Health Promotion Graduate Studies

Health Promotion Graduate Studies

Health Promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over their health and its determinants, and thereby improve their health. The Health Promotion concentration at Mississippi State University is based on a social ecological approach to health, health education and health promotion. This includes empowering individuals and communities in a collaborative process to reduce social inequalities and health disparities. The program emphasizes the reciprocal relationship between health-related behaviors and the environments (physical and social) in which people live. Students learn to plan, implement and evaluate comprehensive, multi-faceted approaches to health using a shared framework for change at the individual and environmental level.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Health educators teach people about behaviors that promote wellness. They develop and implement strategies to improve the health of individuals and communities. The median annual wage for health educators was $53,940 in May 2017. Overall employment of health educators is projected to grow 16 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.


Careers

Health Promotion Graduates find employment in:

  • Corporations
  • Schools and universities
  • Hospitals and other health care settings
  • Public policy advocacy and lobbying
  • Voluntary agencies (American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, etc.)
  • Epidemiology

Master of Science

The Master of Science in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion with a concentration in Health Promotion is designed to develop practitioners with the skills and competencies to effectively assess, design, implement, evaluate health promotion programs in a variety of settings. The program offers both thesis and non-thesis options and is available on-campus as well as distance learning (https://online.msstate.edu/health/). Qualifying students may enter the program at the start of any semester. This program may be completed in a calendar year but this is not required.

The core of the program is designed around coursework that helps students to develop the skills and competencies required of entry level health educators as delineated on the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) license (https://www.nchec.org/overview).

Admissions

Regular admission to the Master of Science in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion with a concentration in Health Promotion requires a minimum 2.75 GPA on all undergraduate work if accrued over a four year (or more) period. If accrued over a two year period, a 3.0 GPA is required. Applicants must take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A score of 280 (Verbal + Quantitative) is required on the current GRE in order to be considered for full admission. International students may be required to provide a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam score. Minimum TOEFL requirements are 550 PBT (213 CBT or 79 IBT) or an IELTS (International English Language Testing Systems) score of 6.5.

Provisional admission is possible. For more information please contact a program advisor (bph5@msstate.edu) or the Mississippi State University Graduate School (https://www.grad.msstate.edu/)

Program of Study

Research Methods (9-12 hours)

  • FNH 8563 - Principles of Epidemiology and Health Science Research
  • KI 8313 - Interpretation of Data in Kinesiology (or approved transfer course) OR EPY 6214 Educational and Psychological Statistics
  • FNH 8673 - Applied Projects (3 hours) OR FNH 8000 Research/Thesis (6 hours)

Core Courses (15 hours)

  • FNH 8513 - Theory and Practice of Health Education
  • FNH 8523 - Health Promotion Techniques
  • FNH 8553 - Behavioral Epidemiology
  • FNH 8613 - Design and Administration of Health Promotion Programs
  • FNH 8653 - Implementation and Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs

Electives (6-9 hours)

  • FNH 6393 - Prevention and Control of Disease
  • FNH 6773 - Intro to Environmental Health
  • FNH 6783 - School and Community Drug Use Prevention
  • FNH 8193 - Problems in Health Education
  • FNH 8543 - Health Education in Diverse Populations
  • FNH 8623 - Current Issues in School Health

Other electives may be taken as approved by advisor

A student must have acquired 33 hours in order to graduate in both the thesis and non-thesis options.


The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

According to the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) the 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. The exam reflects the entry-level Sub-competencies of these Areas of Responsibility. 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 120 testing sites currently registered, any campus with a testing service is eligible to become a testing site.

A CHES is an individual that has:

  1. Met required academic preparation qualifications
  2. Successfully passed a competency-based examination administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Incorporated
  3. Satisfies the continuing education requirement to maintain the national credential

Students in the program are not required to take the CHES exam, however, program faculty urge all graduates to sit for the exam. National certification benefits practitioners and the public in that it:

  • Establishes a national standard of practice for all health education specialists
  • Attests to the individual health education specialists' knowledge and skills
  • Assists employers in identifying qualified health education practitioners
  • Develops a sense of pride and accomplishment among certified health education specialists
  • Promotes continued professional development for health education specialists

Graduates of Mississippi State University's Master of Sciences in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion (Health Promotion concentration) degree program have a 97% pass rate on the CHES exam. National average pass rates on the exam for the exam vary with each cohort that takes the twice yearly exam. The national average pass rate for Spring 2012 was 73%.


Graduate Certificate in Clinical Health Promotion and Wellness Coaching

The Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion also offers a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Health Promotion and Wellness Coaching. This program’s courses are under the M.S. degree in Health Promotion and has 21 credit hours that includes a health center-based practicum, and a summer field-based internship in a primary medical care home in the region. Wellness coaches work with patients to modify their health behaviors in the direction of a healthier lifestyle to reduce the early onset of chronic disease and add healthy years to life. The program is approved for on-campus or distance-based delivery and currently requires a health center practicum on the MSU campus. Other prerequisites include graduate courses in prevention and control of disease, theory and practice of health education, health promotion techniques, and behavioral epidemiology. A student may complete the 21-hour certificate as a part of the M.S. degree or, as a stand-alone certificate.


Doctor of Philosophy

Ph.D. students in Agricultural and Extension Education may select an emphasis in health promotion by taking courses in the Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion Department’s Health Promotion curriculum. These courses must be approved by the minor professor. This program is designed to equip students for careers as public health educators, health promotion specialists, and health scientists. Students in this emphasis may sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist exam offered by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (www.nchec.org) when they have successfully completed at least 25 hours in the Health Promotion area.

Students should consult with their minor professor before selecting courses for their concentration area. Those courses should be selected as “minor or supporting area courses or electives.”

There are six required courses for Health Promotion Area of Emphasis:

  • FNH 8513 - Theory and Practice of Health Education
  • FNH 8523 - Health Promotion Techniques
  • FNH 8553 - Behavioral Epidemiology
  • FNH 8613 - Design and Administration of Health Promotion Programs
  • FNH 8653 - Implementation and Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs
  • FNH 8543 - Health Education for Diverse Populations

Students must also select three courses from the following list:

  • FNH 6393 - Prevention and Control of Disease
  • FNH 6783 - School and Community Drug Use Prevention
  • FNH 8193 - Problems in Health Education
  • FNH 8563 - Principles of Epidemiology and Health Science Research
  • FNH 8333 - Food Safety and Security in Public Health

Admissions

The minimum requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is the completion of 90 semester hours of graduate credit on an approved program of study above the bachelor's degree. Required courses for the Ph.D. include 30-36 hours of graduate credit in Agricultural and Extension Education; 16 graduate credits in statistics, research, and evaluation; 12-18 graduate credits in a minor or supporting area, 0-12 graduate elective credits; and 20 credit hours of dissertation research/dissertation. Students must pass a written and an oral comprehensive examination in both the major and minor/supporting area. To be eligible for the preliminary/comprehensive examination, a graduate student must have a 3.00 GPA on all graduate courses taken after admission to the degree program. Students must also pass the final dissertation examination. The student's graduate committee supervises the dissertation and examinations.