to evaluate strategies to safeguard the population’s health.
  7. Describe the basic concepts of probability, random variation, and commonly used statistical probability distributions.
  8. Explain common descriptive techniques used to summarize public-health data.
  9. Analyze basic public-health data using common statistical methods for inference.
  10. Interpret results of statistical analyses found in public-health studies.
1. Core Discipline Courses

Note: All six upper-division core courses still required.

2. Electives

Health Policy


Health policy is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice concerned with the delivery, quality, and costs of health care for individuals and populations as well as laws and regulations aimed at influencing health-related behavior. Upon graduation, a student specializing in health policy should be able to:

  1. Define public health and the related roles and responsibilities of government, non-government agencies, and private organizations.
  2. Recognize the impact of policies, laws, and regulations on both individual behaviors and population health.
  3. Apply the principles of policy analysis to the evaluation in policy interventions.
  4. Undertake analyses of legislation, administrative regulations, and interpretations of judicial opinions and agency rulings.
1. Core Discipline Courses
2. Electives

Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health


The social and behavioral sciences in public health address the behavioral, social, and cultural factors related to individual and population health and health disparities over the life course. Research and practice in this area contributes to the development, administration, and evaluation of programs and policies in public health and health services to promote and sustain healthy environments and healthy lives for individuals and populations. Upon graduation, a student specializing in social and behavioral sciences should be able to:

  1. Describe the multiple determinants of health and the interconnectedness of the physical, social, and environmental levels of influence.
  2. Identify the basic theories, concepts, and models from a range of social and behavioral disciplines that are used in public health research and practice.
  3. Identify the causes of, and disparities in, social and behavioral factors that affect the health of individuals and populations.
  4. Apply evidence-based approaches in the development and evaluation of social and behavioral science interventions to improve public health.
1. Core Discipline Courses

Note: All six upper-division core courses still required.

2. Electives