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

Online master’s programs in health education offer the same quality of instruction and academic rigor as you would find in traditional on-campus programs. Also, online programs provide students more time for work, family, and other responsibilities by eliminating the need to commute to campus. When searching for an online master’s in health education program, you should carefully review your options to select the best one for your specific needs and career goals.

Available concentrations

Many master’s in health education programs will allow you to focus your studies on a particular niche within this field. Some of the most common concentration options include:

  • Health Promotion/Community Education: Examine the factors that influence health behavior and how to advocate for change in the community. Upon completing this concentration, graduates are prepared to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.
  • Health Teacher Certification: This concentration prepares aspiring health educators to teach in a public or private school setting. Courses typically focus on teacher education and the theory of learning. Online students should ensure their state supports gaining health teacher certification through this track.
  • Workplace Wellness: Students learn how to design, implement, and evaluate wellness programs for businesses. This concentration may also cover health promotion activities that help encourage employees to exercise, quit smoking, and lose weight.

Common degree curriculum

The exact curriculum for an online master’s in health education program will depend on your school and whether you select a concentration. However, some courses are found in almost every program, including:

  • Research Methods and Design: An overview of different health research methods and their application 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: Students learn how to plan and conduct health program evaluations in this course.
  • Communication Strategies: This course teaches students effective communication techniques for health campaign messaging.
  • Practicum: Involves fieldwork or spending a certain number of supervised hours in a health education setting.

Certification and license preparation

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:

  • 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 health education specialist exam tests both basic and advanced competencies. Having a master’s degree will reduce the other eligibility requirements needed to take this exam.

Program accreditation

Accreditation indicates that your program has met high standards for academic quality. Employers tend to look favorably upon job candidates who graduate from accredited master’s degree programs, and it’s often a requirement to apply.

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may have trouble accessing financial aid or transferring credits to another institution if needed. Ideally, your program will also be accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.

Program completion timeframe

The time it takes to complete an online master’s in health education program depends on whether you attend school full-time or part-time. Most programs require 36 to 45 credits, which takes full-time students about two years to complete. Part-time students may need up to five years.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Health Education Graduates

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by 3% over the next decade. Most occupations related to health education are expected to grow much faster than that, meaning plenty of job opportunities should be available once you graduate.

Only a bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level health education jobs, but earning a master’s will still provide you with career benefits. Generally, workers with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $1,661 per week — those with a bachelor’s earn $1,432. Over a year, that’s a difference of nearly $12,000.

While health educators earn around $60,000 annually on average, you should earn a significantly higher income if you can advance to a management position. The top 10% of medical and health services managers make over $209,990.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Health Education Specialists Health education specialists teach people how to improve their behavior to promote wellness. They collect data, evaluate health promotion programs, and develop strategies for communities or individuals. Health education specialists may work for hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, or private businesses. $59,990 7%
Medical and Health Services Managers Medical and health services managers are also often called healthcare administrators. They are responsible for planning and directing the activities of healthcare workers. They may be in charge of an entire facility or a specific clinical area or department within a facility. $104,830 28%
Social and Community Service Managers The typical job responsibilities for this position include identifying community needs, communicating with stakeholders, writing grant proposals, implementing programs, and assessing the effectiveness of programs. Social and community service managers may work for nonprofit organizations, for-profit social service businesses, or government agencies. $74,240 9%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations are excellent resources for those with a master’s degree in health education. Membership in these organizations can help you meet like-minded professionals and expand your network. 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 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. They also lead public health awareness campaigns.
  • Society for Public Health Education: SOPHE helps build the skills of health educators and increase the ability of local public health education centers to work closely with communities.
  • National Commission for Health Education Credentialing: The NCHEC manages the CHES and MCHES certification programs, which allow health educators to demonstrate their level of competence.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Health Education Degree

Completing an online degree program is generally more affordable than enrolling in traditional on-campus classes, but you may still need help paying for tuition and other expenses. Thankfully, there are many financial resources available for online students.

First, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – this provides you with information about grants, scholarships, and loans provided by the federal government. You can also use scholarships and grants from nonprofit organizations and private companies. Finally, the school or program you’re enrolling in may have its own scholarships available.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

As mentioned above, there are plenty of options for financing your college education, each with its own eligibility requirements and application deadlines. The resources listed below will help you sort through all this information and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.