UVA Wise now has four new majors within the College’s Education Department so current students and prospective students have more academic choices and more career opportunities. The new fields of study, which begin in Fall 2020, also give graduates with degrees in those academic programs prime opportunities to pursue graduate level study.

The four new majors are Exercise Science, Health and Wellness, Pre-K-12 Physical Education Teacher Licensure, and Sports Management. Faculty in the department believe the new majors will appeal to students who enjoy athletics and want to continue their love of sports, but also plan to have a solid career.

Registrar Narda Porter has worked closely with the department to develop the majors. All four, which were presented by the department, were approved by the Faculty Senate and the Academic Programs Committee.

Porter said some students, especially ones who are interested in health careers but are not fully committed to those programs, now have another option to pursue their interest in health and wellness.

“It will help some students who are not exactly sure what they want to major in find a home in a health-related field,” Porter said. “It’s a game changer. The faculty in the department are excited and eager to welcome new students. Health and wellness is a very important topic, and offering this major will make a huge difference to our current students, but also to students looking for this kind of major.”

Matthew Williams, Ray Schweighardt, Bruce Wasem and Cody Sanders have worked closely with Porter on the programs.

“It opens the door for more students to come here, and it could also play a positive role in retention,” Williams said.

Sanders said the job market is wide open for students who graduate with degrees in the new programs.

“The job growth in those areas will top 30 percent in the next 10 years,” Sanders said. “We are creating opportunities.”

Wasem said the new programs will allow students to focus clearly on certain fields of study.

“There are still a lot of students who don’t know what they want to major in,” Wasem said. “Now they will have more choices.”

“If you are a student who loves sports and athletics but you know you have to focus on something else to get a job and make a living, these programs will be a good choice,” Schweighardt said. “If you align your passion with your career, you will be successful.”

Porter said the majors require students to earn 120 to 123 credit hours to meet degree requirements. The number of credit hours is something state officials encourage colleges and universities to strive for because it is economically feasible for students and their families. For community college students graduating with an associate’s degree, this is a two + two option. Students who come in well prepared can complete their degree in two years or maybe less.

“Over 95 percent of our students expect to graduate here and get a job right away,” Porter said. “Most of our students are looking for a career, and these programs will give graduates that opportunity.”

All involved also see the new programs as being more manageable when it comes to advising students. They also tout the program as project based rather than having lessons delivered primarily by lecture.

The academic programs begin in August 2020. Porter and the faculty are working to include the degree requirements and course information in the upcoming UVA Wise catalog.

Photo: Matthew Williams, Ray Schweighardt, Cody Sanders and Bruce Wasum.