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 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  Child and Family Studies, or Health, Aging, and Society minors.

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.