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Program Description

The field of health promotion seeks to improve the health of individuals and communities through education, behavior change, and environmental improvement. The University of Delaware’s Master’s of Science in Health Promotion uses didactic and experiential, research, and public service learning contexts to prepare students to positively impact this field. Students engage in a comprehensive curriculum that teaches how to successfully design, implement, administer, and evaluate health promotion interventions. They develop the knowledge and skills to use strategies such as cognitive and behavioral modification, health coaching, health communication, environmental and cultural change in diverse settings.  The 36-credit program is designed to meet the needs of both full-time graduate students and working professionals. Students have the opportunity to select from the Clinical Health Coaching or Health and Disabilities concentration or pursue the general Health Promotion degree. The program provides students with the ability to choose electives within health promotion, which can include but is not limited to: aging, nutrition, social marketing, and health communication, health psychology, health policy, community and worksite health, student health, or program evaluation.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

    • Assess individual and community needs for health education and promotion;
    • Apply health behavior principles and theories as they apply to health promotion;
    • Implement health promotion strategies, interventions, and programs; and
    • Conduct evaluation and research related to health promotion.

Click here to download the Program Policy Statement, which covers admission requirements, curriculum information, the comprehensive exam requirement, internship and research project guidelines, financial aid, and other policy issues.

Admissions Requirements

Students will be admitted to the program based upon enrollment availability and their ability to meet the following entrance requirements.

    1. A bachelor’s degree based on a four-year curriculum from an accredited college or university.
    2. Acceptable undergraduate transcripts
    3. Three letters of recommendation indicating the capability, interest, maturity, and scholastic and professional potential of the candidate for graduate study.
    4. Adequate preparation in health as determined by prerequisite requirements (Courses in Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, three health-related courses, health promotion programming)
    5. Acceptable GRE scores (153 V, 144 Q)*
    6. Acceptable TOEFL scores (100 internet)

Admission is determined by the Health Promotion Graduate committee. Admission is competitive, based on the number of well-qualified applicants and the limits of available faculty and facilities. Those who meet stated minimum academic requirements are not guaranteed admission, nor are those who fail to meet those requirements necessarily precluded from admission if they offer other appropriate strengths.

*Due to challenges presented by COVID-19, GRE scores are not required; they are an optional additional component of your application. As always, we will consider your entire application package and evaluate your full record of academic and professional achievements as demonstrated in your transcript, essay, curriculum vitae, and letters of reference.  Students wishing to apply without a GRE score should enter a future GRE exam date (e.g. January 1, 2025) into the application when prompted. Entering any future date will allow your application to be sent on to our review committee where it will receive full consideration. If you have any questions regarding this process, please email   

Recommended Prerequisites

All prerequisites are subject to individual review by the Health Promotion Graduate committee. Specific prerequisites for the program are:

Equivalent of 3 topical health-related courses
Health Promotion or Community Health Programming course

Students may be accepted into the program without prerequisites. However, completion of graduate program prerequisites as assigned by the admission committee must be fulfilled in order to successfully complete the MS in Health Promotion program of study.

Schedule and Deadlines

Applications (all materials) for the MSHP Program will be reviewed on a rolling basis between January 15 and July 1 for admission to the program at the ­­beginning of the following fall semester. Since application decisions will be made on a rolling basis within this timeframe (January 15 – July 1), applicants are strongly advised to complete and submit applications as early as possible. The materials required for the application to be considered complete include the application form, undergraduate/graduate transcripts, official GRE scores, at least three letters of recommendation, curriculum vitae, and a graduate application essay (directions for the graduate application essay may be found on the University of Delaware’s Graduate College website: Following the submission of a complete application, applicants can expect to learn their admission status within 2 months.

Graduate Assistantships

The Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition has several full (full tuition and stipend) graduate assistantships that may be offered to competitive full-time students on a year-to-year basis. Students on full graduate assistantships are provided with experiences that can only be gained by performing teaching assignments or research activities with a faculty mentor; these activities are compensated based on the University’s guidelines of 20 hours per week. The primary assignment of the assistantship, over the course of the academic year, will consist of supporting an assigned faculty member on scholarship and/or teaching responsibilities.

