Health Education, M.S.

Image Caption

College of Health Sciences

Department of Health Studies

DeNike 250



Graduate Coordinator:

Kelly Boyd, Ph.D., M.S.,


Alberto Cardelle, Ph.D., M.P.H.,

Steven Godin, Ph.D., M.P.H., PH Informatics Certificate,

Kathy Hillman, Ph.D., M.P.H.,

Steven Shive, Ph.D, M.P.H.,

Associate Professors:

Kelly Boyd, Ph.D., M.S.,

Kimberly Razzano, Ph.D., M.P.H., Interim Chair,

Assistant Professors:

Claire Lenhart, Ph.D., MPH, CHES,


Christina Brecht, M.P.H., R.D.,

Mary Jane O’Merle, M.S.,

Master of Science in Health Education

  • 30 semester hours (Hybrid Distance Education Format)

    Purpose of Degree

    The M.S. in Health Education program is designed for students who are interested in health education for a variety of settings including: schools, colleges, hospitals, communities and industry.

    No specific undergraduate degree is required. Prospective students with bachelor's degrees in health education, biology, computer science, psychology, nursing, nutrition, sociology, physical education and the allied health area, among others, are encouraged to apply.

    Each student’s background is evaluated and a plan of study is designed to achieve the student’s educational and career goals. Students who have not acquired the necessary competencies at the undergraduate level or completed appropriate field experiences may be required to complete work beyond the minimum requirements.

    Mission of the Program

    The mission of the department of health is to prepare qualified practitioners in the areas of health education and public health, who will enhance the quality of life through the promotion of health and the elimination of disparities. The department is committed to attaining this mission through teaching, research, and service.

    Plan of Study

    The M.S. degree requires 30 credit hours. On a full-time schedule, this program could be completed in three semesters or take up to six years if taken part-time. The courses will be offered in a hybrid distance education format. This is a competency-based program to prepare health educators to possess the skills necessary to carry out health education in multiple settings and within multiple content areas. The program addresses the present research and the latest competencies for health educators developed by the Competencies Update Project (CUP) of the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. (NCHEC). The minimum requirements are as follows:





    HLTH 515

    Determinants of Disease

    3 credits

    HLTH 538

    Health Policy and Administration

    3 credits

    HLTH 539

    Methods in Health Education Workshop

    3 credits

    HLTH 541

    Health and Media Literacy: Challenges and Strategies

    3 credits

    HLTH 546

    Leadership and Advocacy in Health Education and Health Promotion

    3 credits

    HLTH 555

    Health Education Evaluation

    3 credits

    HLTH 560

    Scientific Foundations of Health Behavior

    3 credits

    HLTH 563

    Public Health Measurement Sciences

    3 credits

    HLTH 570

    Introduction to Research

    3 credits

    HLTH 571

    Health Education Research Problem

    Semester Hours Arranged

    Final graduation requirement

    All M.S. graduate candidates will be required to complete an oral comprehensive exam at the end of their coursework. Students must also complete a special research topic (HLTH 571).

    Admissions requirements and deadlines

    All students must meet admission requirements of the Graduate College and complete the application process.

    In addition, submit acceptable GRE scores and a professional resume describing relevant experience and skills.

    Graduate assistantships

    Graduate assistantships are available through the department. These are awarded based upon merit and achievement to full-time students in the graduate program. Graduate assistantships are also available throughout the university.

    Graduate assistants do not teach classes, but engage in experiences related to advanced learning, research and scholarship, or professional service and leadership in the field.

    The graduate assistantship is awarded for the first year of full-time study, with the possibility of extension through the first summer (maximum of four semesters of study). Prospective students should apply for a graduate assistantship at the time of original application to the program, using the application form provided by the Graduate School or apply online.

Course Descriptions

  • HLTH 505 Non-Medical Healing Arts (1:1:0)

    • This course examines the role of Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Faith Healing, and other health services which deviate from or compete with "Medicine" in relation to health education. The social and legal issues concerning these services, reliability of sources of information about the services, and the role of the health education in utilization of these services are studied. Focus of the course will be on the development of guidelines for utilization of these services.

