Community Health

Housed in the Department of Health and Human Development, Western's Community Health Program is nationally, regionally, and locally recognized, and lives up to its mission:

The mission of Western Washington University’s Community Health Program is to provide students with a rigorous and dynamic hands-on educational experience that prepares them to effectively and compassionately improve the public’s health and advocate for social justice through community involvement and collaboration.

Because the Community Health curriculum comprehensively covers how health promotion and education consider the reciprocal relationship between individuals and their environment, students learn to approach public health using a social ecological perspective. Specifically, the Community Health Program considers the health outcomes in populations as they result from a complex interaction between, and interdependence with, factors of individual, social, and environmental influence. Students explore the biological, social, environmental, and individual determinants of health by taking community health-focused coursework and classes from interdisciplinary fields including social sciences (e.g., anthropology, psychology, political science, and sociology), and biological and physical sciences (e.g., anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, and chemistry).

Students graduate from the program thoroughly versed and practiced as health education specialists, and are prepared to succeed on the Certified Health Education Specialist qualifying exam. In fact, Western’s community health students have a CHES examination pass rate higher than that of the national average. Students’ preparation for success on the exam includes knowledge acquisition of public health theory and practice, and extensive participation in individual and team projects that require community engagement and collaboration.

Faculty have experience in a wide array of public health topics including but not limited to nutrition, global health, reproductive health, college health, and environmental health.

Western’s Health and Human Development Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

“I see CH as a way to make a true impact serving communities… CH addresses the root causes of health disparities and empowers communities to change.” CH Student

Beyond the Classroom

At the end of the program, a full-time, 10-week internship in a health education setting is required. The Community Health internship program has received high accolades from community partners across Washington state and many agencies offer internships exclusively to Western Community Health students.

Students have completed internships with Swedish Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Sea Mar Community Health Clinics, Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood, Whatcom County Health Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., and have served abroad in Guatemala, Uganda, Egypt, Australia, and Nepal.

Students who are interested in participating in research are invited to join faculty on various projects. Students help publish peer-reviewed articles, present at national conferences (including the national Society for Public Health Education), and compete in national case study competitions.

Careers and Graduate Studies

The community health major is functions as a gateway for students who want to work in any public or global health venue including, but not limited to:

  • Governmental and Non-Profit Agencies
  • Medical Care Settings
  • Worksite Wellness Programs
  • University Health Programs.

The community health major also serves as a preparatory program for graduate or post-baccalaureate training in health promotion/education, public health, and related areas. For instance, some of the program’s alumni go on to earn their Masters in Public Health.


The following is a list of employers of and graduate programs attended by recent Western community health graduates:

  • Bastyr University: Masters in Public Health
  • Doctor of Nursing Family Practice Nurse Practitioner, Oregon Health & Science University
  • MPH, University of Sydney, Australia
  • MS, Nursing, University of Rochester
  • Access Living, Inc.: Direct Support Professional
  • Brigid Collins: Prevention Initiative Coordinator
  • Denver Health-Westside Clinic: Patient Navigator
  • Highgate Senior Living: Certified Nursing Assistant and Medication Aide
  • New Beginnings: Women’s and Children’s Advocate Relief Worker
  • Pancreatic Cancer Action Network: Community Engagement Coordinator
  • Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: Program Assistant for Staff Education and Nutrition
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital: Family Service Coordinator
  • United General Hospital: Health Educator
  • Whatcom Council on Aging: Community Outreach Coordinator
  • WithinReach: Family Engagement Specialist


Sample Careers

  • Community Health Educator 
  • Tobacco Control Specialist 
  • Sexuality Education Coordinator 
  • HIV/AIDS Educator 
  • Hospital-based Wellness Program Director 
  • Public Health Educator 
  • Substance Abuse Educator 
  • College Health Educator 
  • Injury Prevention Specialist 
  • Curriculum Development Specialist 
  • Health Consultant 
  • Health Information Specialist 
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Coordinator

Department of Health and Human Development - Community Health

Community Health, BS

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