Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH) at USF prepares you to address disparities in the current health care delivery system. As a student in our program, you will examine the intersection of social, physical and psychological factors that impact health and well-being. Through inter-disciplinary classes, fieldwork experiences, and a capstone project, you learn psychosocial interventions as well as tools for planning, managing and evaluating community-based programs and services.

Our graduates have learned to become effective team members, who have acquired the tools to improve the accessibility and delivery of health and mental health programs. We look to our graduates to become leaders in designing the evidence-based, integrated health practices that are the cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act.

What is Behavioral Health?

Some use the term "behavioral health" to refer strictly to mental health care or substance abuse counseling. At USF we think of behavioral health more broadly. In our MSBH program, behavioral health involves analyzing and understanding how human behavior is influenced by social, physical and mental factors and how human behavior, in turn, impacts physical well-being, empowerment, and engagement in all aspects of care.

The Master of Science in Behavioral Health program is ideal for candidates who are:

  • Interested in human behavior, especially the intersection between mental and physical health
  • Wanting to start a career in behavioral healthcare
  • Currently working in the healthcare system and wanting additional skills in interdisciplinary team leadership, program evaluation, and project management
  • Wanting a foundation for other careers such as medicine or dentistry

Program Highlights

  • The program can be completed in 12 months
  • Classes meet twice a week in the evenings
  • Courses are designed to teach practical, real-world skills
  • The curriculum is fully integrated so that courses build on one another
  • Classes are small, inter-professional and highly interactive
  • Internships, located throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, allow students to apply classroom learning in the field under the guidance of a preceptor and USF faculty
  • Faculty are accomplished academics and practitioners

Why Should You Study Behavioral Health at USF?

Our program director, students, and School of Nursing and Health Professions administration share why USF is the right choice for behavioral health studies in our evolving healthcare environment.

Program Details

A full-time student can complete the MSBH program in 12 months (3 consecutive semesters). The curriculum pattern below reflects a typical full-time course plan. Students may also enroll as part-time students. The curriculum pattern for part-time students will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may include some alternative classes not listed below.

MS in Behavioral Health courses are offered in the evenings beginning at 5 p.m. Full-time students can expect to come to campus twice each week. Contact us for more information about the unique blended format of the MSBH program. Fieldwork hours are completed at a community agency in the Bay Area and are generally completed during daytime work hours.

Course List

The course list is a sample curriculum pattern and is subject to change. This pattern is for full-time MSBH students. Part-time students and students enrolled in dual degree options will have different curriculum patterns depending upon their program’s requirements.


  • BH 603: Applied Research Methods | 3 credits
  • BH 623: Team Leadership and Inter-professional Collaboration | 2 credits
  • MPH 636: Program Planning, Management, and Evaluation | 4 credits
  • BH 612: Introduction to Community Health Concepts | 2 credits
  • BH 614: Foundational Skills for Behavioral Health Practice | 1 credit


  • BH 624: Chronic Conditions: Biopsychosocial Aspects & Interventions | 3 credits
  • MPH 622: Communicating for Healthy Behavior and Social Change | 4 credits
  • BH 621: Legal, Ethical and Professional Issues in Behavioral Health | 2 credits
  • BH 615: Project Management and Quality Improvement | 2 credits
  • BH 626: Behavioral Health Fieldwork I 2 credits


  • PsyD 728 Integrated Behavioral Health in Primary Care | 3 credits
  • BH 640 Behavioral Health Informatics | 3 credits
  • BH 646 Behavioral Health Fieldwork II & Capstone | 3 credits


Admission to the Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH) program is based on an overall appraisal of the applicant's preparedness for graduate-level study.

Employment background, previous academic coursework and preparedness, research interests, and long-term professional goals are all factors that are considered as part of admission to the MSBH program.

Application Materials

All application materials should be uploaded through the online application form. The School of Nursing & Health Professions Office of Graduate Admissions does not accept mailed materials.

