Earning a Master’s in Health Education Online

Health educators provide essential information about strategies for healthy living, collect data about community and population health, and create connections between healthcare professionals and the general population. Earning a master's in health education online equips students with the skills necessary to develop wellness plans, promote healthy choices, and help patients navigate the healthcare system.

With a master’s degree in health education, individuals can work in sectors including business, insurance, and healthcare administration. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health educators will experience a 16% increase in employment between 2016 and 2026, well above the national average growth rate.

Student Profile: Who Earns an Online Master's Degree in Health Education?

Learners with undergraduate degrees in health science, physical education, public health, nursing, and related areas can pursue graduate degrees in health education to advance their competencies in the field. Professionals who work in healthcare, in education, and with community groups often enroll in master's in health education programs to increase their knowledge of health promotion. Earning a master's in health education online prepares students to advance within their current careers, enabling them to take on on leadership and administrative roles in the health education field.

Why Get a Master's Degree in Health Education?

Pursuing Specialization

An online master's in health education provides extensive information about the design, implementation, and monitoring of health and wellness initiatives. Possible specialized topics include how to best meet the needs of patients and clients in a clinical setting, working with children and adults, and community outreach.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Healthcare and public health workers, insurance professionals, and community service officers can develop advanced leadership skills and administrative competencies through an online master's in health education. With an advanced degree, health educators can pursue positions that offer more responsibility and higher pay.

Online Learning Technology

Online master's degrees in health education give learners access to information on health informatics and other technologies within the field. With coursework that includes data analysis, program development, and patient information privacy, online health education programs provide hands-on experience with statistical, communication, and database tools.

Prerequisites for Online Health Education Programs

Many online health education master's programs require students to have relevant professional experience prior to applying. Many schools also expect applicants to meet GPA and test score requirements, provide letters of recommendation, and/or write a formal essay or statement of purpose.

  • Work Experience: Applicants to online master's degrees in health education must hold a bachelor's degree. Online graduate degrees in health education offer advanced industry knowledge to health education workers who want to advance within their current career. Not all online master's programs require applicants to have previous work experience in health education, but current practitioners benefit from the foundational knowledge they acquired prior to entering the program.
  • Exams and Test Scores: Admission to an online master's in health education may require learners to take the GRE. Test score requirements vary by institution and department, so students should check with each program prior to applying. GRE scores remain valid for five years after completion of the exam. Applicants with sufficient work experience may receive an exemption from the exam requirement.
  • Coursework: Although students must hold a bachelor's degree, it usually does not need to be in health education or related field for most health education graduate programs, but some schools may require previous coursework in specific areas. Common prerequisite classes include the natural sciences, foundations of public health, and interpersonal communication. This varies by school and program and applicants should check prior to applying.
  • Recommendations: Online master's degrees in health education often require students to submit one to three letters of recommendation. Letters from supervisors, former instructors, and colleagues who attest to the applicant's experience in the field, work ethic, and knowledge base benefit applicants.
  • Essays: Applications to graduate programs often require learners to submit a formal essay. Essay prompts give applicants specific topics to write about, but some schools may instead require a statement of purpose or professional goals.
  • Interviews: Interview requirements for graduate degrees in health education usually constitute the last step in the application process. An interview allows students to understand the people and content of a program as much as it gives interviewers insight into applicants.
  • International Students International applicants must submit the same materials as their domestic counterparts, but often also need to demonstrate English language proficiency through completion of the TOEFL or IELTS test.

How Much Can I Make with a Master's Degree in Health Education?

Health educators earned an average annual salary over $59,000 in 2017, according to the BLS. General medical and surgical hospitals are the largest employers of health educators in the United States. Local government, outpatient and family services, and state government provide many employment opportunities as well. Health educators working for the federal government earn the highest mean salaries with incomes of almost $98,000 annually.

