Health Communications Curriculum

In the Master of Science in Health Communications program, you will take electives from other Agnes Scott graduate programs, including data analysis and communication, evaluation and assessment methods, social innovation, technology leadership and management, and writing and digital communication.

Complete our Health Communications program either fully online or as a blend of online, hybrid or in-person instruction.

  • Each class connects once a week in the evening.
  • Online classes meet synchronously once a week for 75 minutes, Monday through Thursday.
  • Hybrid classes meet once a week in-person for up to 75 minutes, Monday through Thursday, and include online content.
  • In-person classes meet once a week after 6:00pm, Monday through Thursday.

Core courses (15 hours)

HCO-610: Foundations of Public Health for Health Communicators (3.00)

This course situates health communications within the broader field of public health, and prepares students to interpret, critically assess, and effectively communicate epidemiological data. The course introduces students to the core functions and essential services of public health, and to the basic principle and methods of epidemiology. Students will learn about evidence-based public health, and about evolving approaches to public health practice and healthcare delivery.

HCO-620: Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health (3.00)

This course provides an overview of select social and behavioral theories used by health communicators to explain and predict health behaviors, as well as to inform the design of intervention strategies and evaluation methods. The course employs an ecological framework, examining theories at the policy, community, organizational, interpersonal and individual levels. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of structural and social determinants of health in shaping health behaviors and risks.

HCO-630: Health Communication Methods (3.00)

Using historical and contemporary case studies, this course introduces students to a variety of different health communications methods, and critically examines the characteristics of both successful and unsuccessful health communication campaigns. Examples of health communications methods covered include: social marketing, media advocacy, risk communication, patient-provider communication, entertainment education, social media campaigns, digital storytelling, and image events. Students will consider the practical, financial and ethical implications of each method covered, as well as the evidence of effectiveness.

HCO-640: Planning and Evaluating Health Communications Campaigns (3.00)

In this course, students will learn to plan, implement and evaluate health communication campaigns, with particular emphasis on community-based participatory approaches. Following the steps of the PRECEDE-PROCEDE model, the course teaches students to: conduct needs and assets assessments; identify and prioritize health problems and their determinants; select appropriate communications strategies; implement health communications interventions; and conduct process, outcome and impact evaluations.

HCO-650: Health Communication Practicum (3.00)

On-the-job training in health communications through approved field work sites. Students complete related course work with a faculty supervisor. See program application process. Students must apply through the process developed by the Office of Internship and Career Development and commit to a common weekly meeting time with the faculty advisor in order to receive academic credit. The course will meet as a regular class when more than five students take it during the same semester.

Elective courses (18 hours)

DVS-600: Principles of Data Visualization (3.00)

This course covers the fundamental elements of the database, semi-structured data, and unstructured data. Students will gain familiarity with data visualization concepts, techniques, and tools, including acquisition, augmentation, and restructuring; data storage and aggregation; access to parallel and distributed computing; high-volume data, disparate sources, and performance; and streaming data and dynamic queries. The student will learn to use several programming languages and software packages to create a range of data analyses and visualizations.

DVS-630: Communication of Data (3.00)

In this course, students will develop the oral and written presentation skills demanded in data-driven environments. Students will learn to identify and articulate business questions and then translate data into compelling and effective narratives for decision-making. This course will introduce students to a variety of media that can be used in the analysis, interpretation, creation, and transfer of information. The importance of understanding the context, the audience, and the intended use of the data are emphasized.

DVS-640: Advanced Visualization Design (3.00)

This course focuses on designing effective, compound data visualizations that contain information-rich graphics and multiple elements in order to tell a story or create an argument. Emphasis will be placed on static and dynamic dashboards and report card style visualizations that are often utilized in organizational and management settings. Students will gain working knowledge of R, Python, and other Cs+ languages.

Course requisites: Nine credit hours of DVS courses or permission of the instructor.

EAM-630: Data Analysis I (3.00)

This course provides an overview of the theoretical foundations of qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and teaches practical skills related to data management, analysis, and theory development. Students will learn to code and interpret qualitative data and to interpret statistics most commonly used in evaluation sciences.

EAM-640: Project Management (3.00)

Successful interventions and evaluations depend on strong planning and project management skills. This course covers skills and strategies related to budgets, planning, stakeholder engagement, staff supervision, and fundraising. Additionally, students will learn about different leadership styles and will work to develop leadership skills.

WDC-618: Technologies of Social Change (3.00)

Students will learn to analyze the impact of digital technology on the formation and effectiveness of social movements and on social change. Focusing on both historical and current events, this course examines the roles of rhetoric and technology in collective action whether in the form of social movements or as embodied and enacted by individuals. We will also study the role of digital communication in promoting behavioral change, such as in the fields of public health or politics.

WDC-620: Developing Content for Web/Social Media (3.00)

This course covers principles of writing, editing, and developing multimedia content for the Internet and social media, as well as emerging media forms, and creates opportunities to put these principles into practice. Students explore media technologies and their impact on writing, communication, identity construction, and culture as they learn to anticipate, lead, and adapt as media change over time. This course also examines rhetorical conventions associated with media and digital citizenship. Students will develop and pitch measurable multiplatform content strategies to address a central communication challenge set by the instructor. A panel of industry experts will provide feedback.

WDC-630: Visual Thinking & Web Design (3.00)

Students will learn to expand their digital design skills to resolve visual problems, implementing line, texture, color, spatial illusion, materiality, compositional frameworks and subject matter. Emphasis is on the design process and conceptual development relating to web and mobile platforms. This course equips students with a working knowledge of industry-standard creative software and Cascading Style Sheets and acquaints them with principles of accessibility and UX.

WDC-640: Critical Communication (3.00)

How do communications theories and research apply to or evolve in a digital world? This course examines the multifaceted role of communication in the formation of social bonds, identities, and communities in digital spaces. The course draws on insights from rhetorical theory, visual rhetoric, performance studies, public memory studies, critical cultural studies, film studies, and audience analysis (demographics and psychographics) to understand how communication works in digital environments.

WDC-670: Digital Media Production (3.00)

This course will provide an overview of the research, strategies, and methods that go into producing accessible audio and visual media for consumption via a variety of delivery technologies. Students will learn lighting, camera, and sound design techniques for video and audio production, including streaming content. Students will examine principles of digital filmmaking, film analysis, and sound design, along with how to use common sound and video-editing software, as they produce a multi-episode podcast around a common theme, as well as a short standalone video.

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Rachael  Nicholos Zaka

Rachael Nicholos Zakas

Phone: 404.471.6894

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