New Kensington campus to offer new bachelor's degree in biobehavioral health

November 05, 2015

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. — Penn State New Kensington and Penn State Greater Allegheny have been granted joint authorization to deliver the bachelor of science in biobehavioral health (BBH) program. The new four-year major will begin in fall 2016.

The BBH program is an innovative and interdisciplinary program designed to explore health from all angles. Scholarship and teaching focuses on how biological, behavioral, psychological, sociocultural, and environmental variables interact to influence health across time scales and levels of analysis. Research topics include physiological processes; health behaviors; genetics and epigenetics; chronic disease; neuroscience; global health; psychological states and processes; environmental exposures; bioethics; health disparities; and intervention science.

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has identified health care and life sciences as one of five “key sectors” of the region’s economy. A report from the Pennsylvania State Data Center has also identified biology and related health industry majors as appealing to students in this region based on labor projections.

“The Pittsburgh area is a center of activity in the health care industry, and students in the BBH major will be able to move into many different fields,” said Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs at the New Kensington campus.

All courses needed for the degree will be offered at each campus, although students in the program should expect to take some courses through a combination of Web-based and face-to-face technology in addition to the traditional classroom setting.

“The program is interdisciplinary and will overlap with our offerings in sciences, psychology, and human development and family studies, giving students a variety of pathways to choose,” Adolph said. “We have a great relationship with our collaborator in this degree program, and students will have the ability to draw upon faculty from both campuses to gain the benefits of their research expertise. This is a wonderful addition to our program portfolio."

The program will be co-coordinated by Jyotsna “Josi” Kalavar, professor of human development and family studies at New Kensington, and John Peles, professor of biology at Greater Allegheny

Collaboration with Penn State campuses and other higher education institutions is trending at New Kensington. The administration of justice program, which was established in 2010, is a joint venture by the New Kensington, Beaver and Shenango campuses. New Kensington recently signed an articulation agreement with Butler County Community College allowing BC3 students to make a smooth progression to the campus and Penn State’s 13 other Commonwealth campuses.

With the addition of the new program, the New Kensington campus now offers nine baccalaureate degrees and five associate degrees. Students can earn bachelor of science degrees in administration of justice, business, electro-mechanical engineering technology, information sciences and technology, nursing and psychology, and bachelor of arts in communications and psychology.

For more on admission to the administration of justice degree program, call the admissions office at 724-334-LION or 888-968-PAWS.

For the biobehavioral health requirements and curriculum, visit

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Last Updated November 05, 2015