Welcome from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. We are the only Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)-accredited School of Public Health in the state and the only state located entirely within the Appalachian region, which positions our school uniquely to tackle pressing health problems facing rural communities. Poor health in West Virginia and elsewhere is due in part to underlying socio-economic forces that influence health behaviors, access to quality care and, ultimately, health outcomes. This has been made clearer by the coronavirus pandemic as our most vulnerable populations have suffered disproportionally. Consequently, public health efforts must address policies, environments, and cultures to create broad, systematic changes across entire communities.  

SBHS provides leadership to move this venture forward through conducting targeted intervention research, nurturing talented students and supporting public health practitioners. Our Masters (MPH) and Doctoral (PhD) degrees are designed to provide applied experience along with intensive study of the theoretical underpinnings that students need in the 21st century to address our most pressing public health concerns.

Moreover, because of West Virginia University’s land grant mission, coupled with our relatively small state population, our academic, research and service programs incorporate state-based and local partners which offer students unparalleled access to our state’s public health authorities. This would include excellent professional development and hands-on practice opportunities created by our Academic Health Department agreement with the Monongalia County Health Department and formal State-University Partnership with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources through our Health Sciences Center Office of Health Affairs.

Through the Office of Health Affairs, we offer unique practical experience and program evaluation training for our MPH and PhD students interested in professional careers in state governmental agencies. This training is one way we fulfill our mission in workforce development for the state of West Virginia. PhD students admitted into this specialized training receive a stipend and tuition waiver that may result in a professional staffing position upon matriculation.        

Most importantly, our relatively small department allows us to work closely with our students. This dedication to students is reflected in our research efforts where students work with faculty on projects that often result in co-authored peer-reviewed publications and presentations. This applied learning environment is predicated upon the applied nature of public health research and practice.

I invite you to review our website to learn more about our faculty, academic programs and students. Feel free to contact faculty and staff with your questions.

Be well,

Keith J. Zullig, M.S.P.H., Ph.D., FASHA, FAAHB
Professor & Chair for the Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences