Health Promotion Degree Program Information

Learn about health promotion degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Continue reading for educational prerequisites, program coursework and popular career options.

Essential Information

Academic degree programs in health promotion provide the education and training necessary to educate the public about health risks and disease prevention. Common programs include a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion, a Master of Science in Health Promotion and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Health Promotion, all of which allow students to explore health education concepts, epidemiology, health promotion research and advanced biostatistics. Graduate programs are typically research-intensive, with master's-level students completing a thesis and doctoral students completing dissertation projects. Voluntary certification as a health education specialist is available.

Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion

Bachelor's degree programs in health promotion can go by a variety of titles, including a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Education and a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. Each of these degree programs, however, have the same aim - to provide undergraduate students with the means to create and implement health promotion programs that increase the well-being of entire communities. Some degree programs in the field allow students to select a particular concentration, such as community health promotion, occupational health promotion or pre-health professions.

Education Prerequisites

Students who are interested in declaring a major in health promotion are often required to have a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0, depending upon the school. Students are also often allowed to transfer over credits from an associate's degree program in the field.

Program Coursework

Courses included within a bachelor's degree program in health promotion are primarily classroom lectures or seminars covering topics related to healthcare, educational strategies and community interaction. Specific courses include:

  • Healthcare concepts
  • Disorders and diseases
  • Health education foundations
  • Health education strategies
  • Evaluation of health education programs
  • Community health planning
  • Women's health

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a bachelor's in health promotion can gain entry-level positions acting as health educators and policy administrators in the following locations:

  • Community outreach centers
  • Hospitals and health clinics
  • Government healthcare agencies
  • University wellness programs
  • Non-profit healthcare organizations
  • Corporate healthcare clinics
  • Schools

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for health educators would grow by 37%, faster than average, from 2010-2020 ( As of May 2012, the median annual salary earned by health educators was $48,790, per the BLS.

Master of Science in Health Promotion

Graduate programs in health promotion provide individuals with the advanced educational background and training in research methods necessary to gain positions as specialists, consultants, directors and researchers in the field of health promotion. Curriculum covers advanced theories of healthcare, new initiatives in health promotion and new technologies in the field. Students at the graduate level are also expected to learn about organization techniques, management principles and regulations affecting the health promotion field.

Education Prerequisites

A baccalaureate degree in health promotion, health education or healthcare administration is an ideal prerequisite for any individual seeking graduate study in the field of health promotion. Students are also required to gain acceptance into a graduate school, which typically requires strong GRE scores and transcripts, as well as letters of recommendation and personal essays.

Program Coursework

Advanced seminar courses provide further insight into the concepts and research efforts that make up the field. Specific examples of courses include:

  • Health promotion organization and planning
  • Research methodology
  • Evaluation of health education programs
  • Personal health promotion
  • Epidemiology
  • Intervention strategies
  • Organization and administration strategies
  • Thesis

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree program in health promotion may secure a management, upper-level executive and specialist position. They may work as:

  • Health program director
  • Research coordinator for healthcare society
  • Health promotion coordinator
  • School health education director
  • Health promotion specialist
  • Health department manager

Certification Options

The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing offers certification options for health promotion professionals. Individuals who pass a competency-based examination are eligible to gain certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). Individuals must re-certify every five years to keep their credentials active.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health Promotion and Health Education

Doctoral programs in health promotion and health education are primarily designed for health professionals and community educators who are interested in pursuing positions in research and academia. Most students enrolled in a Ph.D. program in the subject select a particular area or theme on which to focus and expand current understanding though research. They are often paired with a faculty advisor who is tasked to help them design an individualized plan of study and prepare for a dissertation.

Education Prerequisites

Professional experience in the field of health education and promotion is one of the primary prerequisites for gaining admittance into a competitive university Ph.D. program in health promotion. Other prerequisites include a bachelor's or master's degree, a statement of interest, letters of recommendation and strong GRE scores.

Program Coursework

Although students enrolled in a Ph.D. program in health promotion often devise an individualized curriculum that meets their proposed dissertation goals, many Ph.D. programs also include common seminar courses.

  • Advanced theoretical bases of health promotion
  • Administration of health promotion and health education
  • Health promotions research
  • Epidemiological research
  • Technological methods of community interaction
  • Advanced practice in disease prevention
  • Advanced biostatistics
  • Health ecology

Popular Career Options

Graduates of Ph.D. programs in health education are often interested in affecting policy and research in the field at the highest levels. They also often pursue positions in academia. Examples of each are listed below:

  • University professor of health promotion and education
  • Associate professor
  • State department of public health director
  • Public health researcher

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