Individuals with a health education master's degree can use their critical thinking and analytical skills in a variety of career pathways. A graduate degree in health education prepares students to apply theory to qualitative and quantitative data, while also building the skills necessary to effectively communicate with individuals and groups. Professionals interested in community activism, public policy, and labor advocacy can also use their health education degree to advance their careers.

Traditional Careers for Master's in Health Education Graduates

Careers Stats Description

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Median Pay: $45,360

Job Growth: 16%

Health educators and community health workers work with individuals and groups in various settings to promote health and wellness. Health educators assess data related to health needs, instruct the public about healthy choices, supervise health programs, and participate in health and wellness policy implementation. Community health workers carry out health and wellness programs, perform outreach, and work within communities to address health and wellness needs.

Dietitians and Nutritionists

Median Pay: $59,410

Job Growth: 15%

Dietitians and nutritionists work in clinical and community settings to assess dietary health, needs, and planning for individuals. They develop strategies for healthy eating based on overall health, nutritional data, preferences, and budget constraints.


Median Pay: $69,660

Job Growth: 9%

Epidemiologists study disease, injury, and health in human populations. They gather data to analyze causes and contributing factors of health problems. They may advise and supervise public health programs, often participating in state and local government.

Postsecondary Teachers

Median Pay: $76,000

Job Growth: 15%

Postsecondary teachers instruct learners in college and university settings. They prepare lesson plans, assignments, and exams in addition to advising students on academic goals. Postsecondary teachers work closely with colleagues and departmental professionals on developing curricula, promoting positive learning outcomes, and maintaining academic standards.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Nontraditional Careers for Health Education Graduates

The research and communication skills learners gain in an online master’s degree in health education apply to numerous fields. Advanced problem-solving skills afford health education graduates opportunities to work in jobs that require strategy development and plan implementation. Below, we list several occupations that require many of the skills that students develop in health education programs, including nursing, human services, and counseling.

Career Stats Description

Registered Nurses

Median Pay: $70,000

Job Growth: 15%

Registered nurses work with patients, providing care, information, and assistance as needed. They can also oversee other nurses, work within patients’ homes, or specialize in a specific medical field.

Skills Overlapped: Registered nurses and health education professionals possess similar communication skills. For both groups, education and instruction remain fundamental to working with individuals and groups.

School and Career Counselors

Median Pay: $55,410

Job Growth: 13%

School and career counselors work with individuals to develop and use academic and personal skills in appropriate settings. Both school and career counselors maintain records, develop plans with students and clients, and collaborate with other professionals to promote success.

Skills Overlapped: Both counselors and health educators work closely with individuals and groups to develop a plan for success, whether it be in an academic, professional, or personal context. Counselors and health education professionals help others develop new skills and impart knowledge as they assess the needs of their students and clients.

Social and Human Service Assistants

Median Pay: $33,120

Job Growth: 16%

Social and human service assistants provide support for individuals and families. Social and human service assistants may work in rehabilitation, social work, or psychology to provide services to specific populations, including veterans, people with disabilities, individuals dealing with addiction, or the elderly.

Skills Overlapped: Both groups also help patients and clients navigate complex systems, including healthcare, and develop plans for treatment, aid, and support. Health educators and social and human service assistants both use advanced interpersonal communication skills.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Median Pay: $59,400

Job Growth: 11%

Environmental scientists and specialists use natural science information to analyze and solve environmental problems. They present findings to governmental, industry, or fellow environmental professionals. Some environmental scientists and specialists may specialize in environmental safety while others focus on restoration and recovery.

Skills Overlapped: Both fields require analytical and problem-solving skills based in qualitative and quantitative information. Environmental scientists and specialists develop plans for addressing hazards and risks, similar to how health education workers create and implement strategies for patient and client health and wellness.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paying for an Online Master's in Health Education

Tuition rates, fees, and other expenses associated with an online master's degree in health education vary significantly from program to program. Students can pursue financial aid opportunities, such as grants, scholarships, and loans, to help pay for their degrees. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, when applying to schools. The FAFSA assesses eligibility for federal financial aid, scholarship programs, and loan resources.

