MS in Health Communication

Offered in collaboration with Boston University College of Communication

The online Master of Science (MS) in Health Communication program teaches students to understand the complexities of important healthcare issues and communicate them in a way both the media and the public can understand.

The multidisciplinary curriculum focuses on how to implement effective communication campaigns, tackle tough healthcare issues, and provide valuable information to the media, the public, and other critical stakeholders. Students in the program gain leadership skills in the emerging fields of healthcare marketing, public relations, health literacy, crisis management, and social marketing.

Geared toward professionals with a background in healthcare, public relations, journalism, marketing communication, or public health education, the online Master of Science in Health Communication can be completed in as few as 16 months of part-time study. The interactive, online format includes lectures and debates, videos, interactive animation, discussion boards, and more.

Learning Outcomes

  • Employ communication strategy, methods, and technology to communicate information, influence audiences, or affect change on health-related topics and issues.
  • Evaluate the value and significance of traditional, social, and digital media practice in the health communication field.
  • Demonstrate competence in communicating about healthcare, including how to develop purpose-driven, audience-specific materials.
  • Understand and apply ethical and socially responsible health communication practices and strategies that consider privacy, regulatory, and legal issues specific to the healthcare industry.
  • Interpret and apply basic communication research fundamentals to the field of health communication.
  • Analyze, synthesize, interpret, and present health and scientific information using clear and concise messaging for public, media, and/or stakeholder consumption.

Admissions Information

For current admissions information, please visit the Metropolitan College website.

Academic Standing

Students in the MS in Health Communication program must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 to remain in good standing and to graduate. No grade below B– in any course may be applied toward the degree. Students with grade point averages below 3.0 will be on academic probation and must be in a position to achieve a 3.0 within the 32 required credit hours for graduation or be subject to dismissal.

Degree Requirements

A total of eight courses (32 credits) is required, as follows:

Core Courses (four courses/16 credits)

  • MET HC 550 US Healthcare System
  • MET HC 559 Health Communication Principles and Strategies
  • MET HC 560 Research Methods for Health Communication
  • MET HC 561 Writing for Health

Required Courses (four courses/16 credits)

Choose one of the following:

  • MET HC 651 Epidemiology for Health Communication
  • MET HC 652 Biology of Disease

Choose three of the following:

  • MET HC 651 Epidemiology for Health Communication
  • MET HC 652 Biology of Disease
  • MET HC 655 Healthcare Marketing Strategies
  • MET HC 656 Healthcare Public Relations
  • MET HC 657 Digital Marketing for Healthcare
  • MET HC 658 Media Relations for Healthcare
  • MET HC 762 Visual Communication in the Digital Health Age
  • MET HC 763 Social Media Strategies and Tactics for Healthcare

Concentrations

Healthcare Promotion, Media & Marketing

The concentration in Healthcare Promotion, Media & Marketing allows students to develop or refresh skills vital for today’s professional health communicator. Using persuasion theory, media effects theory, communication planning, and other fundamental behavioral and management concepts, students learn to design integrated public relations, media, and marketing plans that help achieve the goals of health-related organizations and clients.

Students learn how to frame points of view and create powerful messages using print, broadcast, social, community, and organizational media in creative ways to influence and educate diverse audiences. With a focus on workplace-ready skills, students develop campaigns, search-optimized content, and materials—while understanding the importance of ethics, privacy, and regulatory considerations. They also gain essential knowledge in brand, reputation, and crisis management.

This concentration prepares students for professional communication roles within consumer- and business-facing corporations, government agencies, healthcare organizations and hospitals, PR and marketing agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other employers seeking to advocate for, educate, and influence audiences about health and wellness. In today’s climate of greater integration among public relations, media, and marketing disciplines, even recently educated communication professionals are challenged by the pace of change in their professions and across the media landscape. With this concentration, students learn the differences, similarities, and tensions among these communication functions within organizations, and how to effectively implement and align contemporary strategies and measurable tactics as part of a unified effort.

Learning Outcomes

  • Create channel-specific health communication plans and search-optimized content designed to support, influence, and engage with diverse stakeholder audiences.
  • Understand and demonstrate socially responsible health communication principles and practices as they apply to public relations, digital marketing, and media relations, including privacy, copyright, and regulatory considerations, and knowledge of the Code of Ethics as defined by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).
  • Understand the expanding 24/7 role of media relations professionals within healthcare organizations, including do’s and don’ts for developing successful relationships with reporters, message framing and delivery methods, and crisis management strategies.
  • Identify the differences, similarities, and tensions among public relations, media, and marketing functions within healthcare organizations, and the importance of unified strategies that align and measure organizational efforts.

Visual & Digital Health Communication

In today’s era of digital health, savvy communicators, marketers, and healthcare providers recognize that it takes effective storytelling and strategic social media practices to capture the engagement and participation of patients, consumers, or a desired target audience. How users experience social media, websites, mobile apps, videos, and branded content can make—or break—the success of an otherwise well-defined health campaign or project.

The concentration in Visual & Digital Health Communication examines the impact of the communication technology revolution on the field of health marketing and communication. In the required courses, students will learn the fundamental principles of design and how to apply them to the creation of powerful health education and delivery application tools, such as infographics, data visualization graphics, videos, websites, mobile apps, and branded content. In addition, students will examine how social media is used in healthcare and why using it effectively and efficiently has become a necessary skill for many healthcare professionals.

Learning Outcomes

  • Employ design and use social media strategies in health messaging to educate diverse populations, build brand reputation, and manage threats in a crisis—within the bounds of patient privacy, copyright, and regulatory considerations.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in creating digital images and visual assets—including infographics, branded content, video, data visualization graphics, web page, and mobile page design—that purposefully and ethically help bridge digital divides in health education and comprehension.