Augusta University’s College of Education will launch a new online master’s degree in kinesiology, designed for anyone with a bachelor’s degree in a related subject who wants to advance their career. The program is set to begin in fall 2019.
“We can’t run away from the changing way that people are approaching education,” said Dr. Graeme Connolly, associate professor of kinesiology, who worked for more than a year to bring the program online.
Connolly said more students are accessing higher education in an online setting. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that by 2017, more than 6 million students had enrolled in online post-secondary courses. And the number is only growing.
“With schedules and families, we need to make degree programs affordable and accessible. And that’s what this program is designed to do,” Connolly said.
The 36-hour online master of kinesiology, which can be completed in four semesters, is individualized based upon student career goals, with an emphasis on: exercise science-based topics at the advanced level, advanced quantitative and qualitative research classes and other areas of specialization based on a student’s science or health background. For example, students interested in athletic careers may choose to include the Sports Coaching certificate as part of a non-thesis track.
“The challenge for a program like kinesiology is the lab component to our classes. But working with our colleagues in Instructional Design, we used existing technologies to bridge the gap between an online setting and a lab setting. We’ll offer students a very robust program that feels interactive, even though it’s remote,” Connolly said.
Between public interest and tuition costs that remain among the most competitive in the Southeast, Dr. Steven Page, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, expects strong enrollment for the program.
“With so many students interested in health and wellness as career options, this degree fulfills an existing demand. But it also can be tailored to the individual student’s career desires. And any student interested in a research track is still able to do so, with some of their coursework spent in a traditional campus setting,” Page said.
Page reported that kinesiology is the third-largest major at Augusta University, a standing that reflects its growing significance. The field encompasses health education, fitness and wellness, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition and more – all fields endemic to public health. And chronic but preventable health concerns like cardiovascular disease are among the most frequent causes of death in America, outpacing concerns like violent crime and infectious disease.
Because of that, career prospects in kinesiology outpace the national average. Over the next 10 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects fitness instruction to grow 10 percent, exercise physiology to grow 13 percent, health education to grow 16 percent and physical therapy to grow 28 percent. From February 2018 to January 2019, more than 1,000 jobs posted in Georgia fell under the umbrella of kinesiology.
Connolly said the program is already receiving interest, with calls and emails coming in from Kentucky, Florida and the Northeast corridor.
“These are students who may not have been exposed any other way to all that Augusta University has to offer,” Connolly said. “It’s an exciting time.”
Applications are open now. Deadlines to apply are July 2 for fall 2019 admission and Nov. 2 for spring 2020 admission. For more information, email Dr. Graeme Connolly, program coordinator, or call 706-667-4882.