Community Health Education

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What is Community Health Education?

Community health educators use multidisciplinary theories along with behavioral and organizational change principles to plan, implement, and evaluate interventions that enable individuals, groups, and communities to achieve personal, environmental, and social health.

The Community Health Education (CHE) program is enriched by a holistic perspective among faculty, and community-based class projects where students gain practical experience.

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Pathways in Public Health: Community Health Education

A group of students wearing backpacks stop and look at red tulips on a sunny day

Is community health education your calling?

Our CHE concentration is a great path for:

  • Health educators or trainers
  • Skilled communicators
  • Service-oriented individuals

Community Health Education students have a variety of academic backgrounds, such as:

  • Psychology
  • Nutrition
  • Human Services
  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Marketing

Graduates work in a range of settings, including:

  • Schools
  • Post-secondary educational institutions
  • Mental health agencies
  • Public health agencies
  • Governmental agencies
  • Environmental agencies
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Voluntary health agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Consulting firms
A UTK student wearing a cap and gown shakes the hand of a faculty member at graduation

Community Health Education Competencies

As a CHE student in the online Master of Public Health program, you will cultivate a set of skills and capabilities necessary for outreach and advocacy. Our UTK community health education students learn to:

  • Demonstrate how fundamental social causes of health and disease produce differences in health and health inequity in specific health outcomes.
  • Identify strategies designed to reduce structural bias and social inequities that produce health disparities.
  • Formulate specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART) research questions for behavior change interventions.
  • Explain key ethical issues and challenges with conducting research in communities.
  • Prepare a high-quality program grant proposal.

Concentration Coursework

CHE students complete a combination of required community health coursework, foundational MPH courses, and a minimum of six credit hours of elective courses.

Required Courses

Research design, basic quantitative and qualitative research techniques, and ethical considerations. Development of research skills, data collection instruments, and problem identification for research topics.

3 credits

This course provides students with an understanding of social and behavioral determinants that influence health status and care in America. The application of this knowledge to behavior in health-related organizations is emphasized. Topics include social and psychological aspects of disease, sociological aspects of health care delivery systems, the political economy of health and illness, the impact of social movements on health, and the social consequences of health legislation.

3 credits

This project-based course covers the complete process of grant proposal development: identification and assessment of viable funding sources, funder relations, proposal writing, budget development, preparation of a full proposal for submission, and proposal submission. Students gain an understanding of the nonprofit philanthropic, state, and federal funding environments and how they differ.

4 credits

Applied Practice Experience in an approved organization under supervision of a designated preceptor. Students must complete a total of 6 credit hours.

3-6 credits

Community Health Education in Action

Sarah Shaffer

Community Health Education

Knoxville, TN

Agency Name:

Agency Type:
Healthcare Provider Contract Agency

Fall 2019

A professional headshot of UTK MPH student, Sarah Shaffer

Meet Sarah Shaffer, a former UTK MPH and Community Health Education student. As part of her Applied Practice Experience, Sarah worked as a Patient Safety Education and Quality Payment Analyst at TeamHealth. 

Sarah’s major projects included:

  • Developing an accredited continuing medical education (CME) program on human trafficking.
  • Creating a one-page reference guide for recognizing and responding to human trafficking for clinicians.
  • Extracting and analyzing data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS) between facility value-based purchasing (FVBP) and the merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) program by tax ID numbers (TINs) to determine the more advantageous score per TIN.
  • Analyzing MIPS cost category for risk and impact.

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