Public Health and Community Health Education program

MUndergrad major

Do you want to help build healthier communities?

With a career in public health, you can help make communities a better place to live while addressing major health issues affecting society from infectious disease to depression.

UWL's program prepares students to become the leaders and educators in their communities who work to improve health and reduce preventable illness, disability and premature death.

UWL is the only school in the UW System with a Public Health and Community Health Education undergraduate program that is nationally accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). It is also the first undergraduate program in the nation to become accredited.

What is public health?

Public health issues are in the news every day from national disease outbreaks to clean water access to car seat safety clinics. Public health officials are the professionals working on these issues to ultimately improve the health of their communities. Health education is an important piece of public health. Health education specialists translate health information to action. They share credible health information, develop and market wellness programs, teach others how to incorporate healthy lifestyle choices and more.

The professors who make up this program are among the most dedicated individuals I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Not only do they provide high-quality education, they provide their students with opportunities for applied learning to see how public health works from theory to practice at all levels.

Kitt (Katherine) Drewiske

Public health jobs

Public Health and Community Health Education is a broad field that allows students to explore a variety of career paths and use a range of skills. Many graduates become health education specialists or find related professions where they work with individuals, families, and communities, as well as public and private organizations. They might craft and disseminate credible health information to consumers; develop and market wellness programs for schools, worksites, and communities; promote voluntary health behavior change; write grants; participate in advocacy efforts at local, state, and national levels; and promote health equity and social justice among populations.

Entry-level public health jobs

  • Health education specialist
  • Communicable disease consultant
  • Community health educator
  • Education program manager/programmer
  • Community organizer
  • Health promotion educator
  • Prevention specialist
  • Public health educator/worker
  • Public health inspector
  • Worksite health promotion
  • Family services specialist
  • Alcohol and other drug abuse educator
  • Diabetes educator
  • Health and wellness coach
  • Wellness consultant
  • Grant writer
  • Biometric screener
  • Health policy and legislative assistant

Further education

Graduate study options include public health, epidemiology, healthcare administration, public health policy, maternal and child health, global health, environmental health, social work, counseling, physician assistant, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and nursing. 

Long-term career development

  • Community health agency administrator
  • Program director
  • College or university instructor (with a master’s or doctoral degree)
  • Master community health education specialist
  • Public health nurse (with a nursing degree)
  • Researcher
  • Epidemiologist

What distinguishes UWL's Public Health and Community Health Education program?

First accredited undergraduate program in the U.S.

UWL is the only institution in the UW System with a Public Health and Community Health Education undergraduate program that has been nationally accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). UWL's program was the first undergraduate program in the country to become accredited in 2007.

Eligibility to sit for certification exam

Program graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam through the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC). The exam is a competency-based tool used to measure acquisition, application, and interpretation of knowledge in the Eight Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists.

High certification exam pass rate

Graduates of the UWL PH-CHE program consistently have high pass rates on the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam, exceeding the national average.

Career preparation in the field

Students gain hands-on experience through a 15- week, 560-hour preceptorship at an agency designed to serve as a student’s transition from the university curriculum to the profession. Agencies may include government health departments, voluntary health organizations, hospitals, clinics, worksite health organizations, and others.

Hands-on experiences

Students are encouraged to gain experiences outside the classroom to build their skill set and collaborate with faculty and community partners. These experiences may include: grant writing for organizations, attending advocacy summits, studying abroad, conducting undergraduate research, presenting or attending conferences, or volunteering to lead or serve in a health education professional organization.

Positive job outlook

Employment of Health Education Specialists is projected to grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will be driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs by teaching people healthy behaviors and explaining how to use available healthcare services.

The potential to change lives

Major health issues affecting society can be addressed through Health Education and Health Promotion. These issues include infectious diseases such as COVID-19; chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer; social justice issues and health equity; environmental issues and climate change; and personal health issues, such as stress, depression, addiction, and the effects of peer pressure.

Students gain a broad perspective

UWL's health education curriculum is designed to include experiences from a variety of related disciplines such as psychology, sociology, education and medicine. As such, students understand the many forces that influence human health and understand how to create solutions that offer the greatest impact. Students also develop capacity to work on interdisciplinary teams in their future career.

Explore the social determinants of health

The PH-CHE program includes a broad perspective of current social issues as they affect factors contributing to personal and community health. Meeting the health needs of a given population requires an understanding of the social dynamics taking place at the community level. Social determinants of health include healthcare and education access and quality, economic stability, social and community contexts, neighborhoods, and the built environment.

Sample courses