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Master of Health Sciences

This is a 100% online program designed for new graduates and working adults with backgrounds in healthcare administration and business, health-related education, or clinical practice who aspire to leadership roles in the industry.

100% Online Program Focused on Public Health Principles

Student with Lab Coat


The Master of Health Sciences (MHS) degree prepares graduates to fill important and diverse leadership roles across the health system. All students complete core courses in healthcare policy, epidemiology, statistics and research methodology. Students select one concentration from four options for more in-depth study – health education, health management, emergency medical care, and nutrition. The culminating capstone experience provides relevant, real-world application of the knowledge gained throughout the program. 

Program Overview

Location: Online

App Deadline: May 1, Nov. 1

Full Time or Part Time

Time to Complete: 33 Hours

Multiple Concentrations Available

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Virtual Open House

Wednesday, August 7: 5-6:30pm

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

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Admission Criteria

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA) of "B" or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) in all upper-level undergraduate coursework. Accepted applicants have had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.4 over the past three years.
  • Three letters of recommendation from instructors or employers who are able to judge aptitude for graduate study. 

Application Deadlines

Semester Start Application Deadline
Fall Priority Deadline: April 15th
Regular Deadline: May 1st
Spring Priority Deadline: N/A
Regular Deadline: November 1st

Cost: Tuition and Fees are based on distance or residential status.

Financial Aid: MHS students are eligible for educational loans and financial aid.

Additional funding sources for graduate students are available.

The Emergency Medical Care (EMC) concentration prepares EMS professionals for leadership roles in management or education.  These roles require the following skills:

  • Planning
  • Research
  • Organizational operations
  • Educational strategies

Career options include but are not limited to EMS administration, community college or university education, evidence-based research, or best practices/quality assurance. The EMC concentration accepts applications for the fall semester ONLY. 

Employment Opportunities

  • EMS Director
  • EMS Training Officer
  • EMS Supervisor
  • EMS Educator
  • EMS Quality Assurance Coordinator
  • Many others within the EMS and health care industry, local and state agencies, and academic institutions

For more information, contact the Concentration Coordinator or visit the Graduate School Catalog.

Health Education is an essential health service that involves the practice of four core activities:

1) assessment; 2) planning; 3) implementation; and 4) evaluation.

By focusing on prevention, health education aims to reduce the financial and human costs that individuals, employers, health facilities, insurance companies, and the nation would spend on healthcare and medical treatment (College of Public Health, n.d.). 

Through the program, students can prepare for the exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). The CHES designation signifies that an individual has successfully passed a national competency-based exam demonstrating skill with and knowledge of the Seven Areas of Responsibility. The certification exam is administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC).
Learn more about the CHES credential

Health educators and Health Education Specialists are employed in many different settings.

  • K-12 Schools to help students adopt healthful behaviors thereby improving academic performance, as well as with improving the health of faculty/staff and parents (CDC, 2014)
  • College/University health education programs to train future health education specialists and to conduct research on effective programs, policies and interventions
  • Colleges & University Health Centers to help young adults improve their health and reduce risky behaviors
  • Hospitals, Clinics and Health Plans to promote healthy lifestyles, help patients and families recover from illness and educate patients on managing chronic diseases
  • Municipal/County/State Public Health Departments & Military to promote and protect the health of all populations living in their geographic area and achieve public health goals
  • Nonprofit/Voluntary Organizations to provide education and services related to a particular disease or priority population
  • Business/Industry to identify common health problems among employees and create incentive programs to encourage employees to adopt healthy behaviors.

For more information, contact the MHS Program Director Dr. Brook Alemu or visit the Graduate School Catalog

Health care executives and administrators plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health care services throughout the many different organizations that make up the health care industry. With the increasingly complex nature of the health care industry, health care executives and administrators are required to find solutions to much more difficult problems in order to ensure that the delivery of health care services in the U.S. provides high-quality care while maintaining cost-effectiveness.

These professionals hold various leadership roles at various places including:

  • Medical facilities
  • Managed care organizations
  • Long-term care facilities
  • State and local public health departments
  • Provider offices
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Health-related agencies at both the state and federal level

For more information, contact the MHS Program Director Dr. Brook Alemu or visit the Graduate School Catalog

The mission of the Dietetic Internship Program is to provide a high quality supervised practicum that prepares entry-level registered dietitian nutritionists and promotes life-long learning, meaningful engagement, and service to the region.

For more information please go to or contact the Dietetic Internship Director:   

Graduate School Funding Opportunities

Graduate School tuition and funding

Graduate School scholarships

Merit and Need-Based Scholarships

All WCU students may apply for a wide variety of merit and need-based scholarships provided through the institution and its donors. The deadline for applications is February 1 each year for the following fall semester.

Western Carolina University's Financial Aid Office provides students with tools to search and apply for various scholarships. Each scholarship has unique requirements as determined by the donor who provided the gift to endow the scholarship.

  • Cumulative grade point average (GPA) of "B" or higher (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) in all upper-level undergraduate coursework.
  • Three letters of recommendation from instructors or employers who are able to judge aptitude for graduate study.

Admission of applicants residing outside the state of North Carolina to an online degree or certificate program or individual online course offered by Western Carolina University is dependent upon WCU’s ability to secure authorization from the applicant’s state of residence, if such authorization is required.

More Information on State Authorization

The quickest way to apply to the program is to apply online

Visit  tuition and fees  for cost information. Yes, students are eligible to apply for graduate assistantships and study grants. Students registered for a minimum of 6 credit hours may secure student loans through WCU’s Office of Financial Aid

The MHS program has a Distance Learning (DL) designation. The DL designation means classes will meet online and all work will be turned in online. The MHS program is available to students with internet access anywhere as well as our Western North Carolina residents. Classes will adhere to WCU academic policies and the WCU academic calendar and students will be otherwise held to WCU student policies and procedures. 

Full-time students can complete the program in 18 months to 2 years including summers; part-time students may take 2.5 - 3 years to finish depending on the number of courses taken each semester.

It is possible to transfer up to 6 semester hours, pending approval of the MHS Program Director. The courses must be part of a fully accredited master’s degree program at university acceptable to the WCU Graduate School.

Yes. MHS degree candidates are required to complete either a research project or a thesis.

All MHS students are expected to have a current knowledge of the Internet and Microsoft Office at a minimum. For information on WCU student computer standards, visit the IT webpage.




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