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Health Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Health Education
In the Department of Health and Behavior Studies

About the Program > Program Description

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Program Description

The Program in Health Education at Teachers College has had a long history in preparing health education specialists. Health education is a professional field that has expanded rapidly, primarily because of national policy that has emphasized health promotion and disease prevention. Its goal is to facilitate voluntary health-related behavioral and social change through the application of principles of behavioral and social sciences.

As such, health education is concerned with motivating and enabling individuals and groups to assume responsibility for their health by learning and adopting behaviors and supporting social policies that can promote and maintain health.

The program at Teachers College is grounded in the belief that community-level structures and organizations play a key role in determining the health of the people. It offers courses in which students learn to analyze and understand and thus become able to influence community structures that either enhance or undercut health-promoting individual behaviors.

In addition to Health Education courses, students are encouraged to pursue interdiscipli-nary study and research throughout Teachers College, as well as other divisions of Columbia University such as the School of Public Health and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The Center for Health Promotion at Teachers College, which involves students and faculty, provides opportunities to take part in ongoing research projects in health promotion and disease prevention.

Students also may participate in research being conducted in the Research Division at the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Department of Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, or with the Diabetes Research and Training Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. All have multi-institutional collaborative efforts involving faculty from the Program in Health Education at Teachers College.

The program prepares graduates who will assume positions of leadership and service as professional health educators in a variety of practice, research, and policy-making settings. Graduates of the program take positions as leaders in health promotion and disease prevention programs of voluntary health agencies, hospitals and other health care organizations, universities, business and industry, and health-related governmental agencies in the United States and in other countries.

Each degree program has some flexibility in order to accommodate differences in previous professional preparation, interests, and professional career objectives of students. In general, the programs of study emphasize the development of competencies in assessing individual and community need for health education; planning effective health education programs; implementing health education programs; coordinating the provision of health education services; acting as a resource person in health education; communicating health and health educational needs, concerns, and resources; evaluating the effectiveness of health education programs; and conducting research in health education.

Students at both the master’s and doctoral levels are encouraged to become actively involved in departmental, college, and university functions that facilitate interaction with faculty and other students and that have the potential to enrich the student’s intellectual and professional growth. They are expected to undertake the complex and challenging tasks associated with graduate study and other related learning experiences in such a manner as to demonstrate their intellectual discipline. Such discipline includes integrity, creativity, and innovation, as well as the student’s abilities to conceptualize at a high level, think critically, communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and provide leadership.

Students also are expected to demonstrate the ability to appreciate, relate to, and communicate with ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse individuals and groups of people who possess different personal, social, and cultural histories than their own. They are also encouraged to develop a strong sense of professional identity and commitment to professional affairs in health education. This might take the form of active membership in appropriate national, regional, or local professional organizations, participation in professional meetings, presenting an abstract or a paper at a professional meeting, or serving on a professional committee.

Completion of the M.A. degree program makes graduates eligible to qualify for certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. Specific information regarding each program and its degree requirements can be obtained by writing to the program coordinator, Professor John P. Allegrante.