How to Choose a Health Education Degree Program

This article will provide you with information about how to choose an online health education degree program, as well as related degree programs. You will learn why you should consider getting a bachelor’s or master’s degree in health education, possible related degree options (such as health and wellness and health promotion), and the best online degree options available today.

A degree in health education, health and wellness or health promotion is very useful because it teaches you about theories and methods of health education and behavior that you can impart upon students, adults, and communities in need all over the country and world. A health education degree can be used to work in many types of work environments, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Local, state and federal government
  • State and local hospitals
  • Social assistance
  • Schools

What a Health Education Degree Can Do For You

A degree in health education, health and wellness or health promotion are all based upon preventative healthcare actions. As a strong advocate of healthy living, you will learn how to use cutting edge strategies to employ to affect health in a positive way in many fields.

Students who graduate with a health education or related degree will focus their studies on nutrition, behavioral and physical health, wellness education, exercise, and public policy.

When you earn your degree in health education, you will open your possibilities to many different career paths. Some of the most common occupations for people with this type of bachelor’s or master’s degree are:

  • Health educator: Teach communities about safe healthy practices and implement public health programs that help people in at risk communities to live healthier.
  • Corporate wellness manager: If you are interested in more of a corporate career path, you can use your health education or health and wellness degree to use by helping employers to conduct health assessments of their employees.
  • Community health worker: Provide important access to health services for communities in need.
  • Health services manager: Manage and/or coordinate health services for a health care clinic, facility or department.

Related Health Education Degrees

As you are looking at health education degrees, you also will see some other related degrees; some of them we already have mentioned above, but there are others as well. You will need to decide what exactly you want your career focus to be before you settle on the exact degree type:

  • Community health education: Similar to a health education degree, but more focused on serving the community rather than individual clients. These community health professionals serve as a vital link between the community and available health and social services. This important role improves access to vital health services and can lead to better overall health outcomes for entire communities.
  • Health education and health communication: This is a master’s degree option offered by Johns Hopkins University in health education, promotion and communication. This type of health education related degree provides you with a strong background in behavioral sciences and theories, and also skills in program planning, evaluation and implementation.
  • Health education and health promotion: This is a common degree option for those who want to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). This type of degree centers upon the science and art of helping people, communities and organizations to adapt their lifestyle behaviors to improve their health, which in turn can reduce their incidence of disease and long term health care costs.

Licensing

After you get your health education degree, you may want to earn your CHES certification, which is offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. The CHES exam is designed to measure how well you understand, apply and interpret the knowledge of the seven major responsibilities for health education specialists

This examination has met the most rigorous national standards for credentialing health educators, and has been fully accredited by the National Commission of Certified Agencies since 2008.

The examination has 165 multiple choice questions, with 150 scored. It is offered on paper and is available to be taken at many college campuses in the US. Below are the major areas of responsibility that you will be tested on:

  • Assessing needs, capacity and resources in health education
  • Plan health promotion and education
  • Implementing health education and promotion
  • Conducting evaluations and research
  • Administering and managing health education programs
  • Servings as a health education resource
  • Communicating, promoting and advocating for health

This CHES certification may be required by some employers, and regardless, it will make you a more marketable health education professional. You must pass a national examination after you complete at least a bachelor’s degree. Then, you need to do at least 75 hours of continuing education every 60 months.

The Importance of Accreditation

As you are considering an online bachelor’s or master’s degree in health education, health promotion or health and wellness, you should remember to be sure that the program has been properly accredited by a respected accreditation body. By doing so, you are certain that the program will provide you with the educational tools and knowledge you need for a successful career.

Depending upon the exact type of health education-related degree you are getting, you should look for one or more of these accreditations:

Online Health Education Degree Options

Online Bachelor’s in Health Education – University of Florida

To get your foot in the door in the health education field, you will first need to earn a bachelor’s degree. The online program at the University of Florida will provide you with the essential training that you need on how to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, both with individuals and communities. This program has a special focus on the promotion of diversity and culturally appropriate methodologies of health education.

This Bachelor’s in Health Education program will allow you to focus your studies on one or more areas, depending upon your career interests. You can focus on health education and promotion as it relates to community, clinical or corporate sites, and also health studies. So you will be able to gain a background in whatever type of work situation that most appeals to you.

As with all health education degrees, there are several core classes that you will take in this accredited bachelor’s program:

  • Personal and Family Health
  • Community and Environmental Health
  • Health Education Professional Development
  • Internship in Health Education
  • Trends in International Health
  • Women’s Health Issues
  • Minority Health Issues

Before you graduate from this four year bachelor’s program, you must complete a full time, 15 credit hour internship experience. You must complete all of your degree courses before you start your internship. The internship has to be at least 40 hours per week.

Online Master of Science in Community Health Education – Columbia University

For those who already have a bachelor’s degree in health education or a related field, you should consider earning a Master of Science in Community Health Education from Columbia University. This is a 42 credit hour, two year, online program that is designed for professionals who want to plan and start programs in health education for people in many different populations and in different types of situations.

This accredited health education master’s degree prepares you in one of several specializations, depending upon your career interests. Most professionals who graduate from this master’s program go on to to work in community health centers, hospitals, public health offices and corporate settings.

This degree program also prepares you for certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist, which we described earlier on this page.

Your core classes for this health education degree are:

  • Behavioral and Social Science Foundations of Health Education
  • Principles of Epidemiology in Health Promotion
  • Principles of Health-Related Behavioral & Social Change:Initiation to Maintenance to Maintenance
  • Introduction to Biostatistics for Community Health Educators
  • Environmental Health
  • Health Services Administration

All potential graduates also must finish a project for research, scholarship and inquiry at the end of the program. This is a chance for you to work closely with your academic advisor and to apply the health education principles that you have learned throughout the program. Some of the possibilities for your culminating project are:

  • Major research paper
  • Community health education project and curriculum
  • Come up with a comprehensive health promotion or health education program
  • Grant application

Last, you must complete a capstone project so that you can graduate with your MS. You must come up with a digital portfolio that includes:

  • Portfolio introduction
  • All course evaluation competency evaluation projects that were a part of all the classes you took in the program.
  • Copy of your culminating project
  • A capstone portfolio conclusion

The field of health education and promotion is a growing one, with significant job growth expected in the coming years. More health care plans and government organizations are concerned with reducing healthcare costs, which involves keeping people healthy before they get sick. So, you should be able to find good work in this growing job field.

Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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