Required Coursework

The Master of Science in Health Promotion is a 36-credit program, comprised of 33 credit hours of coursework at the 600 and 800 level, the successful completion of qualifying exams, and 3 credits of either an internship or research project. The 33 credits of coursework must include 21 credits of required courses, and 12 credits of advisor approved coursework or concentration required coursework (12 credits). In addition to a general Master of Science in Health Promotion concentration, there are two specific concentrations:  clinical health coaching and health and disability.

Credit Requirements

Core Credits                                       21
Concentration credits                         12
Internship or Research Project*         3
Total number of required credits    36

Core Credits (21 credits)

HLPR 605       Concepts of Chronic Disease Management
BHAN 609       Survey Research Methods
HLPR 632       Health Science Data Analysis (or equivalent statistics course)
HLPR 803       Advanced Health Promotion Programming
HLPR 804       Program Evaluation
HLPR 809       Health Behavior Theory
HLPR 819       Social Marketing and Health Communication
HLPR 610       Health and the Media

Concentration Credits (12 credits)

Clinical Health Coaching

HLPR 630       Behavioral Change Strategies and Tactics
HLPR 631       Health Coaching
HLPR 650       Healthy Lifestyle
HLPR 664       Health Coaching Practicum

 Health and Disability

BHAN 645       Health, Physical Activity, and Disability
HLTH 605        Self-Directed Supports for People with Disabilities
HLTH 606        Values-Based Management of Disability Service Agencies
Choose one of the following courses:
KAAP 607        Motor Learning and Control
HDFS 621        Family Studies I: Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives
KAAP 651        Neuropsychological Basis of Human Movement
EDUC 624       Introduction to Autism and Severe Disabilities
EDUC 673       School-to-Adult Life Transitions and Disability
EDUC 681       Techniques for Behavior Change and Positive Behavior Support
One Elective

 Internship or Research Project (3 credits)

*Prior to enrollment in either HLPR 864 Internship or HLPR 868 Independent Research, students must successfully pass a Qualifying Exam.

Faculty Research

  • Bioinformatics, latent variable modeling, healthy aging, health disparities (Adam Davey, PhD)
  • Health literacy, program evaluation, use of wearable technology to promote physical activity and other behaviors to improve cardiovascular health (Gregory Dominick, PhD)
  • Adapted physical activity, health behaviors for populations with autism, 24-hour epidemiology (Sean Healy, PhD)
  • Policy and environmental change, nutrition, and physical activity promotion in early care and education settings (Laura Lessard, PhD, MPH)
  • Physical activity, mind-body practice, health behavior coaching (Michael Mackenzie, PhD)
  • Inclusion, active community living, and cardiometabolic risk factors of individuals with disabilities (Iva Obrusnikova, PhD)
  • Psychosocial determinants of physical activity, aging, and health, community-based participatory research with eating and physical activity behaviors, intergenerational research and health (Elizabeth Orsega-Smith, PhD)
  • Smoking cessation, sleep health, sedentary behavior, cardiovascular health, multiple health behavior change, 24-hour epidemiology, and population health (Freda Patterson, PhD, MS)
  • Social marketing and health communication, workplace stress, behavior change strategies (P. Michael Peterson, EdD)
  • Developing/tailoring community and technology-based interventions to promote healthier lifestyles, especially with underserved populations, diabetes self-management/diabetes prevention, behavior change theory (Laurie Ruggiero, PhD)
  • Health and risk communication, tobacco control, breast cancer, medical decision making, violence risk, obesity, chemical exposure, and food labeling (Christine Skubisz, PhD)
  • Community-engaged research, built-environment/physical activity promotion, community-level physical activity infrastructure, physical activity measurement (Richard Suminski, PhD, MPH)

Apply to the Masters of Science in Health Promotion Program

For questions or more information, please contact the program director,

Dr. Elizabeth Orsega-Smith