Student giving a demonstration

Public Health and Community Health Education

Overview of the Public Health and Community Health Education Major

Community Health worker labeling foodCommunity health education is an interdisciplinary program that trains students to be the front-line leaders on the front-line of public health locally and nationwide. Community Health is population based and focuses on the promotion and protection of health as well the reduction of health disparities thereby improving the quality of life. Students in this program will acquire the tools to be effective educators and advocates through the study of social theories, biological basis of disease and the analysis and implementation of policies and communications strategies that influence the health status of individuals, communities, states and the nation.

The acquired knowledge and skills enable students to apply for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification exam upon graduation. Health Educators need a bachelor’s degree and often employers prefer this credential. 

Why is Community Health Education Important?

With an aging population, abysmal maternal mortality rates, increased prevalence of many chronic disease compounded by escalating medical costs, there is a demand for community health educators who develop and implement strategies that address the health needs of the public.

Health educators:

  • Have job security. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an increase in employment opportunities by 16% from 2016-2026, faster than the average for all occupations
  • Reduce the costs of premature deaths and disability. As a health educator, you will teach the public about healthy practices and behaviors that minimize costly chronic conditions and medical procedures
  • Are the leaders in addressing health disparities and improving the quality of life

An undergraduate major in Public Health and Community Health Education is excellent preparation for those planning to pursue graduate or professional studies in the public health and/or clinical health professions.



Many of the courses are taught by faculty which houses the major in Public Health and Community Health Education. Related majors in the department are Biology and Health Sciences, and students in Public Health and Community Health Education can earn a minor in Health and Society.

The Public Health and Community Health Education program includes courses from a variety of fields, including biology, psychology and sociology. The required courses are as follows:

  • HLTH 150 Introduction to Community & Public Health (3 cr)
  • HLTH 200 Health Promotion & Planning (3 cr)
  • HLTH 310 Environmental Health (3 cr)
  • HLTH 540 Internship in Community Health Education (3 cr)BIOL 105 Human Biology (3 cr) OR both BIOL 342 Anatomy & Physiology I (4 cr) and BIOL 343 Anatomy & Physiology II (4 cr)
  • BIOL 150 Introduction to Biology I: Cells (4 cr)
  • BIOL 250 Nutrition (3 cr)
  • BIOL 312 Epidemiology (3 cr)
  • BIOL 412 Research Methods in Epidemiology (3 cr)
  • MATH 232 Introduction to Statistics (3 cr)
  • SOCI 100 Introduction to Sociology (3 cr)
  • Three Health & Society electives (3 x 3 cr)
  • Two Psychology electives (2 x 3 cr)

MCLA in 4

MCLAin4 LogoA sample 4-year plan showing a possible sequence of courses in this major.  In addition, MCLA in 4 plans are available with the  Public Health, or Health and Society minors.

Internships & Research

Community Health Education students presenting at a conferenceAn internship is a required component of the Public Health and Community Health Education degree. Through this experience, students will gain hands-on experience in implementing a community health project. Below are some of the locations that hosted our interns

  • Berkshire Area Health Education Council (AHEC)
  • North Berkshire Community Coalition (NBCC)
  • Community Health Program (CHP)
  • Berkshire Arc
  • Berkshire Family And Individual Resources (BFAIR)

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in independent research, additional internships and other experiences that emphasize independent work and demonstration of professional skills. Students can complete additional internships beyond the one required for the program, and students can start working with faculty on research projects as early as their first year at MCLA.

Where do our graduates go?

Graduates of the PHCH program either enter the workforce or continue their education in public health such as MPH programs in Epidemiology or PH nutrition and Communication at George Washington University.



Frequently Asked Questions

Between the small class sizes (our ratio 16:1), carefully crafted curriculum, dedicated faculty and research and internship opportunities, you will be well prepared for a job upon graduation or continued studies at the graduate level.

As a Public Health and Community Health Education student, you will learn how to design, implement and assess health interventions to improve health, safety and quality of life people in your community. You will acquire the rudimentary statistical and epidemiological skills to assess health pattern and trends, design and evaluate the efficacy of health communication campaigns and promote social justice using social and behavioral framework.

MCLA’s Public Health and Community Health Education program will prepare you for a variety of roles within the high-growth public health education field, including:

  • Community organizer
  • Community health educator
  • Health program manager
  • Patient educator
  • Public health educator
  • Social and community service manager
  • Social and human service assistant
  • Wellness manager

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, community health educators are employed at a variety of settings, such as:

  • Schools and colleges, creating programs and materials on topics that affect young adults, like smoking and alcohol use, or advocating for campus wide policies to promote health
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities, teaching patients about diagnoses, treatments or procedures
  • Nonprofit organizations, building programs about health issues for communities or helping organizations obtain funding and other resources
  • Private businesses, identifying common health problems among employees and creating programs to improve health
  • Government organizations like public health departments, administering public health campaigns or providing safety information to the public and the media

*Since May 2015 Massachusetts was one of the top five states for employment of community health workers

The Public Health and Community Health Education curriculum is aligned to the competencies defined by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing for Health Educator Specialists. This program also aligns with the educational requirements for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) examination, offered through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. While it is not mandatory, becoming CHES certified means that you are professionally competent based on national standard and have also demonstrated a commitment to continued professional development. Recently, there has been an increase in employers requiring or preferring the CHES certification for health education positions. Many positions read CHES preferred.

Yes, Yes and Yes. Public Health and Community Health Education covers many tenets of Public Health and meets the core competencies outlined by the ASSPH. MCLA’s courses are designed to provide the foundation you will need to pursue a Master of Public health (MPH).