As part of its commitment to provide competitive, career-focused academic programs, the University of West Georgia plans to introduce a new master’s degree in integrative health and wellness in 2023.
Recently approved by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents and announced as part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, this unique graduate-level program – to be delivered fully online – will help students on their journey to provide critical health and wellness guidance in a variety of industries, including health care, insurance, education and more.
Students who complete the program and its related assessments will also be eligible to take the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) certification exam.
“The events of the past two years have highlighted an increased need for a holistic approach to health and wellness, a lens we have intentionally chosen to view all our work through at the University of West Georgia,” said UWG President Brendan Kelly. “This new degree is just another way we are paying attention to our students’ career goals and responding to industry growth. This program will benefit our community in multiple dimensions: for students, for potential employers and for the greater population as we all seek to lead healthier lives.”
Pending SACSCOC final approval, the program will begin in spring 2023, with new student cohorts beginning each consecutive spring semester. The 14-month program will include 10 courses covering a variety of topics relevant to the industry, including topics like wellness law and entrepreneurship, health technologies, behavior change models, mind-body medicine, research, exercise and nutrition and advanced health and wellness coaching concepts. The program will culminate in a capstone course in which students will pursue practical work that relates to their professional plans.
UWG has intentionally created a curriculum that meets the training criteria of the NBHWC, meaning that in addition to being fully prepared to pursue a career in health and wellness coaching, students who complete the online program and its related assessments will be eligible to take the national board certification exam. UWG’s program will be the only board-approved graduate program in the southeast and one of only five across the country.
“There are tremendous career opportunities for certified health coaches, and we are excited to offer a program that will provide students with the skills and expertise they need, as well as a direct path to board certification,” shared Bridgette Stewart, chief wellness officer for UWG. “As the country recovers from the past two years, we expect health and wellness needs to only increase, and we are excited to play a role in training professionals who can make an impact on this important issue.”
UWG anticipates applications for the spring 2023 semester will be available in late summer 2022 for the program, offered through UWG’s College of Education. UWG is already seeing interest from alumni, current students and even members of the staff.
Sarah Gross ’20 is a graduate of the undergraduate health and community wellness degree program and currently serves as project manager for the Girls Empowering Movement at UWG. Gross said she looks forward to applying to the program.
“I am interested in this degree because I want to take my knowledge and expertise as a current health coach to the next level to more holistically explore wellbeing in order to better serve clients and organizations at large,” Gross said. “I want to achieve the gold standard for the profession that I am passionate about, and I believe UWG’s program and faculty can help me achieve this goal.”