Health education remains an extremely high-demand career field considering current efforts to improve the population’s health outcomes as well as decrease medical costs. With a master’s degree in health education, individuals who already work in the healthcare field can better help individuals to achieve wellness in a variety of settings, ranging from hospitals to doctor’s offices, health departments and nonprofit organizations.
An excellent way for current health field professionals to enhance their skill set and gain a competitive edge in the job market is to earn an online master’s degree in health education. On this page, we offer a glimpse at what students learn in this type of degree program. We also underline the highest-ranking online health education master’s degree programs. Take a peek to see if this type of degree program would be a good fit for you and which program may suit you best.
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What to Know About Online Master’s in Health Education Coursework
An online master’s degree program in health education teaches students how to design healthcare plans aimed at enhancing communities’ quality of life. Students learn about topics such as behavioral and social health, lifespan wellness and communicable diseases. Students also get to explore the cultural and social divisions that influence people’s lifestyles and discover how community health problems have been tackled in the past. Other topics studied include healthcare marketing, program management and even statistical analysis.
What Common Courses are Offered in a Master’s in Health Education Program?
Take a look at these five sample courses you may encounter as part of an online health education master’s degree program.
Health Care Statistics
In this course, students learn how to use inferential and descriptive statistics in the healthcare industry. They have the opportunity formulate data procurement plans by analyzing actual field data. They also learn how to disseminate published data from health research.
Community Health Assessment
Students in this course gain the skills they need to evaluate a community’s health. They focus on healthcare system and economic issues, health policy, environmental influences and health behaviors in disease prevention and health promotion.
Principles of Epidemiology
This course teaches students about the various epidemiologic issues, methods and concepts that play a role in the analysis, interpretation and assessment of health data. The course introduces students to the epidemiologic methods utilized in disease outbreak investigation and surveillance and allows them to apply these advanced methods to public health problems.
Public Health Program Development
This course introduces students to program evaluation and development principles in the public health field. Course topics include public health program evaluation, implementation, development and design to improve community and individual health.
Health Education & Communication
In this course, students learn how to design health education campaigns by using both traditional and modern communication methods to deliver health education that is culturally appropriate.
What Specializations are Available in a Master’s in Health Education Program?
Different types of master’s degrees in health education are available. For instance, students may choose health education–focused masters of science, masters of public health, masters of education, or masters of arts. These options have their own unique outcomes and goals, thus impacting each program’s focus.
In addition, some online master’s degree programs in health education allow students to specialize in certain aspects of the field. These specializations may include community health/ health promotion, workplace wellness and teacher certification, for example.
These master’s of health education specializations are different from what students face in an MBA program, where specializations are more related to business/administration (for instance, human resources, marketing, finance, health administration or economics).
Take a look at a few common master’s degree in health education specializations below.
Community Health/ Health Promotion
This specialization is an ideal fit for students who are interested in implementing and designing health programs. With this specialization, students explore the influences of health behavior, advocacy, leadership and research/evaluation.
Through this specialization, students learn how to develop, assess and evaluate worker wellness programs. This includes developing activities that promote health among employees, such as weight loss, exercise and smoking cessation activities. This may ultimately help to reduce healthcare costs as well as boost worker productivity.
This specialization is designed for students who wish to provide health education in the school setting. Students explore the theory of education courses.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
In a master’s degree program in health education, students might have to complete an internship during which they demonstrate their public health skills and knowledge. A faculty member and health organization onsite preceptor evaluate a student’s performance as part of this onsite education experience.
In addition, a capstone course/practicum might require students to complete a comprehensive service or work project. For example, they may have to plan and implement a program that promotes community health or complete a health education research project at an institution or agency. The purpose of such a portfolio/thesis project is to determine if the student has mastered the concepts throughout the course of the program.
How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master’s in Health Education Program?
With such a large number of health education programs available, choosing the best one for you can be challenging. Here are a few things to consider when looking for the right online master’s degree program in health education. Students who would like to increase their health education employment opportunities should choose a master’s degree program that is nationally or regionally accredited. In addition, they should look for a program that has received accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, or CEPH. These programs will equip them to complete the Certified Health Education Specialist, or CHES, examination. The examination is available through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. There is also a Master Certified Health Education Specialist, or MCHES, examination for advanced practitioners (those who have industry work experience totaling five years). The certifications that result from passing these exams prove a person’s competency in this field. The best health education programs offer comprehensive training that gives students exposure to various aspects of the multifaceted field, thus qualifying them for a wide variety of health education positions.
