Why Earn a Master’s in Health & Wellness?
The phrase ‘Health and Wellness’ might seem simple enough, but in actuality this field covers a lot of real estate. Nutrition, nursing, therapy, health and wellness management, mental health and wellness, health and wellness education, and dozens of other professions fall under the health and wellness umbrella. If you are interested in helping people live healthier lifestyles through health and wellness coaching, want to improve the overall health of the community, or feel the need to help hospitals and clinics operate more efficiently while maintaining high standards of care for their patients, then you’ll be interested in a health and wellness professional career. This field of study has plenty of real-world benefits and students will find a Master of Science in health and wellness programs or a health wellness management program somewhere near them no matter where they are in the U.S.
If you are looking for a graduate health and wellness program, then you are probably already working in health and wellness and are either looking to make a change in direction or want to move up in the ranks of health and wellness management. Regardless of your motivation or ambition, there is a program out there that will meet your needs and help you attain your career goals.Read More
There is a lot you can do in the field of health and wellness with a master’s degree. You can stay in your current position but command more money, you can move into upper management positions, or you can teach at the college or university level with a focus on health and wellness education. You’ll become especially attractive to employers if you can combine the master’s degree with work experience. However, this should not deter a new graduate with a bachelor’s from continuing their health education immediately rather than moving directly into a position as a wellness coach or similar. A master’s degree program is also a good way for students to combine two different areas of health and wellness and make them even more useful as a professional in this field of study. Some of these areas include:
- Health and Wellness Management
- Health and Wellness Education
- Mental Health and Wellness
- Integrative Health Systems
- Community Health
- Health and Wellness Coaching
- And More
As with any educational experience, there are pros and cons of pursuing a Master of Science in Health and Wellness or Health and Wellness Management. Both the positive and negative aspects should be considered before starting a health and wellness program of any kind.
- Salary - With a master’s degree, you can command some of the highest salaries in the field. Those with PhDs will earn more, but for the most part you’ll have positions similar and equal to those and your salary won’t be that much lower.
- Prestige - There is a certain level of prestige that comes with earning a graduate degree, even if you still work in health and wellness coaching. It shows you went the extra mile to educate yourself in your chosen profession. In other words, more people take you seriously and trust your advice.
- Opportunities for Advancement - Many upper-level positions such as supervisors, directors, and administrators in health and wellness management are required to have a graduate degree. Earning that degree puts you in the running for these jobs.
- Expense - There is nothing inexpensive about getting an advanced degree in a health and wellness program. Whether you pay for each class out of pocket or take out student loans and pay them off later, a Master of Science in Health and Wellness Management or health and wellness coaching will be costly, even if you find an online program.
- Time - Graduate courses take a lot of time and effort. If you are going to school while working or taking care of family obligations, this can prove challenging. Be prepared to have to juggle these obligations and try and rearrange your life so you can handle everything without causing yourself unwanted stress or struggle.
Overview of a Master's in Health & Wellness
What Health & Wellness Master’s Degrees are Available?
The available degree programs for graduate degrees in health and wellness generally depend on which direction you plan to go. If you are more focused on the scientific elements of health and wellness, that will lead you in a different direction than someone who wants to work hands-on with people trying to improve their health and wellness.
A Master of Science in Health and Wellness, would provide the additional education and training for those who want to pursue the scientific study behind health and wellness. Researchers, scientists, and others who are looking at how environmental conditions and other community issues can affect citizens’ health and wellness would be the perfect candidates for a Master of Science (MS) because it is science, math, and statistics based.
For those who want to work with people helping them improve their overall health, a Master of Arts (MA) in Health and Wellness is a good option. Wellness coaches, physical and occupational therapists, and even those who work in wellness programs for insurance companies or corporations could benefit from this graduate program. It not only continues the education the person received as an undergraduate, it also adds additional knowledge and tools to help you better understand how individuals can be better motivated to improve their health and wellness. Many of these programs tend to focus on psychological and community-driven reasons.
To be admitted into a graduate program to study health and wellness, certain benchmarks are required. These requirements can vary by school and program but here are some of the more common requirements for those looking to pursue a master’s in health and wellness.
- Bachelor’s degree in a related field. In order to study toward a graduate degree, an undergraduate degree must be completed, preferably in a related field.
- For those whose master’s degree will waver a bit from their completed undergraduate, related work experience in the desired field of study may be required. For instance, if a nurse wants to study public health, working with the general public as a nurse would qualify as related work experience.
- Passing the required graduate examination, aka the GRE. Some schools require the GRE for admission, while others do not.
How long does it take to earn a Health & Wellness Master’s?
The amount of time it takes to complete a master’s degree in health and wellness varies by program and by student. Most graduate programs are 36 to 40 hours in length. A full-time graduate student typically takes three years to complete a graduate degree, though some take longer and others need less time. It depends on the requirements for the program. Some programs require a capstone or master’s thesis, while others will require an internship. Some might require a final exam or a combination of the options above. Most schools allow for a student to take up to double the scheduled time to complete the program, so if the program requires 36 hours or three years, a student can take up to six years to finish.
