Kennesaw State launching new bachelor’s degree in physical activity leadership

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 17, 2023

A Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Activity Leadership (HPAL) degree program will be offered starting next fall in Kennesaw State University’s Wellstar College of Health and Human Services

The new HPAL program offers three tracks of concentration—coaching, youth activity leadership and health and physical education teacher certification. In each concentration, students will learn how to lead youth in the development of health-related skills, physical activity and self-efficacy within school and community settings.

“With more families seeking recreational opportunities for their children and more students wanting to influence healthy lifestyles, Kennesaw State will provide students with the education required to make a difference in these lives,” Wellstar College Dean Monica Swahn said. “This degree program positions Kennesaw State at the forefront of helping the youth of Georgia and the Southeast choose active habits.”

Approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents in December 2022, the program will take a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare education, using existing coursework from the College, as well as four other KSU units. It will fall under the purview of the College’s Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education and is led by program director Peter St. Pierre

“This program will allow our students to learn and practice the skills needed to engage school and community youth in healthy practices and physical activities,” said Deborah Baxter, assistant professor of health promotion and physical education. “We want to prepare our students to meet the leadership demands in markets like travel sports teams and public recreational facilities with a curriculum that includes teaching, management and leadership skills.”

All three concentrations can lead to in-demand careers. The coaching concentration has applications in school and community settings as well as in the private sector. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor show the job market is predicted to grow 26% through 2030, well ahead of other applications. Approximately 45 million American children participate in sports, and three-fourths of parents have at least one child competing in organized sports.

The youth activity leadership track prepares students for leadership positions in institutions such as schools, clubs, nonprofits and religious organizations. Opportunities in this space are expected to grow by 18% through 2028.

The teacher preparation concentration track will develop health and physical educators who provide high impact learning in schools and will be offered in concert with programs in the Bagwell College of Education.

The new degree program further bolster’s KSU’s commitment to improving health outcomes among both children and adults.

“We’re excited about all the possibilities this program will bring to KSU and the community,” said Monica Gerda, senior lecturer. “Students in all three concentrations will have the opportunity to build their knowledge and apply their skills in the classroom and out in the field. Our students are going to make a huge impact. They have the ability to change lives and get kids excited about being healthy and active.”

– By Dave Shelles

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit