Health Care Education Degrees: Masters, PhD & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in a health education master's and PhD program? Read about requirements, the pros and cons of a PhD and master's degree in health education and potential careers.
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Health Education Master's and PhDs: Degrees at a Glance

Health educators help people live a healthy lifestyle. A master's degree or PhD program in health education gives students advanced knowledge in health care education, so graduates can counsel, teach or consult about health practices in a wide range of organizations. During your master's degree program in health education, you will study statistics, multicultural populations, current issues in health education, program development and research methods.

Upon completion of your master's program, you will have the skills to work in corporate, government, academic and clinical settings. Graduates of a PhD program are able to work in research and teach in universities. The number of jobs in health education has been predicted to increase 37% from 2010-2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for?Individuals who want to work as health educators in the private or public sector People interested in becoming professors or researchers in academia
Common Career Paths (with approximate median salary) - Health educator ($48,000)*
- Professor ($64,000)*
- Researcher (unavailable)
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - 8-12 courses
- Comprehensive exam
- 12-18 courses
- Dissertation
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree Bachelor's or master's degree
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011 figures).

Master's Degree in Health Care Education

Individuals who are interested in expanding their knowledge of health care education and want to teach people how to be healthy should consider a master's degree program. In a health care master's degree program, you will learn how to improve the health of a community by identifying health needs, collecting and analyzing data and evaluating and implementing health programs.

A master's degree program can also prepare you for the Certified Health Education Specialist exam, which is necessary for some employers. Earning a master's degree will also help you qualify for some health education positions in the federal government and within state public health agencies.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • As a health educator, you can work in many different settings such as hospitals, government organizations or in schools
  • You will expand your research skills through coursework and a thesis
  • Health education is a growing field and employment has been expected to increase*

Cons

  • Health educators may need to work on weekends and evenings
  • A graduate degree is not required for many health education jobs
  • May be frustrating trying to motivate people to exercise or eat healthier

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Common Courses and Requirements

Required courses will cover topics in research, statistics and current health education issues. You will be able to take elective courses in areas such as alcohol and drug education, stress management and health education into schools. After finishing required courses, you may also need to complete a thesis or pass a master's exam. Here are some examples of courses you might take in a master's program:

  • Research techniques in health education
  • Measurement in health promotion
  • Multicultural issues
  • Current problems in health education

Online Course Info

Master's degree programs in health education are offered online. If you need flexibility in your schedule for jobs and home life, taking classes online may be an ideal option. Students will learn through online recordings and streaming videos, while communication will take place through e-mail and discussion boards.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

Developing strong public speaking skills will help you get ahead, so you can effectively teach health classes and lead programs. It will also be beneficial to develop good writing skills, since health educators create written materials to give health information to people and write proposals to get funding for programs.

Studying a foreign language and taking classes in human development and psychology can also make you stand out in the job market. In addition, honing your analytical skills will help you interpret data and evaluate health programs while working as a health educator.

PhD in Health Education

A PhD program can help prepare you to work as a researcher in a governmental or health agency or a professor at a university. During your PhD program, you can focus on research and study in a wide variety of areas, including obesity, mental health, stress management and substance abuse. To work as a health educator, earning a PhD may not be worth the cost and additional years of schooling.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Earning a PhD will enable you to become a professor at a university
  • You can become an expert in a specialized area of health education by researching and writing a dissertation
  • Developing your research and writing skills will help you as a health educator

Cons

  • It may not be worth the time and expense if you are not interested in working in academia
  • You will spend a lot of your time focusing on research, instead of working in the field
  • Enrollment in PhD programs can be competitive

Common Courses and Requirements

In addition to your coursework, a comprehensive exam and dissertation are typical requirements to earn a PhD in Health Education. If you want to become a professor, you may be able to participate in a teaching internship. Some PhD programs may only require a bachelor's degree for admission. Here is a list of common courses within the program:

  • Health research
  • Administration of health programs
  • Health communication
  • Statistics

Online Course Info

PhD programs in health education are available online, although they are not very common, and you will need to make sure it is accredited. In these programs, you can complete part of your coursework online, while taking other classes on-campus.

Stand out with this Degree

Publishing your work is one way to get ahead of your competition. If you want to become a professor or researcher, you can publish your research articles in journals and make presentations at health education conferences. It's also important to stay up-to-date in the field and continue learning about the latest developments in health and wellness.

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