In what is likely a reflection of the importance of health in American society, students at the College of Charleston are flocking to two new health majors – public health and exercise science.
Both are exceeding expectations in regards to the numbers of students choosing them.
This fall, 250 students have declared majors in exercise science and 200 have chosen either a BA or BS course of study in public health.
By comparison, the three most popular majors are biology with 841 majors, communications with 647 and psychology with 601, according to Melissa Whetzel, director of media relations and video services at CofC.
According to a college release, the exercise science major gives students a broad background in exercise science, including numerous opportunities for hands-on experience in the field. Most majors continue their studies in graduate or professional school.
The College’s exercise science professors possess a broad range of expertise from biomechanics to exercise physiology, kinesiology, strength and conditioning, and exercise immunology.
“It is very encouraging that we now have high school juniors visiting campus and asking for information about exercise science,” says Professor Bill Barfield, director of the program. “They see the potential for learning and positioning themselves well for advanced degrees in physical or occupational therapy.”
This fall, Professor Wes Dudgeon and Professor Guy Hornsby, both exercise physiologists, will join the exercise science faculty. Dudgeon’s research interests focus on sport physiology, HIV/AIDS and sport nutrition. Hornsby just completed his Ph.D. at East Tennessee State University, where he also served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Division I baseball team, and as a graduate assistant in the sport science lab.
Several new exercise science classes are under development. Mike Flynn, professor and chair of the Department of Health and Human Performance, will be teaching a new course in scientific writing this fall. Other courses in the major include Therapeutic Exercise, Advanced Resistance Training, Biomechanics, and Motor Development and Motor Learning.
As for public health, it has been a major at the College of Charleston for less than one year and the number of students enrolled has already surpassed the expectations we set for the 2016-17 academic year.
There are more than 160 students pursuing a B.S. in Public Health and more than 40 pursuing a B.A. in Public Health.
Public health is an interdisciplinary degree, offered as both a bachelor of arts (B.A.) and a bachelor of science (B.S.). Students who graduate with either public health degree might pursue advanced degrees, such as a Master’s in Public Health (MPH)or a Master’s in Health Administration (MHA).
Students with either degree. in public health may work in governmental health organizations at the local, state, or national levels, non-profit health organizations, or hospital systems. Students planning to attend medical/nursing school or to go in to another allied health field need to pursue the B.S. in Public Health.
“Public health is everywhere and affects everyone,” explains Professor Sue Balinksy, director of the public health (B.S.) program. “Many students interested in allied health or PT school are now majoring in public health instead of biology. The major draws students who are interested in health, science, communication, and those who want a more hands-on degree.”
As a public health major, students can take a wide variety of classes to meet the health policy, environmental health, and ethics requirement. There are currently four professors in the public health (B.S.) major in the Department of Health and Human Performance: SueBalinsky, Andrea DeMaria , Matt Page, and Olivia Thompson.
There are also 42 students earning a minor in health, which has classes focused on public health.