SUNY Oswego recently earned state approval to offer its bachelor of science program in wellness management as an all-online option starting this fall, helping students who are busy balancing work, family and school.

Jamie Walzer, a senior wellness management major and biology minor from Rochester, perhaps fits another category -- students eager to get into graduate school or the workforce ahead of the normal four-year timetable for an undergraduate degree.

Walzer aims to go to graduate school for training as a physician assistant, and, with the help of wellness management online courses already on the books, is on track to obtain her undergraduate degree in three years this May.

"That's why I did a lot of the classes in my major online," said Walzer. "I did a whole semester over last summer."

Dr. Sandra Bargainnier, chair of health promotion and wellness in the School of Education, said the all-online option to deliver wellness management core courses and electives has evolved over years of improvements in instructional methods and design. The knowledge and skills students are expected to take away from each course are equivalent to those delivered in a classroom, she said.

"Instructors have to add value to the experience, to bring their engaged and present and creative selves to these courses," Bargainnier said. "It takes time to do it well. I'm proud of our faculty for the effort they've put into developing and enhancing the online options."

'Global workforce'

With the assistance of its corps of instructional designers, Oswego harnesses the power of Open SUNY, the Blackboard Learn learning management system, tools such as real-time collaboration, video capture and textbook publisher simulations, online communities like Google Hangouts, YouTube and much more to add value to online courses.

"It moves us much closer to what the world looks like as a distributed workforce, a global workforce," said Greg Ketcham, assistant dean of the Division of Extended Learning at SUNY Oswego. "We are modeling these innovative online methods for students and saying, 'These are the kinds of skills you're going to carry forward.'"

Jessica Harris, a health promotion and wellness faculty member, said consistent instructor participation in the give-and-take of distance learning is crucial.

"I think in the online setting, it's important to have instructor presence," she said. "I supplement readings and discussion board responses with a lot of videos of myself doing short takes to clarify the answers to questions."

Besides holding herself accountable for students' learning experiences, Harris also emphasizes student accountability, teaching wellness courses in modules that follow the model of overview, assignment, discussion and mastery quiz.

Walzer said she has responded well to the challenge of Harris' classes. "You get out what you put in," she said.

Careers galore

Whether students opt for face-to-face, all-online or a hybrid approach, Bargainnier said SUNY Oswego's undergraduate degree in wellness management offers a strong foundation for a wealth of career and advanced degree opportunities: public health, nursing, mental health counseling, medical school, athletic coaching, personal training, human services programs with health components, nutrition, physical therapy, self-enrichment fields such as yoga instructors and wellness consultants, entrepreneurship in health and wellness fields, and more.

"What's great about our program is the flexibility it gives you to go in a variety of directions," she said.

Among courses available in the wellness management sequence are "Introduction to Health Promotion and Wellness," "Essentials of Exercise Physiology," "Health Promotion Program Planning," "Nutrition Concepts," "Evaluation and Research in Health Promotion" and electives in psychology, management and marketing.

For more information on the all-online option for completing a bachelor of science degree in wellness management, visit, email or call 315-312-2270.