If a student plans to teach health education in the school setting, check to ensure the desired online program is eligible to acquire certification in the state in which he or she resides, as this may not always be the case.
Career Opportunities with a Master's in Health Education Degree
An online master’s degree in health education will give you the skills you need to succeed in a number of job positions in this growing field. Here are a few of these roles. Please note that these jobs may require additional training or licensing in addition to a master’s in health education degree.
These professionals provide guidance and instructions to both groups and individuals. They topics they cover may range from alcohol and drug prevention to emergency medical practices, bone disease/prevention and even teenage pregnancy.
Median Salary: $43,718 per year
Currently Employed: 118,500
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 16%
These individuals oversee their entire healthcare institutions, completing duties such as accounting, dispensing budgets, and generating reports and rate plans. They also create brand-new health programs, recruit employees and determine what training their employees need, as well as how to implement it.
Median Salary: $65,033 per year
Currently Employed: 352,200
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 20%
These professionals are responsible for overseeing private medical facilities’ or government agencies’ social services departments. These individuals manage the provision of services aimed at improving clients’ standard of living. As part of their roles, they must hire, train and evaluate staff.
Median Salary: $48,699 per year
Currently Employed: 147,300
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 18%
These professionals help clients to produce diet plans that are nutritionally sound and that align with their unique goals and needs. They also provide instruction on nutrition. They can work for health maintenance organizations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations or public health clinics.
Median Salary: $51,738 per year
Currently Employed: 68,000
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 15%
These professionals provide health instruction to high school students. They are also responsible for grading homework, tests and projects and may additionally have to oversee extracurricular activities.
Median Salary: $48,561 per year
Currently Employed: 1,018,700
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 8%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
What’s the Expected Job Outlook for Health Education Careers?
As indicated above, the health education field will be in high demand during the next decade. One reason for this is that social service providers, healthcare providers and governments are all increasingly striving to improve people’s quality of care while simultaneously reducing costs. They will rely on health educators to teach individuals healthy living habits that can help them to avoid expensive medical procedures and costly diseases.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Health Education
In addition to completing an online master’s degree in health education, students may benefit from joining professional organizations for networking purposes. Here are a few worth considering.
- American Public Health Association This organization promotes all communities’ and people’s health. It also strives to influence policy at the federal level and presents public health–related research at its annual meeting. The organization additionally spearheads campaigns designed to increase public awareness about public health.
- Society for Public Health Education This organization raises awareness about the links between health education–related subjects. It also works to build health educators’ skills and enables its chapters at the local level to collaborate with their communities to decrease health disparities.
- National Commission for Health Education Credentialing This commission managers MCHES and CHES certification. Its main goal is to maintain a high level of skills among today’s health educators, so it continuously promotes certification value.
How to Pay for a Master’s in Health Education Degree
Oftentimes graduate students could use some financial help for covering the cost of their college education. Although financial aid can help to ease the financial burden of an online master’s degree program in health education, here are a few scholarship/fellowship options for students as well. Before applying for any scholarship program, students should first fill out a federal FASFA form.
Numerous organizations offer scholarship options for the health education field. The CANFIT Scholarship Program is available for California students who are studying subjects such as dietetics, public health, health education or nutrition. Eligible students include graduate students who are of Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian, African American, Alaskan Native or Pacific Islander descent and who demonstrate financial need. The Christie’s Foundation Health Education Scholarship is available to full-time students who are studying in approved health-related programs, including those at the graduate level. The scholarship is available to those who have graduated from certain schools in Illinois. Students must show that they have leadership potential and have a 3.0 grade point average to qualify.
Some schools and organization offer fellowships to students studying health education. For example, the Marion B. Pollock Fellowship awards $3,000 annually to school health teachers who are completing master’s-level health education studies. Qualified candidates must be completing their studies at accredited universities and have at least two years of health teaching experience.