Programs in health promotion enable students to explore health education concepts, epidemiology, health promotion research, and advanced biostatistics. Bachelor's degree programs give undergraduates the tools with which 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.
In graduate programs, students learn about organization techniques, management principles and regulations affecting the health promotion field. Graduate programs are research intensive. Master's level students complete a thesis and doctoral students undertake dissertation research in a particular area with the goal of expanding current understanding of that field. Voluntary certification as a health education specialist is available.
Students interested in declaring a major in health promotion are required to have a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0, depending upon the school. A baccalaureate degree in health promotion, health education, or healthcare administration is an ideal prerequisite for any individual seeking graduate study in health promotion. 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. Both programs will require GRE scores, letters of recommendation, a personal essay, and likely professional experience in the field.
Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion
Bachelor's degree programs in health promotion 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. Students are allowed to transfer over credits from an associate's degree program in the field.
Courses within a bachelor's degree program 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 and strategies
- Evaluation of health education programs
- Community health planning
- Women's health
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.
Advanced seminar courses provide further insight into the concepts and research efforts making up the field. Specific examples include:
- Health promotion organization and planning
- Research methodology and thesis
- Evaluation of health education programs
- Personal health promotion and intervention strategies
- Organization and administration strategies
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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 interested in pursuing positions in research and academia. Students are paired with a faculty adviser tasked to help them design an individualized plan of study and prepare for a dissertation.
Although students enrolled in a Ph.D. program in health promotion devise an individualized curriculum that meets their proposed dissertation goals, many Ph.D. programs also include common seminar courses such as:
- Advanced theoretical bases of health promotion
- Administration of health promotion and health education
- Health promotions and epidemiological research
- Technological methods of community interaction
- Advanced practice in disease prevention and biostatistics
- Health ecology
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's in health promotion can gain entry-level positions 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
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
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
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job openings for health educators would grow by 12%, faster than average, from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, the median annual salary earned by health educators was $51,960, per the BLS.
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 credential active.
Education for health promotion professionals includes a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). These programs prepare students for a variety of healthcare careers and qualify them for professional certification.