Scholarships for Online Health Education Master's Students

By submitting the FAFSA, applicants to an online master's degree in health education can qualify for many scholarship programs. Colleges and universities may offer additional scholarship opportunities for learners. Health education master's students can also apply for funding through professional organizations, private agencies, and community programs.

What to Expect from a Master's Level Online Health Education Program

Online master's degrees in health education typically include 30–56 credit hours of coursework that students complete in one to three years. Health education programs train students to design, implement, and assess health and wellness programs while providing them with research, managerial, and critical-thinking skills. During an online health education program, graduate students complete a research project or thesis based in advanced research and data analysis. Programs may also include internships and practicum experiences applicable to future careers.

Major Milestones

  1. Introductory Coursework

    Early in program

    Students gain a fundamental understanding of the field through coursework covering the approaches, concepts, theories, and applications of health programming, health administration, public health, and related topics.

  2. Academic Research Fundamentals

    As part of core coursework

    A class in academic research and scholarship introduces students to research techniques used in health education and related disciplines. Learners use statistics, interviews, observations, and other qualitative and quantitative data to assess health and wellness needs.

  3. Practicum Seminar

    Second to last term

    Prior to participating in fieldwork, students complete a practicum seminar to synthesize and apply degree competencies to practical scenarios.

  4. Practicum Fieldwork

    Final term

    To complete a graduate degree in health education online, students complete practicum fieldwork to gain experience and train with current health education professionals.

  5. Capstone Coursework

    Final year

    During a capstone course, students synthesize degree information in a research-based project or paper. After forming a research question, learners apply theory, field literature, and analytical tools to data. Students may work independently or in teams.

  6. Application to Doctoral Study

    Final year

    Students continuing to doctoral study complete their applications during the last year of their degree. With the assistance of faculty, learners gather materials appropriate for submission, including preliminary thesis work and research documentation.


Coursework for online master's degrees in health education vary by institution and department, but many programs include comparable classes. Students study health science, education, and research methods as they gain knowledge and skills applicable to careers in the field.

Wellness Program Implementation

In coursework on wellness program implementation, students learn to assess wellness in clinical and community settings. Learners develop plans and apply them based on patterns of human behavior. They learn to monitor and adapt plans and programs as needed.

Diversity in Health and Wellness

Courses on diversity in health and wellness focus on issues and challenges facing different cultural and ethnic groups. Students study underrepresented populations, barriers to healthcare and health education, policy and practice inconsistencies, and the role of faith in health and wellness.

Wellness Coaching

Coursework in wellness coaching teaches students how to communicate with clients and patients while providing motivation, mentorship, and support. Students learn to assess individual needs as they create strategies to enhance overall wellness.

Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology classes examine the biological, social, and environmental aspects of human movement and its effects on the body's response to physical activity. Coursework prepares learners to implement safe, appropriate physical activity plans as part of health and wellness programs.

Research in Health Education

This course prepares students to collect, analyze, and interpret data applicable to health and wellness programs. Students also learn how to assess existing programs and how to make appropriate changes if needed.

Degree Timelines

Students enrolled in online master's degrees in health education can complete their degree in a timeline that best meets their individual needs. Part-time programs provide current health education professionals with the opportunity to earn a degree while continuing to work. Full-time and accelerated programs enable learners to complete a health education degree more quickly.

Enrollment Status Time to Complete Description


3–6 credits per semester

Part-time degree plans progress one or two classes at a time, extending the length of a master’s program to three to five years total. Learners often continue to work full-time as they pursue their degree. Asynchronous programs offer the best option for part-time learners.


6–15 credits per semester

Full-time students typically complete an online master's degree in health education in one to three years by taking two to five classes at a time. Learners who do not work full-time and individuals entering a program right out of a bachelor's degree may find a full-time program most accessible.


