Health Education

College of Health and Human Services
Dean: Donald P. Zingale

Department of Health Education
SCI 394
Fax: 415-338-0570
Chair: Mary Beth Love

M.P.H. Graduate Coordinator: Love
Single Subject Program Coordinator: Tapper

Holistic Health Program
HSS 329
Fax: 415-338-0573
Director: Erik Peper

Certificate Program Coordinator: Peper


Professors—Love, Ovrebo, Peper, Tapper

Associate Professor—Clayson

Assistant Professors—Chavez, Moore, Morello-Frosch



B.S. in Health Science
Minor in Health Science
Minor in Holistic Health
Certificate in Holistic Health
Master of Public Health

Program Scope

The Department of Health Education has two major functions. First, the department provides professional preparation in community public health education. As a result of the curriculum, majors are able to: assess a community's strengths and needs; analyze the personal and social determinants of health; design and implement an educational intervention; and evaluate if their work has had an impact on individual and/or community health status. Second, the department offers a variety of health content courses in areas such as multicultural health promotion, women's health, social inequities and public health, drugs, human sexuality,  environmental health, homelessness, and AIDS. For health education, the concern is preventing health problems rather than curing people once they become ill. To succeed in prevention, it is important to encourage people's interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and also to create a just society where all people have the resources they need to live a healthy life. A combination of education and social action/advocacy is the best way to accomplish this goal. The department works to help people understand themselves, their motivations, values, and attitudes because, according to health education philosophy, those changes which occur internally—within the individual—are most likely to last. A health educator also works as a catalyst for community action and social policy change in order to create a social structure and a political environment where healthy communities and lifestyles are available for all people.

Bachelor of Science. The community health education program is designed to facilitate voluntary changes in individual health behaviors as well as to advocate for social and economic policies which lead to health promotion and disease prevention for all. This program prepares individuals to plan, implement, and evaluate programs for health and human services such as public health departments, voluntary health agencies, community-based organizations, community clinics, and hospitals.

The course work and field experience in health education have three primary objectives: (1) to provide a theoretical and philosophical foundation in principles of community health education; (2) to facilitate the development of professional skills in program planning, implementation, and evaluation; and (3) to offer broad course work in personal, community, and school health. Students are also expected to complete course work in biological, social, and behavioral sciences.

Twelve elective units of course work, nine of which must be in Health Education or Holistic Health, enable students to tailor the degree to meet their own special interests or an employer's requirements. Students may choose to elect courses which help them pursue careers in a variety of specialized or emerging health-related areas or to elect a broader, less career-specific health degree. These elective units must be chosen with the guidance and concurrence of an adviser in the department.

Minor in Health Science. The Department of Health Education offers a 21-unit minor program. The minor complements many major programs provided by other university departments and has been designed for maximum flexibility. Individuals must work with a health science adviser to select appropriate courses.

Single Subject Program. Individuals seeking a single subject credential in Health Science to teach health education in California public secondary schools must first complete the required courses for the Single Subject Program. The requirements for this degree are somewhat different than for the B.S. degree. For information related to this pre-teaching program, individuals should consult an adviser in the Health Education Department.

Supplemental Credential. Individuals who already possess a single subject credential in another area may add health sciences to their existing teaching credential by completing a specified number of semester hours in health sciences. Individuals seeking a supplemental credential should seek the assistance of an adviser in the Department of Health Education.

Advising. Each student is encouraged to select a faculty adviser upon admission and to work closely with the adviser in order to assure proper articulation of courses. Prior to meeting with the faculty, the students are required to meet first with a peer mentor adviser (PMA). The role of a peer mentor adviser is to advise new and current health education students about the requirements for the health education major. PMA interns' hours and locations are posted on the department web site. Students seeking an adviser should consult the department secretary for assistance.

Minor in Holistic Health. The Institute for Holistic Healing Studies, under the Department of Health Education, offers a Holistic Health Minor and a Holistic Health Certificate Program. The only difference between the two is that the minor is co-terminus with a bachelor's degree, while the certificate is available to anyone admitted through Extended Learning/Open University. The curriculum for the certificate includes an additional eight units beyond the minor. The certificate is also available to minors upon completion of the requirements.