  • HLTH 506 Analysis of Health Information (1:1:0)

    • This course is an overview of the use and misuse of statistics, the manipulation of human needs and drives, and the provision of false and misleading information by providers and suppliers of health products and services. All major sources of information related to consumer health will be examined for inherent biases and common forms of misinformation.

  • HLTH 507 Trends in Dieting (1:1:0)

    • This course is a study of the issues surrounding popular health foods and diets. The desirable and undesirable qualities of "natural" and "organic" foods, "exotic" foods, and nutrient enriched foods are examined. The advantages and disadvantages of diets emphasizing specific nutrients or types of foods, crash diets, drug aided diets, and diets for specific purposes are also studied. Focus of the course is on development of guidelines for evaluating information and sources of information.

  • HLTH 508 Women's Health Concerns (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to address unique health concerns of women in today’s society. Specific topics such as alcoholism, anorexia nervosa, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), domestic violence, child abuse, rape, menopause and many others will be included.

  • HLTH 509 Skills for Applied Community Health Practice (2:2:0)

    • The purpose of this course is to provide public health education professionals with a broad set of research and communication skills and techniques needed to practice culturally competent public health education, communicate effectively with communities and conduct community based participatory research.

  • HLTH 515 Determinants of Disease (3:3:0)

    • This course will analyze the variables that impact the health of a population. It explores this dynamic by analyzing the multi-factorial relationship between diseases and biological, behavioral, socioeconomic and cultural factors. Emphasis is placed on the role(s) health professionals play in addressing this complex relationship.

  • HLTH 530 Nutrition Across the Life Span (3:3:0)

    • This course will emphasize the application of nutrition theory across the life-span, highlighting exercise and weight control, disease prevention, pregnancy and infancy, childhood, adulthood and the senior years. An opportunity to examine nutrition curricula for public school teaching will be provided.

  • HLTH 531 Instructor Training for Classroom Emergency Care (3:3:0)

    • This course provides educators with the necessary basic skills and knowledge to appropriately respond to emergency situations that might arise within the classroom and other school environment. In addition to technical skill development, the focus of this course is on teacher training skill development. Information and materials are provided to enable educators to implement emergency care content into related health areas. There is also an opportunity to become certified in standard first aid and instructor authorization in CPR.

  • HLTH 532 Death and Dying Education (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to increase awareness and develop appropriate values, attitudes, and behaviors concerning death. Special emphasis will be placed on providing educators with information and materials which will enable them to implement death and dying content into related health areas.

  • HLTH 533 Alcohol, Drugs and Narcotics Education (3:3:0)

    • This course probes the significance of substance use and abuse in society as a behavioral health problem, with particular attention to the pharmacological, psycho-social, and legal dimensions of substance use and abuse. The course topics also include alternatives to substance use, and existing community resources for prevention and rehabilitation including community organizations, school curriculum, and media resources. The course culminates with an exploration of the principles for evaluating successful community education programs.

  • HLTH 534 Sex Education in Schools (3:3:0)

    • The development, present status, and trends of sex education in school programs and in the community with reference to social values and attitudes are presented. It includes attention to the development of organized programs, resources, and materials.

  • HLTH 536 Seminar: Health Education (3:3:0)

    • The course is an individual and group study of problems and materials in personal, school, and community health.

  • HLTH 537 Community Health Practice for Health Educators (3:3:0)

    • The course is a study of the theory and principles of community health practice and the application of those principles to contemporary health organization and problems. Approaches to successful community health practice are examined with the various factors that influence or are influenced by community health education programs.

  • HLTH 538 Health Policy and Administration (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to provide the student with a comprehensive background in public health legislation, organization, and programming. Emphasis is placed on the dynamic nature of public health within the total physical, social, economic and political context.

