Washington, D.C. is the epicenter of work in health communication, with more health communication companies based in D.C. than in any other place in the U.S. The mission of the GW Master of Public Health (MPH) Public Health Communication and Marketing program is to train the next generation of public health professionals to make use of cutting edge communication and marketing tools to advance public health objectives.
Public Health Communication and Marketing graduates will gain expertise in the strategic use of communication and marketing tools to work collaboratively with a broad range of other public health experts and to implement or supervise the implementation of the communication and marketing components of public health initiatives.
Public Health Communication and Marketing graduates will be able to:
- Develop, implement, and evaluate communication programs that help people make sound health decisions and effectively manage their health behaviors.
- Develop, implement, and evaluate marketing programs that improve the health capacity of communities by enhancing the competitiveness of the healthful (versus unhealthful) products and services offered to community members.
- Develop, implement, and evaluate communication programs that promote the adoption of policies – in the public and private sector – which enhance health.
- Learn to create campaigns that make use of digital tools such as social media, mobile and mass media and involve story-telling, game play and app design.
To help students fit graduate school into their daily life, Milken Institute SPH provides flexible course offerings, which allows Public Health Communication and Marketing students to take up to 15 credits online.
There are no specific prerequisites for entering the Public Health Communication and Marketing master’s program, other than a bachelor’s degree or higher degree. This program is a good fit for anyone with an interest in improving human health. Students who are especially interested in working with diverse populations and those who wish to study broad categories of health concerns are great candidates for this MPH in Public Health Communication and Marketing.
MPH Core Requirements
PUBH 6002 | Biostatistical Applications for Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6003 | Principles and Practice of Epidemiology (3 credits)
PUBH 6007 | Social and Behavioral Approaches to Public Health (2 credits)
PUBH 6011 | Principles of Environmental Health Sciences (3 credits)
PUBH 6011 | Fundamentals of HEalth Policy: Public Health and Healthcare (2 credits)
PUBH 6021 | Essentials of Public Health Practice & Leadership 1: Leading Self and Teams in Public Health (1 credit)
PUBH 6022 | Essentials of Public Health Practice & Leadership 2: Managing Organizations & Influencing Systems in Public Health (1 credit)
PUBH 6023 | Interprofessional Education Experience (IPE) (0 credits)
CORE TOTAL: 15 CREDITS
PUBH 6015 | Culminating Experience (2 credits)
CE TOTAL: 2 CREDITS
Public Health Communication and Marketing Requirements
Required Department Courses
PUBH 6500 | Planning and Administration of Health Promotion / Disease Prevention Programs (3 credits)
PUBH 6501 | Evaluation of Health Promotion / Disease Prevention Programs (3 credits)
Required Program-Specific Courses
PUBH 6503 | Introduction to Public Health Communication and Marketing (3 credits)
PUBH 6570 | Advanced Public Health Communication: Theory and Practice (3 credits)
PUBH 6571 | Social Marketing: Theory and Practice (3 credits)
PUBH 6504 | Social and Behavioral Science Research Methods (3 credits)
PROGRAM-SPECIFIC TOTAL: 18 CREDITS
Public Health Communication and Marketing Electives
For the most up to date list of approved electives, please reference the program guide. Alternatives may be discussed with your advisor.
HSML 6293 | The Internet of Medical Things (3 credits)
PUBH 6099 | Social Impact Design Thinking (3 credits)
PUBH 6133 | Social Dimensions in CLimate Change and Health (2 credits)
PUBH 6249 | Use of Statistical Packages: Data Management and Data Analysis (3 credits)
PUBH 6262 | Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (1 credit)
PUBH 6263 | Advanced Geographic Information Systems (1 credit)
PUBH 6452 | Social and Behavior Change Communication in Middle-to-Low-Income Countries (2 credits)
PUBH 6516 | Community Health Information Resources (2 credits)
PUBH 6530 | Qualitative Methods in Health Promotion (2 credits)
PUBH 6572 | Marketing Research for Public Health (3 credits)
PUBH 6573 or 6532 | Media Advocacy in Public Health or Community Organization, Development and Advocacy (3 credits each)
PUBH 6574 | Public Health Branding: Theory and Practice (2 credits)
PUBH 6599 | TOPICS: Social Media and Mobile Health in Public Health Campaigns (2 credits)
PROGRAM-SPECIFIC ELECTIVES TOTAL: 10 CREDITS
- Professional Enhancement
Students in degree programs must participate in eight hours of Professional Enhancement. These activities may be Public Health-related lectures, seminars, and symposia related to your field of study.
