Academic Programs Catalog

College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Health and Risk Communication - Master of Arts

The Master of Arts degree in Health and Risk Communication is an interdisciplinary program administered by the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the College of Human Medicine. The program prepares students to harness the power of communication principles and risk communication strategies to promote positive public health outcomes. The program is designed to help students to gain a broad understanding of health and risk communication theory and principles; to gain practice in creating effective health and risk communication programs and interventions; and to learn how to design, use, and critique relevant research. Graduates may pursue careers with government agencies, hospitals, HMOs, insurance companies, nonprofits, the medical trade press, and other health service-related organizations.

Individualized programs of study can be tailored to accommodate a broad range of academic and professional backgrounds. Previously enrolled students have undergraduate degrees in biology, anthropology, communication, public relations, kinesiology, dietetics, pre-medicine, and English as well as other fields.  In addition to completing core courses in health communication, research methods, epidemiology, and a health or risk-related internship with a local, state, national, or international organization, students may choose electives from a broad range of health-related courses offered throughout the university.  Students may select courses that are related to broad areas within health communication such as health communication theory and principles, risk communication, health marketing, designing health and risk messages, policy, sociology of health, science writing, media relations, and other communication-focused areas.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, students must meet the requirements specified below.


To be considered for admission to the Master of Arts degree program in health and risk communication, an applicant must have a bachelor's degree from an approved institution and a grade-point average of 3.0 in the last two years of undergraduate study. Students must submit:
  1. an academic statement of purpose outlining academic and professional goals.
  2. a personal statement including background and life experiences, social, economic, cultural, familial, education or other challenge or opportunities that motivated the decision to pursue graduate study.
  3. two letters of reference from persons who are familiar with the applicant’s academic and professional work.
  4. for international applicants only, the Test of English Language Fluency (TOEFL).
  5. one transcript from each college and university attended.
Application materials should be received by April 1.

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Requirements for the Master of Arts Degree in Health and Risk Communication

The program is available only under Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis), and a total of 33 credits is required for the degree.  The student must meet the requirements specified below:

Requirements for Both Plan A and Plan B
1. All of the following courses (9 credits):
CAS 825 Mass Communication and Public Health 3
CAS 826 Health Communication for Diverse Populations 3
EPI 810 Introductory Epidemiology 3
2. The following course (3 credits):
COM 803 Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods 3
3. One of the following courses (3 credits):
ADV 845 Advertising and Public Relations for Health, Science, and the Environment 3
JRN 872 Environment, Science and Health Reporting Topics 3
JRN 873 Environment, Science and Health Journalism Seminar 3
4. The following course (3 credits):
COM 893 Practicum 3
Additional Requirements for Plan A
1. The following courses (7 credits):
CAS 899 Master's Thesis Research 4
COM 830 Applied Communication Research II 3
2. Electives (8 credits). Additional credits in courses related to health communication that have been approved by the student’s academic advisor.
3. Pass a thesis examination defense during the final semester.
Additional Requirements for Plan B
1. Electives (15 credits). Additional credits in courses related to health communication that have been approved by the student’s academic advisor.
2. Pass a written comprehensive examination during the final semester.