  • HLTH 539 Methods in Health Education Workshop (3:3:0)

    • The course analyzes the development and implementation of health education intervention strategies applicable to a multitude of settings. The students will research, examine and apply "Best Practices" in the design and application of health promotion strategies aimed at individual health improvement.

  • HLTH 540 Behavior Modification in Health Education (3:3:0)

    • This course is an overview of the major principles of behavior modification as they relate to health education in both theory and practice. It examines theory in relation to current issues of education in general and health education in particular. Applications of principles are studied in the context of health programs specifically designed as behavior modification programs and in the context of health programs, which contain behavior modification principles but were not designed with these principles in mind.

  • HLTH 541 Health and Media Literacy: Challenges and Strategies (3:3:0)

    • This course explores and analyzes the relationship between health status, health literacy and the media. The influence of media on content-specific health topics and issues will be explored. Primary emphasis will be placed on developing an informed and critical understanding of the nature of media and its impact on both personal and societal health.

  • HLTH 542 HIV and AIDS Prevention and Education (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of HIV and AIDS infection in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the United States. The course will provide information on recent research on modes of HIV transmission and risk reduction strategies. Particular emphasis is placed on the design and evaluation of HIV prevention and education programs geared toward high risk populations including youth, women, and minorities.

  • HLTH 544 Health Promotion Programs and Aging (3:3:0)

    • This course will emphasize health promotion programming for elderly populations. Social and demographic factors will be addressed in regard to health education’s role in the aging process. Healthful aging will be examined and discussed from a public health and social health perspective with a primary focus on developing and implementing programs that enhance the health of the elderly.

  • HLTH 546 Leadership and Advocacy in Health Education and Health Promotion (3:3:0)

    • This course will examine the concepts and theories of leadership, and current leadership challenges faced in the practice environment. The course will explore the research and applications of the theories and concepts that aim to influence, inform and lead change that will result in health improvements in target populations and communities. Content areas will include leadership theory, advocacy skills, coalition building, communication, lobbying, collaboration, team building, ethics, and conflict management/resolution.

  • HLTH 550 School Health Administration and Curriculum (3:3:0)

    • The purpose of this course is to assist the student in more thoroughly understanding the administration of the school health program and the content, structure, and development of the health education curriculum. Emphasis is placed upon a comparison of the conceptual approach to other approaches for curriculum development.

  • HLTH 551 Health Resources and Service Planning and Management (3:3:0)

    • Students are introduced to the principles, logic, and history of health resource allocation and health services planning, and the fundamentals of health systems management. Each student learns how to use appropriate health data tracing systems, and to apply and evaluate these systems in practical settings.

  • HLTH 552 Health Budgeting and Fiscal Management (3:3:0)

    • Students will become acquainted with macro- and micro-economic factors influencing the health care industry, and how these factors influence health budgeting and fiscal management of health service organizations. Students learn budget making and the budgetary process in public and private health services; capital development and planning; and the procedures of fiscal management as administrative control.

  • HLTH 553 Health Ethics, Policy and Law (3:3:0)

    • The students learn how professional, ethical, constitutional, legal, and governmental aspects of health influence the administration of health service organizations, the formation of health policy, and the planning of health services.

  • HLTH 555 Health Education Evaluation (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to familiarize students with the methods of evaluation used in health education and the implications for student evaluation and program planning. A strong emphasis is placed on the development of various types of instruments of evaluation used in health education. Prerequisite: Statistics

  • HLTH 556 Qualitative Methods in Research and Evaluation for Health Education (3:3:0)

    • This course is a review of the use of qualitative methodology in research and evaluation of Health Education. Emphasis of the course is on the use of these methodologies to enhance student understanding of the physical and social dynamics (ecology) which influence Health Education planning and implementation. The course will also include skill development for selected techniques.

  • HLTH 557 Computer Applications in Health Education (3:3:0)

    • This course provides health education professionals with selected PC-compatible software packages that are being used in a variety of professional settings where community and school-based health education and promotion are being conducted. Particular emphasis will be placed on the application of various health promotion software packages to conduct health risk appraisals, stress assessment and reduction, nutrition assessment and life skills training. In addition, the course will provide an introduction to the application of spreadsheets and statistical software in assessing program effectiveness of community and school-based health education intervention.

