Best Online Master’s in Health Education Programs
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Individuals who wish to help combat public health challenges through education may consider pursuing a master's in health education. This degree can equip students with an academic understanding of policy formation, outreach strategies, epidemiology, and the social factors that shape public health issues.
For many students, earning this degree can be a hefty investment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost for graduate tuition and required fees at public institutions was $12,410 in 2019-2020. The average cost at private universities was around $26,600. Many online programs charge tuition on a per-credit basis, aligning with more flexible program formats.
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Master's in health education programs usually consist of about 35-50 credits. These programs typically take full-time students about 2.5 years to complete. Many students pursue this degree on a part-time basis, which usually can take up to four years.
Many graduates pursue careers in nonprofit or school settings. They may work as health educators, earning a median annual salary of $48,140, as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other career options include postsecondary educators ($80,560) and social and community service managers ($69,600).
What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Health Education Program?
Learners pursuing this degree should have strong leadership, writing, verbal, and organizational skills. They must also develop an understanding of the social and medical factors that increase public health challenges, such as substance misuse and diabetes. They also learn about the obstacles communities face in preventing or treating these issues.
A master's in health education usually consists of 35-50 credits. Students can gain a preliminary understanding of health education roles and strategies through required foundational courses. These classes include health education and communication strategies, epidemiology, and public health administration and leadership.
Learners may also choose electives — like grant writing or alcohol and drug education — that correspond with their academic and career interests. Some programs also require students to integrate and apply their knowledge through an independent capstone project.
Some learners pursue concentrations to refine their coursework to address more specific public health concerns or outreach strategies. Some common concentrations include:
- Healthcare administration
- Health promotion
- Workplace wellness
- Substance misuse
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Health Education Program?
Public Health Promotion
This course explores the history of health education initiatives and the efficacy of various methods and campaigns. Learners assess systemic factors that can lead to health inequities. They also study how race, class, gender, and age can affect health outcomes.
This foundational course outlines the basic concepts of epidemiology. These include learning the patterns of disease transmission, identifying at-risk populations, and preventing the emergence of future cases.
Health Policy and Advocacy
Here, students examine the relationship between public health advocacy, education, and policy formation. Learners evaluate the efficacy of various policy changes and study the ways in which organizations influence governing bodies through lobbying.
Alcohol and Drug Education
Substance misuse is a pervasive public health issue. It's one of the most common focal topics for preventative health education. In this course, learners study clinical and systemic factors that lead to drug misuse and how systems and individuals can combat drug addiction.
Health Behavior Theory
Health educators' main objective is to implement lasting behavioral and systemic change. Here, students explore the effectiveness of different promotion techniques through theories and case studies. They learn how to produce positive health outcomes for individuals and communities.
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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Master's in Health Education Program?
Although applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, graduates looking to pursue an online master's in health education do not need to have a specific undergraduate background. However, many applicants have a demonstrated background in health science, health education, public health, or the social sciences.
Nearly all institutions will require standard application materials like undergraduate transcripts, resumes, and writing samples. Virtual or in-person interviews may be required. Other schools may want applicants to submit a personal statement — a written account of their background, experiences, and goals.
When filling out a graduate program application, individuals disclose preliminary items like education history and contact information. Students can generally access applications through an institution's website or by contacting the college's admissions department.
Although not every school requires applicants to submit test scores, doing well on theGMAT or GRE can help prospective students stand out and demonstrate their academic capabilities. Especially competitive applicants may submit a GMAT score over 650 or a GRE score over 318.
Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation provide admissions personnel with accounts of an applicant's demonstrated abilities, skills, and character. These letters should come from professors, supervisors, or mentors who have observed an applicant's relevant skills in action. Often, the best letters come from authority figures or supervisors who can attest to a prospective student's competencies.
Resume and Work Experience
Many individuals apply to master's health education programs immediately after earning a bachelor's degree. As a result, few programs actually require work experience. However, including a resume that details relevant employment, internships, and community service experiences can help students stand out. It demonstrates how their capabilities have been executed in real-world settings.
Applicants have the opportunity to "sell" their qualifications and aspirations while showcasing their personalities. Because many health education roles are inherently communication-oriented,application essays can allow admissions personnel to evaluate applicants' writing capabilities. Prompts will often ask prospective students how earning a master's will help them advance in their careers and what roles or industries they hope to work in.
Undergraduate transcripts are almost always required in graduate school admissions. Admissions personnel use transcripts to assess applicants' GPAs. They also consider the prospective students' undergraduate institution's accreditation, course history, and concrete evidence of sustained academic and vocational interests.
Students may also submit any completed coursework. However, because of the more specialized nature of graduate-level coursework, transferring credits may be more difficult than in an undergraduate setting.
What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Health Education Degree?
Graduates with a master's in health education work for schools, government agencies, medical organizations, or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Many individuals pursuing this field can find an array of exceptionally in-demand careers.
The BLS projects that between 2020 and 2030, the number of available jobs for health educators and community health workers will increase by 17%, while jobs for medical and health services managers will increase by 32%, surpassing the average 8% growth rate for all occupations.
Although professionals with this degree can assume various roles and specializations, many graduates earn above-average salaries. For example, the BLS reports that community health workers earned a median annual salary of $48,140, as of May 2020. Social and community services managers earned $69,600, and postsecondary teachers earned $80,560. The median annual wage for all U.S. workers was $41,950, as of May 2020.
