Prepare for a Career in the Health Industry

Health Studies is a degree with two emphasis areas: Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Occupational Therapy and Community Health. Together, these options provide you with foundational coursework in health and wellness. The first option prepares you with the necessary prerequisite courses for application to graduate school (PT, OT, AT, chiropractic, etc.), while emphasizing human movement. The second option serves as a your springboard into health-related careers (health education, health promotion, accelerated nursing programs, etc.)

Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) are two careers aimed at optimizing and improving human movement. To become a PT or OT, you must first obtain a bachelor’s degree, and complete a set of prerequisite courses. While in the last year of coursework, you can apply to graduate programs. PT is a doctoral level program, and the majority of OT programs are a master’s, although, there are a few OT doctoral programs. UCM does NOT have a graduate program for PT and OT, but offers a Pre-PT/OT emphasis for those wanting to continue to graduate school. Benefits to the Pre-PT/OT degree: streamlined, graduate in 4 year; most, if not all, prerequisite courses are included in the plan; takes out the “guess work;” the department of Nutrition & Kinesiology offers students a wide variety of movement based coursework directly related to these fields. While the emphasis area is geared toward PT/OT, students who are interested in pursuing a master’s in Athletic Training, Chiropractic Medicine, Orthotic and Prosthetics, Physician Assistant, and other related fields, would still obtain the necessary preparatory coursework for application to the corresponding graduate programs.

Job Shadowing / Observation

Starting observation early in the academic career helps you identify career interests and highlights a career path that might be the right fit. Most OT and PT graduate schools require you to observe in the career field. Each school has a unique requirement of hours ranging from 20 hours to 100+ hours. You are encouraged to observe in a variety of settings (inpatient, outpatient, home health, school-based therapy, skilled nursing facility, etc.). It is oftentimes easier for you to observe over University breaks, rather than during the semester. It's a great idea to keep track of these hours (dates, times, location, and therapist observed) as they will be needed later in the application process.



Prepare for a Career in the Health Industry

Optimal health is the one commodity everyone needs. Whether it’s physical, emotional, mental, spiritual or social, each person’s total well-being matters.

With your bachelor’s degree in Health Studies from UCM, you are prepared to promote healthy behaviors with an interdisciplinary perspective in communities, clinics, and corporations.

Because this field is multi-disciplinary, students are encouraged to tailor their degree to their interests under the guidance of success advisors. By integrating health courses with programs such as psychology, nursing, business or criminal justice, Health Studies allows you to blend health and well-being into value-added research and education. When you graduate, select a career in community or workplace health or continue your educational pursuits in graduate school.

Community Health Option

In Community Health, you have the opportunity to fill your health professional toolkit with a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) certification, communication and research skills, and domestic or international work experience. With these tools, you are prepared for a health profession or graduate program.

Good news! The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that health educators are growing 16% faster than the average career from 2016-2026 with a median salary approximately $54,000/year. Individuals, corporations, and governments are prioritizing healthy lifestyles, cultures and environments.

More Information

Preparing for Graduation

  • Volunteer: Start now spending a few hours a week in a health-related professional environment.
  • Employment: Work part-time or full time in a health-related field during your collegiate career.
  • Professional Organization: Join a professional health organization, attend a conference and/or present at a conference
  • Research: Participate in undergraduate research with a faculty mentor.
  • Study Abroad: Learn from and take advantage of the many benefits from studying abroad.
  • Internship: Serve as an intern with a potential community health employer.
  • CHES exam: Prepare and take the Certified Health Education Specialist exam


  • Public Health agencies
  • Hospitals (Western Missouri Medical Center, St. Luke’s, Children's Mercy)
  • Corporations (Cerner, General Motors, Harley Davidson,
  • Insurance Agencies (CBIZ, Cigna, Humana)
  • Not for Profit Organizations (AHA, ACS)
  • Government Agencies (CDC, NIH, city governments)
  • Health Organizations (SOPHE, APHA)
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Clinics (Chiropractic, Integrated Health)
  • Senior Centers


“The Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) examination is a competency-based tool used to measure possession, application and interpretation of knowledge in the Seven Areas of Responsibility for Health Education Specialists delineated by A Competency-Based Framework for Health Education Specialists 2015. The exam reflects the entry-level Sub-competencies of these Areas of Responsibility.”

“Promote physical activity from the playground to policy-makers by becoming an ACSM/NPAS Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist (PAPHS). In collaboration with ACSM and the National Physical Activity Society (NPAS) – learn how to make your voice heard for the advancement of your community on the way to building partnerships, developing initiatives, and advocating for programming that centers on physical activity as a path to stronger public health.”

”Wellcoaches founded the first coaching school for health and wellness professionals in 2002, in collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine, and published the first coaching textbook in health and wellness. Since then, Wellcoaches has defined the cutting edge and the gold standard for high impact, evidence-based, and innovative education, training, and certification. We provide the tools and skills to become game-changing professionals in corporate, healthcare, military and consumer well-being. We have trained more than 10,000 coaches in nearly 50 countries and now train 1,200 coaches per year.”

Job/Graduate School Opportunities


  • Community Relations Coordinator
  • Independent Living Specialist
  • Infection Control Specialist
  • Lobbyist/Health Care Advocate
  • Social Services Case Manager
  • Substance Abuse Coach
  • Public Health Educator (Public Health agencies)
  • Epidemiologist
  • Wellness Coordinator (schools)
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations (American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, etc.)


  • Health/Well-being Benefits Manager
  • Health Coach
  • Population Health Specialist (Humana)
  • Wellness Coordinators/Directors (Cerner, CBiz)
  • Human Resources Benefits Specialist – Health/Well-being
  • Health Administration


  • Epidemiologist
  • Wellness Coordinator (hospitals, clinics)
  • Public Health Specialist
  • Integrated Clinics
  • Rehabilitation Clinics (health promotion/well-being)

Graduate School

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy & Management
  • Global Health
  • Business Administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health
Program taught in:
  • English (US)
University of Central Missouri

See 6 more programs offered by University of Central Missouri »

Last updated February 27, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
4 years
451 USD
Missouri Resident: $225.65/per credit hour. Non-Resident: $451.30/per credit hour. Per credit hour rates do not include mandatory fees, housing or textbooks.
By locations
By date
Start Date
End Date
Apr 30, 2023
Application deadline
Start Date
End Date
Dec 31, 2022
Application deadline
Start Date
End Date
July 31, 2022
Application deadline
Application deadline
End Date
July 31, 2022
Application deadline
End Date
Dec 31, 2022
Application deadline
End Date
Apr 30, 2023

Bachelor in Health Studies