Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)

Make the most of your Health Science or Public Health degree. Become a Certified Health Education Specialist and improve the health status of individuals, families, communities, states and the nation.

A woman interacts with children

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is the national credential for health educators. These specialists work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Universities
  • Public schools
  • Local and state health departments
  • Non-profits
  • Hospitals
  • Corporations
  • Armed Forces wellness centers

CHES-credentialed health educators hold positions such as:

  • Health educator
  • Wellness coordinator
  • Senior education manager
  • Program manager
  • Training specialist
  • Prevention and community educator
  • Outreach specialist

Careers in health education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of health education specialists to grow much faster than the average for all occupations.

About the CHES exam

The CHES examination is a competency-based tool used to measure possession, application and interpretation of knowledge in the Eight Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists. Health Science and Public Health majors may become eligible for the CHES examination. For the cost and schedule, visit the CHES website.

I. Assessment of Needs and Capacity
II. Planning
III. Implementation
IV. Evaluation and Research
V. Advocacy
VI. Communication
VII. Leadership and Management
VIII. Ethics and Professionalism

CHES eligibility/pre-screening

To qualify to sit for the CHES exam, you must have completed a minimum of 25 credit hours (with a grade “C” or better) in coursework in areas related to health education, health promotion, and wellness.

Your academic advisor can provide guidance on relevant coursework. However, only the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing can verify your eligibility. The list below is not exhaustive. CHES may accept other courses meeting their required competencies.

Public Health

  • P_HLTH 2200 Introduction to Public Health & Health Promotion (3)
  • P_HLTH 2250 Public Health Communication (3)
  • P_HLTH 3310 Social and Behavioral Health Theory & Practice (3)
  • P_HLTH 3400 Global Public Health and Health Care Systems (3)
  • P_HLTH 3450 Introduction to Epidemiology (3)
  • P_HLTH 3620 Public Health Promotion and Program Planning (3)
  • P_HLTH 4485 Ethics in Public Health (3)
  • P_HLTH 4610 Race, Ethnicity, and Health: An Intersectional Examination of Health Inequalities (3)
  • P_HLTH 4900 Online Seminar in Health Education – CHES Exam Study Course (1 credit hour online; first 8 weeks of fall and spring semesters; Sr. standing required)
  • P_HLTH 4975 Emerging Issues in Public Health (3)

Health Sciences

  • HLTH_SCI 2400 Contemporary Health Issues (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 2850 Inclusion and Equity in Health Care (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 3310 Social and Behavioral Health Theory & Practice (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 3600 Health Promotion Planning & Assessment (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 3610 Health Program Implementation & Evaluation (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 3800 Holistic Health Systems (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 4400 Culture and Health Literacy for the Health Professions (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 4420 Health Literacy & Behavioral Compliance (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 4430 Health Care Across the Lifespan (3)
  • HLTH_SCI 4900 Online Seminar in Health Education – CHES Exam Study Course (1 credit hour; first 8 weeks of fall and spring semesters; Sr. standing required)

Outside courses

  • LTC 2200 School Health and Student Wellbeing (3)
  • NEP 2450 Nutrition Throughout the Life Span (3)
  • PSYCH 3830 Health Psychology (3)
  • SOC 3440 Sociology of Health (3)
  • STAT 1200 Introductory Statistical Reasoning (3)
  • WGST 2960 Sexual Health Education and Advocacy (3)
  • WGST 4600 Women & Health (3)

Public Health

  • P_HLTH 7150 Principles of Public Health (3)
  • P_HLTH 7160 Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Public Health (3)
  • P_HLTH 7900: Online Seminar in Health Education – CHES Exam Prep (1 credit hour; first 8 weeks of fall and spring semesters)
  • P_HLTH 7952 Research Methods in Public Health (3)
  • P_HLTH 8120 Applied Epidemiology in Community Assessment (3)
  • P_HLTH 8150 Human Health and the Environment (3)
  • P_HLTH 8270 Storytelling in Public Health and Public Policy (3)
  • P_HLTH 8300 Health Care in the United States (3)
  • P_HLTH 8420 Principles of Epidemiology (3)
  • P_HLTH 8675 Strategic Health Communication (3)
  • P_HLTH 8920 Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health (3)
  • P_HLTH 8953 Evaluating Global Public Health Programs (3)

Outside courses

  • JOURN 8042 Health News and Promotion
  • NURS 8930 Health Program Design and Management (3)
  • NEP 7590 Community Nutrition (3)
  • PUB_AF8720 Budgeting & Financial Management in Public and Nonprofit Sector (3)

Verify your eligibility

To verify your eligibility (“pre-screen”), you may submit your transcript and pay a $25 processing fee.

  1. Verify your eligibility
  2. Scroll down and click on “New prescreen applicants apply here”

Once eligible, the earliest you may sit for the CHES exam is the semester in which you graduate with your bachelor’s degree (October exam for December graduates or April exam for May graduates) or any time after graduation.

Ready to become a health educator?

Meet with your academic advisor to discuss relevant coursework. Contact Dr. Jenna Wintemberg with questions.

Frequently asked questions

How do I study for the CHES exam?

Take the HS4900 course the semester you plan to take the CHES exam (i.e., the semester you graduate). The course uses the NCHEC study book, The Health Education Specialist: A Companion Guide for Professional Excellence. Whether or not you take the 4900 study course, this is the best study resource available. Purchase the study book.

How do I sign up to take the CHES exam?

Apply online.

When is the CHES exam offered?

The CHES exam is only offered twice per year: a 10-day period in April and 10-day period in October. Check the website for exact dates.

Where do I take the CHES exam?

The closest testing site to the MU campus is in Jefferson City, Missouri. Find a testing site near you.

What is the format of the CHES exam?

Consisting of 165 multiple-choice questions (150 scored and 15 pilot tested), the CHES examination is offered in a computer-based format.

How much does it cost?

Visit the CHES website for a full cost breakdown.

Can I receive accommodations for the CHES exam?

Yes. You will need to request accommodations through CHES and supply documentation of your disability accommodations needed.

What is the CHES exam pass rate?

The national CHES exam pass rate is about 62%. You are strongly encouraged to take the HS4900 course to study for the exam.