Education & Social Sciences

Communication Studies - Health Communication

In line with Manchester University’s mission of “respect[ing] the infinite worth of every individual,” you, as a MU health communication student, will learn how to share health information that can deeply impact communities, and collectively work with others to empower people and organizations to advocate for a better quality of life for all.


Health Communication enhances the importance of communication in our health care system and beyond. As health communicators we create, disseminate and analyze health messages about disease awareness and prevention, medical treatment and healthy living through community outreach programs, campaigns, printed material and the Internet. Health communicators also work to establish a collective synergy with our health care providers by providing information that leads to better patient-provider relationships, accurate representation of disease in the media and the development and incorporation of mobile health applications to the general public. Through Manchester University’s mission, our students continue to grow and “lead principled, productive, and compassionate lives that improve the human condition.”

Careers in Health Communication

Our students build skills to be competitive in the field of health and make a difference in people’s lives.  Through these skills, you can look forward to careers in:

• Health Literacy 
• Medical Writing
• Consulting
• Hospital Education Departments
• Teaching Medical Professionals and General Public
• Public Relations
• Marketing
• Human Resources
• Patient Satisfaction and Patient Advocacy Programs
• Health Care Administration
• Media Organizations
• Nonprofit Organizations 
• Public Policy and Research

Why Manchester?

The Health Communication major is grounded on teaching you the necessary skills to lead a productive and engaging life by helping others learn about health. Through the health communication coursework, you are exposed to a deeper understanding of the use of service-learning and innovative and creative methods of sharing information with different populations and demographics. Along with a culture-centered approach, you learn the dynamic nature of culture, which helps reach underrepresented populations. Not only that, but through our service-learning projects, we open and engage in dialogue, and understand and appreciate different perspectives of how health is viewed. By keeping true to Manchester University’s mission to graduate “persons of ability and conviction,” you become leaders in making sure health and health care information is accessible to all.

Courses in Health Communication

COMM 220: Introduction to Health Communication (required for major & minor): Examines the ways communication shapes health and health practices. Topics may include: patient-provider communication, organizational communication in health contexts, communication in community health education, information technologies in health communication and communication training for health care professionals. Students come away with a broad understanding of the implications of health communication on self and society.

COMM XXX: Health Literacy (required for major & minor)
: In the U.S., close to 30 million adults have below basic health literacy and only 12% have the health literary skills needed to understand most of the health instructions provided by healthcare professionals (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).  Even those with higher education often struggle to comprehend and navigate the U.S. health care system.  In this course, we will examine and analyze the definition of health literacy.  Health literacy means that a person is able to read, understand, and act on health information.  This course will also look at national and international literacy levels.  We will examine at risk populations for low literacy, health literacy research and measurement tools.  We will also learn about plain language and will apply it to current health information as well as examine health communication techniques being used to address low literacy and other issues.  

COMM 385: Cultural & Health Disparities (required for major & minor): In the U.S. healthcare system, there are a number of health disparities that are caused by race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, and socioeconomic status, and that influence medical decision-making and/or outcomes.  This course will analyze and examine how health communication contributes to the understanding of culture and the reduction of health disparities by focusing on elements of cultural sensitivity and cultural competence.  

COMM XXX: Community Health Work (required for major only): In this course, we examine and analyze the broad context of public health, health inequality, public policy, and community health.  We then learn core competencies and skills relevant to community health work at the interpersonal, group, and community levels.  We explore application of these core competencies and skills to specific health topics within given situations.  The course material comes recommended by the Indiana Community Health Workers Association which will provide an optional opportunity for students to earn certification as a community health worker through the association after the completion of this course. 

Electives for Health Communication Major (Choose 3):
COMM 210: Interpersonal Communication
COMM 344: Listening: A Relational Approach to Sales
COMM 335: Advanced Public Relations
ECON XXX: Health Economics
SOWK 350: Policy & Practice (Health Care)
ESAT 343: Aging: Health & Wellness

Electives for Health Communication Minor (Choose 1):
COMM XXX: Community Heath Work
COMM 344: Listening: A Relational Approach to Sales
COMM 370: Research Methods
ECON XXX: Health Economics
SOWK 350: Policy & Practice (Health Care)