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Edward R. Murrow College of Communication

Online MA Health Communication & Promotion


Washington State University’s online master’s degree in Health Communication and Promotion is designed for those who work in communication fields and health sciences and are seeking to refresh and update their skills or specialize in health communication. Students learn health behavior change theories relevant for prevention messaging, message creation and design for effective information distribution, and techniques for effectively communicating health information with specialized populations.


Program of Study

The degree requires 30 credits. All courses are available online.

Professional Core Courses – 12 credits

All courses are slated to be offered in fall, spring, and summer semesters

COM 561 – Multimedia Content Creation
Exploration and application of strategies to communicate ideas clearly, concisely, and effectively through multimedia content. Sample syllabus

COM 562 – Crisis Communication in Global Contexts
Prepare, plan, and execute crisis communication and management to protect the continuity of an organization’s image and mission. Sample syllabus

COM 563- Ethics for Professionals
The understanding, discussion, and application of key theories of individual and institutional ethics; the articulation and defense of ethical reasoning. Sample syllabus

COM 564 – Research Methods for Professionals
Understanding the role of research in media and related organizations and its application to organizational decision-making through quantitative and qualitative research methods including research design, questionnaire construction, sampling, data collection techniques, and variable measurement. Sample syllabus

Health Communication and Promotion Core Courses – 15 credits

COMHLTH 570 Health Communication and Behavior Change
Application of behavior change theories to construction and evaluation of health communication campaigns. Sample syllabus

COMHLTH 571 Communicating Health in Practice
Health communication and promotion across a variety of settings and mediums, from interpersonal to promotional campaigns. Sample syllabus

COMHLTH 572 Communicating Health to Specialized Populations
Literature and theory of cross-cultural communication and cultural aspects of health. Sample syllabus

COMHLTH 573 Communicating Health in a Digital Landscape
Development and implementation of health-related content through a variety of digital platforms. Sample syllabus

COMHLTH 574 Health Message Design and Effectiveness
This course provides an overview of basic behavior change theories as they relate to health communication message design and evaluation. Sample syllabus

Capstone Course – 3 credits

COMSTRAT 701 – Master’s Capstone (offered fall, spring, summer semesters)
A culminating course where students demonstrate core competencies with the response to 4-5 prompts, completion of an online portfolio, and other creative and engagement activities. Sample syllabus


health communication

What you’ll learn

Whether you have no training in health communication or are a seasoned professional, this degree will advance and invigorate your career. The program’s multidisciplinary approach offers students expertise in new and traditional media while teaching them how to gather and analyze information and use those findings in creating health and public awareness campaigns. Students will also gain skills in analyzing information and designing health communication strategies, programs, and initiatives and increase their knowledge in communication monitoring, metrics, and reporting the effectiveness of outreach efforts.

The online MA in Health Communication and Promotion provides a solid core curriculum, consisting of classes in multimedia content creation, crisis communication, professional ethics, and research methods. In specialized courses in health communication, students will learn health behavior change theories relevant to prevention messaging, message creation and design for effective information distribution, and techniques for effectively communicating health information with specialized populations.

Program Objectives

There are two primary objectives for the Online MA Health Communication and Promotion program.

These include:

  1. Producing quality students who possess the theoretical foundation and practical knowledge to succeed in their chosen fields and;
  2. Training individuals who will perform at the highest level of both professional and ethical standards.

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, “a health communication background is a necessity and advantage to one’s career within the continually evolving field of public health.” Health communication professionals possess the following core competencies (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d.)

  • Independent research and scholarly contribution in the advancement of health communication science
  • Design of effective behavior change communication strategies
  • Public health communication with service to state and federal agencies through the design, delivery and measurement of public health campaigns
  • Risk communication expertise
  • Crisis communication expertise
  • Professional communication for nonprofit health agencies
  • Skills in advertising, digital communications, community relations, and health marketing
  • Media relations with emphasis in public health matters


Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of health communication and promotion theories and practices that will guide program development, message design, and education to communicate health to diverse audiences.
  2. Ability to gather and assess health-related information using analyses and research.
  3. Evidence of professional skills to develop health communication and promotion campaign materials and implementation of campaigns through administration and management, planning, leadership, teamwork, and patient/population relations.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to ethically communicate health information to diverse audiences
Terminal professional master’s degree

The Online MA Health Communication and Promotion program is a terminal professional degree program. It is structured to provide opportunities for those interested in career transition or advancement in professional communication positions. The program is non-thesis, involves limited theory, does not include a classroom teaching component or active research assignment, and therefore should not be considered a preparatory stepping stone to most PhD programs or teaching at a collegiate level.

Student Pathways
  • All courses are 100% online and include weekly online instructor office hours, frequent student self-assessment tools & ongoing interaction with other students.
  • Most students take 2-3 classes each semester across the 10-course curriculum.
  • Students work closely with both industry professionals and PhD faculty scholars
  • Students select one, two or three-year tracks but it is recommended they take no less than five semesters to complete the program in order to achieve the best work-home-school balance

Application Info

Applications Deadlines: Aug 1, Dec 1 and April 15 for fall, spring and summer enrollment

Application Instructions:

Complete a general application with WSU Graduate School, indicating an interest in a degree program. Also include:

  • Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate institutions
  • International students submit TOEFL
  • Current professional resume that includes at least three professional references name and contact information
  • Statement of Purpose articulating your perspectives, contributions, qualifications, and talents


  • There is a $75 application fee (non-refundable)
  • This program does not require any undergraduate prerequisites but applicants must have bachelor’s degree with minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0*
  • No GRE required
  • Application Materials

*The minimum GPA requirement for admission into WSU Graduate School is 3.0. Applicants with a GPA below 2.99 are subject to departmental review and consideration.


  • Online students pay the in-state tuition rate
  • The tuition is estimated at $623 per credit
  • The estimated cost of program is $18,500
  • Graduate students must be enrolled in at least half-time SIX CREDITS to be eligible for financial aid.
  • Veterans’ benefits. For questions, contact Blaine Golden (509) 335-1234 or

The program is designed for individuals who are at least three years outside their undergraduate program and/or have at least three applied work experience. The coursework is bench-marked at a level best suited to those with solid work and life experience. Student engagement is built into each course and with it students benefit greatly from knowledge share and mutual exchange. We find that those with limited applied work experience are not fully equipped to contribute to those discussions in a meaningful way – nor are they as successful in completing the more complex course work. The decision to admit involves a full assessment of the applicant’s academic profile, the mix of experience they bring to the program and overall readiness for graduate-level work – not just undergraduate GPA or quality of their statement of purpose.

Statement of Purpose

To gain a better understanding of your perspectives, contributions, qualifications, and diverse talents, we ask that each applicant prepare a comprehensives statement of purpose.  Admission decisions for the online MA Health Communication and Promotion program are based on a full assessment of the applicant’s academic profile, mix of experience they bring to the program and overall readiness for graduate-level work. Please address your experience in each category keeping in mind how you could contribute to the future community of excellence at WSU.Your statement of purpose should not exceed one page and should address the following:

  • Why the online MA Health Communication and Promotion program at WSU interests you – what attracted you to the program
  • What led you to the desire of earning an advanced degree
  • Where do you think your MA will lead you personally and/or professionally
  • How the degree program fits into your current personal or professional path
  • What are your goals in furthering your education? What do you hope to achieve through the curriculum?
  • Other anecdotes or background information that will aid in evaluating whether or not you would thrive and be successful in the program


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