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Explore Online Master’s in Health Education Programs

Author: Angela Myers

Editor: Kim Zaski

Enhance the quality of health in your community and your healthcare career. Online health education master’s programs may help you qualify for senior-level positions.

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A medical professional wearing glasses and a white coat is attentively listening to a patient during a consultation. The medical professional holds a pen and appears engaged in the conversation, while the patient sits across from them.

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, according to U.S. Census data. The beauty of this field is that opportunities exist for almost every skill set. If you are adept at educating the public and individuals about health concerns or want to hone this skill set, an online master’s in health education may be a good fit.

Online health education master’s programs prepare students for various roles, including working as health educators and health service managers. Unlike in-person degrees, they offer more flexibility and convenience, making it easier to juggle your studies with other responsibilities, such as a full-time job.

If interested in getting your online master’s in health education, it’s normal to have questions about cost, what you’ll learn, and what programs are the best. This guide answers all those questions and provides potential career paths for graduates of online health education master’s programs.

A Deep Dive into Online Health Education Master’s Programs

There are many online health education master’s programs, which can make it hard to know which program is right for you. Choosing the best online master’s in health education is a highly personal decision, though there are some standard markers of best-in-class programs. These include affordability, flexibility, student support resources, and accreditation. The three programs below stand out in each category and can serve as benchmarks for your search.

Idaho State University

The image displays the logo of Idaho State University. It features an orange graphic symbol resembling a geometric "S" to the left, with the black text "Idaho State University" to the right of the symbol.

When looking for the best health education master’s, consider the degree at Idaho State University. The program specifically concentrates on health promotion and disease prevention with an interdisciplinary curriculum touching on the fields of education, healthcare, psychology, and sociology. Unlike other programs, Idaho State University offers many program formats, including fully online or hybrid, part-time or full-time, and cohort or rolling admissions based. Students can choose which features work best for their schedule, allowing them to customize their degree.

Idaho State also allows students to tailor their degree to their interests, thanks to the wide range of electives and the choice of a master’s thesis or capstone project. Students work one-on-one with faculty on theses and capstones, allowing them to better hone health education skills relative to their career goals. Idaho State University also boasts a small student-to-teacher ratio, leaving space for meaningful interactions with faculty and more personalized learning opportunities.

Purdue Global

A logo with the text "Purdue Global" next to a globe icon featuring intersecting lines. The globe is split into light and dark segments.

Purdue Global, Purdue’s online university for working adults, offers one of the best online health education master’s programs. With only 14 total classes, it’s one of the fastest programs in the country, and most students graduate within one and a half years. While speedy, the curriculum is comprehensive, covering the design and implementation of community health programs, leadership skills health educators need, and research methods within the space. The program also prepares students to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) exam and covers the eight areas defined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC).

Unlike other programs, Purdue’s degree also focuses on multiculturalism within health education and how socioeconomic factors influence personal and community health initiatives. All program requirements can be completed online, and class material is delivered at scheduled class times or in asynchronous video modules, depending on the specific class.

University of Florida

The online master’s in health education at the University of Florida is a fantastic, 100% online option. The program’s curriculum centers around the areas of responsibility defined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). These include needs assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, advocacy, leadership, ethics, and communication. Because of this hands-on focus, this degree is a great option for anyone who wants to become a certified health education specialist.

The school also offers online study materials for the certification exam. Along with general requirements, 15 of the 45 credits are electives. Students choose electives based on their career goals and professional interests. Electives can human sexuality education, patient health education, and women’s health issues, among other topics. The program also hones leadership skills and offers professional guidance so graduates can effectively navigate their next career move.

The Benefits of Online Health Ed Master’s Programs

The main benefit of an online degree is that it provides learning flexibility, but there’s more. Online degrees can also cut costs and be more convenient if you work full-time. They also allow students to squeeze more learning into a shorter timeframe, and a master’s in health education specifically allows you to progress in your career or enter a fast-growing field.

Convenience and Flexibility

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an online program is the convenience and flexibility it provides. An online master’s in health education is a great choice if you work full-time or have other obligations since online degrees can be completed from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. If time constraints are especially important to you, consider programs that are asynchronous with prerecorded lectures so you can work at your own pace.