Applicants can check their application status online or by contacting the School of Nursing & Health Professions Office of Graduate Admissions at

Application Requirements

The following requirements are considered in the review of applications:

  1. A completed online application and fee
  2. Completion of a bachelor's degree (in any field) from an accredited institution
  3. Prerequisites: College-level courses in both psychology and statistics or research methods are required. Applicants can meet these prerequisite requirements if they took AP courses in these subjects during high school. Applicants applying to the MSBH program prior to taking these prerequisites can be admitted on a conditional basis. Note that admitted students must complete conditional admission requirements prior to full admission and start of classes.
  4. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges/universities attended. Official or unofficial transcripts should be uploaded through the online application form. Transcripts must reflect the name of the institution attended, degree earned, grades earned, and GPA. Applicants should ensure that all transcripts are readable once uploaded. Submission of official transcripts is ONLY required for all admitted students who decide to enroll. For non-U.S. transcripts, applicants please submit translated transcripts.
  5. Grade point average of 3.0 or higher
  6. Personal statement with two (2) required parts. Please write a separate essay for each prompt.
    • Part 1: What do you consider the most pressing concern in healthcare today? Why? Please present at least 3 reasons to support your claim.
    • Part 2: Tell us about your interest in working in behavioral health with under-served populations. Please include relevant information about your values, work history, life experience and education that have led you to pursue this degree. What do you hope to learn from the MS in Behavioral Health program?
    • Part 3 (Optional): Is there anything else you would like the admissions committee to note about you and your application materials?
  7. Two letters of recommendation. Applicants are required to submit letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to their competence and ability to be successful at a graduate level of study. Letters should discuss the applicant's ability to succeed academically and should speak to his or her potential for professional growth in the field of behavioral health. In the online form, enter the names and e-mail addresses for recommenders. They will receive an e-mail from USF with instructions to upload their letter.
  8. Résumé
    We are interested in the progression and mix of responsibilities in your work and volunteer experience and your skills. Experience should be for college and beyond (no high school).
  9. For international students only:
    • Certification of Finances form or Letter of Support
    • Bank statement(s) that indicate funds for the total costs
    • A copy of passport copy
    • English Language Exam: Official TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores
    • International Transcripts: Your transcripts need to be in the original language of your university, AND in English translation.
    • Refer to the International Graduate Student Admission page for test score requirements and additional information.

MSBH Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the MSBH program, students will be able to:

  • Advocate for social justice, equity, and ethical practices in healthcare and social services
  • Analyze physical, psychological, sociocultural, health system and political factors that affect health and wellbeing
  • Partner with service consumers, community stakeholders, and other care providers to identify barriers to care access and quality
  • Contribute proficiently to the design, implementation, and evaluation of effective and efficient healthcare and community programs
  • Effectively incorporate evidence-based practices and behavioral change theories to inform health and wellness education and program development and implementation
  • Plan and manage projects, quality improvement efforts, and staff development programs
  • Synthesize primary and secondary data in professional quality reports and presentations


Graduates of the Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH) have diverse career options.

MSBH graduates might work in:

  • Hospitals, clinics, and health plans to educate patients on healthy lifestyles, help patients and families connect with community resources, and coach patients on managing chronic disease
  • Healthcare organizations to conduct community health needs assessments, manage projects and lead quality improvement efforts
  • Nonprofit/voluntary organizations to advocate and develop services related to a particular disease or priority population
  • Public health departments to lead community outreach efforts, coalitions, and community partnerships
  • Municipal/county/state public health departments and military to promote and protect the health and mental health of all populations living in their geographic area and achieve public health goals
  • Colleges and university health centers to help young adults improve their health and reduce risky behaviors
  • Business/Industry to design and manage workplace wellness programs addressing common health problems among employees
  • College/university health education programs to train future health education specialists and to conduct research on effective programs, policies, and interventions
  • K-12 schools to assist students adopt healthful behaviors thereby improving academic performance
Last updated Jun 2018

About the School

The School of Nursing and Health Professions follows the University of San Francisco’s mission to provide a liberal arts education rooted in the Jesuit tradition of diversity, justice and global persp ... Read More

The School of Nursing and Health Professions follows the University of San Francisco’s mission to provide a liberal arts education rooted in the Jesuit tradition of diversity, justice and global perspectives. Read less
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