If you have a passion for the health and wellness of your community, and are not afraid to tackle taboo topics, you should consider one of the best master’s degrees in Health Education and Promotion.
Vaccinations. Vaping. Vasectomies. What do all of these things share in common? Beyond alliteration, all three are common teaching topics for health educators!
Health educators are concerned with the overall wellness of society. They educate folks about the prevention of spreadable diseases, the side effects of harmful substances, different methods of contraception, the importance of annual checkups and screenings, and so much more! Health education and promotion is a field that saves—and enriches—millions of lives each year.
What is a Master’s in Health Education and Promotion Degree?
Closely adjacent to the broader field of public health, a Master’s in Health Education and Promotion is a dynamic degree that positions you as a spokesperson for wellness.
A master’s program in this field typically takes one to three years to complete. Coursework ranges from specific healthcare topics like epidemiology to broader issues like health policy. You will draw heavily from fields such as biology, social sciences, and public health.
Students in this field can take slightly different pathways through career-driven concentration areas. Here are a few common options:
- Healthcare Administration
- Workplace Wellness
- Drug and Alcohol Education
Depending on the program, you may be required to have a few years of experience in a health-related field. At the very least, you will be expected to have an undergraduate degree in a related major.
Careers for Health Education and Promotion majors
After graduating from a Health Education and Promotion program, you can apply your skills to a variety of careers. The most common one, of course, is to work as a Health Educator. Jobs in this field are available in both the public and private sector.
The variance in this job is best seen through the multiple settings in which you can practice. For example, you can work as a health educator in a healthcare facility, a school system, a public health department, a nonprofit, or even in a private business. Local governments sometimes hire health educators to address community-specific health issues.
Depending on the program you select (and your home state), you might be qualified to earn a teaching license. In this capacity, you could teach health promotion in a secondary education setting. As is probably apparent by now, health education does not just happen in schools! Your degree is relevant in nearly all sectors.
Master’s in Health Education and Promotion salary potential
Health educators enjoy a lucrative salary for the life-saving work they do. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health educators earn a median salary of $54,220. However, the highest-earning 10 percent of folks make upwards of $98k each year.
You’ll find the highest earning potential in hospital and government health education jobs. The lowest earning brackets are for careers in individual and family services.
Regardless of the setting, however, you will be relieved to know that health education careers are on the rise. Health education has proven to be a literal life-saver in preventing harmful behaviors and deadly diseases. As such, this field is experiencing a surge in demand, and is anticipated to grow by 11 percent in the next ten years.
What are the Best Master’s in Health Education and Promotion Degrees?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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The University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, was established in 1850 as the University of Deseret. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of Utah and is also home to the state’s first medical school. The university’s health care system includes 12 community clinics and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Utah is home to a Master of Science program in Health Education Specialist & Wellness Coaching. The program was recently created from the merger of Utah’s Master of Science in Health Promotion & Education program with its kinesiology graduate program. There is also a Ph.D. available for students who want to continue on after earning an MS.
The program is designed to be completed in two years and one summer (for a total of five semesters). The curriculum includes 40-41 credit hours of overall coursework. Students complete courses in Applied Behavior Change, Grant Writing, Epidemiology, and Health Instruction & Communication. Students take one elective course and two practical experience courses during the program.
This is a non-thesis program that is billed as the only one in the country to offer an MS that prepares graduates to sit for both the Certified Health Education Specialist exam and the National Health & Wellness Coach certification exam.
Oklahoma State University was originally known as the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College. The Carnegie Foundation classifies Oklahoma State as having the “Highest Research Activity.” OSU’s Homecoming is often called “America’s Greatest Homecoming,” with more than 70,000 people participating in events such as the Harvest Carnival, Walkaround, and the Sea of Orange Parade.
Oklahoma State’s School of Applied Health and Educational Psychology is home to a Master of Science in Health and Health Performance. Students can also choose one of three areas of specialization to add to the degree: Health Promotion, Applied Exercise Science, or Physical Education.
Students can choose either a thesis or non-thesis track, each of which requires 36 credit hours of coursework. The thesis track includes six credit hours of thesis work and an oral defense. The non-thesis plan requires students to complete a creative component, an oral defense of the creative component, and a comprehensive exam.
The program’s health promotion option includes 12 hours of core courses, 12 hours of required courses, and six to nine hours of electives. Students completing the thesis version of the program take six hours of thesis coursework. Non-thesis students complete a three-credit Field Problems course, along with an additional elective.
East Carolina University is a public university located in Greenville, NC. The school was originally founded as a teacher training school, but now has six campuses, including a Health Sciences Campus at the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. This campus is also home to the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center and the Brody Medicine Science Building.
East Carolina offers a Master of Arts in Health Education and Promotion that is designed for people who are currently employed or interested in pursuing a career in academic, clinical, community, or corporate settings. Students who complete the program are prepared to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist exam.
Applicants to the program are required to have an overall GPA of at least 2.7 in their undergraduate coursework. Students must also submit scores from either the GRE or the MAT exam. Students who are deficient in one of these areas can remove such deficiencies through supplemental coursework as stated in a student’s offer letter.
