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Wellness Track

Description and Career Opportunities:

The purpose of the Wellness track is to prepare researchers/scholars, leaders, and teachers in the health and wellness promotion area. The continued growth of exercise and wellness in a variety of settings including corporate, educational, governmental, medical, and private programs has created a demand for scholars in this area. The program was created because of the demand for teachers and scholars with great expertise related to health and wellness promotion, with a focus on physical activity and nutrition. Universities need people who can teach a variety of courses in exercise and wellness areas, and who also have outstanding research credentials.

The study of physical activity is central to this degree. While the focus is on physical activity, health and wellness promotion (disease prevention, quality of life promotion, and enhancement of well-being), sound nutrition and stress management are also instrumental to the track. It is expected that students admitted to the Ph.D. program will have a strong foundation in Exercise and Wellness. Those lacking background in the area will be required to make up deficiencies.

Evidence now exists that healthy lifestyles helps to reduce the risks of chronic disease and improve one’s quality of life. Good health, including wellness and sound physical fitness are attainable goals by most people if they adhere to healthy lifestyles. Most recent documents, including the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health, reveal the importance of physical activity. This scientific evidence has led corporate, government, and other health and fitness agencies to become involved in health promotion efforts.

Most graduates of the Wellness track will find positions in college teaching and research. Typically graduates are hired to teach in health and wellness promotion, worksite wellness, and fitness management programs. Courses most frequently taught by graduates include: health and wellness promotion, fitness management, wellness and fitness foundations, and exercise and nutrition, though there are many others depending on the graduate’s appointment.

Though most graduates will pursue careers in college teaching and research, some pursue fitness, health and wellness promotion work in agencies outside of the university. Examples include employment in an administrative capacity with the American Cancer Society or the American Heart Association as well as administration of a private health promotion facility such as The Cooper Institute. Others may find careers in clinically-based health promotion and wellness centers.

Although a Wellness Ph.D. may be considered to be narrowly conceived (National Science Foundation, June 5-6, 1995; Council of Graduate Schools, "Preparing Future Faculty," 1994-96), as a track within the Human Development Ph.D., this narrowness becomes more broadly defined. A strength of the program is the opportunity for students in all areas of the Ph.D. to interact, gaining a broad perspective of human development and an understanding of the connection among different helping systems.

A survey of jobs in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Woods & Karp, 1997) found that in physical activity only 18% of the jobs were at Research I and II institutions while 82% were at Doctoral I and II, Comprehensive/regional, liberal arts, and community college institutions. In addition, few of the job advertisements were seeking individuals with very narrow preparation; most were seeking scholar/practitioners who could function more broadly in teaching and research.


  • National Science Foundation. (June 5-6, 1995). Summary report: Graduate Education and postdoctoral training in the mathematical and physical sciences. Washington, DC: Author.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996.
  • Wood, M.L., & Karp, G.G. (1997). Are you ready for today's higher education positions? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 68(7), 46-50.


Note:  This updated curriculum is effective for students entering the Wellness track during the Spring of 2010 or later.

A student matriculating with a master's degree, including a degree earned at an international institution, must earn no fewer than 60 graduate credits at NDSU. Of these credits, no fewer than 15 credits must be NDSU courses at the 700 level (700-789 and 791).

All courses are 3.0 credits unless otherwise stated.

Curriculum (63.0 credit minimum)Potential Courses
HDE Core: (4.0 credits)Statistics course options:
HDE 720 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Human DevelopmentStat 726 Applied Regression Analysis
HDE 790 Graduate Seminar (1 credit)STAT 662 Intro to Experimental Design
Research Core:  (15.0 credit hours)STAT 670 Statistical SAS Programming
STAT 725 Applied StatisticsSTAT 663 Nonparametric Statistics
6.0 additional credits in statisticsSTAT 764 Multivariate Methods
HNES 710 Recent Literature and ResearchSTAT 730 Biostatistics
3.0 additional credits in Research MethodsResearch Methods course options:
Required Core:  (16.0 credits)HDFS 758 Longitudinal Research Methods and Analysis
HNES 710 Recent Literature and Research
HNES 726 Nutrition and WellnessHDFS 790 Problems in Research Methods
HNES 727 PA and WellnessMICR 674 Epidemiology
HNES 754 Assessment in PA and NutPSYC 640 Experimental Methods
COMM 702 Intro to College Teaching ORPSYC 762 Advanced Research Methods and Analysis
HDFS 702 Teaching Developmental SciencePSYC 771 Social/Health Psychology Research
HNES 790 Seminar (4.0 credits; 1.0 credit/semester required for each of the first two years enrollmentSOC 700 Qualitative Methods
Research Practicum: (3-6 credits)SOC 701 Quantitative Methods
HNES 794 (must be taken over at least two separate semesters)Electives:
Electives:HNES 652 Nutrition, Health, and Aging
12.0 credits (maximum of 3.0 credits Independent StudyHNES 655 Sports Nutrition
Teaching Practicum: (3-6 credit hours)HNES 703 Grad Biomechanics
HNES 794 (should be taken twice, teaching two separate courses)HNES 704 Psych Found of Sport & PA
Dissertation:  (10-15 credits) (Must encompass at least two separate semesters)HNES 713 Grad. Exercise Physiology
HNES 721 Health Promotion Programming
HNES 724 Nutrition Ed in the Comm.
NURS 630 Adv Community Assessment
PSYC 681 Health Psychology
HDE 777 Advanced Stress Management 
OR other courses approved by Major Advisor and committee

Ph.D. Student Expectations:

To be completed prior to dissertation proposal (in no particular order):

  1. Presentation of a research abstract at a regional or national meeting.
  2. Completed literature review on a topic of choice, guided by major advisor.
  3. Research presentation to HNES graduate faculty.
  4. Completion of discipline-specific teaching experience.
  5. Moderation of at least one research roundtable
  6. Mentoring of at least one MS thesis project, including assistance with data analysis
  7. Evidence of discipline-specific service activities.

To be completed prior to dissertation defense:

  1. Submit at least one research manuscript to a discipline specific journal for publication.
  2. Completion of a second discipline-specific teaching experience with progressively more responsibliity.
  3. Prepare and submit a grant to support research.

Admission requirements (beginning Fall 2010):

  • Completion of a Master's degree from an accredited university in field closely related to Nutrition, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, or Kinesiology
  • Cumulative graduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • GRE exam scores (total minimum of 1000 required on verbal and quantitative; score on each section can be no less than 450; must have been taken in last five years)
  • At least one graduate course in statistics and one course in research methods, with grades of at least a "B"
  • A minimum of 7 on the IELTS, 100 on the TOEFL ibt, or 68 on the PTE Academic is required for admission.
    NOTE: the Graduate School indicated that certain tests are only available in certain parts of the world. They recommend the above.

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Last Updated: Sunday, December 28, 2014 11:55:06 PM