General Information. Holistic health is concerned with the health and well-being of the whole person—mind, body, spirit, and environment in dynamic balance and interdependence. It emphasizes and seeks to enhance the inherent healing ability of each individual and empower people through teaching principles and skills that enable them to take greater responsibility for their personal development, healing, and health maintenance. This interdisciplinary approach assumes a systems perspective in which mind-body-consciousness interacts with the physical, biological, and psychosocial environments. A change in any one part can result in individual imbalances. Holistic health complements and extends beyond our current medicine, an approach that engenders the rebalancing of the individual.

There are many specific applications and forms of holistic health, some derived from ancient healing traditions and others from modern technology. These areas include: stress management, behavioral medicine, applied psychophysiology, biofeedback, autogenic training, Chinese medicine (including acupuncture, acupressure, herbology, nutrition, qigong), somatic therapies (such as: Feldenkrais, bioenergetics, Alexander), therapeutic touch and subtle energy therapies, meditation, yoga, guided imagery, psychoneuroimmunology, transformative, psycho-spiritual, and psychosomatic therapies, and others.

Although careers in holistic health per se are still being developed, holistic health is a rapidly expanding field. There is a growing demand for training in this area among health care practitioners, such as nurses, physicians, paramedics, health educators, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, counselors, psychotherapists, health researchers, health consultants, and others. Certain areas of holistic health, such as Chinese medicine, somatic therapy, and biofeedback, are increasingly in demand and careers in these fields are being integrated more directly into the educational/health care systems.

The Holistic Health Minor/Certificate is designed to provide a background in western physiological perspectives; a survey of holistic health theories and practices as developed in the East and West; a metaphoric view of health, disease, and healing; specific practices in-depth; some theory and background in related areas as well as learning specific self-healing practices. The minor serves as an interdisciplinary liberal arts program that complements or supplements a student's major field of study, especially in health-related areas. The Holistic Health Certificate is a certificate of completion of a curriculum in holistic health for those who already have an academic degree and/or are already in health professions. In addition, since holistic health emphasizes self-care and self-regulation, the minor and certificate program can be taken for personal stress reduction, growth, healing, and health maintenance.

Master of Public Health in Community Health Education. The purpose of the Master of Public Health in Community Health Education is to prepare a new cadre of public health practitioners prepared to work in partnership with California's diverse urban communities to promote health and prevent disease. Graduates will be educated to meet the needs of the changing public and private health institutions in their efforts to improve people's health and to increase the capacity of the state to address its major public health problems.

To further San Francisco State University's mission as an urban land grant institution, the MPH will:

  1. Address the unique health problems of urban communities in California;
  2. Educate a new generation of urban public health leaders who represent the diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds of our nation's urban centers;
  3. Provide MPH level training to working health professionals from multiple disciplines and backgrounds;
  4. Serve as a leader in applied community research on pressing urban public health problems such as AIDS, homelessness, drug abuse, violence, economic dislocation and political marginality;
  5. Emphasize the critical analysis of the public and community policies that are reflective of tensions between the requirements of a market economy and the goals of public health;
  6. Offer to the public health sector a new more contemporary health education professional with analytical policy and advocacy skills;
  7. Develop a skills based curriculum with professional practice and mentoring as an integral part of the student experience;
  8. Build on the strengths of SFSU's community-oriented mission by enhancing the connection between the university and the community and to increase SFSU's ability to respond to the Bay Area's community public health needs.

Career Outlook

A variety of career opportunities are open to individuals graduating from the health science program. Results from a recent survey of program graduates indicate that in addition to positions specifically titled health educator, many also hold positions as program planners, assistant administrators, assistant personnel directors, in-service education coordinators, community outreach workers, health counselors, health writers, environmental workers, and pharmaceutical-medical detail persons. Employers include hospitals, government and voluntary agencies, school districts, private industries, and some individuals are self-employed.

Graduates of the Master of Public Health Program in Community Health Education are prepared for advanced level professional positions in public health department and private and public health care settings and a variety of community-based organizations. Results from a recent survey showed that the labor market prospects for health educators with master's degrees in public health (MPH's) were very good. Nationally, the emphasis on primary and secondary prevention and population-based management of health makes the skills and competencies of community health educators in market demand.

