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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Health Communications

Majors Overview June 28, 2015

The field of health communication bridges the gap between the general public and medical professionals. Master’s degree program graduates spread the important messages of public health. Job duties feature making complex concepts in medicine available to the public and relating information in medicine to the media.

Information on Health Communications Programs

Master’s degree programs in health communications are offered at many schools, usually as interdisciplinary programs devised to make graduates experts at disseminating information on health issues to the public. Admission criteria require incoming students to hold bachelor’s degrees in a relevant major such as communications, pre-medicine or biology. About two years of full-time study is the requirement in the master’s programs.

Various methods of conducting public health campaigns are available to students enrolled in the program; these methods include topic areas such as disease prevention, nutrition, and hygiene. Courses in health and culture, organizational health communication, health communication principles, and mass media are often completed by enrollees. The emphasis of these programs is usually on communication principles, writing skills.

The study of research methodology is in other courses. Students enrolled in some programs are required to take some courses in other disciplines like nursing, psychology or child development. Schools compulsorily require students to complete internships in health communications work.

Related Programs

Those seeking a career in health communications may alternatively pursue a degree in a related area such as:

•Master of Science (M.S.) in Public Relations
•Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication
•Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication – Organizational Communication

Master’s Programs in Health Communication

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in health communication could be offered the tools to become public health advocates via mass media. Students may be taught to write clear health messages that can be understood by the average individual. The focus of programs is typically on instructing students about ways of developing health campaigns aimed at educating the public in topic areas such as disease detection, illness prevention, nutrition, and hygiene. Program graduates gain the expertise and ability to devise written health-related materials. Advertising strategies may be devised by them to inspire the public to make positive health changes.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in health communication. Incoming students are expected to have excellent written and oral communication skills, in addition to being strongly interested in promoting public health. Although schools don’t insist on a specific undergraduate degree, prospective students would benefit from having a bachelor’s degree in biological science, communication, pre-medicine, or public relations. Submission of a written statement, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and transcripts showing a minimum grade point average are requirements at most schools.

Coursework

Students take two years to complete this degree program, which could typically involve 33-35 semester hours. Internship or practicum hours are included in the general coursework at some schools, thereby offering real-world experience to students. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Technology in health communication
•Writing for health markets
•Health campaigns
•Interacting with the media
•Health rhetoric
•Communication research
•Advertising
•Public relations

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek jobs with local government health organizations, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nonprofit agencies, and private biotechnology corporations. They may choose from possible job options such as:

•Hospital communication specialist
•Director of health communication
•Healthcare Advocate
•Health communication marketing expert

Continuing Education Choices

Program graduates seeking continued education may earn Ph.D. degrees in Public Health specializing in environmental health, health services or community health. Ph.D. degrees in Communication with an emphasis in health relations are also available.

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