Professional Certification

Depending on your career aspirations, you may need to take an exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) or a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) upon graduating. A master’s in health education covers what will be on these exams, making it the ideal choice for anyone seeking these certifications. If preparing for these exams is a primary reason for pursuing a master’s, ask each program you’re considering about available study resources. Many universities offer online practice exams and study guides for both.

Evidence-Based Practices

Health educators are responsible for informing individuals and communities about how they can improve their health. To do so effectively, a health educator needs to know evidence-based practices, especially from the field of teaching and learning. In a master’s in health education program, students receive the teaching and learning theories needed to succeed in their role, as well as how each applies to healthcare settings.

Positive Financial Impact

An online master’s in education is an affordable degree option with a long-term impact on graduates’ earnings. While an online degree can be expensive, it cuts down on some expenses, such as student fees and the cost of commuting to and from campus. Along with being more affordable, an online master’s in health education can lead to higher salaries than other career fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare support occupations were listed as the industry with the second highest salary growth.

Promising Career Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for health educators is expected to grow by 7% in the next 10 years, which is faster than the national average for all industries. A growing field means more job openings, the ability to negotiate higher pay, and more opportunities to take on leadership roles. In fast-growing fields, the number of employees with the right education is often fewer than the number of open positions, meaning fields like health education often have excellent job security.

Courses & Classes: Online Health Education Grad Programs

Typically, a master’s in health education pulls some coursework from the field of education and some from public health. Students often take general education courses in both as well as higher-level courses that discuss how teaching and learning strategies apply to the healthcare field specifically.

When compared to their in-person counterparts, online programs offer more degree flexibility. In many of these programs, especially asynchronous options, students can control the pace of learning and number of courses per semester, depending on how much time they can commit to their master’s.

Popular Courses

While the curriculum varies from program to program, there are some common courses in most master’s in health education degrees. Five of the most common are outlined below, along with an accredited university that excels in delivering each course.

Health Behavior

A key part of health education is understanding people’s behavior toward health. Because of this, most degrees have a health behavior class that examines the psychology behind health attitudes and decisions. Often, these courses serve as an introduction to the psychology behind our actions, with a specific emphasis on how psychological theories apply to the healthcare field. For a better idea of what this course entails, check out the MS in Health Education and Promotion from Purdue Global, which includes this course.

Leadership and Management

Whether leading an entire health education department or mentoring individuals about how to improve their health, most with a health education master’s find themselves in leadership or managerial roles. As a result, many graduate programs offer coursework specific to healthcare leadership. Schools like the University of Florida emphasize developing students’ leadership skills and often have entire courses devoted to managerial theories and applied practices.

Health Communication

Another key responsibility of health educators is to communicate with groups and individuals about public and personal health. To do this effectively, students often study different communication strategies. Many programs, such as the one at SUNY Brockport, have an entire course devoted to health communication strategies. Some schools even offer electives in specific areas of health communication, such as health writing or public relations and healthcare.

Principles of Learning

Health education is an interdisciplinary field, pulling equally from teaching and learning theory and healthcare. As a result, most graduate programs feature a course in the principles of learning. At the American College of Education, for example, that course is called Principles of Human Learning and is a more general course versus one specific to healthcare. Other schools might have discipline-specific courses, usually covering the main concepts around learning within healthcare.

Health Program Planning and Evaluation

Most health educators work on campaigns from start to finish, meaning they are responsible for planning, implementing, and assessing effectiveness. To teach students the necessary project management skills for all three responsibilities, most master’s in health education courses feature a comprehensive course on program planning and evaluation. In some schools, there may be additional electives students can take in this area, though almost all students take at least one course on this topic. For a better idea of what this class may look like, explore the offerings from Idaho State University.

Specialization Options

In most master’s in health education programs, students choose a specialization before starting the program. To help make your decision, we’ve detailed three popular ones below. If you’re still unsure about your preferred specialization after reading through those highlighted below, consider exploring different options with a graduate certificate program.

