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New bachelor’s prepares students for careers in fitness and sports fields

Students climb the rock wall at Campus Rec

The Department of Kinesiology will offer a new Bachelor of Science in Exercise, Physical Activity and Sport degree starting in fall 2024.

The program will prepare students for enter directly into the workforce in a variety of fields including technology, telehealth, business, and sport and performance analytics.

The new degree program also responds to student needs for a variety of learning modalities, weaving together online, hybrid and face-to-face courses. This approach will help educate rural students in Idaho who might not have access to fully face-to-face programs. As with other College of Health Sciences offerings with a significant, primarily or exclusively online component, the degree is also likely to attract many students from outside the state.

Tim Kempf, a clinical associate professor and associate chair of the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Kinesiology, has been working on the degree for the past two years — but thinking about it for far longer. A feasibility study, conducted in the summer of 2022, confirmed what Kempf had long believed: many Boise State students are eager to head out to work with their bachelor’s degree in hand.

“I’ve always thought we should have a program that terminates at the bachelor level,” Kempf said. “We needed to serve another group of students.”

The cost of higher education, the amount of debt some students accrue — and the state’s clear desire to keep skilled and well-trained potential employees close to home — makes the new offering compelling to students and employers alike.

“We are a state institution, we attract the children of tax-paying citizens, and our job is to educate these students and put them into the workforce,” Kempf said. “We have a population of undergrads who want to get an undergraduate degree and stay in Idaho and work.

“It’s flexible, it’s nimble, and it’s a practical degree,” he said. “We have a fully developed, practical degree program that terminates at the bachelor’s level that will prepare students for careers.”

A wide variety of careers available to graduates

Student in blue kayak in pool

Kempf and Department of Kinesiology Chair Lynda Ransdell know that Bronco graduates with the new bachelor’s will find positions in everything from personal training, adult fitness and sport performance to weight management, physical activity programming and strength and conditioning.

At the same time, the new degree introduces students to the concepts of telehealth and data analytics, positioning them for emerging fields where there is a need for skilled employees. Classes also teach entrepreneurship and can set them up for founding their own businesses.

The degree is likely to be particularly compelling to those who are not inclined to relocate for their higher education experience, who then can fairly quickly put that knowledge to work.

“It’s really a service to the rural areas of Idaho,” Ransdell said. “We want them out there in the field, making a difference.

“Because many of the courses for the degree are offered online, and because some of these courses are offered in the summer, students can finish in a timely fashion.”

Students armed with the new degree will be prepared to meet the needs of a wide variety of populations that have come to expect tailored approaches to their well-being.

“We really believe that there is a continuum of activity preferences that people have,” Ransdell said. “The goal is to have people as active as possible for as long as possible, and to see the health and sport-enhancing benefits.

“Our department is really excited to roll it out. We think it will be one the premier degrees in the state. No one else is doing it. I think we’re ahead of the curve on this one, and hopefully the enrollment will follow.”