Doctoral degree programs focused on health education typically award graduates either the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.PH.) or the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Doctor of Public Health degree programs tend to focus on practice, and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs tend to focus on research. Most Ph.D. and Dr.PH. degree programs in health education require students to pass comprehensive written and oral examinations, conduct research, and submit a dissertation prior to graduation. Students in both programs take courses in biostatistics, behavioral sciences and community-based prevention research.
Doctoral degree programs in health education can be completed entirely online, on-campus or a blend of both. Candidates are typically required to finish the program within seven years of enrollment. To apply, students need a master's degree, preferably in health education, public health, or a related science. They must also have completed undergraduate coursework in biostatistics, health services administration and environmental health.
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Doctoral Degree Programs in Health Education
These degree programs prepare students for academic careers in which they train future researchers and conduct their own research on issues related to health education. Most programs require 72 credit hours of coursework, which may include some of the following classes:
- Community health instruction
- Community-based prevention research
- Public health statistics
- Quantitative and qualitative research methods in public health
- Behavioral science in public health
- Introductory biostatistics
Graduates of doctoral degree programs in health education tend to find employment as college instructors, public health administrators, corporate wellness directors and clinical research managers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment opportunities for health educators and community health workers would grow 13% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is faster than the average projected growth for all occupations (www.bls.gov). Annual salaries for health educators averaged $56,690 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
Many graduates of doctoral programs in health education become postsecondary teachers at colleges and universities. Postsecondary teachers at colleges and universities earned a mean annual salary of $71,060 in 2014, with expected job growth of 13% between 2014 and 2024.
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education and professional development opportunities for those who have earned doctoral degrees in health education are available through colleges and universities. Organizations like the American Association for Health Education (www.aahperd.org), the Society for Public Health Education (www.sophe.org) and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (www.nchec.org) also provide continuing education courses, seminars and workshops.
For students who are interested in teaching and conducting research in the field of health education, a PhD program provides the necessary training. Most students go on to pursue academic careers.