Graduate FAQ

Below are a list of commonly asked questions about the Public Health Education and Promotion program.  If you have any additional questions, please “Ask a Question“.

What is Public Health Education and Promotion?


Public Health Education and Promotion is a behavioral social science that focuses on the behaviors, systems, environments and policies affecting health at a variety of levels.  The field of health education and promotion draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability and premature death through education-driven voluntary behavior change activities.

The purpose of  public health education and promotion is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities as well as the living and working conditions that influence their health.  It involves the development of individual, group, institutional, community and systemic strategies to improve health knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior. These strategies include: individual and group education, training and counseling, audio-visual and computerized educational materials development, community development, social action and planning, advocacy, and coalition building.

The Public Health Education and Promotion program at Marymount University is based on the competencies necessary to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). The CHES competencies are generic to the practice of health education, whether it takes place in schools, colleges, workplaces, medical care settings, public health settings, or other settings within a community. The following is a list of some skills and competencies required of health educators:

  • Assess individual and community needs
  • Plan and develop health education programs
  • Implement health education programs
  • Manage health education programs and personnel
  • Evaluate health education programs
  • Write grants
  • Build coalitions
  • Identify resources and make referrals
  • Develop mass media campaigns
  • Organize and mobilize communities for action
  • Advocate for health related issues
  • Train volunteers
  • Use a variety of education and training methods
  • Develop audio, visual, and print materials
  • Conduct research
  • Write scholarly articles

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has releases a video showcasing the various roles, work settings, specialized training, and valuable contributions of health education specialists to enhancing the quality of life for all.

Why is public health education and promotion important?

  •  Improves the health status of individuals, families, communities, states, and the nation.
  • Enhances the quality of life for all people.
  • Reduces premature deaths.
  • Reduces costs (both financial and human) that individuals, employers, families, insurance companies, medical facilities, communities, the state and the nation would spend on medical treatment.

Who provides public health education and promotion?


Some people specialize in health education (trained and/or certified health education specialists). Others perform selected health education functions as part of what they consider their primary responsibility (medical treatment, nursing, social work, physical therapy, oral hygiene, etc.). Lay workers learn on the job to do specific, limited educational tasks to encourage healthy behavior. Para-professionals and health professionals from other disciplines are not familiar with the specialized body of health education knowledge, skills, theories, and research, nor is it their primary interest or professional development focus. This will limit their effectiveness with clients and communities, and their cost-effectiveness. Health education and promotion requires intensive specialized study. Over 250 colleges and universities in the US offer undergraduate and graduate (Masters and Doctorate) degrees in school or community health education, health promotion and other related titles.

Nationally, voluntary credentialing as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is available from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc (NCHEC). CHES competencies (health education needs assessment; program planning, implementation and evaluation; service coordination; and Health Education needs, concerns, resource communication) are generic to the practice of health education, whether it takes place in schools, colleges, workplaces, medical care settings, public health settings or other educational settings of the community. CHES are re-certified every five years based on documentation of participation in 75 hours of approved continuing education activities.

What is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)?


The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination is a competency-based tool used to measure possession, application and interpretation of knowledge in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists delineated by a Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists 2010.

Marymount’s Health Education and Promotion (M.S.) program prepares students for the CHES exam by teaching courses based on the core competencies.  The CHES designation signifies that an individual has met the required academic qualifications, successfully passed the competency-based examination, and satisfies the continuing education requirement to maintain the credential.

The CHES exam has met national standards in credentialing and has been accredited by the National Commission of Certified Agencies accreditation since 2008.

Consisting of 165 multiple-choice questions (150 scored and 15 pilot tested), the CHES examination is offered in paper-and-pencil format at college campuses throughout the United States. While there are approximately 130 testing sites currently registered, any campus with a testing service is eligible to become a testing site.

For more information on the CHES please visit the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc (NCHEC).

What kind of work can I do with a Public Health Education and Promotion Degree?

