St. Bonaventure to add bachelor's degree in health science

Fri, Feb 24th 2017 01:00 pm
St. Bonaventure University

ST. BONAVENTURE - St. Bonaventure University will offer a bachelor's degree in health science beginning this fall.

New York state's Education Department this week approved the university's proposal for the new major.

"This new major builds upon the strong foundation of our growing sport studies and science programs and provides a pathway to immediate employment or a graduate degree in the allied health fields," said Dr. Joseph Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

In October, university faculty and administrators approved the creation of a School of Allied Health as part of its Allied Health Initiative, a comprehensive plan to create health care-related undergraduate and clinical graduate programs over the next few years.

The undergraduate health science major will serve as a feeder program for the anticipated graduate programs to be created in the School of Allied Health. Creating proposals for those programs will take place over the next two years. For now, the health science program will be housed under the School of Education.

Dr. Claire Watson, chair of the physical education and sport studies programs since 2013, is executive director of the Allied Health Initiative. Dr. Monica Thomas, director of St. Bonaventure's highly competitive Franciscan Health Care Professions Program, is the associate director.

The bachelor's in health science is nationally recognized as an undergraduate gateway to allied health careers by providing the prerequisite courses to pursue advanced studies in rehabilitation sciences (physical therapy and occupational therapy), physician assistant studies, exercise physiology, human performance, and public health.

The health science program offers students an interdisciplinary approach to learn about health promotion and introduce them to the health care field. The major emphasizes coursework in medical terminology, research methods, epidemiology, and nutrition.

What separates it from other programs is the inclusion of a senior capstone course as well as experiential learning through an internship with a professional in a chosen health discipline. The four concentrations offered will prepare students to be successful in a variety of health-related careers.

The major's four concentrations include:

  • Social, physical and psychological development, which has an emphasis in coursework to understand a person's growth across the lifespan;
  • Kinesiology, which includes courses in biokinesiology and exercise physiology to relate how a person's activity patterns influence their health and movement abilities;
  • Biomedical Science, which will help prepare students for fields in direct patient care;
  • Health science (general), which will provide students a path to support health care careers (such as health promotion) or pursue professional degree programs in public health (wellness education), business (pharmaceutical sales), law (healthcare regulation), and public policy (health care reform).

Allied health professionals provide a range of diagnostic, technical, therapeutic and direct patient care and support services, and their numbers are rising. Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., said Zimmer.

From 2010 to 2014, bachelor's and master's degrees in health professions increased by 65 percent and 71 percent, respectively, outpacing any other field of study. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that health care will grow 19 percent by 2024, adding 2.3 million new jobs.

For more information about the new health science major, visit

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