Online Health Education Degree Programs

Health educators promote health and wellness in a variety of different environments, including schools, hospitals, private businesses and more. Learn how the right classes, degree programs and college funding sources can get you on the path to helping people stay healthy.


Health educators are America’s best advocates for promoting wellness. They work in elementary and secondary schools, with governmental agencies, community health and welfare groups, non-profit organizations and in private business. Online degree programs in health education — from the associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to the master’s and Ph.D. — prepare students to take everything from entry level health promotion roles to positions as communications managers and directors of federal, state and community health advocacy organizations.This comprehensive guide helps online students map out the many pathways leading to successful health education careers.

Online Health Education Degrees: A Timeline

Online degree programs in health education are designed for students with family or work obligations that make it difficult to attend campus-based programs. The “asynchronous learning” system used for online courses allows busy students to attend classes on their own schedule, logging on to view lectures, discussion threads, online presentations or perform research. Online degree requirements and coursework is on par with strenuous campus-based health programs, so students should not expect a lightweight curriculum.

Online courses in health education may include collaborative projects, internships, lab work or live discussion meetings. Therefore, it’s essential for online students to be disciplined and self-driven toward completing each assignment. Online schools typically arrange group meetings or out-of-classroom internships/activities in a location that’s convenient to the student.

Campus-based and hybrid (online and on-site combination) degree programs establish firm requirements for attending lectures, labs and discussions based on the college’s schedule, not the student’s. On the plus side, they’re well-suited for students who need face-to-face contact with instructors and peers. However, students must relocate or commute to the ideal school program and commit to showing up for each class meeting. For students who are at-home parents or who work full-time jobs, the online option may be their best choice.

Case Study #1

A year following high school graduation, Melanie was working at an entry level client-intake position at her city’s domestic violence center. It was there that she caught the social activism bug. When her position was eliminated by cutbacks, Melanie enrolled in an online health education degree program while working part-time at another women’s health agency. She plans to eventually pursue a bachelor’s degree to increase her advocacy opportunities.

Online Associate Degree in Health Education

An online associate degree program in health education is designed to build a foundation for students targeting health education and promotion careers. The curriculum is balanced so that students complete college general education requirements along with key studies in healthcare. Major-field courses include studies of education delivery systems, medical terminology and diseases, statistics, healthcare promotion and marketing, and related computer software.

The two-year online associate degree in health education can lead to excellent work options with public health organizations, hospitals, or health advocacy groups. The degree is most effective with employers when combined with related volunteer or practical work experience. It also provides for a less-expensive undergraduate foundation than the cost of the typical first two-years of a bachelor’s degree program.

Freshman Year Credits/Units Description
Introduction to Healthcare 3 First-year course in the evolution of healthcare business practices and principles, including accounting, marketing, finance, and personal responsibilities.
Psychology and Health 3 An introduction to psychological concerns in healthcare, including emotional, environmental, and cultural factors.
Business and Professional Writing 3 Students apply effective business principles in communications, including memos, reports, and emails.
Physical Science 3 This course provides an overview of the physical sciences and methods in understanding major scientific laws and concepts.
Sophomore Year Credits/Units Description
Computer Applications in Health Education 3 The course is a hands-on overview of graphics and document-publishing software. Learn how to produce health education CD-ROMs and Web sites.
Statistics 3 A study of methods, ethics, and critical thinking skills for students who configure and test hypotheses.
Children’s Health 3 Students learn about age-specific needs and educational trends in child development, K-12.
Health and Disease 3 An exploration of health risks and diseases of the major body systems, including a review of mental disorders.
Case Study #2

Elliot was a communications major enrolled in an online bachelor’s degree program. He planned to go into corporate communications work, but a summer internship with a community services organization shifted his career goals to health promotion and education. He revised his major to health education and promotion and following graduation, secured a job as health marketing coordinator for a mental health services agency.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Health Education

The online bachelor’s degree program in health education is designed for students seeking a well-rounded, multi-disciplinary curriculum that prepares them for careers in health advocacy, promotion and education. Students explore the issues and challenges in education and develop the skills necessary to plan, execute and evaluate outreach programs delivered to diverse communities, groups, and individuals.

A bachelor’s degree in health education is the gateway degree into non-managerial, non-clinical roles throughout the corporate, non-profit, educational and public service sectors of the health promotion field. Graduates take jobs with a wide range of employers including state and local health departments, hospitals and clinics, community health agencies, corporate wellness departments, health advocacy groups, school outreach programs and health management organizations.