The curriculum requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. Students take 18 hours of required courses before choosing one of three completion options: thesis, internship, or further coursework. The internship option includes 240 hours and weekly activity reports, along with a culminating report.
Texas A&M University is the largest university in the state of Texas, by enrollment, and the second-largest university in the United States. The “A&M” in the school’s name originally identified the school as an Agricultural and Mechanical one, though now it mostly serves a historical purpose.
Texas A&M is home to a Master of Science in Health Education. The master's program is a 36-credit hour degree that includes both thesis and non-thesis degree plan options. The curriculum has three main learning outcomes: developing a working knowledge of health education literature, developing reading and writing skills in research, and preparing students for professional leadership.
There are 21 credit hours of core courses in the program; these include Organization & Administration of Health Programs, Health Program Planning, and Behavioral Foundation in Health Education. The thesis plan also includes a 1-credit capstone, nine hours of electives, and five hours of research. The non-thesis plan includes 15 hours of elective courses.
The University of South Carolina enrolls more than 50,000 students, with 34,000 alone at the school’s main campus in Columbia, SC. The school has an endowment of over $809 million and employs more than 1,600 academic staff members. USC has professional schools educating students in business, engineering, law, medicine, pharmacy, and social work.
South Carolina’s program is a Master of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior. On top of the on-campus MPH program, there is also an online version of the program for working professionals, as well as a dual degree option with the university’s Master of Social Work program.
Students complete 45 credit hours of total coursework, which is divided among 16 hours of core, 12 hours of departmental core, 12 hours of electives, and five hours of applied practice experience. Departmental Core courses cover topics such as Theoretical Foundations of Health Promotion, Health Promotion Research Methods, and Community Health Development.
Loma Linda University is a Seventh-Day Adventist school that opened in 1906 offering courses in religion, humanities, industrial sciences, and nursing/medicine. Its School of Public Health was founded in 1967, and it now offers Master of Public Health, Master of Business Administration, and Doctor of Public Health programs.
Loma Linda offers a Master of Public Health program with an emphasis in Nutrition. The program is designed to take two years to complete and prepares students to pursue careers in public health nutrition with government agencies, community health centers, ambulatory health clinics, and industries.
The program requires 57 units of coursework. Credits are divided among corequisites, public health core, major courses, religion, and cognates/electives. The religion requirement refers to an Ethical Issues in Public Health course. Major courses include Nutritional Metabolism and Advanced Public Health Nutrition. Loma Linda also has a Doctor of Public Health program in Health Education and Promotion.
California State University, Northridge has the largest undergraduate enrollment of any university in the Cal State system. There are more than 2,100 faculty members at the university, including more than 800 tenure-track faculty. CSUN has been recognized for having one of the best film schools in the United States.
Cal State Northridge offers a Master of Public Health program that is available both in-person and online. Courses in this two-year (seven-term) degree cover five core areas: biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy and management, and social and behavioral sciences. There is also field training in the program, where students work in the public sector to gain practical experience.
Courses are taught using a cohort format, so groups of students move through the program’s sequence of courses together. This starts with courses such as Current Issues in Health Education and Advanced Concepts of Health Behavior, before eventually progressing to Seminar: Community Health Action and Communication in Health Education.
Students enter the program from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds. Recent cohorts have included students from the health professions and sciences, as well as sociology and public health administration. Graduates have gone on to work for community-based organizations, in clinical and patient education, and health advocacy.
Kent State University’s main campus is located in Kent, OH, but it also has regional campuses in Warren, OH, New York City, and Florence, Italy. Kent State gained national attention as one of the main sites of student activism in the 1960s and ‘70s, especially in response to the Vietnam War.
Kent State’s Master of Education (M.Ed.) has two concentration options for students to choose between: community health education and school health education. The former requires students to complete 33 credit hours of coursework, while the latter requires a total of 35 credit hours. The school health education concentration prepares students to pursue a school health licensure in Ohio.
Foundational courses are shared between the programs, such as Foundations of Health Education and Promotion, as well as Needs Assessment and Program Planning in Health Promotion. Elective courses from each program include: Advocacy and Policy Issues, from the community health track, and Drug Abuse & Violence Prevention, from the school health education track.
East Stroudsburg University opened in 1893 as the East Stroudsburg Normal School, which was a private preparatory school for teachers. In 1960, the Pennsylvania-based school became a state college, and it eventually gained full university status in 1983. Today, there are more than 1,100 postgraduate students at the university’s main campus in East .
East Stroudsburg offers a Master of Science in Health Education. Coursework in the program is designed to prepare students to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist and the Master Certified Health Education Specialist exams, which are offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.
The curriculum includes 30 credit hours, and all courses are delivered online. The program generally takes two years to complete, and courses are sequenced in their delivery and offering. They include Determinants of Disease, Health Education Methods Workshop, and Scientific Foundations of Health Behavior.
