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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


UCM Announces New Bachelor’s Degree in Health Studies

Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 22, 2010) – Students who are interested in pursuing careers in health care have a new opportunity at UCM. This fall UCM launches its new baccalaureate degree in Health Studies.

Recently approved by the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, the program is offered through the Department of Nutrition within the university’s College of Health and Human Services. Students will have the opportunity to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies, with options in Community Health, Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Occupational Therapy, and Social Science.

Dirk Nelson, chair of the Department of Nutrition, said the program is an excellent opportunity for students who may not want to work as a physician or a nurse, but want to work in a health-related profession. He noted the program is the culmination of two to three years of preparation that has involved constituents across difference academic disciplines.

“We’re taking advantage of strengths university-wide to put this together,” he said, adding that the new 120-hour degree is made possible using existing courses and without having to hire new faculty.

“It’s part of an effort to provide programs that are attractive and viable,” Nelson said. “That’s important to students and their parents.” 

Department coordinator Lance Ratcliff, assistant professor of dietetics and nutrition, expects strong student interest for the program as “both the breadth and demand of health-related careers are currently increasing, and this growth is projected to continue for many years.”

“Our department fully expects student interest to grow rapidly, and our knowledgeable faculty are genuinely excited to help students reach their intellectual and professional goals,” Ratcliff said.

The department believes different options also make Health Studies an attractive program. The Social Science option is ideal for students who want to pursue careers with community, human service, and religious organizations; health-care and long-term care institutions; and federal, state and local government agencies. Graduates may get involved in research and processes related to diseases that affect the elderly; analyze issues related to older persons such as retirement opportunities, the health care system, and housing alternatives; or planning, administering and evaluating community-based services and service delivery systems.

The Pre-Physical Therapy/Pre-Occupational Therapy option prepares students to meet prerequisites needed to enter professional schools in physical therapy and occupational therapy. The Community Health option prepares professionals who specialize in the prevention of disease and promotion of appropriate wellness lifestyles. Developing school and community nutrition programs, conducting education programs to reduce morbidity and mortality from chronic diseases, and ensuring clean water and air for the public are examples of the responsibilities community health professionals may address.

Ratcliff and Nelson stressed that students who enroll in the program will have access to state-of-the-art educational facilities. Many courses will be taught in the Morrow-Garrison complex, which is undergoing extensive renovation to accommodate academic programs, many of them affiliated with the Department of Nutrition. Work should be completed during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Rick Sluder, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said he was pleased by the cooperative effort across academic disciplines that is making the Health Studies degree possible.

“The degree is an excellent example of what can be attained when faculty are brought together to work on a project that is in the best interests of students, and the university,” he said.

Individuals who want more information about the Health Studies program should contact Nelson at 660-543-4256 or email or call Ratcliff at 660-543-8012, email