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The Master of Science in Physical Activity and Wellness Science (PAWS) program provides the competencies necessary to promote health and wellness, assist in reducing health risks, and improve quality of life for individuals and communities.

Chronic diseases including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are not only the most common and costly diseases, but also the most preventable health problems in the U.S. Many of the health behaviors underlying chronic diseases, specifically lack of physical activity and poor nutrition, are modifiable. Graduates of the PAWS program are equipped to promote healthy behaviors and immediately eligible for employment in a wide variety of public and private settings, prepared for doctoral and professional programs in public and allied health, and eligible to sit for credentialing as either a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) with the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc. or Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist (PAPHS) with the American College of Sports Medicine. An integrative health and wellness coaching certificate option is also available.

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Curriculum

The PAWS curriculum focuses on the science underlying the relationship between physical (in)activity and chronic diseases, emphasizes health interventions based on scientific data and established behavioral and learning theories, as well as the educational, interpersonal, community, and legislative factors that promote positive health behaviors and reinforce negative behaviors.

Upon completion of the master's degree in PAWS, the successful student should be able to assess the current health status and needs of a community, identify existing resources that could be accessed and applicable to addressing the community’s needs, design an evidence-based program targeting the community’s needs including key steps, timelines, and measurable outcomes, successfully implement and evaluate the program, and then effectively communicate program outcomes.

PAWS M.S. Curriculum

1st Year Fall Semester (9 credits)

  • EXSC 302 - Evidence-based Practice in Physical Activity
  • EXSC 345 - Exercise Assessment and Prescription
  • EXSC 360 - Physical Activity, Weight Management, and Energy Balance

1st Year Spring Semester (9 credits)

  • EXSC 350 - Physiological Aspects of Physical Activity and Chronic Disease
  • EXSC 365 - Activity, Disability and Health
  • Elective Graduate Course

2nd Year Fall Semester (6 credits)

  • EXSC 303 - Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • EXSC 354 - Physical Activity & Wellness Promotion

2nd Year Spring Semester (6 credits)

  • EXSC 368 - Physical Activity and Wellness Program Design and Evaluation
  • EXSC 370 - Physical Activity & Wellness: Communication & Evaluation

Total = 30 credits

The final spring semester includes a comprehensive exam. Adjustments to the 2-year curriculum plan may be made on a case-by-case basis (i.e., year 1 course taken during year 2, elective course option in fall semester).

Download curriculum plan (PDF)  or view program handbook (PDF) .

 

Interested in earning a Certificate in Integrative Health and Wellness Coaching with your master's degree?

The joint PAWS and Wellness Coaching program offers the added benefit of preparation for certification as an integrative health and wellness coach. The coaching component of the curriculum offers motivational and behavioral skills to help individuals make lifestyle changes. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board Certified - Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) credential offered by the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching.

PAWS M.S. and Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching Certificate Curriculum

1st Year Fall Semester (9 credits)

  • EXSC 302 - Evidence-based Practice in Physical Activity
  • EXSC 345 - Exercise Assessment and Prescription
  • EXSC 360 - Physical Activity, Weight Management, and Energy Balance

1st Year Spring Semester (10 credits)

  • EXSC 350 - Physiological Aspects of Physical Activity and Chronic Disease
  • EXSC 365 - Activity, Disability and Health
  • HLTH 187 Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching Immersion Introduction
  • HLTH 188 Motivational Interviewing Introduction & Lab
  • HLTH 189 Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching Skills Introduction & Lab

2nd Year Fall Semester (10 credits)

  • EXSC 303 - Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • EXSC 354 - Physical Activity & Wellness Promotion
  • HLTH 287 Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching Immersion Advanced
  • HLTH 288 Motivational Interviewing Advanced & Lab
  • HLTH 289 Integrative Health and Wellness Coaching Skills Advanced & Lab

2nd Year Spring Semester (6 credits)

  • EXSC 368 - Physical Activity and Wellness Program Design and Evaluation
  • EXSC 370 - Physical Activity & Wellness: Communication & Evaluation
  • HLTH 299 Building Your Coaching Career (2 credits)*

* HLTH 299 is highly recommended but not required for completion of the Certificate in Integrative Health & Wellness Coaching.

Total credits = 35

The final spring semester includes a comprehensive exam.

View curriculum plan (PDF).

Admission Requirements

Requirements for application to the Physical Activity and Wellness Science M.S. program include:

  • Undergraduate degree from accredited college or university
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Recommended coursework: Physiology (e.g. Human Physiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Exercise Physiology) and Statistics
  • TOEFL scores (international students only)
  • Statement of Career Interests
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • UVM Graduate College application form

Frequently Asked Questions

ABOUT THE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND WELLNESS SCIENCE M.S.:

HOW LONG IS THE PROGRAM?