3–9 credits per eight-week term

Designed for completion in one to two years, an accelerated online master's degree in health education offers coursework across abbreviated eight-week terms rather than full-length semesters. Students usually enroll in one to three classes at a time. Accelerated programs may offer academic credit for work experience.

Licenses and Certifications

Health education students in an online master’s program can pursue credentials in the field based on their specialty, location, and overall career goals. The National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) offers certifications for certified health education specialists and master certified health education specialists to professionals at all stages of their careers. Some states may also require health education professionals to hold state licensure depending on their chosen career path.

  • Certified Health Education Specialist: Offered through NCHEC, the certified health education specialist credential requires candidates to pass a competency-based multiple-choice exam. To take the exam, health education students and professionals must submit an application, transcripts, and, if applicable, a letter of support from an adviser. The exam requires a nonrefundable $100 fee.
  • Master Certified Health Education Specialist: Designed for health education professionals with at least five years of experience, the master certified health education specialist credential assesses leadership, managerial, and strategic planning capabilities. The exam includes 165 multiple-choice questions on advanced and specialized competencies relevant to health education.
  • State-Certified Community Health Specialist: Certification for community health specialists varies by state. States such as Alaska, Florida, Ohio, and Indiana require community health specialists to complete competency exams. Minnesota, Alaska, and South Carolina mandate that community health specialists train under the supervision of a physician or community health authority.

Professional Organizations & Resources

Professional organizations and associations for health education students and workers offer resources, career guidance, and continuing education opportunities for members. Health education students and professionals can also participate in web programs, annual conferences, and collaborations with colleagues through connections made in one of these groups. Networking opportunities not only offer support among like-minded individuals but also allow health education professionals to expand their skills, advance their careers, and deepen their knowledge of the field.

  • Society for Public Health Education: For more than 4,000 members, SOPHE offers career resources, professional development opportunities, and public health education publications, news, and updates. SOPHE also partners with state, local, and national groups to advocate in key areas, including health disparities, injury prevention, and school health.
  • SHAPE America: As the Society for Health and Physical Educators, SHAPE America brings together health and physical education professionals of all levels, providing health and wellness resources to schools, colleges, and universities. Industry professionals benefit from news, publications, and research materials related to health education. SHAPE America also offers grants, scholarships, professional development opportunities, and annual conferences to members.
  • American School Health Association: ASHA promotes healthy environments, nutrition, wellness programs, and opportunities for physical activity at elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Health education initiatives provide resources to create a network of qualified, informed instructors. ASHA provides scholarships, continuing education, corporate partnerships, and advocacy opportunities for members.
  • American College Health Association: Founded in 1920, ACHA functions as a voice for student health and wellness at more than 1,100 colleges and universities around the nation. ACHA offers guidelines for healthy campuses, informative videos, a leadership institute, and professional development opportunities to members.
  • Health Care Education Association: HCEA brings together patient educators from fields including nursing and healthcare administration. HCEA members benefit from videos, handouts, and other materials on providing efficient and effective information to patients. HCEA members also receive industry discounts, professional development opportunities, and networking resources.
  • Teacher's Toolbox: The Teacher's Toolbox provided by SHAPE America provides tools, products, and services for health and physical education professionals. Materials on interpersonal communication, decision-making, and goal setting accompany the latest articles and news relevant to the field.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: The FDA offers health and wellness resources for health educators, including food safety guidelines and food science activities. Additional tools, techniques, and materials provide information about community health, food safety, and healthy living initiatives.
  • National Commission for Health Education Credentialing: Resources provided by NCHEC allow students, health educators, health department professionals, and related workers to access information on community and individual health. NCHEC also provides infographics and webinars for public use.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CDC's website hosts extensive resources on food safety, school health, obesity, vaccinations and immunizations, and smoking and tobacco use. Health educators can access fact sheets, data and statistics, program tools, and publications as they develop health programs and educate clients.
  • Society for Public Health Education: SOPHE books and publications offer health educators the latest news and research in public health education.