  • In schools health educators teach health as a subject and promote and implement Coordinated School Health Programs, including health services, student, staff and parent health education, and promote healthy school environments and school-community partnerships.  At the school district level they develop education methods and materials; coordinate, promote, and evaluate programs; and write funding proposals.
  • Working on a college/university campus, health educators are part of a team working to create an environment in which students feel empowered to make healthy choices and create a caring community.  They identify needs; advocate and do community organizing; teach whole courses or individual classes; develop mass media campaigns; and train peer educators, counselors, and/or advocates.  They address issues related to disease prevention; consumer, environmental, emotional, sexual health; first aid, safety and disaster preparedness; substance abuse prevention; human growth and development; and nutrition and eating issues. They may manage grants and conduct research.
  • In companies, health educators perform or coordinate employee counseling as well as education services, employee health risk appraisals, and health screenings.  They design, promote, lead and/or evaluate programs about weight control, hypertension, nutrition, substance abuse prevention, physical fitness, stress management and smoking cessation; develop educational materials; and write grants for money to support these projects.  They help companies meet occupational health and safety regulations, work with the media, and identify community health resources for employees.
  • In health care settings health educators educate patients about medical procedures, operations, services and therapeutic regimens; create activities and incentives to encourage use of services by high risk patients; conduct staff training and consult with other health care providers about behavioral, cultural or social barriers to health; promote self-care; develop activities to improve patient participation on clinical processes; educate individuals to protect, promote or maintain their health and reduce risky behaviors; make appropriate community-based referrals; and write grants.
  • In community organizations and government agencies health educators help a community identify its needs, draw upon its problem-solving abilities and mobilize its resources to develop, promote, implement and evaluate strategies to improve its own health status. Health educators do community organizing and outreach, grant writing, coalition building, advocacy, and develop, produce, and evaluate mass media health campaigns.

What are the future trends in employment in Public Health Education and Promotion?


The U.S. Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a classification of health educator and defines health educators (SOC 21-1091.00) as those that provide and manage health education programs that help individuals, families, and their communities maximize and maintain healthy lifestyles. Health Educators collect and analyze data to identify community needs prior to planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating programs designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, policies, and environments. They may serve as resource to assist individuals, other health professionals, or the community, and may administer fiscal resources for health education programs.


  • Employment of health educators will grow by projected to grow 21 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.
  • 5 out of 10 health educators work in healthcare and social assistance
  • 2 out of 10 work in state and local government

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Division of Occupational Employment Statistics (2012).

Why should I get my Masters in Public Health Education and Promotion from Marymount University?


The Public Health Education and Promotion program provides broad-based preparation in health promotion with hand-on experience for a variety of positions.  The curriculum focuses on effective methods for creating and delivering health education and allows for flexibility for students to specialize in an area of interest.  Students learn to incorporate all levels of influence from the individual to policy-level in an effort to promote healthy behaviors and improve quality of life.

Marymount University offers the perfect combination of smaller class sizes allow experienced professors to truly get to know students and offer more personalized instruction.

What are the objectives of the program?


The Public Health Education and Promotion program at Marymount University prepares new and current health promotion practitioners to plan, implement, and evaluate health promotion and wellness programs in a variety of settings.  Upon completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Exhibit the knowledge and skills to function as competent graduate-level health educators;
  • Select, choose, and implement contemporary non technology-based equipment, industry tools/inventories, and/or other practical “hands-on” applications in health and wellness;
  • Evaluate the rationality and sensitivity of values and ethics in the health and wellness filed using critical thinking behaviors/skills;
  • Evaluate various methods of technology in the classroom, in designing and evaluating health promotion programs, and/or in the clinical setting;
  • Plan, implement, administer and evaluate health education strategies, interventions and programs;
  • Critique research in order to assess individual and community needs for health education
  • Advocate for preventive health education; and
  • Advocate and communicate for health and health education.

What are the program requirements?