Potential Careers in Health & Wellness with a Master’s
Careers in health and wellness vary because the field is quite wide. Finding your niche can help you narrow down the prospects that most interest you. Below are a few examples of jobs in health and wellness that often require a master’s degree.
- Public Health Educator
Managers of public health programs help disseminate information to the general public and run programs to assist the community. They manage a team of educators and are required to make sure all employees are well-trained and equipped to handle the responsibilities of working with the community.
Average salary: $45,000
- Healthcare Administrator
Hospitals, nursing homes, and health clinics employ healthcare administrators to run their organizations and facilities. In many cases, these businesses require their administrators to be nurses and hold master degrees in nursing, business, or a similar field. Administrators run the establishments and are in charge of the staff and day-to-day operations of the facility.
Average salary: $65,000
- Forensic Scientist
For those who want to be in the field assisting with solving crimes and providing important forensic evidence, this is a career for you. Forensic scientists work crime scenes as well as set up experiments to determine how accidents and situations occurred. The forensic scientist runs the forensic lab and usually has a team of forensic technicians that report to them.
Average salary: $68,000
Options to Advance
Once you attain a master’s degree in health and wellness, you can get all the higher-level certifications that require an advanced degree. This will put you in the position to qualify for top-level positions in agencies and organizations that don’t require directors or managers to have terminal degrees. Some workers who hold master degrees start their doctorate programs and either complete the classes and dissertation or stop just prior to the paper requirement and remain ABD, which stands for “all but dissertation”. For some employers, this is sufficient for top-level jobs that otherwise require a doctorate.
Best Master of Science in Health & Wellness Programs
If you are seeking a school that offers a traditional program in health and wellness, here are several that offer a variety of programs of study at the graduate level.
Bowling Green University
Bowling Green, OH
Bowling Green offers a program designed for those who want to work in health services as administrators, directors, and managers. The program takes roughly two years and includes courses such as Managing Healthcare Complexities, Health Services Finance, and Health Economics.
- MS in Health Services Administration
- MS in Forensic Science
For nurses who want to move into administration, Towson offers a program to help them achieve that goal. The program is also ideal for occupational therapists who want to move into management as well.
- MS in Nursing
- MS in Occupational Therapy
- MS in Health Science
Northwestern offers several programs for its graduate students who want to study health and wellness. One program in health communication can be completed in one year and the program is recognized throughout the world for its quality. Another program requires four 5-day immersion sessions throughout the two-year programs with distance education courses for the rest of the curriculum. Courses include Intro to Quality Healthcare, Intro to US Health Systems, and Advanced Patient Safety. A capstone project is required.
- MS in Health Communication
- MS in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety
Rowan offers graduate students the opportunity to become experts in wellness and lifestyle management. Students will study a variety of areas and courses include Wellness Coaching and Behavior Change, Wellness Through the Lifecycle, Integrating Wellness into School Settings, Obesity and Diabetes Management, and Seminar in Wellness Management. A capstone project and internship are required.
- MA in Wellness and Lifestyle Management
University of Wisconsin - River Falls
River Falls, WI
Students enrolled at River Falls will study health and wellness in-depth from several aspects. Courses include Contemporary Health and Wellness Perspectives, Persuasion Skills for Wellness Managers, Exercise and Nutrition in Health, and Disease and Wellness Law. A capstone project is required.
- MS in Health and Wellness Management
Traditional Schools Offering an MS in Health & Wellness
If you prefer an online program because of other obligations that take up significant parts of your day, here are some options.
The University of the Cumberlands
Cumberlands offers a program of study that will help students learn methods to assist with community health and wellness. The 36-hour program includes courses such as Research Methods, Exercise Physiology, Health Promotion Through Physical Activity, and Coaching and Fitness Leadership.
- MS in Health and Human Performance
Georgia College and State University
Students can choose between two specializations: Health Promotion and Human Performance. Classes include Research Methods and Kinesiology, Admin Health and Human Services, Health Program Planning, and Health Communication and Social Marketing. A capstone project is required.
- MS Health and Human Performance - Health Promotion
- MS Health and Human Performance - Human Performance
The programs detailed above in the traditional section have identical online programs. The internship and capstone project are also required but can be completed in the student's local area.
- MA in Wellness and Lifestyle Management
The programs detailed above are mainly distance learning with the exception of the immersion courses. A capstone project is required.
- MS in Health Communication
- MS in Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety
Choosing the right master degree program can be a daunting task. To make it easier, try to figure out what you want to accomplish in your profession. Whether you want to help people live healthier lives, help local governments improve the quality of life for its citizens or assist a hospital in navigating the ever-changing landscape that is wellness programs, working in health and wellness is a rewarding career. And once you have a masters in your chosen area, you’ll be in an even better position to achieve your desired end result.
Healthcare Degree & Career Paths