Student holding a test tube

Community Health Education

Overview of the Community Health Education Major

Community health educators teach individuals and groups about healthy habits and behaviors, with focus on promoting health and preventing disease. Community Health Educators are employed by government offices, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, medical facilities and workplaces.

The Community Health Education program is an interdisciplinary major that provides a foundation in principles of community health, an understanding of the biological basis of disease, social and psychological aspects of health and disease, distribution and determinants of health and disease and practical strategies for implementing health promotion programs. Evidence-based practice is emphasized throughout the curriculum, and students will carry out experiments and analyze data in many of the courses. Students who complete the Community Health Education program will be eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist examination and can work immediately upon graduation or pursue graduate study, e.g., in Public Health.

Many of the courses are taught by faculty in the Biology Department, which houses the major in Community Health Education. Related majors in the department are Biology and Health Sciences, and students in Community Health Education can, with two additional courses, earn a minor in Child and Family Studies or Health, Aging and Society.


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

  • HLTH 150 Intro to Community Health Education (3 cr)
  • HLTH 200  Health Promotion & Planning (3 cr)
  • HLTH 540  Internship in Community Health Education (3 cr)
  • ANTH 395 Community Health (3 cr)
  • BIOL 150  Intro to Biology I: Cells (4 cr)
  • BIOL 250  Nutrition (3 cr)
  • BIOL 342  Anatomy and Physiology I (4 cr)
  • BIOL 343  Anatomy and Physiology II (4 cr)
  • BIOL 312  Epidemiology (3 cr)
  • BIOL 412  Research Methods in Epidemiology (3 cr)
  • CHEM 150  Introduction to Chemistry I (4 cr)
  • MATH 232   Intro to Statistics (3 cr)
  • PHED 120 Emergency Medical Response  (1 cr)
  • PHED 215  Lifetime Wellness (3 cr)
  • PSYC 100  Introduction to Psychology (3 cr)
  • SOCI 100  Introduction to Sociology (3 cr)
  • Two approved sociology electives (6 cr)
  • Two approved psychology electives (6 cr)
Additional information can be found in the program details.

Internships & Research

An internship is a required component of the Community Health Education degree.  Through this experience, students will gain hands-on experience in implementing a community health project.  An internship site has been established at the Berkshire Area Health Education Center in Pittsfield, MA, and additional internship sites will be identified based on students’ areas of interest.

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. 


Students who complete the B.S. in Community Health Education are eligible to take the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam.


Community Health Educators are employed by a variety of institutions, including hospitals, medical clinics, workplaces, non-profit organizations and governmental organizations.  Employment of Health Educators and Community Health Workers is projected to grow 13% from 2014-2024, faster than the average for all occupations, and as of May 2015 Massachusetts was one of the top five states for employment of community health workers.