» MS in Health and Strategic Communication

Founded by Dr. Lisa Sparks, one of America’s leading health communication researchers, the Master of Science in health and strategic communication (HCOM) is an accelerated one-year program that brings together social scientists, statisticians, and communication experts to train students how to facilitate better understanding and health habits between medical professionals and patients.

Our faculty’s strong relationships with various agencies, organizations, universities and hospitals throughout Southern California and the world provide unparalleled opportunities for research, internships and work experiences.

Health and Strategic Communication is one of the fastest growing areas in the communication field.

Graduates of the HCOM program can have increased knowledge and skills in the following areas:

  • Educate the public and the healthcare industry about relevant health information
  • Work with health-care providers and community leaders to develop, implement and evaluate widespread community health-based programs
  • Improve communication and relationships between patients and health-care providers
  • Work one-on-one with community groups to achieve community health-care goals
  • Assist with emergency and crisis communications
  • Work in local, state and federal agencies; hospitals; non-profits; public health departments; insurance companies; foundations; publishing firms; and universities

Graduates of the HCOM M.S. Program have gone on to work in a variety of health-related careers at such organizations as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Planned Parenthood, UCLA Health, Orange County United Way, the American Cancer Society, the Entertainment Industries Council, USC's Clinical and Translational Science Institute, County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, and Maricich Healthcare Communications. Our alumni have also been admitted to dental programs at the University of Southern California and Baylor University and the psychology and social behavior Ph.D. program at the University of California, Irvine.

+ - Research Opportunities

Students work closely with faculty to generate original research projects and reports through the use of unique survey data and national surveillance data sets.  Student research on topics including vulnerable populations, health literacy, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, distant care giving, online health information, media portrayals, aging, and patient-provider interactions has been presented at various local and national communication and scientific conferences, including:

Students in the HCOM program also co-author scholarly research with faculty that is published in esteemed communication, psychology, and interdisciplinary journals, including:

+ - Admissions Requirements


You must possess an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university and must provide evidence of satisfactory coursework in the following two areas:

  •     Research Methodology
  •     Statistics

All prerequisites must be met by the beginning of the program start date.

Admission Requirements:

  • Online application for admission (includes $60 non-refundable application fee)
  • Official transcripts must be submitted from ALL degree-granting (bachelor’s or master’s degrees) colleges and universities attended. An official transcript submitted in a sealed envelope which you have received from your college or university is acceptable.

  • 3.00 is the minimum recommended undergraduate cumulative grade point average.
  • Graduate Admission Test Scores – The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are required. Applicants must achieve the following minimum scores which are listed as previous version test scores and new version comparative test scores, respectively:
    • Verbal:  500/153;
    • Quantitative:  550/146;
    • Analytical Writing: 4.0/4.0.
  • Letters of recommendation - Two letters of recommendation are required, including one which must be from an academic source who describes your professional and academic abilities.
  • Statement of intent – a 500 word essay addressing the area of communication in which you are interested.
  • Resume – a resume or curriculum vitae is required
  • Applicants who have completed their undergraduate degree outside of the United States are required to achieve an acceptable score on an English language test from one of the following sources:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – 550 (paper-based) or 80 (internet-based)
    • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTEA) – 53
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – 6.5
  • Graduate International Supplemental Form and supporting financial documents (i.e., an official bank statement, letter (in English) specifying deposit amount or an employer's letter (in English) specifying sponsor's annual salary) are required. (International Students Only)
  • Apply Now!

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