The program ends with a culminating capstone experience/project. The project is designed to be “experimental” in nature and serves to synthesize the scope of knowledge, theory, leadership, and advocacy developed throughout the program. Students are encouraged to gear the project toward their future role as a health promotion professional.
#10. Marymount University
Marymount University is a Catholic university located in Arlington, VA. The school’s mascot is a Saint Bernard known as “Bernie Da-Dog.” Bernie has his own LinkedIn page, though he has only two connections. Marymount is a member of the Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which allows students to take courses or check out books from the libraries of any of the 14 member schools.
Marymount is home to a Master of Science program in Health Education & Promotion. Graduates of the program had a 100% pass rate on the Certified Health Education Specialist exam in both 2017 and 2018. The program helps students learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs in a variety of settings.
Coursework in the program exposes students to subjects such as behavior change, health communication, theoretical framework, and research methods. Students can take electives to focus on certain areas of professional interest. The program’s culminating experience is an internship that is combined with a faculty-mentored research project.
Nebraska Medical College of Nursing & Allied Health, also known as Nebraska Methodist College, was ranked as the eighth-best Primary Care Medical School in the United States by U.S. World News & Report in 2019. Nebraska Medical has an annual budget of $741 million, and its student population is just over 4,000. It was one of the three medical centers chosen to receive Ebola patients during the 2014 Ebola epidemic.
Nebraska Methodist College has an online Master of Science degree program in Wellness and Health Promotion Management. Students can choose between concentrations in either Worksite & Community Wellness or Medical Fitness Management. Both tracks prepare students to pursue professional certifications in their given field.
The program can be completed in 19-22 months, with courses delivered in 5- to 10-week-long formats. The curriculum includes 36 credit hours of coursework and course content can be accessed at any time of day. Students complete a practice-based capstone rather than an original or research-based thesis.
Touro University is a private university system based in New York City. It was originally founded to focus on higher education in the Jewish community. While the school maintains connections to the Jewish community, it now serves a diverse population of over 18,000 students. Touro University Worldwide is the school’s online learning platform.
Touro offers a Master of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Health Education. Graduates of the program are prepared to assume leadership roles in settings such as communities, schools, medical care, and worksites. Students often use the program to earn raises or promotions in their current workplaces.
The MSHS curriculum includes 12 courses: eight core courses and four electives. Core courses cover Health Through the LifeSpan, Legal and Ethical Issues in Public Health, and Health Behavior and Change. Elective options can include Aging and Health Education and Mental Health and Society.
The program aligns with the standards necessary to prepare students for the Certified Health Education Specialist and Master Certified Health Education Specialist certifications. Applicants to the program must hold a bachelor’s degree with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.5.
Maryland University of Integrative Health was founded in 1974 as the College of Chinese Acupuncture. It has previously operated under the names Tai Sophia Institute and the Traditional Acupuncture Institute. It gained full university status in 2013, at which point it also received approval to offer graduate degrees. The school’s campus is in Laurel, MD.
MUIH offers a Master of Science in Health Promotion, which is designed to give students an understanding of both theoretical and practical understandings of health promotion. Students complete 33 or 34 credit hours of coursework. The program can be completed fully online in as little as two years.
Courses in the program cover wellness practices such as mindfulness, movement/physical activity, and integrative and functional nutrition. Students choose between concentration options in either Community Health Education or Workplace Wellness. Students are not required to submit standardized test scores for admission.
Idaho State University is a public university located in Pocatello, ID. ISU has over 280 different academic programs, both at its main campus and at regional campuses in Meridian, Idaho Falls, and Twin Falls. It is designated as the state’s lead institution for health professionals and medical education.
Idaho State University’s Master of Health Education program is delivered in a non-cohort format and can be completed in as few as 12 months. Students progress through a preset series of courses, which total 30 credit hours. Students can enroll on a full- or part-time basis, and there are both online and in-person class options available.
Students in the program are eligible for teaching assistantships. Program faculty members bring a mixture of both academic and professional experience to the classroom. Student-to-teacher ratios are kept small in each class, to ensure that students receive the focused attention they need to succeed.
Saint Joseph’s University’s school mascot, Hawk, is always flapping his wings while he is in costume, which is a nod to the school’s motto: “The Hawk Will Never Die.” SJU is a Jesuit university with its main campus split between Philadelphia and Lower Merion, PA. It has a basketball rivalry with Villanova University, which is known as “the Holy War.”
Saint Joseph’s University offers a Master of Science program in Health Education. The program curriculum emphasizes the value of diversity in society and teaches students to embrace cross-cultural approaches in encouraging health-related behavioral and social changes. The program is designed to be completed in 24 months.
Students choose between two concentration options: Applied Behavioral Analysis or Health Promotion and Wellness. Both tracks require students to complete 36 credit hours of coursework. Core courses shared by the tracks include Epidemiology and Community Health, Program Planning for Wellness, and Health Services Research.
Students can enroll in either the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The average class size is just 15 students. The most recent cohort of students brought an average of seven years’ work experience to the program; a minimum of two years of experience is recommended for all applicants.