Social & Behavioral Sciences

The Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences prepares students from culturally diverse backgrounds to become successful and engaged scholars and policy-makers in the areas of nursing and sociology that emphasize health, illness, and medical issues. Our research is informed by social science theories and methodologies with a strong social justice orientation.

Access the organizational chart for Social and Behavioral Sciences.


Education ResearchPractice

Program Details: Sociology PhD

The principal aim of the SBS Doctoral Program in Sociology is to educate students interested in professional careers as sociologists in both academic and applied contexts. Graduates contribute to the advancement of sociological knowledge with an emphasis on the study of health broadly conceived. All students are trained in-depth in the sociology of health, illness & medicine. Additionally, students may specialize in the following areas: 1) sociology of aging, chronic illness and disability; 2) race, gender, class and health/health inequalities; 3) health policy and organizations; and 4) science, technology and medicine studies. Violence as a health problem, HIV/AIDS, health demography and global health are also areas where faculty have strong expertise. Extended training in social theory and both qualitative and quantitative research methods is required.

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Program Details: Nursing Health Policy (MS, PhD, Minor, and Post-Masters)

The program prepares nurses to provide leadership in health policy in legislative organizations, nongovernmental advocacy organizations, and regulatory and licensing bodies. Graduates contribute to and improve health policies to benefit patients, the public, and the nursing profession. Additionally, doctoral graduates are prepared to assume academic positions where they can initiate and contribute to health services and policy research and teaching, providing leadership as health policy nurse specialists.

For in-depth information on the Health Policy Specialty Programs, please visit:

Specialty Areas

Nursing and Health Policy: Making a Difference

The Nurse as Health Policy Specialist. Nurses with policy expertise are assuming leadership roles in advocacy, research, analysis, and policy development, implementation and evaluation.

SBS Research

The research mission of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences is 1) to advance knowledge in nursing health policy and in sociology through theoretically-informed, methodologically rigorous qualitative and quantitative research; and 2) to examine the broad dynamics of health, healing, and the production of knowledge and technologies and their applications in these domains with special focus on inequalities. Department faculty are actively involved in a wide variety of research activities in local, national, and global arenas. Topics are related to the teaching programs and the mission of the department and include tobacco control, health disparities, gender and HIV/AIDS, biomedicalization, anti-violence, health professions, health demography, aging and long-term care policies both domestically and globally.

SBS is affiliated with the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging, an organized research unit of the campus which conducts research in the following areas: health economics, substance abuse, disability, health and diverse populations, aging and long-term care, women's health, healthy and active aging, and other areas.

SBS is part of the UCSF Center for Health and Community, a group of health policy and social sciences departments and research units within the university sharing a common mission that includes advancing innovative partnerships, interdisciplinary programs and service to the community; providing students with the basic and applied aspects of social and behavioral sciences and health policy; and improving the quality of education for health professionals and researchers.

Social and Behavioral Sciences