The Health Communication program is personal, professional, and practical.
Offered in collaboration with Tufts University School of Medicine, the program gives you a firm foundation in planning and delivering messages and understanding health sciences. Emerson offers communication expertise ranging from media strategies to consumer behavior, as well as the personal attention of a small college. The collaboration with Tufts provides the opportunity to learn the language and culture of medicine and medical research—from its source. Courses such as Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Introduction to Medicine ground you with the knowledge to read medical literature and to communicate effectively with doctors, healthcare leaders, and other medical professionals.
Unlike graduate programs in public health, Emerson’s Health Communication program affords you the opportunity to focus on communication issues in a variety of health-related contexts, not just public health or policy. You will concentrate on the creation, implementation, and evaluation of health messages in a program that is more focused than an MPH and more specialized than a general degree in communication. The Health Communication program requires fewer courses than most MPH programs, but allows you the option to take a variety of elective courses, including those relating to public health or policy.
You can construct a curriculum that emphasizes areas such as social marketing, public health advocacy, or health media. Your coursework will give you a broad set of skills that can lead you virtually anywhere in the ever-expanding world of health communication from systems to delivery, advocacy, or research. This degree grounds you in strategic thinking, behavioral theory, marketing, health literacy, new technologies, and digital media.
The program may be completed in two years for full-time students or in about three years for part-time students. Classes are offered in the evening, allowing students to complete their studies while working or completing an internship during the day.
In lieu of a traditional master’s thesis, your final semester culminates with the Applied Learning Experience (ALE), which unifies your skills and knowledge into a semester-long consulting project with an organization. You will work closely with an on-site mentor as well as an Emerson faculty sponsor.
The ALE allows you to build a portfolio piece while also making valuable connections and networking with other professionals in the field. The faculty at Emerson works closely with you to find an ALE project that suits your personal interests and career goals.
The ALE may involve market research, the development of a strategic plan for a prevention campaign, "construction" of an electronic publication, or the design and production of print and video materials for a communication intervention. Past ALE projects have included:
- a marketing plan for the New England Medical Center to spread the word to doctors about the availability and advantages of the Center's Gamma Knife equipment;
- a campaign for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to inform low-income Hispanic women about emergency contraception; and
- the development of the Newton (a Boston suburb) Department of Public Health's Bioterrorism Readiness Plan.
A 2010 graduate, Rebecca Panzer came to Emerson’s Health Communication program eager to one day ease the interaction between medicine and the public.
Panzer spent her last year in graduate school in an Applied Learning Experience; she completed a patient study on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet with Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital Boston.