 The Health Education and Promotion (MS)  program requires thirty-six (36) credits to graduate.

Course Description # of Credits
HPR 501 Foundations of Health Educations and Health Promotion 3
HPR 502 Introduction to Public Health and Preventive Medicine 3
HPR 520 Principles of Epidemiology 3
HPR 534 or HPR 500 Topics in Nutrition and Weight Management or Exercise Physiology 3
HPR 540 Designing and Evaluating Health Promotion Programs 3
HPR 555 Health Communication 3
HPR 591 Research Methods in Health Education 3
HPR 598 Internship 3
HPR Electives Take (6) elective credits in a number of different courses such as :
  • Exercise Physiology (HPR 500),
  • Health and Culture (HPR 510),
  • Stress Managment (HPR 536),
  • Management of Health and Wellness Organizations (HPR  550)
  • HPR 560 Design of Adult Fitness Programs
Additional Graduate Coursework Take (6) additional graduate credits to concentrate your studies from different departments:
  • Health Care Managment (HCM 500, HCM 510)
  • Nutrition (CE 531)


How long does it take to complete the program?

 The 36 credit program usually takes students 2 years to complete.  However, the nature of the program allows for flexibility to accommodate your schedule.  Students typically take 2 courses each semester.

What unique experiences will I gain through this program?

The program offers incredibly unique experiences whether its teaming up with a faculty member and getting involved with research, taking a global course and getting hands on experience in another country such as Iceland or Peru, or networking at health promotion and public health conferences such as SOPHE or APHA. The opportunity to gain invaluable experiences is limitless.

How do I apply?


Admission Requirements: In addition to the universitywide requirements for graduate admission, applicants must also

  • Present acceptable scores from either the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (see Note on Test Scores);
  • Provide two letters of recommendation from educators or employers who can attest to the applicant’s potential for graduate work; and
  • Interview with the department chair.

NOTE: The testing requirement is waived for students who have earned a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Students with significant professional experience in the field and a record of outstanding undergraduate or graduate performance may petition the chair for a waiver of the standardized test requirement.

Nondegree Admission; Students may enroll in health education and promotion classes as nondegree students. No more than 9 credits may be taken without being admitted to the health education and promotion degree program.

Minimum Grade Requirement: A grade of B- or better is needed to pass core courses. No course may be repeated more than once. Students who receive a grade below B- in three or more graduate courses are subject to dismissal, even if courses were repeated for a higher grade. Students are required to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

What kind of background do I need to be accepted into the program? What materials do I need to submit?

The Health Education and Promotion program recruits and admits students from a wide range of backgrounds, undergraduate degrees, occupations, and nationalities. There is no pre-requisite coursework needed for acceptance into the program.  We have learned that a strong belief in health education and promotion, desire, and enthusiasm are the best predictors for success in the program and in future careers. All students must meet the Marymount University admissions requirements, submit official transcripts and either GRE or MAT scores, and complete departmental admissions requirements, including two letters of recommendation.

When will I be notified of acceptance into the program?

Once a student’s application is complete, it will be reviewed by the university and the Health Education and Promotion department.  If all requirements are met, selected candidates will be invited for an interview, either in person or by phone.  Acceptance into the program is typically decided within 1-2 weeks of completing the application.

Will I have an advisor?

Advising is one of many ways in which a student individually works with a faculty member from the department of Health and Human Performance.  All students will be assigned an advisor who is a full-time faculty member in the department.  Advisors typically meet with students at least once each semester to collaboratively develop and carry out an academic plan that meets the student’s professional and personal goals.  The university values the advising relationship as a continuous dialog from admission through graduation.  This conversation encourages the student’s participation in the university community, the growth of ethical awareness, the fulfillment of program requirements, and the advancement of a career in the field of health education and promotion.

When can I start the program?

The Health Education and Promotion program offers admission into the program on a rolling basis.  Thus, students can start the program either in the Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters.

Are graduate assistantships available?

There are several graduate assistant positions available within the department.