How to Get a PhD or EdD in Health Education

A Doctor of Education degree in health education can provide the credentials to teach others about health authoritatively. Effective health education seeks to alleviate problems such as childhood obesity, sexually transmitted diseases and malnutrition.

With a PhD or, alternatively, an EdD in health education, you may have the opportunity build systems that support the health education of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. That can be an exciting possibility indeed.

Make sure to thoroughly research your options for obtaining a doctorate degree in health education. Choosing the right PhD or EdD degree in health education is a serious decision that should should be supported by as much factual information as possible.

Online doctoral degree programs in health education are starting to appear but are not yet well-established, so use special care when choosing the distance graduate education option.

How to apply for PhD programs in health education

Before comparing schools directly, it can be helpful to take an overarching view of the doctorate degree choices available in health education, and what each particular doctoral degree means, both in terms of areas of study and career eligibility upon graduation.

PhD in health education

The classic PhD degree in health education is an intense program that touches on a wide variety of subjects related to health education. Typical coursework includes:

  • Community health programs
  • Health program development
  • Epidemiology research
  • Grant writing for health education
  • Sports nutrition
  • Applied biology
  • Epidemiology methods

A PhD degree in health education is thus designed to bestow authoritative levels of knowledge on the doctoral degree student. By the end of a PhD degree program in health education, you may be qualified to teach health education at any level or grade, including college.

Alternatively, you may choose to work for a health education organization, either private or public. In today’s world, opportunities to teach people about health are by no means confined to schools. Health education experts also find work in such professions as:

  • Social worker
  • Health researcher
  • Sports nutrition instructor

Knowing about health and how to teach it can be a widely applicable skill.

To find a doctorate degree program in health education near you, review distance graduate degree programs by location or fill out a simple online phd degrees form describing your educational desires. Schools can actually contact you directly when you tell them what you’re looking for.

PhD in public health

The word “epidemiology,” defined as the study of the sources of health and illness, goes to the core of what’s special about a PhD degree in public health.

As an individual working to improve public health, you could be charged to find the sources of both health and illness, and to develop plans that improve the health of whole communities.

Pursuing a PhD degree in public health, then, entails extensive study of existing health education structures. You may examine the activities of the World Health Organization, for example, or audit one of the public school system’s free lunch programs.

Always, the focus of a PhD degree in public health is on helping individuals achieve better health by creating structures that support the health of the community at large.

EdD degrees in health education

If you know that you want to teach health education, think about pursuing an EdD degree in health education. The EdD degree in health education is characterized by a laser-like focus on the teaching of health in schools.

If, for instance, you are currently teaching health education at the high school level, you may pursue an EdD degree in health education with the ultimate goal of overseeing the creation of a district-wide health education program for high school kids.

The EdD degree in health education will include detailed study of the National Health Education Standards (NHES), which provides a basic framework for developing grade-appropriate curriculum.

Online PhD programs in health education: Under construction

Online PhD degree programs in public health are being developed as we speak, so start thinking about whether you’d prefer an on campus doctorate degree program or an online doctorate degree.

An on-campus PhD in health education can be appealing in a number of important ways. Access to research materials and quality faculty, fellowship teaching opportunities, and physically living in a community of like-minded students make the on-campus choice a great option for many people. If that’s your story, search for PhD degree programs in health education by location. Evaluate doctorate financial aid options, too.

Location and financial aid can also be two prime benefits of pursuing an online PhD degree in health education: you do not have to relocate to another state or city. You do not have to sell your home or move your children to a new school. And, you may be able to retain your present job while pursuing your doctorate degree.

Benefits of an online PhD degree in health education may include:

  • Lower cost
  • Study at night or on the weekends
  • Learn from professors all over the world

Many PhD programs in health education combine in-person and online elements. The best online PhD programs in health education of the future may still keep some in-person elements in place, perhaps by offering a shortened residency period.

Applying for a PhD in health education, step by step

Applying for a PhD in health education works well as a step-by-step process. By methodically running down a pre-set list of tasks and considerations, you can save time and resources while still doing adequate research to come to a decision.

Step 1: Prioritize your wants

It’s often true in education, as in life, that we cannot have everything we want. This reality makes prioritization a solid first step in the process of applying for a PhD or EdD in health education.

Try putting the following disorganized list of PhD and EdD degree program attributes in a prioritized order, with the most important items at the top:

  • School reputation
  • Flexibility in terms of time
  • A particular doctoral-level degree (PhD in public health, for example)
  • Faculty quality
  • Transferability of existing credits
  • Program history
  • Student-to-teacher ratio
  • Accreditation
  • Job placement history
  • Affordability
  • Internship opportunities
  • Fellowship teaching opportunities

The exercise of prioritizing wants can clarify the decision-making process considerably, especially when the prioritization is done as a first step.

