Why Health Sciences?

The Department of Health Science offers degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. At the undergraduate level, the department offers a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. This program prepares students for diverse careers within in-demand healthcare settings, or for pursuing graduate study in specific healthcare majors. Students will develop the knowledge and skill necessary for careers in the ever-changing medical/healthcare field. 

At the graduate level, the Health Science Department offers a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. The PA program provides students with superior knowledge and skills for the evaluation, monitoring, diagnosis, treatment, and counseling of patients across their lifespan. Upon successful completion of the NCCPA PANCE exam, graduates will be eligible for licensure and practice as a Physician Assistant in a broad range of practice settings.

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Jennifer Hixon, DHSc, PA-C
Chair - Health Sciences Department


The Health Sciences Program offers inter/multidisciplinary coursework and clinical experiences leading to a major on the undergraduate transcript.

The mission of the Health Sciences program is to prepare students for entry into professional healthcare careers or graduate programs through a rigorous course of study grounded in patient-centered, team-based problem solving, and pre-requisite sciences. Interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement are fundamental processes, as faculty and students collaborate with other campus departments and clinical and community care centers to address public health problems in Western Massachusetts and beyond.

In addition to aligning with the University mission, the Health Sciences program is well positioned to prepare students for the new healthcare environment. A shift from an illness to a wellness model is emphasizing prevention as a key component in optimizing health. Westfield State University is recognized by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association, as a Silver Level Exercise is Medicine campus. A key goal of this initiative is to connect clinical care (hospitals, clinics, etc.) and community care (fitness centers, schools, senior centers, individual community members, etc.) teams.

The program’s intentional addition of wellness theory and its application for disease prevention and treatment, along with the pedagogy of interprofessional education make it unique to existing similar programs. The pedagogical approach utilized throughout the core curriculum is grounded in interprofessional education values – teamwork, conflict resolution and effective use of informatics. All program core courses involve group work with case-based, problem-based pedagogy and simulation. The integration of information literacy and multiple disciplinary perspectives is emphasized.

After successfully completing the program, our graduates may accept positions in a wide variety of graduate programs: exercise science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, athletic training, public health, nursing, health education, epidemiology to name a few. Our graduates may also work in a wide variety of settings: cardiac rehabilitation, echocardiogram technology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physician assistant, biotechnology, health informatics, healthcare management, community health, and nursing.