With healthcare continuing to be in the news every day, the industry projects to be one of the most important in the country for at least the next decade. Healthcare employment in general is expected to grow 20% through 2024; in the meantime, healthcare educators — that is, professionals that promote and teach health and wellness – will see over 115,000 jobs added, representing a faster-than-average 13% growth rate. While a bachelor’s degree is fine for entry- and mid-level positions, healthcare educators that want to lead organizations in developing and implementing new wellness strategies will likely need a master’s, in addition to certifications (including the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential). Because many working professionals or adult learners can’t drop everything for a traditional on-campus graduate degree, online MS tracks in Health Education are increasingly popular, offering flexibility, customization, and affordability. For those interested, we’ve compiled our top 10 online programs below.
- Affordability (1/3): The average cost per credit hour.
- Flexibility (1/3): The number of specializations, accelerated courses, start dates, and other features granting flexibility for the student.
- Academic Prestige (1/3): The academic prestige of the program’s parent institution according to national and international rankings and reviews.
1) Walden University
Founded in 1970, Walden developed one of the first fully online universities in the 1990s, now offering more than 140 degree programs – including bachelors, masters, certificates, and doctorates – and more than 300 specializations and concentrations. Further, with an enrollment of over 47,000, Walden boasts a highly diverse, well-represented student body from all 50 states and more than 150 countries. The school’s student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1, allowing for individualized instruction and collaborative learning, and Walden has a number of affiliations with school districts, healthcare centers, corporations, and nonprofits, to help reduce tuition costs and teach relevant skills for adult learners and working professionals.
Walden’s online MS in Health Education And Promotion, with concentrations in Emergency Preparedness, Health Policy and Advocacy, and Population Health; self-designed or general tracks are available, as well. Core requirements include Perspectives on Health and the Developing Professional, Assessing Community Needs for Health Education, Health Education and Communication Strategies, Public Health Administration and Leadership, and Applied Research in Public Health, among others. With a generous transfer policy of up to 25 quarter credits, students can accelerate course work and completion time. Courses are designed for maximum flexibility, and the curriculum follows the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Educators set by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) to prepare students for the national Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) and Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) exams. For those interested, Walden also offers an online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in Public Health.
- Tuition Per Credit: $440
2) University of Florida
Founded in 1853, The University of Florida has a total enrollment of over 50,000, with over 330,000 graduates from all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide, giving students an extensive network to jumpstart or continue their careers. (Corporations rank Florida in the top 10 colleges for recruiting new employees.) As a member of the Association of American Universities, UF is considered one of the very best public higher learning institutions in the country:US News, Washington Monthly, and Forbes all rank it highly, and Kiplinger’s and Fisk each ranked it #3 on their respective affordability lists (66% of students graduates with zero debt). The university’s 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a collaborative, vibrant learning community, and nearly half of classes have fewer than 20 students.
Florida offers an online MS in Health Education and Behavior that consists of 30 credits, including Philosophy & Principles of Health Education, Planning Health Education Programs, Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health, Theories of Health Behavior & Practice, and Evaluating Health Education Programs. From there, students choose from a variety of electives to customize the curriculum to fit their professional needs and interests. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ unique schedules and follow NCHEC guidelines to prepare students for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, which is required. In particular, graduates can go on to roles like Worksite Wellness Manager, Community Health Educator, or Health Education and Promotion Specialist.
- Tuition Per Credit: $550
3) University of South Carolina
Founded in 1801, The University of South Carolina is the state’s flagship university and has a total student body of nearly 50,000 with an active alumni base of 250,000, including politicians, CEOs, business executives, education leaders, and professional athletes. Ranked among the top Tier 1 universities in the country, US News also highlights USC for its veterans services. The university’s 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio supports a vibrant, tight-knit learning community that features individualized instruction and collaborative education. A third of all classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 15% have 50.
