Community Health and Health Promotion Degrees in Public Health

Consider an Online Public Health Program
Click the university name for information on admissions, courses, status of accreditation, and more

Community Health and Health Promotion are two similar fields within public health that focus on the awareness, education, and research of health problems. Professionals within these two fields educate patients directly regarding their personal health; develop, implement, and evaluate health programs; and raise awareness and educate the public about different health problems.

Even though these fields are extremely alike, and often grouped together, there are differences between the two. Community Health tends to focus on the needs of all citizens within a designated area; whereas Health Promotion specializes in teaching specialized groups and individuals how to better take care of themselves and their families. However, professionals within both fields can easily take on the responsibilities of the other as most skills and health education techniques work with a majority of populations. 

School Spotlights:

Online MPH at the George Washington University (MPH @ GW)

The online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (MPH @ GW) prepares public health professionals to make a difference in communities around the world, helping students succeed in advancing the health of populations locally and globally. Complete your MPH in 12 months. GRE waivers available.
Click here for admissions information.

Online MPH at the University of North Carolina (MPH @ UNC)

UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health, top-ranked on U.S. News' most recent list in 2015, offers an online Master of Public Health program, MPH @ UNC.
Admissions information at OnlineMPH.UNC.edu.

Master of Public Health (MPH) Online from Baylor University

The service-oriented Master of Public Health online program from Baylor University is now accepting applications. Complete the program in as few as 12 months. GRE scores are not required.
Earn a Master of Public Health Online From Baylor

Online Master of Public Health at Simmons University

MPH @ Simmons, the online Master of Public Health program from Simmons University, prepares students to become public health practitioners and address health inequity at a local, national, and global level. The program can be completed in 21 months. No GRE required to apply.
Admissions information at Online.Simmons.edu.

Bachelors in Community Health and Health Promotion Programs

Because community health and health promotion are such an integral part of the public health field, community health and health promotion bachelor’s degree programs are a great opportunity to develop fundamental skills that will carry you throughout your career in public health.

These 4-year programs introduce students to the development, planning, implementation, and evaluation of health education programs and provide them with the knowledge to address health concerns in not only groups but in individuals as well. The educational component of these programs adds in the necessary communication aspect of public health that helps create understanding among professionals and individuals within communities, which is crucial in the development of successful health education programs. Like most bachelor’s level education, community health and health promotion programs require students to take courses that both contribute to their overall knowledge of general education as well as core program courses. Students may build their experience through research, internships, and classroom activities.

Curriculum for a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health and Health Promotion

During a bachelor's degree program, students may be expected to take courses that are fundamental to their understanding of community health education and health promotion practices and policies. This can include classes that focus on disease prevention, communication methods and techniques, worksite health promotion, and family health and wellness. Additionally, there will be courses that teach the proper methods for educating people from different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, along with classes specifically dedicated to the health and wellness of women and children. As with most bachelor's programs, these degrees typically require 120 credit hours for completion and often some form of an internship or capstone project. This may vary depending on where students attend college and the inclusion of any previously completed coursework. A few sample courses have been added below:

  • Nutrition Across the Lifespan

This course examines the importance of proper nutrition from birth through old age. The different stages of life may be outlined in detail, providing students with a better understanding of promotional tactics that encourage better living for individuals.

  • Intro to Health Behavior

This course seeks to help students understand the relationship between health and psychology. Students may gain a more powerful insight into how people react to sickness and illnesses as well as practices that can increase health and wellness from a biopsychosocial perspective.

  • Anatomy and Physiology

Students taking this course have the opportunity to learn about the structure and function of the human body. Bodily systems are discussed in detail as well as how disease and illness have an effect on the body.

  • Disease Prevention and Health Disparities

This course overviews health promotion/disease prevention in the United States, including health promotion statistics, strategies/resources and health disparities (social justice).  Areas highlighted are cultural and behavioral influences on disease, equity in prevention strategies, culturally competent and gender-specific interventions (i.e., people of color, women, the aged, people with disabilities/mental illness).

Masters in Community Health and Health Promotion Programs

As the public learns more about the different hazards and illness that are present within the environment and how living a healthy lifestyle can benefit moods, sleep, and overall wellbeing, fields such as community health and health promotion can gain even more splendor. At the master's level, students may have the option of gaining relevant skills in these two disciplines as well as management techniques needed to lead a team of employees on their path to better health for all.

The master's level programs in community health and health promotion are the most commonly sought after programs in this discipline. At the master's level, students may get a more in-depth look into community health education and health promotion, which can provide more expertise while working in the field. Master's level education may also lead to more prominent positions of employment, which is helpful especially for professionals that are currently working in positions concerned with public health.

Curriculum for an MPH Degree in Community Health and Health Promotion

As previously stated, master's level programs in community health education and health promotion provide a more thorough investigation into the concepts and ideas surrounding the implementation of health programs. Students that choose these concentrations for their degree have the option to take courses that are specific to their area of interest and take part in extensive studies into real-life scenarios.

Different perspectives of community health are touched on throughout this type of program, including widespread prevention, education, and implementation of lawful public health policies. Nutrition, exercise, education, and research are some of the main components of the health promotion degree program, which encourages students to have well-rounded mindfulness of how each of these can potentially affect public health.

