Augusta University Launches New Degree for Health Promotion

Staff Report From Augusta CEO

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

A recent Georgia Workforce Trend report from the Georgia Department of Labor predicts that growth in the health care and social assistance industry will outpace all other industries in Georgia over the next decade. The College of Education is helping to meet that increased demand with a new Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion.

“This new undergraduate program gives students who are passionate about health and wellness a first-class education in the field, but from a non-clinical perspective,” said Dr. Steven Page, chair of the Department of Kinesiology.

The degree offers a choice of two concentrations: corporate and community fitness, and health education. The first concentration will train students on how to organize and instruct others in group settings, fulfilling the requirements for two national certification exams: American Council on Exercise group exercise and American College of Sports Medicine personal training.

“Students can build careers in any organization in which they want to improve health outcomes or benefits, such as the wellness coordinator at a hospital, or with a Fortune 500 company that has an employee wellness program,” said Dr. Hannah Bennett, assistant professor of kinesiology.

The second concentration will enable students to work in a variety of public health settings as well as work with people and communities to improve health practices. It also prepares students to take the Certified Health Education Specialist Exam from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

“This program enables graduates to work in many areas of community health, identify health disparities and work in and around communities to improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Nicole Peritore, assistant professor of kinesiology.

Chronic diseases that can be preventable – like Type II diabetes and heart disease – are the leading cause of death and disability in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The Department of Kinesiology already hosts pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy and pre-nutrition kinesiology degree programs, but those fields require a graduate degree for certification.

“Some of our concentrations, like exercise and sport science, are marketable with a bachelor’s degree; but this adds another option to work in a health career without getting a master’s immediately,” Bennett said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts faster-than-average growth in the fields related to this program, including a 16 percent growth in the field of health educators and community health workers, and a 10 percent growth in the field of fitness trainers and instructors.

“This moves the university closer toward the goal of helping people in our community, state, country and beyond to meet not just clinical health needs, but also in health prevention,” Peritore said.

The B.S. in Health Promotion will begin in fall 2020.