USC offers an online MPH in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior that consists of 45 units and can be completed in as little as 24-26 months. Designed for working professionals in health department, community, school and worksite settings, classes are available in areas like Health Administration, Biostatistics, Environmental Health Science, Health Promotion Programs, Community Health Development, and Examining Health Inequalities. From there, students complete 6 credits of a seminar and fieldwork practicum to round out the degree and gain real-world experience. The program is built for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ schedules, and out-of-state students pay in-state tuition. Upon graduation, alumni will be prepared to: lead organizations to facilitate healthful practices; develop programs aimed at promoting good health at the personal, organizational and public policy levels; and independently evaluate existing health programs.
- Tuition Per Credit: $533
4) University of Illinois
Founded in 1867, The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the state’s second oldest university, with 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate and professional programs. It is widely regarded as one of the top public universities in the country, and U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities, and QS World University Rankings all rank it highly. It has also been listed as a “public ivy,” and is considered one of the top research universities in the US, according to the Carnegie Foundation and The Center for Measuring University Performance. With an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Illinois combines personalized instruction with collaborative learning to create a dynamic, 21st century research university. Over 40% of classes have less than 20 students.
Illinois’ Department of Communication — ranked in the nation’s top 10 – offers an online MS in Health Communication that includes 32 credit hours and a variety of specializations with which to customize the degree, including Interpersonal, Family, Organizational, Socially Mediated, and Cultural Communication. Core requirements include Introduction to Health Communication, Health Communication Research Methods, Health and Family Communication, Provider-Patient Communication, Health Informatics, Social Marketing for Health and Behavior Change, and Health Communication Organizations, among others. All classes are asynchronous for maximum flexibility, meaning you complete course work according to your own schedule. Typical completion time is 2 years.
- Tuition Per Credit: $675
5) Arizona State University
Arizona State University, founded in 1885, has a total enrollment of 52,000, the majority of which is undergraduate. Ranked as the #1 Most Innovative School in America by US News, ASU has also received high rankings from Forbes, Money, The Daily Beast, US News, and the Wall Street Journal. ASU regularly ranks among the top research funding schools in the country, emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach, and, with a 23:1 student-to-faculty ratio, boasts a dynamic and vibrant learning community, balancing a collaborative approach with one-on-one instruction. 40% of classes have fewer than 20 students, and less than one in five have 50.
Arizona State’s online MS in Exercise and Wellness features 36 credits and concentrations in Health Promotion and Physical Activity, and Fitness Conditioning. Core requirements include Research Statistics, Health Promotion, Physiological Aspects of Physical Activity and Chronic Disease, and Research Methods, among others. From there, students customize their degree through a range of elective options, plus a thesis, applied project, or comprehensive exam. Student services include academic advising, tech support, tutoring, veterans, services, and more. Applicants should submit GRE scores and have at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
- Tuition Per Credit: $587
6) Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health
Founded in 1891, Nebraska Methodist College is a private university in Omaha with a total enrollment of 1,000. An affiliate of Methodist Health System, NMC is one of the region’s top healthcare institutions, emphasizing an holistic approach, service-learning experiences, community-based education, and leadership development through cutting-edge curricula. Thanks to its small student population and 12:1 student-to-faculty, NMC is able to maintain an intimate, tight-knit learning community that features one-on-one, personalized instruction.
Nebraska Methodist’s online MS in Wellness and Health Promotion Management totals 33 credits: Strategic Management for Wellness Professionals, Theories and Trends in Health Promotion, Organizational Change and Wellbeing, HR Management, Human and Financial ROI, and Ethical Leadership and Conflict Management, among others. To conclude the program, students complete 6 credits of capstone work. All courses are designed for maximum flexibility to fit students’ unique schedules, and the accelerated 5-week course blocks allow the degree to be completed in as little as 16 months, meaning lower costs, quicker turnaround, and better overall value. No GRE scores are required, but applicants should have earned at least a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Admissions are rolling.
- Tuition Per Credit: $719
7) West Virginia University
West Virginia University, founded in 1867, has a total enrollment of 29,000 and is ranked among the top 100 public schools in the nation by US News. It ranks in top 15 public universities for Rhodes Scholars (24) and also boasts 39 Goldwater Scholars, 22 Truman Scholars, 39 Fulbright Scholars, and 14 Gilman Scholars. WVU is among just 6% of universities to earn the Carnegie Foundations Community Engagement Classification. WVU’s 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio means classes are vibrant and collaborative; still, half have fewer than 20 students and less than 14% have 50.