Junior Year Credits/Units Description
Community & Public Health 3 This course explores regulatory mandates, ethical and financing issues in promoting community health.
Technology in Health & Human Services 3 A review of informatics, data security, professional software programs, and patient confidentiality.
School Health 3 The course reviews topics in private and public education including administration, policy, curriculum, and promotion.
Measurement and Evaluation 3 This intermediate course focuses on health research methodology and statistics.
Senior Year Credits/Units Description
Special Populations 3 The course addresses issues involving mental health, substance addiction, youth populations, and underserved communities.
Health Promotion Planning 3 Learn how health educators fund and produce community fairs, blood drives and other outreach efforts.
Curriculum Development 3 Course focuses on the design of classroom materials to accomplish school-wide educational initiatives.
Education Systems 3 An examination of health education systems and variances in corporate, public and worksite settings.
Case Study #3

Marquita had amassed an extensive service record during her years as a caseworker for a community health agency in the Southwest. Looking to advance her career, she discovered that while the experience was a great asset, most non-profit or advocacy organizations required applicants for managerial roles to hold a post-graduate degree. She is currently enrolled in an online master’s in health education program that allows her to retain her caseworker position until she graduates.

Online Master’s Degree in Health Education

The online master’s degree in health education is designed to prepare graduates for management or leadership roles in private, governmental or non-profit organizations. Courses focus on health education research methodology, ethics and professional standards, multi-cultural diversity, and service delivery principles. Students learn how to create policy, write evidence-based proposals, and finance educational initiatives.

Health educators stepping up to new leadership roles or changing organizations may find their undergraduate preparation wanting. The online master’s degree in health education is designed for professionals who have current work/family obligations. Master’s graduates have the skills to design, manage, and assess health education and wellness campaigns using contemporary assessment strategies, resources, and training materials.

Year 1 Credits/Units Description
Advanced Health Education 3 Students review techniques for needs assessment and planning strategies for implementing evidence-based health education programs.
Health Biostatistics 3 Biostatistics focuses on the statistical, computational and mathematical methods in the research, analysis and implementation of data in developing health policy.
Health Education Theory and Practice 3 An examination of techniques and strategies for creating local, state, and national health education programs or systems.
Public Health Education Policy 3 A study of key concepts in administrative health policy development for community, state and federal health education programming.
Year 2 Credits/Units Description
Health Service Systems 3 An advanced examination of the relationships of healthcare institutions, human resources, service delivery, and health policy.
Healthcare Finance 3 Students gain an advanced perspective on key issues in working capital, resources, financial planning, operating revenue, compliance, payment systems and reimbursement.
Cultural Concerns in Health Education 3 Students gain a working understanding the challenges in health education delivery for culturally diverse populations.
Capstone in Healthcare Education 3 Students create real-world educational solutions in a project or business deliverable related to their current workplace or for a theoretical case.

Online Doctorate Degree in Health Education

The online doctoral degree in health education represents the pinnacle academic achievement for those who train healthcare providers or manage federal, state and community advocacy and promotion initiatives. The curriculum, often flexible to match student’s career goals, includes a well-rounded investigation into best practices in professional management, ethics, epidemiology, instructional technology, biostatistics, disease prevention, instructional design, program assessment, planning and cultural competency.

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Graduates of a doctoral degree program in health education are prepared to undertake managerial or executive roles in planning, executing, and monitoring enterprise-wide programs and policies in the business, non-profit, and governmental arenas. They are qualified to teach in university healthcare education programs or lead the marketing/health promotion efforts of hospitals, clinics, governmental agencies, insurance firms, and health advocacy organizations.

Core Course Description
Program Planning in Health Education This course examines key factors in creating an assessment and an action plan to establish best practices in strategic planning, budgeting, policies, and advocacy in health education.
Educational Research Design Students gain understanding of qualitative and quantitative research approaches to address a successful response to educational problems from a socio-ecological perspective.
Healthcare Education Technology An overview of information technology applications in delivering health education and promotion programs.
Doctoral Seminar Students create a “concept paper” that serves as a foundation for their dissertation, along with development of an action plan for creating a mentor and committee.
Doctoral Dissertation This mentor-led course assists students in completing their research, compiling findings/conclusions in preparing their dissertation for delivery and defense.