BA/Professional MA in Health Communication

Program Information

Does strategic communication interest you? Are you interested in public health and well-being?

This bachelor's/master's (BA/MA) combined degree allows you to obtain an undergraduate degree in journalism (strategic communication track) and a graduate degree in health communication in five years.

You must be declared in the Journalism major–Strategic Communication track to apply to the MA program.

The BA/MA in Health Communication program is designed around a curriculum of academic and professional skills courses from strategic communication, public health, and other relevant disciplines. Core courses will connect mass communication messaging to the field of public health, and will introduce you to factors influencing health-related behavior. In addition, you will choose electives that will further your understanding of public health and the social and behavioral sciences, as they relate to strategic health messaging. The practicum and capstone courses will allow you to apply their knowledge to real-world contexts.

The program design uniquely prepares you for careers in the healthcare domain that rely on the strategic use of health communication to improve people’s health. This ranges from designing health promotion materials to informing administrators, from research to policy development, from communicating with patient publics to non-patient publics, from marketing to public health settings.

For example, health communicators:

  • Plan and execute communication campaigns that aim to increase awareness and understanding of healthcare issues, such as disease prevention or health policy.
  • Promote public health and improve quality of life.
  • Develop messages for health promotion and advocacy, carry out communication research, and evaluate the effectiveness of message strategies.
  • Tailor health messaging for target audiences and draw on fields such as public health, marketing, and social and behavioral sciences to develop messaging strategies.

Two Degrees in Less Time

Through our integrated curriculum, you’ll receive both a bachelor's degree and master’s degree in five years. By moving from your undergraduate experience directly into a graduate classroom, you’ll enjoy a seamless curriculum with a group of core faculty. Not only can you complete the program is less time, but you can also take fewer credits than a separate BA and MA, saving cost.

Learn in the Field

Upon completing your bachelor’s degree, you’ll embark on a summer-long internship in the field, working with healthcare communicators in top agencies and healthcare facilities.

Gain an In-Demand Career

In the Twin Cities, healthcare employment is estimated to represent 11 percent of total employment, with a growing demand for communications expertise. Graduates of this program will have a combination of specific message strategy and content development knowledge paired with knowledge of the healthcare field.

Learn from Dynamic Instructors

In the undergraduate degree, you will learn from a combination of academic professors and working professionals, allowing for both a theoretical and a real-world perspective. The practicum allows for experience in the field and graduate coursework provides a theoretical framework.

What will I learn in this program?

Today’s health communicators need strategic and practical skills to navigate the constantly changing health information landscape. This dual-degree program offers both theoretical and skill-building courses, as well as a real-world practicum experience.

In this program, you will learn:

  • Message strategy and campaign planning
  • Communication theory
  • Target audience messaging
  • Managing communication teams
  • Strategic communication law and ethics
  • Research methods and implementation
  • Health communication case analysis

Careers

The field of health communication includes marketing, advertising, and public relations within a health setting, professional agency, or a nonprofit advocacy organization.

Career options include:

  • Director of Health Communications
  • Patient Services Specialist
  • Health Account Executive
  • Director of Public Relations
  • Advocacy Director
  • Health Marketing Consultant
  • Hospital Communication Specialist

The need for health communications professionals is strong. In the Twin Cities, healthcare employment increased by almost 39 percent between 2000 and 2010, and is currently estimated to represent 11 percent of total employment. There is wide consensus that healthcare increasingly demands communication expertise and in light of the massive changes in the US healthcare system, such demand is expected to grow even more. For example, the American Medical Informatics Association projected that, in health information management alone, 50,000 new positions need to be filled in the next few years.

The Minnesota Advantage

Minnesota is well-known for its strong healthcare community and has a history of strong health advocacy and policy. The University of Minnesota is located in the heart of the Twin Cities, which has a thriving media market and is home to some of the nation’s top hospitals, corporate healthcare innovators, and award-winning health marketing firms.