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Appalachian to offer online degree in health promotion

BOONE—Appalachian State University will begin offering an online degree-completion program leading to a bachelor of science degree in health promotion summer semester 2009.

It is the first online undergraduate degree to be offered by the university. Its development grew from conversations with the leadership at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina indicating that the degree would benefit employees working in health-related positions in corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies across the state.

“We want to reach the nontraditional student who is thinking about a career change or has completed the first two years at a community college and wants to continue their education,” said Alan Utter, a professor and director of the Health Promotion Program in the Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science (HLES) where the degree is based.

A cohort of twenty students admitted to the degree program will take two courses each term for 3.5 years. The degree program will include coursework in nutrition and health, epidemiology, environmental health, health behavior change and health risk appraisal.  An internship experience and business minor will enhance the degree.

“We believe an online health promotion degree will help North Carolina better address the health and wellness concerns of its citizens,” said Tom Fisher, executive director of Appalachian’s Division of Educational Outreach and Summer Programs.

Utter estimates students will spend five to seven hours a week on various online instructional activities. The courses will incorporate online forums that students will use to correspond with faculty and classmates. Opportunities for fieldwork also will be provided.

Chris Shreve, an HLES instructor and cohort advisor, is helping faculty develop their online courses.  “We want to replicate the teacher-student interaction that occurs in the traditional classroom setting as much as possible,” Shreve said.

Faculty will use a Web conferencing tool that will allow students to make presentations online, and chat via instant messaging, e-mail or with a microphone connected to their computer.

“With these various methods of communication, we think the online experience won’t be all that different from the traditional classroom,” Shreve said.

Information about the degree and admission requirements is available at www.online.northcarolina.edu, search: Health Promotion.

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