Health Educator and Community Health Worker
These professionals educate target communities about public health issues and general wellness. Topics can include substance misuse, sexual health, and nutrition. These educators and health workers develop campaigns and outreach programs that emphasize prevention, treatment, and healthy habits. They may also conduct research and monitor the effectiveness of their campaign strategies.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $48,140
Many two- and four-year colleges have their students complete a health and wellness requirement. Graduates can supplement their master's degree with a teaching license and lead college courses on fitness and wellness, epidemiology, or public health. Some of these jobs may require a doctorate and/or work experience in the field.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $80,560
Social and Community Service Managers
Health education professionals may use their background in a leadership capacity, coordinating social service programs and planning community health initiatives for nonprofits and NGOs. Social and community service managers lead social service professionals and work with community representatives and stakeholders to assess needs. They may also gather funding, assess data, and other metrics to evaluate a program's effectiveness.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $69,600
Medical and Health Services Manager
These managers lead administrative duties in hospital settings or other medical facilities. They may manage or recruit staff, organize financial or billing materials, meet with investors, and budget existing funds. Depending on state requirements, medical and health services managers may need to be licensed by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020):$104,280
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers
Graduates with a master's in health education can oversee the administrative procedures of NGOs, nonprofits, or health services organizations as administrative services and facilities managers. These professionals usually supervise daily office or departmental procedures like recordkeeping, setting goals for office staff, corresponding with building managers, and ordering necessary equipment.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020):$98,890
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Many health education occupations usually do not require more than a master's degree. However, some degree-holders decide to continue their education with a doctorate in health education, a doctorate in public health, or a doctorate in healthcare administration.
Earning these high-level credentials may make degree-holders more competitive candidates for postsecondary teaching positions or allow them to work at more prestigious colleges.
Certain occupations may require additional, role-specific credentials. Secondary school educators, for example, must earn a teaching license.
Health services managers can pursue additional certifications, such as a certification in medical management from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Managementor a certification in health information management from the American Health Information Management Association.
How Do I Choose an Online Master's in Health Education Program?
Cost can be one of the most crucial factors that determine whether students choose to pursue this degree and which programs are accessible. In most cases, graduate degrees can be a substantial investment.
Although distance learners may be charged out-of-state tuition or additional fees, some schools charge all online students the same rate, no matter where they live. Many online programs offer flexible, part-time courses and charge on a per-credit basis. Be sure to calculate the true cost of an online program. Besides tuition, add in costs for books, supplies, and transportation for any on-campus requirements, among other expenses.
For many learners, especially those with work or family commitments, taking on graduate coursework may seem daunting. Some students prefer to pursue their degree part time to juggle their commitments. Other students, hoping to enter their intended careers as soon as possible, may consider accelerated programs, which can take as little as one year.
Online students can choose betweensynchronous and asynchronous learning: Synchronous program formats more closely mimic those of in-person programs as students must attend classes at set meeting times and adhere to deadlines. Asynchronous courses are often self-paced. Students learn through resources like pre-recorded lectures and forums.
Many remote learners find that entirely online programs allow them to earn degrees from leading institutions without having to relocate. However, some online master's in health education programs have mandatory or optional campus requirements, such as hybrid courses or intermittent meetings.
Regional, national, or field-specific accrediting bodies evaluate postsecondary institutions' instruction quality, curricula, and faculty. This assures that they offer learning outcomes that align with set academic standards. Students hoping to pursue an online master's in health education should research whether schools are appropriately accredited. Consider health education programs accredited by theCommission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
Student services can be essential to maximizing educational and career outcomes. This can be especially true for online students, who may feel less connected to their academic departments or learning communities. Academic resources — like tutoring services, faculty advisors, mentorship opportunities, or institution-specific databases — can bolster learning. Career services — like alumni networks, career centers, and job boards — can help students find employment after graduation.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Health Education Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Health Education Programs
Is a master's in health education worth it?
Although earning a master's in health education can be time-consuming and expensive, it can be an asset to individuals who are passionate about improving health outcomes through advocacy and education. Coursework equips learners with a comprehensive background in outreach theory, epidemiology, and public health policy. Many health education professions, such as those in secondary or postsecondary education or nonprofit leadership, require a graduate degree. Other roles, such as community health worker, do not require a master's degree. However, a master's in healthcare education can give candidates a competitive edge and bolster their credibility.
What can I do with a master's in health education?
Many individuals with this degree work directly with community members and stakeholders as health educators or community health workers. Others may enjoy teaching public health-related courses at a secondary or postsecondary level. Some graduates prefer to take on leadership roles at nonprofit organizations, NGOs, or health care facilities. These professionals may work as health services managers, community service managers, or administrative services managers, coordinating outreach programs and overseeing other social services professionals.
Are health education majors in demand?
Many graduates with a master's in health education can pursue exceptionally in-demand career opportunities. The BLS projects that between 2020 and 2030, the number of jobs for social and community service managers will increase by 15%, while those for health educators and community health workers will increase by 17%. During this period, available jobs for medical and health services managers are projected to increase by 32%, quadruple the projected growth rate of 8% for all careers.
How much money can I make with a master's in health education?
Professionals with an academic background in health education pursue meaningful work in a variety of roles and settings. While health education occupations are diverse, many offer above-average salaries. The BLS reports that health education specialists earned a median annual salary of $56,500, as of May 2020. Community health workers earned $42,000. In the same year, social service managers earned a median annual salary of $69,600, while those employed by local government organizations earned $87,720. Administrative services and facilities managers earned a median annual wage of $98,890, although those employed in the healthcare and social assistance niche earned $87,920.
What are the highest-paying jobs with a master's in health education?
Although many graduates with a master's degree in health education work in well-paying positions, some occupations are more lucrative. Postsecondary educators, for example, earned a median annual salary of $80,560, as of May 2020. Educators who teach health specialties courses earned $99,090. Medical and health services managers earned a median annual wage of $104,280 in the same year.