Master of Arts in Health and Risk Communication

The Health and Risk Communication M.A. (HRCMA) program will make you an expert in the theory and practice of health communication, one of the most pressing topics in today's world.

You will learn to design, write/create, implement, and evaluate evidence-based health and risk messages to communicate effectively. Courses on mass communication and public health, epidemiology, health communication for diverse populations, quantitative research methods, and a practicum will make you a well-rounded professional health communicator.  

HRCMA top success criteria: Job placement, job enjoyment and security, MSU credits and connections

Past students of the HRCMA program have come from diverse educational backgrounds, including communication, psychology, epidemiology, nutrition, kinesiology, nursing, and various specialty fields across the social, health, and life sciences. Our diverse and interdisciplinary program provides students with a well-rounded perspective on the role of health and risk communication.

Start your Health Communication Journey here!

Information about the HRC-MA

Based in one of the largest colleges of communication in the world, you will master using modern mass communication to inform and influence people about public health - whether in traditional media or via social media channels.

You can shape the program to fit your interests with 8 to 15 elective credits included in the course requirements (depending on the track chosen). Additional courses include health journalism, advertising and PR for health promotion, or applied communication research about topics from interpersonal and intercultural communication. 

hrcma table of courses

Whether you are interested in going into research or practice, the Health and Risk Communication M.A. program has something to offer with a thesis track or an examination track.

As a student in the Health and Risk Communication M.A. program, you will be able to use the resources of MSU - a world leader in research with nationally ranked academic units, impressive libraries, a beautiful large campus, a pioneering record in sustainability, exciting athletics, and an impressively diverse academic community.

Our college is the first communication college in the nation and home to multiple top-ranked communication programs across the globe. 

Becoming a Spartan is to gain entry into one of the largest and most productive groups of alumni networks in the world.

In today's world, effective communication is paramount, especially in healthcare and risk management. Our Health and Risk Communication M.A. program equips you with the skills to bridge the gap between complex medical information and the general public, making you an invaluable asset in the fields of healthcare, public health, and crisis management.

We have a >90% placement rate (with > 85% placement into health-related jobs). Professionals with a Master's degree in Health and Risk Communication are in high demand for many different sectors.

Our alumni have worked or are working for e.g., the CDC, local, state, or federal health organizations like the National Cancer Institute, and worked with or consulted for international organizations like the World Health Organization or the World Bank. Although traditionally health communicators mostly worked in the civil and nonprofit sector, the growth of the health sector in our society and across the world also creates exciting business opportunities.

health communicator giving a presentation

Invest in your future and make a meaningful impact with a Master's in Health and Risk Communication. You can explore diverse career paths such as:

Health Communication Specialist Health Campaign Manager Medical Sales Representative
Health Educator/Public Health Educator Digital Health Communication Strategist Risk Communication Manager
Public Health Specialist/Consultant Crisis Communication Consultant Healthcare Marketing Manager
Health Policy Analyst Health Journalist Medical Writer
Corporate Wellness Coordinator Social and Behavior Change Communicator Health Intervention Designer
Health Promotion Entrepreneur Health Campaign - Agency Owner Digital Health Intervention Creator

To prepare our graduates for the job-market, the Health & Risk Communication Masters Program is designed to include a supervised practicum experience. In their practicum, students will will put their theoretical training to practice in their field of interest in a real-world setting. Students will secure their own employment opportunity and work with their faculty advisor and employment supervisor to create the practicum experience. Students are expected to have completed 15 program credits before they apply for the practicum. 

Examples of past practicum placements:

logos of practicum spots


American Medical Center for Cancer Research (AMC)

National Cancer Institute Health Communication Intern

NYU College of Public Health

Livingston County Health Dept.

Carter Center Educational Program

Mayo Clinic Health Writer Intern

Reporting for Young Journalists

Surgeon General Michigan

Kaiser Family Foundation in Health

Department of Community Health


Michigan Fitness Foundation

MSU Children’s Health Initiative

Affairs Office

Harvard Medical School Public

Northwestern University, Dept. of Emergency Medicine

National Cancer Institute

Cristo Rey Community Center

Lansing Health Fair

Michigan Department of Community Health

American Hospital Association

Michigan, Lansing Regional Office

National Kidney Foundation

American Lung Association

Michigan Education Special Services Association 

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

American Cancer Society

National Food Safety Toxicology Center

Michigan Public Health Institute

Ingham Regional Medical Center




Where will this program take you?

Whether you're seeking a stimulating academic environment, a thriving job market, or a well-rounded lifestyle, MSU undoubtedly stands out as a remarkable destination in the heart of Michigan.

East Lansing is a city that combines the best of both worlds. With its vibrant cultural scene, a top-tier university with about 50k students, and a welcoming community, it's a remarkable place to call home. The community offers lively nightlife, large-scale events such as the East Lansing Arts Festival and Great Lakes Folk Festival, numerous shopping locales, and restaurants. Dozens of options exist for all-year outdoor activities in the immediate vicinity, and you can reach the beaches and Mountains of Michigan within a short car ride.

Within a 5-minute car ride, you can reach Lansing, the capital of the state of Michigan, and the seat of the capitol and most government branches. Lansing features a picturesque old town, bars, and restaurants, as well as a lot of business opportunities for 21st-century entrepreneurs. 

The Lansing Capital Region boasts the convenience of being home to an International Airport, ensuring easy access to domestic and international destinations, and an Amtrak Train station in East Lansing. Moreover, its strategic location places it in close proximity to bustling cities like Detroit and Grand Rapids.

aerial view of MSU's large campus

Members of the MSU community are a welcomed part of the East Lansing community, the Lansing capital area, Michigan, the USA -- and a network of Spartans across the world.


Contact the Program Directors

Questions? Contact:

Ralf Schmaelzle
Director of the Health and Risk Communication Masters

Lisabeth Bylina
Academic Programs Coordinator
404 Wilson Rd., 472 ComArtSci
East Lansing, MI 48824-1212

Linked Bachelor's - Master's Degree in Health and Risk Communication

With our Linked B.A.-M.A. in Health and Risk Communication program, students can seamlessly connect from their undergraduate majors in ComArtSci to an advanced degree in health communication, including health promotion, health education, prevention and risk communication. 

Find out more about the Linked BA-MA-Program here!

Questions? Contact:  
Ralf Schmaelzle 
Lisabeth Bylina