Online Visual & Digital Health Communication Graduate Certificate

Boston University’s online Graduate Certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication is 16-credit course of study that examines the impact of the communication technology revolution on the field of health marketing and outreach, and prepares graduates for careers in this rapidly changing and growing industry through the development of visual and digital storytelling tools vital to modern messaging. It can be completed in less than a year.

The next decade will be a transformative one for healthcare. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030 aging baby boomers will outnumber children for the first time. By 2034, more than 77 million (one in five residents) will be age 65 or older. In addition to this predicted demand for healthcare needs, an increase in chronic lifestyle diseases—diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, cancer, dementia, and other stress-related disorders—is helping drive expansion of the wellness industry, the value of which is poised to grow by $1,299.8 billion through 2024, according to a report by Technavio.

Digital technology will continue to have an impact on healthcare, with venture funding for health tech innovators at $14 billion in 2020 and expected to increase, according to Deloitte. The same can be said of social media. According to a report by Hootsuite and We Are Social, the number of active social media users is in the billions—and growing exponentially. With more than half the world’s population using social media, and with such rapid and continued expansion, it is essential to harness the power of this tool in your healthcare marketing and communication efforts. 

Savvy communicators, marketers, and coverage providers recognize the importance of effective storytelling and strategic social media practices in capturing the engagement and participation of patients, consumers, or desired target audiences. How those audiences and consumers experience initiatives through social media, websites, mobile apps, videos, and branded content can make or break the success of an otherwise well-defined health campaign or project.

In the Visual & Digital Health Communication certificate program’s 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. Students will also examine how social media is used in health care and why using it effectively has become a necessary skill for many health care professionals.

Students who complete the Graduate Certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication will be able to demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the value and significance of traditional, social, and emerging digital media practice in the health communication field.
  • The ability to design communication strategies and methods that employ digital and visual information to influence audiences or affect change on health-related topics and issues.
  • Expertise in the role that communication—including digital and visual content—plays in the health care industry.
  • The capacity to analyze, synthesize, interpret, and present health and scientific information for public consumption using clear and concise messaging.
  • Proficiency in creating digital images and visual tools—including infographics, branded content, video, data visualization graphics, webpage, and mobile page design—that purposely and ethically help bridge digital divides in health education and comprehension.

Awards & Accreditations

The course Visual Communication in the Digital Health Age (MET HC 762) received the 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching & Learning—a global honor recognizing excellence in delivering students a flexible, innovative online learning experience.

Why Choose BU’s Graduate Certificate in Health Communication?

  • Four-course certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication examines the impact of the communication technology revolution on the field of health marketing and communication and prepares graduates for a career in this rapidly changing field.
  • BU’s program is unique, offered 100% online with asynchronous learning, while integrating communication and health care content in each course.
  • The certificate is ideal for those who wish to focus more on the continuing trends in visual communication and the strategic use of social media in health communication, but don’t want or need to commit to a full master’s degree program.
  • Students in the certificate program may transfer up to 16 credits toward BU’s online Master of Science in Health Communication. In addition, students can pair the Graduate Certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication with the Graduate Certificate in Foundations of Health Communication to earn the Master’s in Health Communication with a concentration in Visual & Digital Health Communication.

Meet Stephen Quigley, one of the faculty members you’ll work with in the Health Communication program.

Career Outlook

Advertising, Promotion, and Marketing Managers

6% increase in jobs through 2029

$141,490 median annual pay in 2020

Public Relations Specialists

7% increase in jobs through 2029

$62,810 median annual pay in 2020

Medical and Health Services Managers

32% increase in jobs through 2029

$104,280 median annual pay in 2020

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

13% increase in jobs through 2029

$48,140 median annual pay in 2020

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook (last modified April 9, 2021)

The impact of digital technology in healthcare will continue to reverberate, with venture funding for health tech innovators at $14 billion in 2020 and expected to increase.—Deloitte, Trends in health tech investments (February 26, 2021)


Tuition & Financial Assistance

Money Matters

Boston University Metropolitan College (MET) offers competitive tuition rates that meet the needs of part-time students seeking an affordable education. These rates are substantially lower than those of the traditional, full-time residential programs yet provide access to the same high-quality BU education. To learn more about current tuition rates, visit the MET website.

Financial Assistance

Comprehensive financial assistance services are available at MET, including scholarships, graduate loans, and payment plans. There is no cost to apply for financial assistance, and you may qualify for a student loan regardless of your income. Learn more.


Boston University’s Graduate Certificate in Visual & Digital Health Communication consists of four required online courses (16 credits).


Justin Joseph

Justin Joseph

Program Director, Health Communication
Associate Professor of the Practice, Public Relations, Boston University College of Communication
MS, Boston University; MA, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; BS, Boston University

Felipe Agudelo Acevedo

Felipe Agudelo Acevedo

Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
PhD, DePaul University; MPH, National School of Public Health, Universidad de Antioquía, Colombia; BEng, Universidad de Antioquía, Colombia


Alane Bearder

Lecturer and Program Facilitator
Digital Marketing Strategist, Strategic Communications Consultant
MS, Boston University; BA, Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Getting Started

To learn more or to contact an enrollment advisor before you get started, request information using the button below and tell us a little about yourself. Someone will be in touch to answer any questions you may have about the program and detail the next steps in earning your degree. You can also start your application or register for a course at Metropolitan College.