Professional Enhancement activities supplement the rigorous academic curriculum of the SPH degree programs and help prepare students to participate actively in the professional community. You can learn more about opportunities for Professional Enhancement via the Milken Institute School of Public Health Listserv, through departmental communications, or by speaking with your advisor.
- Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Training
All students are required to complete the Basic CITI training module in Social and Behavioral Research prior to beginning the practicum. This online training module for Social and Behavioral Researchers will help new students demonstrate and maintain sufficient knowledge of the ethical principles and regulatory requirements for protecting human subjects - key for any public health research.
- Academic Integrity Quiz
All Milken Institute School of Public Health students are required to review the University’s Code of Academic Integrity and complete the GW Academic Integrity Activity. This activity must be completed within 2 weeks of matriculation. Information on GWSPH Academic Integrity requirements can be found here.
Past Program Guides
Program Guides from prior Academic Years
Students in the MPH in PH Communication and Marketing program should refer to the guide from the year in which they matriculated into the program. For the current program guide, click the red "PROGRAM GUIDE" button on the right-hand side of the page.
To view sample schedules and learn about the core competencies developed within the program, see the degree program guide.
GW MPH graduates of Public Health Communication and Marketing (PHCM) are in high demand as the need for health communication experts is quickly growing at the local, national, and global levels. Strong evidence exists that deem a master’s degree an essential requirement for a career in the field of health communication (McKeever, 2014).
GW PHCM graduates consistently have obtained employment in a variety of sectors. The top organizations to hire GW PHCM graduates represent: the federal government, non-profit advocacy or volunteer organizations, a variety of for-profit consulting agencies, and educational institutions. Graduate’s employment stories also demonstrate that the degree permits both tremendous opportunity for growth as well as flexibility to move across employment sectors.
Graduates express high success rates in securing jobs upon graduation in addition to financial success. National data suggests that those who graduate with an MPH without prior work experience can expect a starting salary of at least $50,000 (Edgar et al., 2015).
- McKeever, B.W. (2014). The status of health communication: Education and employment outlook for a growing field. Journal of Health Communication, 19, 1408-1423.
- Edgar, T., Gallagher, S.S., Silk, K,J., Cruz, T.B., Abroms, L.C., Evans, D.,…Miller, G. (2015). Results from a national survey of health communication master’s degree recipients: an exploration of training, placement, satisfaction, and success. Journal of Health Communication, 20, 345-366.
Jobs Our Alumni Have Held
Depending on years of experience before starting your degree, position levels will vary. Below are examples of jobs, by sector, for which our graduates have been offered and you can expect to be prepared for with 0-2 years of experience after earning your MPH PHCM.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Public Health Analyst
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Program Specialist
- National Cancer Institute (NCI) - Health Communication Fellow
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Writer/Editor
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) – Health Communication Specialist
- Population Services International (PSI) – Communications and Knowledge Manager
- FHI 360 (formerly AED) - Program Associate, Marketing Research
- Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute – Communications Manager
- Epilepsy Foundation – Manager of Communications
- American Institutes for Research – Digital Communications Associate
Consulting Groups & Other Private Agencies
- Ketchum – Account Executive
- Edelman – Senior Account Supervisor
- Hager Sharp – Vice President
- Spectrum Communications – Account Executive
- Proteus Digital Health – Customer Success Specialist
- GW Milken Institute of Public Health - Research Associate
- National Children’s Hospital – Clinical Research Coordinator
Profiles of PHCM Alumni
Below are examples of career paths of some PHCM alumni:
- Megan Jacobs, MPH '10 – Product development, project management and research
Like many graduates, Megan began her post-degree work with a fellowship. At the National Vaccine Program Office as a Communications Fellow, she assisted with development and organizing stakeholder input for a consumer-focused vaccine website. She moved on to work for the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative (then Legacy) as Project Manager, creating web content and products, overseeing social media strategy, and managing online recruitment for large clinical trials. Megan is currently Lead, Integrated Product Design at Truth Initiative Innovations, where she oversees product development and management of digital smoking cessation interventions.
