American University’s very first online Master of Science in Health Promotion cohort has completed their studies, earned their degrees, and gotten together to meet in person for the first time.
Caitlin Kennally, Susan Pistone, Kamalia Blunt, Paige Washington, and Matt Sargent came together on May 8 to receive their diplomas. It was an exciting day for this close-knit group, which has never before had the opportunity to be in the same room. “We all feel really lucky that we started the program together and have learned so much from each other, on top of the coursework," says Pistone. “The groupwork in some of our early classes really encouraged the building of relationships with fellow students.”
In talking about the program at a small pre-ceremony reception for graduate students in the Department of Health Studies, the group agreed that they got a lot out of the program. Pistone says she “discovered interest areas that she was not aware of going into the program, like health equity and social determinants of health.” Kamalia Blunt noted that she not only “learned a lot about the field of health promotion but walked away with a lot of amazing personal knowledge about where she can make the biggest impact.” Christina Lunsford, manager of Online Partnership Programs in the Department of Health Studies, adds that the graduates “feel confident that no matter where they end up in their careers, they are well prepared with the skills necessary to succeed.”
Health Promotion at AU
Though the online HPM degree program is new, the university’s in-person Health Promotion Management program was established in 1980 as the first in the United States to combine concepts of health and wellness with principles of business management. With this dual focus, students graduate with broad-based knowledge of health promotion and hands-on experience that they can immediately use in leadership roles. The program has received the prestigious National Wellness Institute's Distinguished Academic Program Award.
The flexible online format was designed two years ago to fit the schedule and needs of busy professionals. It’s a 30 credit-hour degree program, and it can be completed in less than two years. Students have access to all the same resources as on campus students, including the library, academic support, the writing center, and the university career center. In addition, they benefit from a network of hundreds of AU health promotion management graduates from the last 40 years.
“We have alumni located all over the country, and even the world, working at large international organizations as well as small local nonprofits, and everything in between. Our alumni network is unmatched and always happy to connect with a fellow AU health promotion student or alum,” says Lunsford.
The Future of Health Promotion
Health Promotion is a growing discipline that helps people, organizations, and communities adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors that reduce chronic conditions and manage healthcare costs. American University’s Health Promotion Program trains students to target the risks that lead to these conditions and work to improve health outcomes through effective policies and programs.
As organizations and policymakers gain awareness of the financial and social consequences of chronic conditions, the need for qualified experts is greater than ever. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 17 percent between 2020 and 2030 — a rate that is more than double the average rate for all occupations.
“As the health and wellness landscape continues to evolve, graduates of this program will be able to put their expertise to work in corporations, schools, health plans, federal and local government, consultancies, nonprofits, and hospitals, and many other places,” says Lunsford. “They are ready to become the kind of leaders we need to create sustainable environments that support health and well-being at every level.”
For More Information
If you have additional questions or would like to learn more about American University's online MS in Health Promotion Management, call 855-725-7614 to speak with an admissions advisor or request more information.