Health Promotion

Health education often involves either an intervention to help individuals change their behavior or promotional campaigns to sway community attitudes on specific health topics. Programs that specialize in the latter, such as the degree at Lehman University, often specialize in health promotion. Health promotion is an excellent concentration for those who want to create community-wide campaigns and work on the communication side of health education, instead of one-on-one with individuals.

Evidence-Based Teaching

Some programs emphasize the learning part of health education more than the healthcare-specific knowledge. Typically, these programs focus on evidence-based teaching practices and are designed for those with work experience within healthcare. Classes may cover topics like curriculum development, assessment, and feedback, and integrating technology into health education. At Johns Hopkins University, for example, their master’s specializes in evidence-based teaching and is designed for those who work in allied health professions.

Health Education Policy

A master’s with a concentration in health education policy is ideal for those who enjoy looking at the field from a bird’s eye view. In these programs, students examine health curriculum development, assessment types across organizations, and other organizational-wide changes to improve health education efforts. Often, these degrees focus on honing a student’s leadership and managerial skills. There are some great programs with this specialization, including the master’s from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

The Vital Role of Accreditation for Health Educators

When researching programs, there are two types of accreditation to look for. The first is institutional accreditation, which often comes from a regional or national body. The second is program-specific accreditation from a group such as the Council on Education for Public Health. Without these accreditations, other institutions or employers may not accept your degree.

The Average Cost of an Online Master’s in Health Education

A master’s degree can be a significant financial commitment. According to a 2023 study, a master’s in health education costs about $26,751 in the United States. Some programs are more affordable, as noted in the table below.

Along with finding a degree that fits within your budget, there are financial aid options to lower the overall cost. These include scholarships, fellowships, work-study programs, and employer tuition assistance. For more on these options, explore our financial aid page and our resources page tailored to education graduate students.

Examples of Online Master’s Tuition Costs

School No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Tuition

31

$235

$7,285

48

$420

$21,600

42

$579

$24,338

Career Potential for Health Education Master’s Grads

A master’s in health education can boost your career or allow you to explore new avenues or industries. The three most common industries for graduates are health education, medical services, and public health communication. Continue reading to learn more about potential salaries and job responsibilities for each.

Health Educator

Health educators work with individuals, small groups, or larger community organizations to help them understand different facets of personal and communal health. Typically, they work for nonprofits, government organizations, or hospitals, and their job often involves many types of health education campaigns. On average, health educators make $59,990 annually, and a master’s degree can increase expected earnings. The field is also growing at 7%, which is faster than the average for all careers.

Medical and Health Services Manager

If you’re interested in the administrative side of healthcare, this role may be a good fit upon graduation. Medical and health service managers plan and implement different initiatives in healthcare systems, for private companies, and in governmental organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is growing faster than average and the median salary is $104,830 annually. To stand out when applying for medical services managerial roles, consider specializing in health education administration.

Public Health Specialist

Public health specialists work on campaigns and initiatives to improve community health. They often work for hospitals, nonprofits, or government organizations and manage products with many stakeholders and moving parts. While a health educator can work in a communal or one-on-one setting, public health specialists often work on community-wide initiatives. Nationally, the average salary in this field is $66,710 and industry growth is faster than many other careers.

FAQ: Online Master’s Programs in Health Education

How can an online program help prepare for the CHES or MCHES exams?

An online program prepares students for the CHES or MCHES exams in the same manner as in-person programs, so long as the online program is accredited. Some online programs have additional resources for students, such as virtual practice tests or study guides. Before applying, ask how the program helps students prepare for these exams.

What are the general admission criteria to get into a master's program in health education?

The admission requirements for these programs can vary, which is why it’s important to read the admissions criteria for each program you consider. There are some general requirements for most master’s in health education programs. These include:

Is it possible to earn a master's degree in health education exclusively through online coursework?

Most master’s in health education degrees can be completed 100% online. If there is an in-person component, it’s often a project with a community partner or other hands-on experience. For those who prefer some in-person connection, there are hybrid programs, with both in-person and online courses.

Typically, how long does it take to complete an online health education master's program?

The time it takes to complete an online health education master’s program can vary. One to two years is typical, but it can take longer for part-time coursework. Some accelerated programs can be completed in less than 12 months. Many programs we looked at required 30-50 credits to graduate.