Online Master's Degrees in Health Communication
An online master’s in health communication is a stepping stone to working in a variety of healthcare settings focused on creating content and messages that can potentially change lives. Completing this degree is an investment in both time and finances, but can be extremely rewarding for professionals looking to move into healthcare or are seeking advancement in their field.
Professionals working in health communication must have the training and education to craft messages that will reach and impact patients and families. Just traditional business, most communication is to inform or call people to action. Where it differs from health communication is that the message is a typical one that aims to improve health outcomes or change individual or community behavior to everyone’s benefit. Types of communication can include outbreak notifications, public health campaigns, health advocacy, provider alerts, and patient education.
There are two primary options for pursuing this degree. Students can complete a master’s in health communication or they can complete a master’s of art or science in communication with an emphasis in health. There are advantages to both options. Dedicated programs have targeted classes that typically only pertain to health education, whereas broader programs will require students to take more general coursework with some specialized classes in health.
While there are many options to completing a master’s in health communication through traditional on-campus school, online programs offer students a number of benefits. These benefits can include reduced tuition, part-time studies, the ability to work while completing a degree, internships in the student’s local community, and no need to relocate to attend a top institution. Online programs are typically taught by the same top-tier faculty that teach on-campus and most diplomas do not designate that the degree was earned online, affording online students the same prestige as traditional students.
If a master’s in health communication sounds like an exciting education path, here are the top online programs to consider.
Online MA and MS Programs in Health Communication
In 16 months or more, students can earn a master’s of science in health communication at Boston University Metropolitan College. This degree is offered online, allowing students the flexibility to complete their degree without relocating. Graduates of this program are prepared to step into roles in healthcare marketing, digital and integrated health communication, public relations, promotion, education, and advocacy.
There are two optional concentrations in healthcare promotion, media, and marketing or
visual and digital health communication for students interested in further specializing. Applications for admission are reviewed on a rolling basis. To be considered for this program, students must have already completed a bachelor’s from an accredited institution and provide a resume, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
- Location: Boston, MA
- Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Expected Time to Completion: 16 to 18 months
- Estimated Tuition: $940 per credit
The completely online master’s of science in health communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is part of the Department of Communication. As such, students will learn from top educators in communication studies.
Students will study communication practices from healthcare organizations and learn how to evaluate the consequences through asynchronous coursework. While students can complete their coursework on their schedule, there are weekly deadlines to ensure they stay on track to complete assignments by the end of each semester.
This program is designed for students looking to advance their healthcare careers or enter this field. Applicants come from diverse backgrounds and industries. Admission requirements include a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, a current CV, and all college transcripts.
- Location: Urbana, IL
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Expected Time to Completion: Two years
- Estimated Tuition: $712 per credit
The nationally recognized Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University offers an online master’s of arts in health communication and promotion. Designed for professionals already working in the field, this master’s program will help those working in health communication update their skills and further their careers. With an emphasis on both new and traditional media, students will learn how to analyze information and create engaging health and public awareness campaigns.
To be considered for admission, applicants must have at least three years of work experience after completing their bachelor’s degree. This master’s is considered a terminal degree and spends very little instruction time on theory instead focusing on practical skills that students can put into practice immediately. This is not a program for students who want to pursue further education or work in academia.
- Location: Pullman, WA
- Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Expected Time to Completion: Minimum of five semesters
- Estimated Tuition: $630.80 per credit
Students can earn their master’s of art in communication with an emphasis in health communication entirely online through the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Students in this program will learn research, strategy, technology, and writing for a variety of different careers in communication. The health communication concentration teaches students how to evaluate public health campaigns, manage the specialized demands of healthcare communication, and how to craft messages that can bring about behavior change.
To earn this degree, students must complete 30 credits. All students must take one required core class, three customizable core classes, and six elective classes. Graduates of this program have the advantage of a strong alumni network that can help facilitate job searches. To be considered for admission, students must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, strong writing skills, and relevant coursework or professional experience.
- Location: Washington, DC
- Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 24 months
- Estimated Tuition: $4,506 per course
Students who aspire to work in healthcare communication leadership can complete an online master’s of information communication technology with a concentration in health at the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information. This 30-credit degree prepares graduates to use technology to better deliver health care information. There is also a strong emphasis on how to research, apply, and manage technology tools to solve information and communication problems.
Courses students in the health concentration may complete include introduction to medical informatics, health information resource services, electronic information resources in the health sciences, and consumer health information resources. As part of this program, students can elect to complete a dual degree in communication and library sciences or a certificate of instructional communication.
- Location: Lexington, KY
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Expected Time to Completion: Two years
- Estimated Tuition: $700.50 per credit
Admission Requirements: Online Master’s in Health Communication
While admission standards for online master’s in health communication degree programs can vary, here are a few of the most common application requirements:
- A completed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
- A competitive GPA (typically at least a 3.0 if not higher)
- A completed application
- Application fee
- Statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation
- An up-to-date resume or CV
- GRE or GMAT scores, although increasingly waivers are available or test scores are not required at all
- Work experience
- Proof of English proficiency for international students
Professors to Know in Master’s of International Health Management Programs
Paul Bolls, PhD
Washington State University Murrow College of Communication
Dr. Paul Bolls is the associate dean of research and graduate studies at Washington State University Murrow College of Communication. His primary area of research is in how humans process and are influenced by media and technology.
Through his research and lecturing, he is internationally recognized in the field of media psychophysiology, which is the use of biometric and physiological metrics to determine how people process media and technology. He is also interested in the effects of health communication with his most recent work on the impact of traffic safety videos published in the Health Communication Journal.
Leigh Curtin-Wilding, MS
Boston University Metropolitan College
Leigh Curtin-Wilding was appointed as the program director of the master’s of science in health communication at Boston University Metropolitan College in 2015.
Prior to stepping into her role as the director, Curtin-Wilding served as a teaching facilitator for the program. She is intimately acquainted with this degree program as she graduated from it with her master’s in 2011. Presently, she teaches the advanced writing for health communicators course. In addition to her work at Boston University, she is an executive for Curtin Communications, her successful public relations and marketing firm.
Lauren Weiner, PhD
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Dr. Lauren Weiner serves as the program coordinator and academic advisor for the health communication online master of science program. In addition, she is a teaching assistant professor in communication and teaches courses such as introduction to health communication and family and health communication.
Dr. Weiner’s research interests include interpersonal communication and health communication. Much of her research is centered on family dynamics and family communication. She completed all of her education at Northwestern University, including her bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD.