What is Health Promotion?

Health promotion is a discipline that seeks to improve the health of individuals and communities through education, behavioral change and environmental improvement. Health promotion draws from a number of complementary disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, the biological and clinical sciences, and business (marketing and management) to help individuals and communities change their behaviors and improve their environments. In short, health promotion is “the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health.” (Ottawa Charter, First International Conference of Health Promotion, 1986)

Is a Degree in Health Promotion Right for You?

Are you excited to read about the latest news in health? Are you concerned about the health of others and your community? Would you like to be an advocate for healthy living? Would you like to learn how your lifestyle affects your health? Do you like to work with other people? Are you interested in why people behave the way they do? Do you like to come up with creative solutions to complex problems? If you answer YES to any of these questions, a degree in Health Promotion may be right for you!

What Do Students in Health Promotion Learn?

Students in our health promotion program learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate programs for helping individuals and communities adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. They learn about theories of behavior change, particularly those useful for helping individuals and organizations decrease the health consequences of risky lifestyle behaviors, including but not limited to physical inactivity, inadequate nutrition, tobacco use, high stress, alcohol/ substance misuse, and unsafe sexual practices. They learn the science behind developing and evaluating programs designed to help individuals and communities adopt and maintain health lifestyles while being encouraged to develop creative solutions in the process.

Degrees Offered

M.S. in Health and Exercise Science
M.S. in Health Promotion
Ph.D. in Health Promotion

Why Study Health Promotion at the University of Oklahoma's Department of Health and Exercise Science?

Our faculty instructors, including both tenured-track and adjunct faculty and researchers, bring the most up-to-date advancements in the field of health promotion into the classroom. Our faculty are committed to a collegial learning environment which provides opportunities for individualized mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students. The undergraduate curriculum is designed with the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) principles as the foundation.

Situated on the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma, the Department of Health and Exercise Science offers students access to the resources of a large research university. In addition, graduate students can choose to take some of their classes in the College of Public Health at the OU Health Sciences Center, just 25 minutes away in Oklahoma City. Graduate students have opportunities to teach and conduct research projects under the direction of the faculty and undergraduate students have independent study opportunities to participate in and/or help to facilitate these projects.  In addition they may enroll in an Internship once they have been admitted to the program and have completed the necessary prerequisites.

Careers in Health Promotion

Our program prepares students to develop, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs in the following settings:

  • Clinics, hospitals, health maintenance organizations, private physician's offices
  • Corporate and hospital based health promotion/fitness programs
  • Local, state, and federal health departments
  • Nonprofit and government health agencies
  • Other community sites
  • Schools

Our program prepares students to conduct research with people in communities, such as:

  • Culturally defined communities
  • Students with special needs
  • Employees at work sites
  • Children and adults
  • Families

Other Career Options

The graduate programs (Master's and Ph.D. degree programs) also prepare students to conduct scientific research in the health promotion field.  In addition, the Ph.D. program specifically prepares students to teach Health Promotion/Health Education at the collegiate level.

Links to Career Resources for Individuals in the Health Promotion Field

American Public Health Association CareerMart
Health Promotion Career Network
Public Health Employment Connection
Chronicle of Higher Education

Links to Other Related Sites

American Academy of Health Behaviour
American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance
American Association for Health Education
American College of Sports Medicine
American Public Health Association
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Health
National Strength and Conditioning Association
National Wellness Institute
Society of Public Health Educators
Well Coaches
Wellness Council of America