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Health Sciences


The Health Sciences major is located in the Department of Health Sciences within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies.


Health Assessment and Promotion
Health Studies
Occupational Studies
Public Health Education

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The purpose of the Health Sciences Department is to contribute to the liberal education of all students and to prepare students for professional careers in health sciences. The Health Assessment and Promotion concentration prepares students for entry-level positions in wellness facilities, hospitals and corporate-based health promotion programs. Students are trained to develop and implement comprehensive health promotion activities using health education, assessment techniques and fitness concepts. This concentration prepares students to enroll in the health/fitness instructor certification program sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine. A concentration in Health Studies emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health. This concentration is designed for students interested in continuing their education in graduate and/or professional programs within health-related fields. This concentration can be used as a foundation for graduate school. Students are encouraged to research future school choices and take needed pre-requisite classes. Students can also select a pre-professional package to guide their class choice selection from one of the following:  pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-optometry, pre-physical therapy, pre-pharmacy, pre-physician assistant and pre-veterinary. This concentration can also be used as a foundation for graduate school study. The Occupational Studies concentration is an early-entry program that can lead to the Master in Occupational Therapy (MOT) degree graduate program. Admission to JMU does not guarantee admission to the occupational studies concentration or to the MOT graduate program. Public Health Education prepares the student for entry‑level health education positions or health‑related positions in city, state, regional, national, and international health agencies.

More About the Field 

Health Sciences is an applied discipline that deals with the study of health in the broadest sense. Building on a foundation of biological, mathematical and social sciences, the health sciences student explores the health issues associated with personal wellness, health promotion, nutrition, disease, the environment, and the community. Students often pursue education in dietetics, health services administration, wellness assessment and promotion, or in one of the many clinical fields of study such as athletic training, physician assistant, occupational therapy or physical therapy. Those in this profession are drawn by the desire to make a difference for society. The goal of the Health Sciences Department is to maximize the potential of the individual and society through the enhancement of health and wellness.


There are four concentrations within the Health Sciences major: Health Assessment and Promotion, Public Health Education, Occupational Studies, and Health Studies. Each concentration prepares students to enter careers that allow them to work at a number of levels from face to face contact with individuals, groups and communities to more strategic work such as policy development. Health Promotion is a term that has been applied to a wide range of approaches to improving health of people, communities and target populations. Promoting healthy practices could occur in organizations such as schools, corporations, hospitals, or in broader settings such as advocating for effective public health policies at all government levels, or impacting the wellness and healthy lifestyles of individuals. Health Educators are an integral part of community health education programs. Health educators often work with agencies and programs dealing with substance abuse, HIV/STDs, nutrition, smoking, pregnancy, safety, and diabetes. Health educators develop educational materials, public information reports, grant proposals as well as collect and analyze data for the purposes of designing preventative health care programs. Students interested in becoming occupational therapists can choose occupational studies to prepare them for entrance into graduate level occupational therapy professional schools. Students in the Health Studies concentration gain a strong foundation of health science and it's principles in preparation for professional programs.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Health sciences students often minor in Biology, Health Communication, Medical Spanish, Substance Abuse Intervention, or complete a pre-professional track relating to one or more professional programs.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Successful students have a keen interest in the fields of health, research techniques and the human sciences.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Admissions Coordinator
  • Cancer Outreach Worker
  • Clinical Coordinator
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Community Health Specialist
  • Community Volunteer Director
  • Consumer Safety Inspector
  • Corporate Fitness Director
  • Corporate Wellness Specialist
  • Dentist
  • Disability Claim Manager
  • Emergency Room Technician
  • Employee Wellness Specialist
  • Extension Agent
  • Fitness Program Coordinator
  • Grants and Research Associate
  • Health Advocate
  • Health Care Recruiter
  • Health Educator
  • Health Information Specialist
  • Health Insurance Planning Specialist
  • Health Planning Analyst
  • Health Promotion Coordinator
  • HIV Counselor
  • HMO Contract Coordinator
  • Hospital Wellness Coordinator
  • Immunization Specialist
  • Industrial Fitness Specialist
  • Medical Officer Manager
  • Medical Record Administrator
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Optometrist
  • Outreach/ Referral Coordinator
  • Patient Care Administrator
  • Patient Advocate
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Agent
  • Pharmacist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physician (D.O. or M.D.)
  • Physician Assistant
  • Prosthetics/ Orthotics Tech
  • Public Health Educator
  • Public Health Statistician
  • Quality Services Coordinator
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Rehabilitation Technician
  • School Health Educator
  • SPA/Health Club Manager
  • Substance Abuse Case Manager
  • Substance Abuse Educator
  • Surgical Assistant
  • Veterinarian
  • Wellness Coordinator

Who Employs Graduates?

Advocacy Agencies, Colleges/Universities, Community Service Agencies, Consulting Firms, Corporate Wellness Programs, Federal/State/Local Governments, Foundations, International Health Organizations, Health Clinics, Hospitals, Managed Care Organizations, Manufacturing Companies, Medical Centers, Nonprofit Agencies, Pharmaceutical Firms, Public Health Departments, Public/Private Schools, Rehabilitation Centers, and Women’s Clinics.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Most concentrations in Health Sciences expose a student to either a practicum, field work or internship experience. Possible experiences include: field placements in hospitals and health agencies, attendance at workshops and conferences, and organizing and conducting a campus-wide wellness day. Students could also benefit from membership in professional organizations. Students should consult with the faculty coordinator of the area in which they are interested for more information.  

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles

Advocacy, Grant Writing, and Civic Organizations
Health Educator and Community Health Workers
Healthcare Occupations
Medical and Health Services Managers
Occupational Therapist
Physical Therapist
Physician Assistants
Physicians and Surgeons
Recreational Therapists

Research Careers

Visit our Career Outcomes page to find out what alumni were doing right after graduating with this major.


Log in to Vault for access to detailed information on over 900 professions including employment prospects, estimated salaries, possible job titles, and top companies.


Visit our Research Careers page for even more career research tools.



© Career and Academic Planning, James Madison University,

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career and Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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