History of Health Sciences

The History of Health Sciences (HHS) program trains students to examine the history of health sciences (broadly interpreted to include all of the healing professions and all aspects of the biomedical research enterprise) from a variety of critical approaches. With an emphasis on modern (late nineteenth to twenty-first century) contexts, the program's faculty and students investigate how medicine, health, and illness are historically perceived, and how these perceptions reflect and shape culture and society. Our students are enabled to enroll in courses at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford, and we work closely with colleagues at Berkeley's Center for Science, Technology, Medicine & Society (CSTMS).

Academic programs


The Ph.D. program is composed of two years of coursework and three years of dissertation work. The average time to completion for Ph.D. students and candidates in the HHS program since 2004 has been five years.


The master's degree program is two years of coursework that culminates in either a thesis or exams.

Student-to-faculty ratio

On average, the ratio of students to faculty in the HHS program is 2:1, meaning there is usually one faculty member for every two students. We do this to ensure that students selected for our program receive the best support possible in their academic and research endeavors.

Application process

Applications for entering the History of Health Sciences graduate program are not being accepted at this time. Please check back during next admission cycle for updates.


Disability statement

The History of Health Sciences program is committed to providing access to graduate students with disabilities. Applicants with disabilities, who are invited for interviews, will be offered reasonable accommodations if requested.

UCSF does not require that students with disabilities disclose their disability status on the admissions application. Decisions around disability disclose are personal and should be carefully considered.

If admitted, students with disabilities will be encouraged to (first) disclose to the Office of Student Disability Services (SDS). SDS is the appropriate and confidential office for seeking accommodations and will coordinate communications and procedures with the student and faculty.

Our alumni

Our alumni have gone on to professional careers across a variety of fields--from teaching history at the college and university level to working in the private sector or as independent scholars--and we are proud of their accomplishments and contributions. Please take a moment to review our list of alumni and their dissertation titles.

Frequently asked questions

If you have more questions about our program, please feel free to consult our program handbook, the frequently asked questions list below, or contact our program administrator. You may also view the History of Health Sciences Bylaws.