- Lauren Sogor, MPH '08 - Campaign Manager and Communications Specialist
More PHCM alumni information - See these links below:
Our graduates will possess the skills necessary to become highly effective public health practitioners and leaders. Their specific expertise in the strategic use of communication and marketing tools will enable them to work collaboratively with a broad range of other public health experts to plan high-impact health enhancement initiatives, and to implement or supervise the implementation of the communication and marketing components of public health initiatives.
Many of our faculty members are actively researching or contributing to research that will advance the field of Public Health. Below are a few examples of the various areas of research that some of our faculty are currently pursuing.
Dr. Lorien Abroms
An estimated 10% of pregnant women smoke throughout their pregnancies. Dr. Abroms, with funding from the NIH, developed a text messaging program for smoking cessation in pregnant women. The SmokefreeMom initiative is now offered by the National Cancer Institute. You can read about the development process and evaluation here.
An estimated 15% of US adults smoke. Dr. Abroms, with funding from the NIH, developed a text messaging program for smoking cessation called Text2Quit, one of the first of its kind in the United States. This program is now offered by ACS/Optum Quit for Life program and has been subscribed to by over 500,000 people. You can read about the development process and evaluation here.
Dr. Doug Evans
Latino and immigrant youth are the fastest growing population group in the US, yet suffer from significant health disparities. The Adelante initiative sought to improve Latino Positive Youth Development outcomes using a branding and digital media strategy in support of a community-based program. In order to develop the Adelante program brand, the program has created an educational entertainment series. You can read about the program and outcomes of the branding effort here.
Dr. Shawnika Hull
Young MSM of color are disproportionately impacted by HIV. Homophobia is an important driver of HIV disparities. Acceptance Journeys is a social marketing campaign that was designed to address homophobia and its impact. Acceptance Journeys incorporates both mass-mediated and interpersonal communication channels. Messaging provided through story cards, radio spots, community outreach and secondary coverage explicitly describes homophobia, provides specific examples of the impact of homophobia on LGBT people and their loved ones and offers exemplars who describe their own pathway to acceptance. Story cards are approximately 5” x 5” stock cards with high quality images of the LGBT person featured in the story and their loved one. The loved ones’ Acceptance Journey is printed on the reverse. Mass-mediated messages are more subtle, providing images and taglines highlighting love and acceptance of LGBT people. To read more about Acceptance Journeys click here.
Practicum / CE
Students in the GW MPH programs gain practical skills and knowledge through their practice experiences. It is important for MPH Public Health Communication and Marketing graduates to feel confident in their skills and gain real-world experience during their studies. Students in the Public Health Communication and Marketing MPH program complete both a Practicum and a Culminating Experience to practice their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.
In the Department of Prevention and Community Health, the Practicum is a course designed to engage students in a Practice Activity—a planned, supervised, and evaluated experience in a public health organization. The Practice Activity can be related to either primary research or public health practice. It might include activities such as conducting literature reviews, writing proposals, designing ad campaigns, or collecting and analyzing data.
The Practice Activity for the MPH Public Health Communication and Marketing degree may not be directly related to the student's day-to-day work. This is to ensure that students learn and apply new skills in the context of public health. If the student does conduct the Practice Activity at his/her place of employment, it must be work for which the student is not remunerated.
The Culminating Experience (CE) integrates the knowledge and skills students acquire through their academic work and the Practice Activity. The CE requires students to identify and define a specific public health issue and formulate hypotheses to address that issue. Students work with data obtained through either primary research or from an existing dataset. The process of proposal development, data analysis, interpretation, and extrapolation of the results culminates in a written report or manuscript and an oral presentation.
Examples of Recent CEs:
Mothers’ Attitudes and Beliefs Towards Early Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Formative Research Study to Inform a Communications Plan
The Impact of Virtual Reality and Mobile Health on Stress and Anxiety Management in Graduate Students
Extreme Communication: Information Design for Climate Change Weather Hazards
A Text Messaging Program to Improve Oral Contraceptive Pill Adherence
Impact of virtual reality 360 film on helping behaviors after a natural disaster
Students pursuing an MPH in Public Health Communication and Marketing have access to a world-class faculty with relevant expertise and diverse experience in research, governmental, clinical, and communication settings. The many areas of interest and research experience for professors and lecturers in the Public Health Communication and Marketing Master of Public Health program include behavior science, program planning, new media, and ad and strategy development.
Full Time Faculty
Lorien Abroms (Program Director)