The health education field is growing at an above-average rate due to the need to educate people about healthier behaviors. Graduates are prepared to teach in a variety of settings, and health education employment is projected to grow 13% between 2014 and 2024.
Many programs provide master’s students with a chance to conduct their own research and fieldwork. An online master’s in health education will prepare you to have a positive impact on the public and your entire community by advocating for change and creating programs that promote better health.
Choosing a Program
DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?
Admission requirements vary by program, but many of the best master’s degrees in health education do not require previous work experience. It’s common for programs to require students to submit a current resume, and only in some cases are a number of years required in the field. Students with significant work experience may be able to waive a practicum or required aptitude test.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?
Many programs differ in concentrations offered, number of credits required, and program length. Other factors to consider are whether a program is entirely online and cost of tuition. If a program is not offered completely online, then students will be required to complete certain parts on campus. By figuring out what learning formats work best for you, choosing the right program will be easier.
CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION?
Flexibility is a key component of many online master’s in health education programs, with options for full-time or part-time study that benefit working professionals. Most programs can be completed entirely online or with minimal on-campus requirements. Online classes are taught in a synchronous or asynchronous format. Synchronous courses require students to participate in online courses at a specific time. Asynchronous courses allow students to complete assignments on their own schedule.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION ONLINE?
There are many advantages to earning your degree online, including flexible course schedules, the ability to work from any location, and being able to maintain current employment. If the program requires a practicum, you may be able to complete it in your current city, which could lead to future employment. Some universities also offer lower tuition rates for online students.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE MASTER'S IN HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAMS?
|Rank||School Name||Ranking Score||Relative Cost||% Enrolled Online||Location||Description|
|1||Maryland University of Integrative Health||68.08||N/A||N/A||Laurel, MD||
Maryland University began as an acupuncture clinic in 1974. By 1981, the clinic began offering acupuncture training, and it's now one of the few graduate universities in the nation dedicated to integrative health. MUIH offers several programs online and its online master's degree in health education is considered one of best in the country. Distance learning from MUIH emphasizes inclusion in a scholarly online community where students learn valuable skills that prepare them for careers as compassionate healers. The MS in health promotion offers two concentrations: community health education and workplace wellness. Students enrolled in the community health education concentration learn how to assess group health challenges and develop effective intervention strategies. Courses include transformative communication strategies and topics in diversity for health and healing. Online coursework is delivered asynchronously through Canvas. Students are required to earn between 33 and 34 credits to graduate.
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|2||University of South Carolina-Columbia||66.06||2%||Columbia, SC||
South Carolina has offered higher education programs for more than 200 years. The research institution is one of the nation's few universities designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a leader in research productivity and community involvement. The university supports a diverse student body by offering a variety of quality, accessible programs, including one of the best online master's in health education programs. The program is 45 credits and can be completed in approximately two years. The online degree is geared toward professionals in the healthcare industry, schools, and community organizations. Students of the master of public health program gain skills in advocacy and leadership. Courses include concepts of environmental health science and planning health promotion programs. Each online course takes eight-weeks to complete, and students participate in two, 14 week practicum experiences upon completion of coursework. Most students complete the program in 24 to 26 months.
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|3||East Carolina University||59.63||34%||Greenville, NC||
East Carolina, located in Greenville, is a public research institution that serves almost 29,000 students annually. The university's academic programs emphasize accessible training that promotes innovative discovery from a global perspective. The master's in health education online from East Carolina equips students with the skills necessary to thrive professionally in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The MAEd in health education is 36 credits, and full-time students can complete the program in 18 months. The online program is delivered through Blackboard and includes core education and health education courses. Courses include school health planning and evaluation and coordinated school health. Students living in North Carolina are eligible for state licensure. Learners interested in pursuing an online master's in health education from East Carolina can explore the university's online student orientation tutorial, which includes links to the online library, IT help desk, and more.
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|4||Loma Linda University||59.03||N/A||23%||Loma Linda, CA||
Loma Linda, a leader among integrative health educations, offers a Christian approach to healthcare. The university's quality academic programs emphasize the harmony between faith and science, and students are equipped with the skills necessary to serve as healthcare professionals and compassionate healers. The health education master's degree online is the only one of its kind in the state of California. Students enrolled in the program learn how to develop and evaluate health promotion programs while using acquired knowledge in the areas of communication, human behavior and motivation, and organizational behavior. Online courses are delivered through Canvas, and the flexible master of public health program allows students to complete assignments asynchronously. Individuals interested in the program must possess a bachelor's degree and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. All applicants are required to submit GRE scores. Students are required to earn 56 units to graduate.