These programs may take 1-3 years to complete, which can change depending on whether students attend at full-time or part-time status. The credit hour requirement may be between 45-60 and can vary between universities. Most programs also require a capstone project or thesis. However, all of these components may vary depending on where students attend college and the inclusion of any previously completed coursework. Online programs are more prominent in the current age than ever before, making this a great opportunity for interested students. 

Coursework can include these different aspects, which is shown in the list below:

  • Health Education Program Planning

This course outlines the methods and preparations necessary for effective health education program planning. Assessing individual needs, evaluation of current programs and the implementation of helpful and strategic programs are some of the main topics taught throughout this class. Students within this course may touch on the importance of effective research methods, biostatistics, and program management.

  • Communication Strategies

Students taking this course may be encouraged to focus on the effectiveness of communication. Different communication methods such as word of mouth, written instruction, and media communication may be discussed. The implementation of media in communication and education is becoming more popular, making it necessary for students to become more accustomed to using it. Through course activities and case studies, students can learn how to effectively reach the public with active communication.

  • Program Planning and Research

This course introduces students to various research methods that are applicable to the community health discipline. Finding applicable research subjects, designing a research plan, and analyzing results are a large portion of what is included in this process. Public-health programs are focused on throughout this course.

  • Health Policy and Management

Proper management techniques and policy analysis may be taught to students taking this class. Ethics, diversity, and personnel management may also be a large portion of focus. Health policy and management seek to instruct students on how to manage a public health-related team in terms of proper business practices and organizational concerns.

Doctorate Programs in Community Health and Health Promotion

Doctorate programs focusing on community health and health promotion are designed for motivated students who wish to see an improvement in health and health awareness in communities, states, and across the world. These programs will provide students with the tools to perform their own adequate research and program evaluation studies in an effort to create accurate, helpful, and efficient public health professionals. 

The doctorate program itself can last from 2-4 years, depending on whether students have completed bachelor's or master's level education prior to entering. Most universities require that students have some experience working in community health or health promotion, while others require the completion of previous degree programs in these focuses. Online degree programs can be found throughout the country, providing high-quality education to students through innovative learning environments.

Curriculum for Doctorate Degrees in Community Health and Health Promotion

Whether coming from a master's level education or bachelor's, doctorate programs may be accepting of all students. The program itself, as mentioned above, can last between 2-4 years for most and includes coursework that focuses on research and application of various promotional policies. Students may also have the option to choose a concentration for their degree program. Specialties for this degree program can include behavioral health, research, management, population health, and global health. Students that choose a concentration for their degree program may have the opportunity to gain more specialized knowledge in their chosen discipline and will have focuses courses in addition to some of the core courses listed below.

Some Ph.D. programs require that students complete around 60 credit hours in order to graduate. Depending on the university and the concentration, the classes that students take in this degree program may be different than others in similar degree programs. Doctorate degree programs usually require a lot of independent class and fieldwork, most of which takes place working in a real-life setting.

Some of the more popular courses for this degree program are listed below.

  • Foundations of Epidemiology

This course seeks to provide definitions, examples, and explanations into the reasoning and biology behind various illnesses and diseases. Students in this course have the opportunity to investigate case studies and draw their own conclusions about how illness and disease are maintained and spread throughout communities.

  • Economics of Public Health Systems

This course seeks to teach students about the economic, financial, and ethical concerns associated with the public health system. Students in this class may learn how funding and budgeting are an important part of developing effective public health programs, as well as how these topics can promote challenges. The economic state of different areas and its effect on public health may also be discussed, which can provide students with more insight into the overall wellness of different groups.

  • Social Psychology

Social Psychology is a course that can teach students how people feel, act, and think during social interactions. In terms of public health, it is important that students understand how human interaction plays a role in the development of health-related ideas and habits, as well as how negative influence can play a role in preventing widespread illness. Health promotion relies on the acceptance of health education as a primary means of change, so social psychology at its core can assist students with understanding how this information is used and transmitted throughout society.

  • Environmental Health

Environmental health can provide students with the knowledge needed to investigate the effects of pollution, biology, and other environmental triggers on human health. This course provides a look into how the environment plays a role in the development of helpful community health policies.

Community Health and Health Promotion Career Options, Salary, and Employment Information

Community health and health promotion are important parts of society. Specialists can play a large role in providing health-conscious programs, along with discovering evidence and information into the causes of the spread of disease or illness. With this being said, there are numerous potential fields that these practitioners can find employment. Individuals may have the option to pursue careers that work to provide program planning for cities and municipalities that require direct support for community members. Specialists may also find themselves in academia, as educators and researchers, or even in the pharmaceutical industry.  In business, promotion can be found in marketing domains and advertising. Community health and health promotion specialists may also work in healthcare fields - providing education to individuals and families that seek knowledge on how to improve their overall wellness. Degree programs in this field can also prepare learners for careers working for government agencies, schools, and even non-profits that have a common goal of keeping people healthy.

Some example careers and salaries are listed below.

  • Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers - $129,380 on average per year (BLS)
  • Dietician and Nutritionist - $59,410 on average per year (BLS)
  • Epidemiologist - $69,660 on average per year (BLS)
  • Health Educators and Community Health Workers - $45,360 on average per year (BLS)
  • Environmental Scientists and Specialists - $69,400 on average per year (BLS)