  • HLTH 560 Scientific Foundations of Health Behavior (3:3:0)

    • This course is designed to familiarize students with the health sciences related to health education and promotion, and to provide experiences in the use of the literature related to the health sciences. The primary focus of the course is on human behavior as it influences health and is influenced by health education and promotion programs.

  • HLTH 561 Epidemiology (3:3:0)

    • This course is a study of the principles and methods of epidemiological investigations for human health problems. The incidence and prevalence of both infectious and non-infectious health problems are covered. Emphasis of this course is on student application of the principles of epidemiology.

  • HLTH 562 The Physical Environment and Community Health (3:3:0)

    • This course reviews traditional and evolving public health concerns related to the physical environment. Major areas of concern are: solid waste, housing, water, air, accidents, good sanitation, overpopulation, and global concerns.

  • HLTH 563 Public Health Measurement Sciences (3:3:0)

    • This purpose of this course is to develop applied statistical skills commonly used in public health measurement science. Students will develop statistical literacy, including the use of SPSS to solve research questions and hypotheses testing commonly found in public health practice and public health administration.

  • HLTH 565 Occupational Health Education and Promotion (3:3:0)

    • The course is an application of health education and promotion strategies to the work place. Emphasis is placed in developing student skills for design of programs in occupational settings. An overview of existing programs is included. Students will be expected to apply course material to a specific industrial situation.

  • HLTH 570 Introduction to Research (3:3:0)

    • This course is an orientation to research in health education. The emphasis is on developing and interpreting research projects with particular concern for the implications of design, methods and procedures. Students are expected to demonstrate research skills by developing a research proposal and presenting the proposal in a scholarly manner.

  • HLTH 571 Health Education Research Problem (Semester Hours Arranged)

    • This experience is designed to acquaint the student with recent methods of health research. Tasks will include the completion of an acceptable research report. Prerequisite: HLTH 570.

  • HLTH 572 Health Education Thesis (Semester Hours Arranged)

    • This experience consists of doing research for and writing of a thesis concerning a significant problem in health education. Prerequisite: HLTH 570.

  • HLTH 573 Global Public Health (3:3:0)

    • The course is designed to strengthen the student's understanding of the issues and factors constraining the achievement of public health goals around the world. The impacts of the social, cultural, physical, political and economic determinants of health are analyzed in a global context. Emphasis is placed on how factors within these different determinants of health affect the provision of health services and health outcomes. Examination of the impact of globalization and trans-national collaboration is included.

  • HLTH 577 Independent Study in Health Education (Semester Hours Arranged)

    • With the guidance of a member of the graduate faculty of the Health Department, the student pursues a pattern of readings, study, and research related to professional knowledge and understanding in health science. Topics should be established prior to enrollment. Prerequisite: Health Department graduate faculty approval.

  • HLTH 580 State Level Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Instructor's Training (1:1:0)

    • This course is designed to train the student in proper techniques and procedures in emergency measures in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The course is recognized by the American Heart Association, Pennsylvania Affiliate.

  • HLTH 581 Public Health Seminar (1:1:0)

    • This required course is designed to reinforce student understanding of the ecological factors that contribute to public health. The course will examine public health issues by analyzing the biological, genetic, behavioral (individual), interpersonal/social community, organizational and environmental factors that affect the outcomes of public health cases. The course strengthens student’s problem solving skills, the skills to participate in transdisciplinary research and the skills to use research to make good decisions about practice. Prerequisites: HLTH 538, 555, 560, 561, 562, 570.

  • HLTH 586 Field Experience and Internship (Semester Hours Arranged)

    • This course consists of the practical experiences obtained through supervised work in the school or community. The credits and hours of the experience shall be based on the student's experience and programmatic needs; however, no more than 3 credits may be applied to health education degree programs.