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|5||Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health||54.51||31%||Omaha, NE||
Nebraska Methodist is located in Omaha. The school is associated with the Methodist Health System. The college takes a holistic approach to healthcare and emphasizes community-focused curricula. The university offers a quality online public health education degree that caters to the needs of busy professionals. The wellness and health promotion management MS degree can be completed in 16-months and takes 33 credits to graduate. Online courses are five-weeks long with one-week of downtime between courses. Each class is taught by one of the university's experienced faculty members. Online students learn how to integrate theories of health science and organizational motivation to develop a culture of wellness. The health education master's online from Nebraska Methodist College prepares students to effectively design, implement, and evaluate health education programs. The online format allows busy professionals to gain the knowledge and expertise necessary for career advancement.
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What else can I expect from an online Master's in Health Education program?
Most master’s in health education programs online will differ by concentrations offered and credits required. Some program also differ by the type of degree a graduate will obtain, with options including a master of science, master of public health, master of education, and master of arts in health education. Each option has different goals and outcomes, which affects the focus of the program.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN HEALTH EDUCATION
|Concentration||Description||Careers this concentration prepares for|
|Health Promotion/Community Health||The health promotion concentration, often called community health, is for students interested in designing and implementing health programs. The curriculum focuses on the causes that influence health behavior, research and evaluation, and leadership and advocacy. It’s common for graduates to meet the requirements to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.||This concentration is an asset to all health educators, especially those who want to manage programs and work with specific populations. Graduates may also work in consulting or become health education writers.|
|Teacher Certification||Teacher certification prepares students to educate in a school setting. The concentration usually includes teacher education and theory of learning courses. Online students should check carefully to ensure they will be able to gain certification in their state of residency.||Careers include health education teacher in a K-12 setting and working in education-related environments, which includes district administration, colleges and universities, and nonprofits.|
|Workplace Wellness||Many organizations are implementing employee wellness programs in order to decrease healthcare costs and increase employee productivity. This concentration teaches students how to assess, develop, and evaluate programs in the workplace and focuses on developing health promotion activities that encourage exercise, smoking cessation, and weight loss.||This is a growing sector of health education that can lead to working as a consultant for many different organizations or as a wellness specialist for a specific company or organization.|
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN HEALTH EDUCATION
Each online master’s in health education has different course requirements. They will also have different core and elective courses. However, many programs cover the same basic information regarding research methodology, program evaluation, and communication. Below is a list of classes that are found in many curriculums.
- Research Methods and Design: Students learn research methods that can apply to individual and group health behavior. It involves analyzing different research designs and learning about instruments and statistics that can be used in research. This knowledge is helpful as students progress into courses about evaluation and begin their practicum.
- Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs: Almost all health education programs include courses that teach students how to conduct health program evaluations. Students are often responsible for planning and implementing an evaluation. This fundamental skill is a core component of most health education jobs.
- Communication Strategies: Health communication messages and campaigns are important to health education careers, so learning communication strategies is essential. Communication theory is applied to the development of messaging.
- Community Health Promotion: This course teaches the fundamentals of organizational development, policy, and evaluation in order to improve health on a community level. Students review the skills involved in planning, implementing, and evaluating community health promotion programs and implement and evaluate their own. It’s an essential course for learners interested in working in wellness and health coaching and in community settings.
- Practicum: Often referred to as fieldwork, the practicum requirement usually involves a work or service project in an agency or institution. Students may be responsible for planning and implementing a research project or health promotion program while under the supervision of faculty. The course often culminates in a presentation or portfolio and, in some cases, leads to full-time employment for the student.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION?
The master’s in health education can usually be completed in one and a half to three years, depending on whether a student attends part-time or full-time. Most degrees require around 36 credits, but some require up to 45.
There are several characteristics that can affect the length of an online master’s degree, including the number of credits required to graduate, course availability, and course load. Field experiences and teaching certifications require students to complete hours of learning outside the classroom. Some programs may allow students to take any number of credits per term, or set their individual pace, while other programs work on a cohort model. Cohorts require students to move through the program at the same pace as their peers, providing a more traditional setting.
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION PREPARES FOR
- Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES): The CHES exam is offered by the National Commision for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. and proves a professional’s competency. The exam includes 165 questions that test knowledge in seven areas of responsibility. Many master’s programs in health education meet the requirements to take the exam.
- Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES): The MCHES is for advanced-level practitioners and tests entry and advanced-level competencies. Practitioners are required to have met academic qualifications, worked in the field for a minimum of five years, and satisfied continuing education requirements. Practitioners who have been CHES-certified for less than five years can still take the MCHES if they have a master’s degree and five years of work experience.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Education Programs
It is important to look for a college or university that is accredited, because accreditation indicates that a school has been evaluated by an outside agency and has passed certain benchmarks. Regional accreditation is considered the highest form of accreditation; there are only seven regional accrediting agencies that are recognized by the Department of Education (DOE). National accreditation is generally for more career-oriented or vocational colleges, so requirements are not as standardized as they are for regional accreditation. Credits from regionally accredited colleges are more widely accepted, and graduate programs often look for students to have an undergraduate degree from a regionally-accredited college.
There are program specific accreditations as well. Online master’s in health education degrees may be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH), but most importantly, students should look for programs that prepare them to take the CHES exam.
Accrediting agencies receive their recognition from either the DOE or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Recognition from the DOE is the most important, because without accreditation from a DOE-approved agency, a college cannot offer federal aid to students, and credits may not transfer to other universities. Many accrediting agencies also apply for CHEA evaluation because of its high standing in the accreditation world. The DOE and CHEA recognize regional, national, and programmatic accreditors. It is important that the DOE and CHEA monitor accrediting agencies, because without oversight, anyone could declare themselves to be an accrediting agency. Prospective students can find a list of accredited schools on the DOE’s website.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Health Education Graduates
Some health educator positions require a master’s degree, particularly in the areas of community health education, school health education, and health promotion. According to Salary.com, health education workers with advanced education earn more than their counterparts with bachelor’s and associate degrees, which also includes a slightly higher starting salary. Completing one of the best master’s degrees in health education online allows you to continue to work while taking courses.
Salary: Education Level of Health Educators
|Health Educator Degree Level||Salary Range: Low end||Salary Range: High end|
|High School Diploma or Technical Certificate||$55,106||$59,521|
MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION SALARY
In addition to degree level, the type of employer has a large impact on the salaries of health educators. Health educators can work in many settings, but median annual salaries can vary by over $20,000 per year. The following table includes data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the median salaries of health educators based on their employment industry.
Health Education Salaries by Employer Type
|Health Educator Employment Industry||Median Annual Salary|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$62,650|
|Ambulatory healthcare services||$52,950|
|Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations||$46,370|
MASTER’S IN HEALTH EDUCATION CAREERS
Students who have earned one of the best master’s degrees in health education will be eligible for a number of career paths. With learned skills in the areas of communication, leadership, evaluation, and research, graduates are prepared for future roles in health education that can include management, teaching, and program coordination. The most common careers include the following:
- Health Educator and Community Health Worker: Health educators teach people how to improve their behaviors to promote wellness. They develop strategies, collect data, and evaluate health promotion programs. This job can be done in a variety of settings, including hospitals, non-profit organizations, the government, and private businesses.
- Medical and Health Services Managers: Also called healthcare administrators, health services managers plan and coordinate health services. This job can be performed in a facility, department, or group medical practice.
- Health Specialties Teacher: This job can involve creating programs and materials at the collegiate or university level on topics that affect young adults, such as nutrition and alcohol consumption. They may also advocate for campus policies that promote health.
- Dieticians and Nutritionists: These professionals promote health and manage disease through the use of food and nutrition. Job settings include hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics.
- Social and Community Service Managers: Social and community service managers coordinate social service programs. They are prepared for work at nonprofits, for-profit social service companies, and government agencies. Many employers prefer that managers have a master’s degree.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Health Educator and Community Health Worker||$44,390||13%|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$96,540||17%|
|Health Specialties Teacher||$75,430||13%|
|Dieticians and Nutritionists||$58,920||16%|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$64,680||10%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Joining a professional organization can be a great asset to a student or recent graduate of a health education program. It can enhance your network. You’ll meet like-minded professionals and encounter future job opportunities. National organizations often have state and regional chapters that work on health education in the local community. Some organizations also work to influence federal health education policy and share public health research. Below is a list of organizations that can benefit your health education career.
- American Public Health Association (APHA): APHA promotes the health of all people and communities, works to influence federal policy, and shares public health research at their annual meeting. They also lead public awareness campaigns.
- Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE): SOPHE raises awareness of connections between health education subjects, builds the skills of health educators, and increases the ability for local chapters to work with communities to reduce health disparities.
- National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC): While technically not a professional organization, the NCHEC manages the CHES and MCHES certification and is dedicated to maintaining the highest level of competence among health educators. They work to promote the value of certification.
Financing Your Online Master's in Health Education Program
All students applying to graduate programs should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This will allow the financial aid offices to see what types of aid you qualify for, and some colleges also require FAFSA results for scholarship and grant eligibility. There are specific scholarships available to students in the field of health education, such as fellowships from the Association of Schools of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
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