The program was originally designed to be completed in one year; however, it is now recommended to complete the program over a 2-year period. There is no thesis, formal research or field work required for the degree, although you may elect to pursue an internship to prepare for specialty certification.

IS THIS PROGRAM HYBRID?

Yes, the core courses in the PAWS curriculum are offered in a hybrid format (on-campus and online). The on-campus portion of the courses are offered in late afternoons and evenings.

WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID AND THE TUITION COSTS FOR THE PROGRAM?

To obtain current information for financial aid, tuition, and fees, refer to the Student Financial Services website. If you have questions about whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident, refer to the Registrar's Residency Policy. Residents of CT, ME, MA, NH, and RI are eligible for the New England Board of Higher Education's Tuition Break program.

WHEN IS THE APPLICATION DEADLINE?

The application deadline is March 1; however the application system is currently open and you are welcome (and encouraged) to submit your application at any time prior to the deadline. We review applications on an ongoing basis and notify applicants as soon as applications are reviewed (typically within 6 weeks).

WHAT ARE THE MINIMUM GRE SCORES?

We do not require GRE scores for application to the PAWS graduate program.

I DO NOT HAVE A BACKGROUND IN EXERCISE SCIENCE OR IN ANY OTHER HEALTH-RELATED FIELD. AM I STILL ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THE M.S. IN PAWS?

A background in exercise science and/or a health-related field is not required. There is recommended, pre-requisite coursework, but these courses are not required for application or admission to the program. Courses in the PAWS program will expose students to evidence-based, theoretical models to guide the planning, evaluation and implementation of physical activity interventions, health promotion and wellness programs at community levels.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GPA THAT I NEED TO BE CONSIDERED FOR ADMISSION TO THE PROGRAM? MAY I RETAKE COURSES TO OBTAIN A BETTER GRADE?

Applications with GPAs of 3.0 and higher will be reviewed. Applicants are welcome to retake classes to obtain a better grade if they would like to do so.

WHERE SHOULD I SEND MY APPLICATION MATERIALS?

The UVM Graduate Application, official transcripts, a statement of career interests and 3 letters of recommendation must be submitted online.

WHEN WILL I LEARN WHETHER I HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED TO THE PROGRAM?

Complete applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis (completed applications submitted prior to deadline will be reviewed within 6 weeks of submission).

ABOUT THE JOINT PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND WELLNESS SCIENCE M.S. PLUS INTEGRATIVE HEALTH & WELLNESS COACHING CERTIFICATE:

HOW LONG IS THE PROGRAM?

The program is designed to be completed over a 2-year period, although the timeline to complete PAWS courses may be extended over a longer period.

IS THIS PROGRAM HYBRID?

Yes, the core courses in the PAWS curriculum are offered in a hybrid format (on-campus and online). The on-campus portion of the courses are offered in late afternoons and evenings. The certificate courses are also offered in a hybrid format but vary in meeting patterns (i.e., one course involves an on-campus weekend class at the beginning of the semester while some content is offered synchronously online). More detail can be provided upon request.

DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE COURSES IN ORDER?

There is some flexibility in the sequence of PAWS courses; however all courses required for completion of the certificate must be taken in consecutive semesters.

AM I REQUIRED TO TAKE A CERTIFICATION EXAM TO EARN THE CERTIFICATE IN INTEGRATIVE HEALTH & WELLNESS COACHING?

No, the certification exam is not a required component for successful completion of the certificate. Completion of the certificate coursework however, allows you to sit for the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches (NBHWC) certification exam. Upon successful completion of the coursework and passing of the national certification exam, you would be recognized as a National Board Certified - Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC).

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PROGRAM SNAPSHOT

Application Deadline: March 1

Term Start Date: August

In-State Tuition: $683 per credit

Out-of-State Tuition: $1,720 per credit

Credits: 30

Duration: 2 Years

Learning Format: Online + On campus

*Tuition may change and varies based on number of enrolled credits per term. Eligible for the New England Board of Higher Education's Tuition Break  program.

Download Program Brochure (PDF)

Careers

Potential careers for graduates of the PAWS program include:

  • Wellness/lifestyle coach
  • Community health promotion specialist
  • Community physical activity specialist
  • Nutrition and physical activity program manager
  • Community health specialist
  • School district health coordinator
  • Health educator for an organization
  • Corporate wellness program coordinator
  • Health researcher or writer
  • Health promotion program coordinator
  • Instructor in college or graduate/undergraduate program

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