Step 2: Identify the wants of the health education industry

Now that you know what is more important to you in a PhD degree in health education, it’s time to zero in on what’s important to other people. Namely, the health education professionals who do the hiring and promoting in this industry.


While the accreditation required or recognized by any specific health care education employer may vary, the necessity of attending an accredited PhD program is nearly universal. Obtaining a PhD degree in health education from an unaccredited school can be a waste of time and money if employers don’t recognize your doctorate degree.

The foremost industry-specific accrediting body in the health education field is the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, or CAHME. This professional association is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

The Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) is another industry-specific accreditation body that is widely respected.

At the minimum, any PhD program in health education that you attend must be accredited by a regional or national quality assurance accreditation organization such as the North Central Association (NCA).

Learn more about the importance of doctorate degree accreditation and the accreditation of particular schools and programs at WorldWideLearn. Also consider asking your existing employer about accreditation preferences, if you currently work in health education.

Program history

The health education community has built up, over the past few decades, a remarkable history of performance, accountability, and bold thinking. Major public health triumphs such as the reduction of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) in America have not happened by accident, but rather through concerted effort.

  • How does the school you’re considering fit into the history of health care education?
  • What contributions has the school made to public health efforts?
  • Has the school been active at the local, state, national, or global level?

These are questions that you might want to explore when choosing between one PhD degree in health education and another. Find out as much as you can about the history of the program you’re considering; reputation often matters to health care employers.

Prerequisites and exams

The third major consideration as to why it matters what other people think of your choice in a PhD degree program in health education pertains to the prerequisites of entering any particular program.

In most cases, you must already have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in a health-related field. Another common requirement is that you take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Good grades and high scores may be required by many programs, due to keen competition for admission.

Learn about the graduate degree and exam requirements of individual schools by filling out a form that can help match you to schools that are a good fit for you.

Some PhD programs offer students the ability to fill in gaps in their resumes while pursuing their doctorate degree. This occurs on a case-by-case basis, however, and should not be counted upon. Generally speaking, be prepared to meet established standards.

Step 3: Extras that make a great PhD degree in health care education

Attending a good PhD degree program in health education is wise. Attending a truly excellent PhD degree program in health education can make your career. When researching PhD degree programs, look for these signs of greatness:

Involved faculty

Studying under brilliant, dynamic professors is the best part of any truly excellent grad school experience. If at all possible, choose a PhD program in health care education that boasts professors who have published in industry journals, speak at conferences, and respond directly to students on a personalized basis.

Their specialization is your specialization

If you know you want to develop health education programs for K-12, look for a PhD or EdD degree program in health education that has a storied history in that specialization, complete with the industry connections to help you find good opportunities upon graduation.

Likewise if you want to specialize in global health education, work for an insurance company, or work for the government. If you know what you want to do, see to it that your chosen school specializes in that aspect of public health.

Flexible schedule

Online PhD programs usually promise more schedule flexibility than their on-campus counterparts. If you have employment or family obligations that make time constraints a concern, explore online PhD degrees in health education with an eye towards maximum flexibility.

The availability of online PhD and EdD degree programs in health education will be welcomed by health education professionals who are employed full-time.

Resources to consult for getting a PhD or EdD in health education

Keep the following research resources handy as you choose and then apply for a PhD or EdD degree in health education:


WorldWideLearn saves you time by collecting all the best sources for doctoral degree information into one place, and then categorizing it for easy retrieval. You can search for PhD programs in health education by location or degree level.

The Education Resource section at gives you access to a variety of tools that are hard to find elsewhere, let alone all together in one place.

Health Care Education Professional Associations

The health education community is a vibrant and interconnected entity. When evaluating PhD degrees in health education, use conferences, lectures, and industry events to meet people and get their opinion on the choice you’re facing. Often, the best research consists of asking other health education professionals what they would do if they were you.

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) is one professional organization that consistently brings the health education community together. As such, SOPHE may prove a valuable resource in your research of PhD and EdD degrees in health education.

Get out there and talk to people about where they think the best PhD and EdD programs in health education are to be found. Network for success.


“11-9111 Medical and Health Services Managers,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2014,

“Medical and Health Services Managers,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 2014,

Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
American Association for Health Education
American School Health Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Health Education Standards
Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Management Education
International Electronic Journal of Health Education
National Commission for Health Education Credentialing
Society for Public Health Education
U.S. Department of Education, Accreditation in the United States

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