Health Coaching Certificate Program

About the Program

The Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching at the University of Delaware provides students and professionals working in with the knowledge and skills to facilitate positive behavior change to promote health and reduce chronic disease risk and experience. Program training serves to develop health coaching skills that will:

  • Help people clarify their health goals and implement and sustain behaviors, lifestyles, and attitudes that are conducive to optimal health
  • Guide people in their self-care and health-maintenance activities
  • Assist people in reducing the negative impact made on their lives by chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes

This graduate certificate program allows students to take courses (7 credit hours) specializing in health coaching to enhance their academic and professional experience. Students may work towards the graduate certificate while pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree. Students may also enrolled in this graduate certificate program solely for the purpose of personal and professional development. All students must achieve a cumulative 3.0 (B) grade point average in each graduate certificate course in order to receive the graduate certificate.

Courses in the Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching program are offered on campus face to face in late afternoons and/or early evenings to accommodate working professionals and students in other programs. Working professionals may complete the program in 9 months over the course of two semesters, fall and spring. The practicum is only offered in the spring and will be one credit (40 hours).

Upon completion, graduates are eligible to take the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching Certification as a Health & Wellness Coach.

Admission to the Health Coaching Certificate Program is determined by the satisfactory completion of the following:

  • A health-related undergraduate degree from an accredited institute of higher education (e.g. behavioral health, nutrition, exercise science, nursing, or related discipline(s).
  • Health professionals with master’s or doctoral degrees may choose to participate in this program. Individuals with a non-health-related undergraduate degree but with commensurate and demonstrable experience in behavioral health and/or health care are also eligible to apply.
  • Successful completion of the University of Delaware Graduate College application including official transcript(s), 3 letters of recommendation, and an application essay. Applications are accepted until July 1 for fall admission. 

Acceptance into the program will be determined by a faculty committee comprised of those that teach in the program curriculum. Qualifications of each applicant are assessed on the basis of a record of success in undergraduate work and potential for success in graduate-level work or demonstrated success in graduate work. If academic deficiencies are identified applicants may be required to take prerequisite courses prior to formal admission. Review of applications and admissions are conducted on a rolling basis.

UD Tuition

Please see the Graduate College for the most up-to-date Tuition rates.

Credit Requirements

  • HLPR 631 Health Coaching (3 cr)
  • HLPR 605 Concepts of Chronic Disease Management (3 cr)
  • HLPR 664 Health Coaching Practicum (3 cr)


At least a 1 credit (40-hour) practicum is required for students who must also take a qualifying exam to receive a certificate of completion. The exam format involves two 45 to 60-minute coaching sessions with a standardized patient under the observation of two health coaching program faculty.

Affiliated Faculty

Affiliated Faculty engage in research, teaching and/or service with the Health Coaching Clinic and Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching Program.

Tara Leonard, MS, NBC-HWC

Clinical Director

Tara Leonard is the Clinic Director at UD Health’s Health Coaching Clinic. She is a practicing Health Coach and a Clinical Instructor in UD’s Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching Certificate program in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. Tara holds an MS in Health Promotion and is a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC). Within the Health Coaching Clinic, Tara works collaboratively with researchers, clinicians, and community partners to offer health and wellness coaching services to individuals seeking improved health outcomes, and trains student learners to become healthcare leaders.

Marc Lodyga, PhD


Dr. Lodyga is the Assistant Chair of Teaching and Undergraduate Studies and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. He earned his B.S and M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Indiana University and his Ph.D in Health Education from Southern Illinois University. He is also a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds a Graduate Certificate in Health Coaching. His research interests are health behavior theory, health coaching best practices, and multi-level program planning. He is especially interested in examining constructs of motivational and behavioral theories with special consideration to evidence-based interventions that decrease risky health behaviors.

Freda Patterson


Dr. Patterson is a professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition where she directs an externally funded Sleep and Circadian Health Research Program and teaches both graduate and undergraduate classes.

Laura Lessard, PhD, MPH


Laura Lessard, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. Her work focuses on the implementation and impact of policy interventions in child care settings, including health and wellbeing policy. She co-leads the Child Care Workforce WellBeing Initiative, which includes the Shining the Light on You program for family child care educators. Shining the Light on You uses Health and Wellness Coaching principles, practices and is co-facilitated by Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches.

Elizabeth M. Orsega-Smith, PhD


Dr. Orsega-Smith, PhD is a Professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. He earned his B.S. In Exercise and Sports Science from the Pennsylvania State University, M.S. from East Stroudsburg University, and PhD in Biobehavioral Health from The Pennsylvania State University. Her program of research focuses on the psychosocial determinants of health,specifically in the older adult population. Additionally her research is grounded in community engagement working with partners such as local senior centers and cooperative extension..She has presented at a wide variety of national conferences including Society of Behavioral Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, and Gerontological Society of America.

Laurie Ruggiero


Laurie Ruggiero, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. She is a clinical psychologist and behavioral scientist. Her work focuses on developing/tailoring and evaluating health behavior change interventions designed to promote healthy lifestyles, especially in underserved populations. She has developed and tested multiple health behavior change interventions, incorporating motivational and behavior change theory and strategies focused on diverse areas and populations, such as diabetes self-care, healthy coping, diabetes prevention, weight loss, and smoking cessation.