Health communication

Master of arts University of Missouri-Columbia
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Master of arts in journalism

Learn to amplify new developments and influence campaigns with an online master of arts in journalism with an emphasis in health communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

We frequently view health care as solely a technical, scientifically oriented field. Yet, communication professionals are increasingly needed to translate complex research and data into news articles, public health campaigns, press materials, corporate and community wellness efforts and patient care information. Your storytelling across print, advertising, broadcasting, social media and the web helps catalyze varying degrees of awareness. Individuals then take action for their own or another’s health and stay abreast of the latest advancements in technology and disease prevention.

Getting you here, the online master’s in journalism with an emphasis in health communication lets you move up in your current field or pivot to a position in a growing industry. The blended online format brings the Missouri School of Journalism’s esteemed program to a wider swath of professionals looking toward leadership and interested in expanding their skillset. You’ll build your knowledge through required courses covering journalistic law and ethics and explore where traditional and digital communication techniques intersect with the health care field.

Quick facts

Official name

Master of arts in journalism with an emphasis in health communication

Campus

University of Missouri-Columbia

Program type

Master's degree

Academic home

Missouri School of Journalism

Delivery mode

Blended, one campus visit required

Accreditation

Higher Learning Commission

Credit hours

33

Estimated cost

$31,973.70

*This cost is for illustrative purposes only. Your hours and costs will differ, depending on your transfer hours, your course choices and your academic progress. See more about tuition and financial aid.

Why earn an online master’s in health communication?

Public awareness remains integral to several sects of the health care industry: the patient-provider relationship, how hospitals and public health organizations interact with their surrounding communities, campaigns calling attention to illnesses and disease prevention and journalists reporting for a medical, health or wellness publication. Regardless of medium, health communication professionals have a twofold job — to abide by journalistic and media standards and to adapt scientific information for audiences spanning from industry professionals to researchers and academics to the general public. 

Observing the emergence of various sectors composing the journalism and communications field, the Missouri School of Journalism developed a blended online master’s program to help working industry professionals delve into an area via an emphasis and strengthen their leadership and strategic competencies for the present landscape.  

For the online master of arts in journalism with an emphasis in health communication, you will:

  • Acquire the detailed, specific knowledge to enter or advance in this multidisciplinary sector, from the workings of the health care industry and current trends to the role of communications, media, marketing and journalism in disseminating information
  • Learn to communicate health topics more succinctly and effectively with multiple audiences in mind
  • Adapt your career to an increasingly diversified yet specific marketplace standing on the foundation of traditional journalistic principles
  • Explore techniques and methods for engaging multiple audiences through print, broadcast, corporate communication, public relations and digital media
  • Be taught by faculty renowned for their journalistic, teaching and research accomplishments
  • Have the opportunity to gain insights from your peers through a more collaborative online setting incorporating discussions and group projects
  • Continue to hone your journalistic research and data analysis skills for reviewing, interpreting, presenting and bringing clarity to scientific information
  • Start to think of yourself not just as a writer and communicator but also as a leader ready to direct and influence other journalism professionals and develop organizational media strategies
Health communication professional working at a laptop.

Career prospects

Gain a firmer foothold in the health care field. Look toward the next level in your current organization, or switch to a role where you’ll be crafting articles, campaigns or other communication collateral based on varying degrees of awareness — from informational purposes only to public health promotion.

With the health care industry holistically predicted to see about 16% growth between 2020 and 2030, potential opportunities for communication professionals include: 

  • Director of major gifts
  • Media relations manager
  • Senior proposal coordinator
  • Writer, journalist and blogger
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
4.4%
Employment growth
Burning Glass Technologies. 2021. Salary numbers and employment growth numbers are based on models that consider advertised job posting salary, Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other proprietary and public sources of information for multiple occupations.
$62,000
Median salary

Program structure

This online master’s degree in health communication involves 33 credit hours divided between required courses (10-12 credit hours) covering journalistic essentials and an emphasis area (15-18 credit hours). Based on your long-term career goals, you’ll select from a thesis track involving original research or a capstone track culminating in an industry project.

Through the required courses, you’ll become more familiar with the role and issues surrounding print and electronic media in the U.S. health care field, research methods used in journalism and ethics shaping contemporary mass media.

Delivery of this program is blended; one on-campus seminar held in the fall is required, but individuals may elect to attend up to three times.

Courses are semester-based. Students typically take one or two classes each semester and finish in two to three years.

Health communication courses

The health communication emphasis builds from this versatile, industry-wide foundation to explore topics in:

  • Legal factors including libel and privacy in the media
  • Public relations and corporate communications techniques employed by health care organizations, nonprofits and businesses
  • Strategic communication methods for building media campaigns
  • Management in communication and media organizations
  • The structure and influence of health news and communication
  • Mass and interpersonal communication theories and applications in health care

Review the full structure and all courses for the online master’s in journalism with an emphasis in health communication.

Delivery

Blended, one campus visit required

Calendar system

Semester-based

Typical program length

3 years

Typical course load

1 or 2 classes each semester

Accreditation

The University of Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.

Cassandra Adams Jones, journalism MA, in her graduation cap and gown.
My advice for prospective students: Go for it!
Master's in journalism ’17

Learn more about this program

This program is administered by the Missouri School of Journalism