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Explore Online Health Science Courses at Every Degree Level

Discover everything there is to know about online health science courses at every level of your education as well as the skills you’ll need to succeed in them and more.

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Author: Shannon Daigle
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Cassidy Cobbs

Cassidy Cobbs (they/them) is a molecular and evolutionary biologist by training and trade, with a BA from the University of North Carolina, a BS from North Carolina State University, and an MS from Vanderbilt University. During their career, they have performed extensive field and laboratory work in animal research. They currently work as a senior project manager and scientific liaison for the Integrated Genomics Operation at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. A native of northwest North Carolina, they lived mostly in the woods until moving to Manhattan eight years ago. As they are now a biologist heavy on the "molecular," their animal handling is now limited to a 4-year-old pit bull named Mando.

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A smiling female student pursuing a degree in health science, in a lab coat holding a clipboard, with other students conducting experiments in the background inside a chemistry lab.

Whether you see yourself in the fast-growing field of community health or dream of a six-figure career as a medical health service manager, online health science courses can pave the path. Online health science classes can help you build the foundation you need to pursue a profession helping others. But navigating the array of available courses can feel overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll map the academic landscape of online health science classes at every degree level, from associate to doctorate programs.

What can you expect from health science online courses? How will online health science classes set you up for success? We’ll shed light on the skills you’ll acquire and the knowledge you’ll gain in health science online courses as well as how they’ll equip you to face the challenges and opportunities of this ever-growing field. We’ll also break down the factors that affect the cost of these courses.

Read on if you’re ready to picture yourself taking a virtual seat in online health science classes, honing your skills and confidently stepping into a career that’s not only in demand but deeply rewarding.

Building the Foundation: Health Science Courses in Associate Programs

Earning an associate degree in health science is an excellent first step into the field. In addition to general education courses, you’ll take online health science classes that prepare you for an entry-level position or a bachelor’s degree. Some programs take as few as 18 months, but two years of full-time study is common. Let’s take a closer look at some of the courses common at the associate degree level.

Anatomy and Physiology

Undergraduate anatomy and physiology classes serve as an introduction to the human body’s structure and function. For example, students at American Public University learn the basics of chemistry and cell biology as a precursor to future study on organs, tissues, and more. They also participate in labs covering gross anatomy and the functions of major bodily systems, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, and reproductive systems.

Introduction to Health Sciences

As new learners in the field, many students find a formal introduction to health sciences helpful. In introductory health science online courses like the one offered by North Central College, students learn about essential aspects of healthcare systems, potential careers, and higher educational opportunities.

Medical Terminology

Mastering the language of healthcare is foundational to any career in the health science field. In these online health science classes, students learn to decode complex medical terms by studying everything from pronunciation to abbreviation with an emphasis on vocabulary and common word roots; prefixes and suffixes; and combining forms. This course is offered at South University.

Cementing Key Concepts: Courses in Bachelor Programs

Bachelor of health science programs vary by school. Since many offer a variety of concentrations and specializations — like Arizona State University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Health Promotion — required online health science classes may differ. However, the following online health science classes appear in most health science bachelor’s programs.

Epidemiology

In epidemiology online health science classes, students study disease patterns and their causes and effects across populations. They also learn about tools and foundational evaluation methods used in the field. While many students, including those at Southern New Hampshire University, take this course to satisfy general education requirements, it’s especially important for those interested in public health, disease prevention, and research.

Healthcare Ethics

Healthcare Ethics courses prepare students to navigate the moral complexities of healthcare; depending on a student’s interests, they might take generalized or specific courses in healthcare ethics. At Herzing University, students take Medical Law and Ethics, while Shawnee State University students choose between a biomedical or healthcare ethics course.

Health Promotion and Education

Many health science students aspire to become community health advocates or educators, making health promotion and education courses popular. Students may take several related courses on creating and implementing health programs. At Purdue Global, for example, the curriculum includes courses on both Health Education Program Assessment and Planning and Health Education Program Implementation and Evaluation.

Leveling Up: Health Science Courses in Master’s Programs

If you have a bachelor’s degree in health science and want to boost your career prospects or specialize in health care management, leadership, or education, a master’s in health science is ideal for you. The online health science classes at this level focus on research methods, management, and theory. While courses vary by program, most master’s programs offer the following classes.

Advanced Research Methods in Health Sciences

As students pursue graduate-level study, they need to elevate their research skills. Courses like the Analytic and Research Methods in Public Health course at the University of Illinois Chicago delve into sophisticated research design, data analysis, and interpretation methods that are critical to high-level health scientific inquiry.

Health Policy and Management

Health policy and management health science online courses focus on policy, legislative goals, and administrative skills. These can be general or specific, depending on the school and concentration. For example, the Master of Health Science program at the University of Nebraska – Kearny offers courses in bioethics, politics and policy of healthcare, and healthcare ethics.

Specialized Clinical or Administrative Courses

Clinical or administrative courses are an integral part of any master’s program designed to provide students a higher level of insight and expertise. A student’s focus area will determine the nature of this course. At Tuoro University, Master of Health Sciences – Health Education Concentration students take a health education administration course.