A small percentage of health science graduates select careers outside the health care field. The professional skills developed in the degree programs have numerous applications in non-health employment settings. Additionally, some health science graduates elect graduate studies in public health, administration, social services, dentistry, medicine, and law.


The Bachelor of Science is a 126-unit degree, with a 69-unit major.

The following foundation courses or their equivalents must be completed prior to graduation. While it is not mandatory to complete the foundation courses before taking the core courses, individuals are encouraged to work toward completion of foundation courses prior to the junior year. Students entering from the community college system, or other four-year universities, should have their transcripts evaluated by a department adviser in order to receive credit for equivalent courses taken elsewhere. To determine whether courses taken at another college or university may be accepted as foundation courses, individuals should seek the assistance of an adviser in the Department of Health Education. Some foundation courses may be counted for SFSU general education credit; a health science adviser will help determine this.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Foundation Courses Units
BIOL 100 Human Biology 3
BIOL 101 Human Biology Laboratory 1
BIOL 210 General Microbiology and Public Health 3
BIOL 211 General Microbiology and Public Health Laboratory 1
CHEM 101 Survey of Chemistry 3
CHEM 102 Survey of Chemistry Laboratory 1
Total for foundation 12
Core Courses
H ED 300 The Health Education Profession 3
H ED 310 Health in Society 3
H ED 410 Organization and Function of Health Services 3
H ED 418 Environmental Health 3
H ED 420 Epidemiology 3
H ED 425 Introduction to Research and Statistics in Health 3
H ED 430 Foundations of Community Health Education 3
H ED 431 Community Health Education: Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation 3
H ED 450 Contemporary Issues in Health 3
H ED 480 Field Work in Community Health 6
H ED 520 Health Promotion in Ethnic Communities 3
H ED 660 School Health Programs 3
H ED 455 Community Organizing and Building for Health 3
PHIL 383 Ethics in Medicine 3
Total for core 57
Units to be selected on advisement (9 units must have H ED or HH prefix)
Total for major 69

NOTE: H ED 300, H ED 430, H ED 431, and H ED 480 must be taken in sequence.


Program Units
H ED 310 Health in Society 3
H ED 410 Organization and Function of Health Services 3
Upper division electives in health education from the following or related fields on advisement as related to student's needs and interests: 12
  H ED 315 Drugs and Society  
  H ED 320 Contemporary Sexuality
  H ED 414 Women's Health
  H ED 415 Health Aspects of Aging
  H ED 417 AIDS: Contemporary Health Crisis
  H ED 418 Environmental Health
  H ED 420 Epidemiology
  H ED 430 Foundations of Community Health Education
  H ED 431 Community Health Education: Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation
  H ED 500 Values Clarification in Sexuality
  H ED 582 Homelessness and Public Policy
  H ED 660 School Health Programs
Total for minor 18


All courses offered in holistic health qualify for continuing education credits for nursing (provider number 00344).

Applications for this minor or certificate program and assignment of an adviser can be made through the Institute for Holistic Healing Studies Office, Hensill Hall 703; (415) 338-1210.

This program is open to matriculating students as well as non-degree students. A non-degree student must register through the Extended Learning program as an Open University student.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Minor Program Units
Human Anatomy/Physiology
Completion of a college-level course in human anatomy/physiology. (BIOL 100/101 or BIOL 610/611 are acceptable)
Core Courses
HH 380 Holistic Health: Western Perspectives 3
HH 381 Holistic Health: Eastern Perspectives 3
HH 382 Holistic Health and Human Nature 3
HH 383 Chinese Perspectives in Holistic Health 3
Holistic Health Emphasis
Units selected from one of the emphases listed below
Mind/Body Healing Studies
  HH 430 Foundation of Biofeedback and Self-Regulation (4)  
  HH 433 Introduction to Autogenic Training
  HH 305 Relaxation and Stress Reduction
  HH 540 Imagery and Meditation in Healing
  PSY 594 Psychology of Biofeedback Process
  HH 690 Psychophysiology of Healing
  HH 699 Special Study (1-3)
Chinese Healing Studies
  HH 420 Chinese Body-Mind Energetics (4)  
  HH 530 Chinese Perspectives of Stress Management
  HH 510 Herbal and Nutritional Principles in Chinese Healing
  HH 621 Advanced Studies in Chinese Health and Healing (1-3)
  KIN 175 Elementary Tai-Chi Chuan (1) and
    KIN 275   Intermediate/Advanced Tai-Chi Chuan (2)
  HH 699 Special Study (1-3)
General Holistic Healing Studies
Two holistic health courses with consent of adviser.
Minimum total for minor 22


