What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Health Education Program?

The need to educate people about healthier behaviors has helped spur the growth of the health education field. Graduates of master’s degree programs in health education are prepared to teach in a variety of settings, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health education employment is expected to grow 16 percent, considered much faster than average, between 2016 and 2026.

Online master’s degree programs in health education offer the same quality of instruction and academic rigor as you would find in traditional on-campus programs. Students also enjoy a more convenient format when they take online courses because assignments can be completed at a student’s preferred pace, allowing them to balance other responsibilities, including work and family.

When searching for online master’s in health education programs, it’s important to find the right one that aligns with your long-term career goals.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Health Education

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION POSSIBLE CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Health Promotion/Community Education Examine the causes that influence health behavior, research, evaluation, leadership and advocacy in the community. Upon completion of this concentration, graduates are prepared to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. Health education writer, community health leader, health educator
Health Teacher Certification Prepares aspiring health educators to teach in a public or private school setting. Courses typically focus on teacher education and theory of learning. Online students should ensure their state supports gaining health teacher certification through this track. Health education teacher in a K-12 setting or at a district level
Workplace Wellness Students learn how to create, implement, assess and evaluate wellness programs for businesses. It may also cover health promotion activities that help encourage employees to exercise, quit smoking and lose weight. Health education consultant, wellness specialist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Health Education

Each online master’s program in health education has different course requirements, and a lot of them depend on your chosen concentration area. However, as with most master’s programs, there are some common courses you can expect to take regardless of your chosen focus area.

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Research Methods and Design An overview of different health research methods and how they apply to individual and group behavior. Topics covered include instruments and statistics that can be used in research and methods for analyzing research designs.
Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs A core component of most jobs in health education, students learn how to best plan, implement, and conduct health program evaluations.
Communication Strategies Messages and health campaigns are quite important in health education careers, and this course teaches students effective communication strategies.
Community Health Promotion Covers the fundamentals of organizational development, policy and evaluation for improving community health. Students can expect to review the skills that are involved with the planning, implementation and evaluation of community health promotion programs and then use that knowledge to implement and evaluate their own.
Practicum Involves fieldwork or spending a certain number of supervised hours in a health education setting.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Health Education?

The time it takes to complete an online master’s in health education program depends on whether you take courses full-time or part-time. Most programs can be completed within one and a half to three years and require around 36 credits; however, some programs may require up to 45 credits.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Health Education Prepares For

There are two main certifications that students earning a master’s in health education should be familiar with — many programs prepare you to take these exams that, upon completion, award you with the matching credential.

CERTIFICATION DESCRIPTION
Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) This exam is provided by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing and proves a health education professional’s competency. The exam includes 165 questions that cover seven core subject areas.
Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) A step above the CHES credential, this master-level health education specialist exam tests entry-level and advanced-level competencies. In order to qualify for this exam, you have to meet certain academic qualifications, have worked in the field for five years and have met continuing education requirements. Those who have been CHES-certified for less than five years can take the exam if they have a master’s degree in health education and have worked in the field for a minimum of five years.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Health Education

Accreditation, whether awarded to a specific program or to an academic institution as a whole, indicates that the program or school has met minimum academic standards of quality and passed certain benchmarks. Employers tend to look favorably upon job candidates who graduate from accredited master’s degree programs, and it’s often a requirement to apply.

Online master’s in health education programs may be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). Students can look for programs accredited by this organization, and they should also search for programs that are designed to prepare them to take the CHES exam.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Education Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Some health educator positions require a master’s degree, particularly those jobs in the fields of community health education, school health education and health promotion. While entry-level jobs can sometimes be obtained with a bachelor’s degree, holding a master’s degree in health education opens up many more job opportunities.

Expected Salary

Job Title Salary Range
Wellness Coordinator $31,920-$62,697
Wellness Director $35,147–$78,268
Wellness Consultant $36,630–$81,816
Health Education/Promotion Director $35,745–$93,340
Education Program Manager $39,924–$86,235
Patient Education Manager $43,000–$95,000

Source: PayScale.com

The chart below shows median annual salaries for popular jobs associated with the master’s in health education degree.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Opportunities

Based on their chosen concentration area, health educators with an online master’s degree are qualified for a number of careers.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Health Educators Health Educators and community health workers teach individuals how to improve their behaviors to promote wellness. They collect data, evaluate health promotion programs and develop strategies for communities or individuals. Health educators can work in hospitals, nonprofit organizations, the government or for private businesses. $45,360 per year 16%
Medical and Health Services Managers Health Services Managers are also often called healthcare administrators. Their general responsibilities involve planning, directing and coordinating medical and health services. They may be in charge of an entire facility or a specific clinical area or department or may work at a medical practice for a group of physicians. $98,350 per year 20%
Postsecondary Teacher, Health Education Postsecondary health teacher positions can involve creating programs or materials at the collegiate level on topics that are relevant to young adults, including nutrition and alcohol consumption. Health specialities teachers at the postsecondary level may also advocate for campus policies that promote good health. $76,000 per year 15%
Social and Community Service Managers Social Service and Community Service Managers help coordinate social service programs for communities. They may work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service businesses and government agencies. Many employers for this job require a master’s degree. $64,100 per year 18%

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations serve as great resources for those with a master’s degree in health education. Membership to these organizations can help enhance your network and let you meet like-minded professionals in the field. Many of these organizations also maintain active job boards, so you can find relevant job opportunities. Below are a few health education organizations that can help benefit your career.

American Public Health Association: The APHA promotes the health of all individuals and communities, works to influence federal health policy and shares the results of public health research at its annual meeting. APHA also leads public health awareness campaigns.

Society for Public Health Education: Working to raise awareness of connections between health education areas, SOPHE helps build the skills of health educators and helps increase the ability of local public health education centers to work closely with communities.

National Commission for Health Education Credentialing: Even though it’s not technically a professional organization, it is an important health education-related body to know about. The NCHEC manages the CHES and MCHES credentials, and it’s dedicated to helping health educators maintain their highest level of competence.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Education

Online degrees are generally more affordable than enrolling in traditional on-campus classes. Students also generally incur fewer expenses related to traveling to and from campuses when they participate in distance learning programs. However, many students still need financial aid to help them pay for tutition costs for online master’s degrees. Luckily, many resources are available to help students pay for their master’s education.

First, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – this provides you with information about grants, scholarships and loans available to you through the federal government. You can also take advantage of scholarships and other grants from nonprofit organizations and companies. Finally, the school or program you’re enrolling in may have its own scholarships available — so be sure to investigate each program you’re considering to find out what awards they offer.

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Vivian Drenckhahn Student Scholarship from the Society for Public Health Education

Award: Two awards up to $2500

Deadline: Fall 2019

Eligibility: Students pursuing a health education degree and have completed at least 1/3 of their coursework required.

SOPHE/CDC Student Fellowship in Injury Prevention

Award: $2,000

Deadline: Spring

Eligibility: Graduate students working on research or practice-based projects in the areas of unintentional injury prevention from the perspective of health education. Project must be related to opiods, traumatic brain injury, motor vehicle injury or senior falls.

R. Brick Lancaster Community Health Internship Award

Award: $2,000

Deadline: Fall 2019

Eligibility: Graduate or undergraduate students pursuing a health education degree who want to participate in a full-time, community-based internship where they will conduct a health education and health promotion project which “addresses a significant public or school health issue identified by a local or state public health department or agency.”