Elevating Your Expertise: Courses in Doctorate Programs

Doctorate programs in health sciences are tailored to aspiring educators, researchers, and policy pioneers. They often offer opportunities for specialization — Liberty University offers a PhD in Health Sciences with general, exercise and sport science, and trauma-informed care specializations. Here’s a look at three courses commonly taught in doctoral health science programs.

Advanced Biostatistics and Epidemiological Methods

These courses, like the one offered at Rush University, offer a deep dive into the analytical side of health science, offering extensive knowledge in biostatistics and skills in research and analysis. They cover various public health-related topics, teaching students to apply complex statistical methods to investigate and understand disease patterns and causes.

Health Economics and Policy Analysis

Students explore the intricacies of economics and healthcare policy in these comprehensive courses. Campbell University offers online health science classes on trends in public policy that teach students to evaluate contemporary issues in the US healthcare system. Similar courses may emphasize economic and ethical considerations in health science research.

Leadership in Health Sciences

Doctoral students are tomorrow’s healthcare leaders; as such, these courses focus on developing essential leadership and strategic thinking skills. Online health science classes in leadership, like the one offered by Drexel University, cover leadership theory and practice as well as the challenges that today’s health professionals face.

Essential Skills for Successful Health Science Students

In the world of health science, certain skills are essential to both academic and professional success. Let’s explore some key characteristics of students prepared to excel now and in the future. These skills aren’t just academic either, they’re valuable traits that can facilitate professional excellence in health science.

Adaptability

Healthcare often changes in response to evolving research and breakthroughs. You can prepare for your career in the health sciences by embracing and practicing adaptability. You can do so by actively looking for creative approaches toward your assignments and projects and by applying information to various contexts. This will prepare you to adjust to the latest information, protocols, and technologies as a working professional. The last 50 years have brought considerable medical advances that have saved millions of lives, none of which would be possible without adaptability on the part of health science researchers, educators, and administrators.

Attention to Detail

Inattention to detail can keep you from academic and professional success. An eye for precision can prevent medical and research errors that skew results or compromise patient safety. Small details can be the difference between accurate and incorrect data analysis, faulty research conclusions, and valid test results. While attention to detail is beneficial to students, it’s absolutely vital for healthcare managers, researchers, and educators whose job it is to ensure patient safety.

Collaboration

Health science online courses, like health science professions, are inherently collaborative. You’ll work closely with classmates to complete assignments and projects and will learn to navigate group dynamics more effectively in the process. When you enter the health science field, those same skills will help you work with interdisciplinary teams to address challenges and solve problems. Collaborating with your peers will enhance your learning and provide you with a valuable support network in both academic and professional environments.

Cultural Competence

Developing cultural competence is foundational to building trust with individuals from various backgrounds — an invaluable skill in academic and professional settings alike. It can also be incredibly valuable if you find yourself working outside their own cultural context, particularly in fields like epidemiology and research. Cultivating an understanding and respect for different cultures ensures that future healthcare professionals like yourself are prepared to deliver empathetic and culturally sensitive care that honors the increasingly diverse nature of patient populations.

Resilience and Stress Management

A 2021 study showed that 65% of undergraduate health science students reported having stress and 85% suffered from anxiety. Resilience will help you cope with the challenges of your program and maintain your mental well-being. While taking health science courses online, you can use these skills to self-regulate while balancing coursework and life’s obligations. Developing resilience and stress management in school can prepare you with the tools necessary to avoid burnout and sustain a long, successful career in health science.

Time Management

Health science programs often require students to juggle coursework, labs, and clinical placements — on top of their personal obligations — all of which require excellent time management skills. When taking classes in the health science field that involve advanced research methods or large volumes of information, procrastination won’t serve you well. Practical time management skills will help you succeed in balancing your work, home life, anatomy & physiology labs, and medical terminology assignments. Later, these same skills will serve you in managing your time effectively in fast-paced healthcare environments.

Cost Breakdown: Factors That Affect Your Course Fees

Embarking on a health science education journey is an investment in your future. However, understanding the costs involved is important. In this section, we’ll explore key factors that influence course fees, so you know what to expect. From financial aid eligibility to additional fees, let’s break down the potential costs of your education.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

Financial aid can significantly reduce your education expenses. Aid opportunities abound for health science students, from National Institutes of Health undergraduate scholarships to doctoral grants like those offered by Northern Illinois University. Your eligibility for financial aid will depend the specific scholarships or grants you apply to, your academic record, and your financial need.

Residency Status

Residency status plays a pivotal role in determining tuition costs. Generally, in-state students at public institutions enjoy lower fees than out-of-state or international students. Fortunately, online students often enjoy discounted or in-state tuition costs, regardless of residency. Understanding how your residency affects tuition is vital when budgeting for your health science education.

School Type

The type of institution you choose impacts your costs. Public colleges often offer lower tuition rates than private ones. Meanwhile, though potentially more expensive, private colleges can provide more specialized programs or smaller class sizes. Online programs are generally less costly overall than their in-person counterparts. Weighing the cost against educational benefits is critical.

Technology & Additional Fees

Beyond tuition, consider technology and additional fees. While online students typically save money they’d otherwise spend on campus, they also have to pay for specific software, lab fees, and special equipment required in many online health science courses. Considering these costs and planning ahead can help you avoid unwanted financial surprises as you work toward your degree.