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Teaching and Curriculum

The Master of Science in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion concentration in Health Promotion is designed to develop practitioners with the skills and competencies to effectively assess, design, implement, and evaluate health promotion programs in a variety of settings.

The program is offered via traditional campus delivery as well as via distance education (on-line delivery).


Program of Study

The Health Promotion concentration course work is based on the skills and competencies included on the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) exam. Course listed in the Research Methods and Core areas are required. Electives include those listed below; however, students may also choose other electives, based on approval from their major professor.


Research Methods (9-12 hours)
  • FNH 8563 - Principles of Epidemiology and Health Science Research
  • KI 8313 - Interpretation of Data in Kinesiology (or approved transfer course) OR EPY 6214 Educational and Psychological Statistics
  • FNH 8673 - Applied Projects (3 hours) OR FNH 8000 Research/Thesis (6 hours)

Core Courses (15 hours)
  • FNH 8513 - Theory and Practice of Health Education
  • FNH 8523 - Health Promotion Techniques
  • FNH 8553 - Behavioral Epidemiology
  • FNH 8613 - Design and Administration of Health Promotion Programs
  • FNH 8653 - Implementation and Evaluation of Health Promotion Programs

Electives (6-9 hours)
  • FNH 6393 - Prevention and Control of Disease
  • FNH 6773 - Intro to Environmental Health
  • FNH 6783 - School and Community Drug Use Prevention
  • FNH 8193 - Problems in Health Education
  • FNH 8543 - Health Education in Diverse Populations
  • FNH 8623 - Current Issues in School Health

Other electives may be taken as approved by advisor

A student must have acquired 33 hours in order to graduate in both the thesis and non-thesis options.


The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

According to the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) the CHES examination is a competency-based tool used to measure possession, application and interpretation of knowledge in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists. The exam reflects the entry-level Sub-competencies of these Areas of Responsibility. Consisting of 165 multiple-choice questions (150 scored and 15 pilot tested), the CHES examination is offered in paper-and-pencil format at college campuses throughout the United States. While there are approximately 120 testing sites currently registered, any campus with a testing service is eligible to become a testing site.

A CHES is an individual that has:

  1. Met required academic preparation qualifications
  2. Successfully passed a competency-based examination administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Incorporated
  3. Satisfies the continuing education requirement to maintain the national credential

Students in the program are not required to take the CHES exam, however, program faculty urge all graduates to sit for the exam. National certification benefits practitioners and the public in that it:

  • Establishes a national standard of practice for all health education specialists
  • Attests to the individual health education specialists' knowledge and skills
  • Assists employers in identifying qualified health education practitioners
  • Develops a sense of pride and accomplishment among certified health education specialists
  • Promotes continued professional development for health education specialists

Graduates of Mississippi State University's Master of Sciences in Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion (Health Promotion concentration) degree program have a 97% pass rate on the CHES exam. National average pass rates on the exam for the exam vary with each cohort that takes the twice yearly exam. The national average pass rate for Spring 2012 was 73%.


Graduate Certificate in Clinical Health Promotion and Wellness Coaching

The Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion also offers a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Health Promotion and Wellness Coaching. This program’s courses are under the M.S. degree in Health Promotion and has 21 credit hours that includes a health center-based practicum, and a summer field-based internship in a primary medical care home in the region. Wellness coaches work with patients to modify their health behaviors in the direction of a healthier lifestyle to reduce the early onset of chronic disease and add healthy years to life. The program is approved for on-campus or distance-based delivery and currently requires a health center practicum on the MSU campus. Other prerequisites include graduate courses in prevention and control of disease, theory and practice of health education, health promotion techniques, and behavioral epidemiology. A student can complete the 21-hour certificate as a part of the M.S. degree or, as a stand-alone certificate.


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