West Virginia’s online MS in School Health Education consists of 30 credits: Public Health for School Health Educators, Community and Context in School Health, School Health Program Design, Advanced Teaching Strategies, Leadership and Advocacy in School Health, and Classroom Organization and Management, among others. Courses are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate adult learners and working professionals, and students can expect to complete the degree in as little as 1-1.5 years. The program meets National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education standards and includes Council on Education for Public Health core public health competencies. No GRE is required, but applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
- Tuition Per Credit: $737
8) East Carolina University
Founded in 1907, East Carolina University is the third-largest university in the state, with a total enrollment of approximately 28,000. The school also offers top-notch value: Washington Monthly has ranked ECU as the #1 “Bang for your Buck” university in the country, along with high rankings from Princeton Review, US News, and Forbes for general academics. It has received the Patriot Award and the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for its support of veterans. With an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, ECU maintains an intimate, tight-knit community while fostering the collaborative learning approach common to a research university of its size. A third of classes have fewer than 20 students and less than 18% have 50.
East Carolina’s 100% online MA in Health Education requires 30 credits of course work. Core classes include Foundations of Health Education and Promotion, Epidemiology, Research Methods in Health Education, Intervention Strategies, Needs Assessment, and Evaluation of Health Education and Promotion Programs. From there, students complete a variety of electives to customize the track, a fieldwork internship, and have the option to develop a thesis. Students can also pursue certificates to fulfill credit requirements, including in Community College Instruction, Community Health Center Administration, Ethnic and Rural Health Disparities, Health Care Administration, Health Informatics, and Substance Abuse Counseling.
Students with previous applicable MA credits can transfer up to 7.
- Tuition Per Credit: $877
9) Maryland University of Integrative Health
Maryland University of Integrative Health (previously the Tai Sophia Institute) is a private non-profit graduate school in alternative medicine, specializing in integrative health, preventative health, and wellness. Founded in 1981, MUIH is one of the few institutions of its kind today, holding accreditations from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the Maryland Higher Education Commission, and several professional organizations. Its guiding principles are Interconnection, Holism, Transformation, Diversity, and Resilience.
MUIH offers an online MS in Health Promotion that consists of 33-34 credits, with available concentrations in Community Health Education and Workplace Wellness. Core requirements include studies in Health Behavior and Health Education, Needs Assessment and Program Planning, Topics in Diversity for Health and Healing, Complementary Health Approaches, and Health Education Leadership, Resource Development, and Management. From there, the CEH concentration module features classes like Implementation of Community Health Education Programs, Physical Activity and Health, Nutrition: Food and Balance, and an internship to gain practical real-world experience. Courses are built for tremendous flexibility, and students are granted freedom to complete course work according to their own schedules. No GRE scores are required for admission.
- Tuition Per Credit: $820
10) Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University, founded in 1905, is a Seventh-day Adventist school specializing in allied health professions, behavioral health, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. With a total enrollment of 4,500, Loma Linda has an unparalleled 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio, providing students personalized instruction and direct access to professors. Classes are intimate, and the tight-knit community supports a collaborative learning environment. Financial aid is available, too: over half of undergrads receive some form of aid.
Loma Linda offers an online Master of Public Health with a concentration in Health Education that consists of 56 units and can be completed in a little over 2 years. (For those interested, other concentrations include Epidemiology, Global Health, Health Policy and Leadership, lifestyle Management, Nutrition, and Population Medicine.) Online courses are delivered via the Canvas learning platform, ensuring maximum flexibility, and students have 24/7 access to course material, group discussion boards, live chat rooms, video conferencing, and more. In addition to online course work, students must also complete a 400-hour practicum experience, working in community agencies, medical centers, school, and other settings. Upon completion, all graduates will be prepared to take a variety of NCHEC tests, including the Credentialing Examination in Health Education, Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) or Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES).
- Tuition Per Credit: $880