Certificate Program Units
Human Anatomy/Physiology
Completion of a college-level course in human anatomy/physiology. (BIOL 100/101 or BIOL 610/611 are acceptable)
Core Courses
See Minor Program above.
Holistic Health Emphasis
Units selected from one of the emphases listed above (under Minor Program).
Holistic Health Internship
HH 680 Holistic Health Internship Seminar 2
HH 681 Holistic Health Internship 3
Total for certificate 30

NOTE: Students fulfilling the Holistic Health Minor or Certificate Program are eligible to apply for a Certification in Stress Management Education given by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA). Also, students who take the biofeedback courses and fulfill some further requirements may be eligible to apply for Biofeedback Certification given by BCIA. See a Holistic Health adviser for details.


Graduate Advisers—Chavez, Clayson, Guy, Love, Moore, Morello-Frosch, Ovrebo

Admission Requirements

Beyond a completed MPH application form and transcripts of all previous college work listed on the application (including San Francisco State), admission to the program requires:

Application Period

Applicants are admitted to the MPH in the Fall only.

Admission Procedures

Step 1. Pre-admissions. Group orientation sessions describe the program and the admission/selection procedures. Before applying to the program, applicants are strongly encouraged to attend an orientation session. Dates for the orientation sessions are posted on the department's web site.

Step 2. Submit an application for admission to the MPH program on or before the scheduled deadline. Deadlines are posted on the application packet as well as the department's web site.

Step 3. Applicants will be notified as to the department's recommendation to the Graduate Division of the university regarding their conditional acceptance into or rejection from the MPH program. Note: Conditional recommendation for acceptance at the department review level does not imply formal acceptance by the university into conditional status in the MPH program.

Step 4. Once students are recommended by the department for conditional admission to the program, they must submit a formal application to the Graduate Division at SFSU. Only upon receipt of a formal admission letter from the university may a student enter conditional status and enroll in courses in the MPH program.

Step 5. After a semester of course work earning a 3.0 or better GPA, applicants are moved to classified graduate status within the program.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: all students must successfully demonstrate their proficiency by passing the Graduate Essay Test (GET). This MUST be done prior to taking classes. Students who are accepted into the graduate program will be notified in writing as to the time and date of the examination; there is a fee. If the GET identifies writing deficiencies, remedial work will be required. Level Two: satisfied by demonstration of English competency on the final paper for H ED 892.


The curriculum for the MPH is designed as a three-year sequence where collaborative learning and problem solving are fostered. Students move through the curriculum as a learning cohort for the entire three years.

Year One-Fall Semester Units
H ED 815 Theories of Social and Behavioral Change in Community Health Education 3
H ED 810 Organizing in a Diverse Community 3
H ED 811 Community Organizing Practicum 1
H ED 829 Biostatistics 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 11
Year One-Spring Semester
H ED 820 Needs Assessment in Community Health Education 3
H ED 821 Needs Assessment Practicum 1
H ED 825 Epidemiology 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 8
Year Two-Fall Semester
H ED 830 Program Planning for Community Change 3
H ED 831 Program Planning Practicum 1
H ED 835 Public Health Policy 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 8
Year Two-Spring Semester
H ED 840 Program Evaluation Design and Research 3
H ED 841 Program Evaluation Practicum 1
H ED 845 Training and Educational Processes 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 8
Year Two-Summer Semester
H ED 892 Supervised Field Internship 3
Year Three-Fall Semester
H ED 850 Health Administration and Management 3
H ED 851 Health Administration Practicum 1
H ED 855 Environmental Health 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 8
Year Three-Spring Semester
Elective 3
H ED 895 Field Study 3
H ED 890 MPH Seminar 1
  Total for semester 7
Total for degree 53

SFSU Home   Search   Need Help?  

1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 (415) 338-1111

Last modified July 05, 2012 by