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Explore the rehabilitation science bachelor’s degree program at UW-Eau Claire

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's rehabilitation science degree is an excellent choice for those interested in kinesiology and providing care for special populations, such as older adults, individuals with disabilities and those with chronic health conditions. The first degree of its kind in the UW System, the growing major will prepare you for success in a variety of careers, including physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractic care.

Throughout the program, you'll learn the physiological basis of human movement and the functional changes in body systems. Comprehensive coursework, presentations and projects will introduce you to special topics and areas of focus within the field, such as corrective exercise programming, clinical exercise physiology, exercise physiology laboratory assessment, research, and adapted physical activity for populations with disabilities.

The kinesiology department prides itself on providing students with opportunities to apply what they've learned in the classroom to real-world situations. As part of the program's curriculum, you'll participate in various practica at local hospitals and clinics, gaining real, professional experience along the way. Work with P.R.I.D.E (Physical Activity and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities in the Eau Claire Area), Community Fitness, or Cancer Recovery and Fitness outreach programs offered on campus will further provide you with critical skills and valuable connections.

Graduates leave the program prepared to demonstrate and teach patients how to best care for themselves and to promote physical activity as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Equipped with the knowledge, tools and experience necessary to provide effective health care, you'll graduate ready to improve the quality of life for all your future patients. 

Research helps improve police officers' health, quality of life

The Eau Claire Police Department is making a significant change to how officers carry their equipment, thanks to research conducted by students in UW-Eau Claire's kinesiology department.

Students found that by transitioning officers out of traditional duty belts and into load-bearing vests, officers reported experiencing significantly less hip and lower-back pain. The study has since gained interest from dozens of law enforcement agencies across the country.

“Knowing I am helping these police officers who keep us safe is pretty special,” said research-lead Chantal Bougie, who plans to work as a physical therapist after graduate school. “It feels like I am giving them something in return for what they do for all of us. That’s an amazing feeling.”

Why rehabilitation science at UW-Eau Claire?

Relevant student organizations. On-campus student organizations — like the Pre-Physical & Occupational Therapy Club and the Pre-Chiropractic Club — connect students like you who are also interested in careers in health and rehabilitation. These extracurriculars are an excellent way to volunteer, job shadow and learn about potential graduate schools and employers.

Convenient resources. The kinesiology digital library, available to anyone involved in the kinesiology program, houses a collection of images, strength training videos, general movement videos and vodcasts to help you better understand human movement and injury. You can also take advantage of the university's gyms, tracks, courts and other recreation facilities.

Innovative facilities. UW-Eau Claire is one of only a few schools of its size with a career center dedicated to supporting pre-professional health studies. The William J. and Marian A. Klish Health Careers Center offers one-on-one advising, opportunities to meet with professional school admissions representatives, connections to health-related clinical research, and volunteer opportunities and workshops designed to build effective tools for career development and competitive applications.

Research opportunities. A master collaborative research agreement between UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System provides unique research opportunities for rehabilitation science majors. Previous students have gone on to submit their findings to scholarly journals, like the International Journal of Research in Exercise Physiology and the International Journal of Exercise Science — two peer-reviewed journals founded for the purpose of publishing undergraduate student research and providing undergraduates with valuable experience in the peer-review and publication process.

Connection to local employers. Meeting potential employers and gaining a better understanding of the different types of careers available to you is a critical component of all kinesiology programs. To help you explore career paths, we host an annual Nursing & Health Care Professional Fair, an on-campus career fair specific for those looking to enter the healthcare field. This event is an excellent opportunity to make connections and submit your resume for current and future job openings.

100% employed

or continuing education after graduation

2020-2021 Graduate Report

Dancing without limits

Eau Claire area children and teens are dancing through barriers thanks to P.R.I.D.E. Dance, a program created and supported by UWEC's kinesiology students and faculty. The long-standing program provides children and teens with cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities an opportunity to participate in the art of dance.

Rehabilitation science major Baillie Ollila is the director of this free program and is excited for the impact it can have on others.

“It’s okay to acknowledge that people have disabilities and that everybody’s needs are different,” she said. “I would hope that this program reaches the community in Eau Claire and encourages smaller businesses like dance studios and other physical activity businesses to include people with disabilities and make sure their facilities are accommodating and inclusive for all.”

Quick facts

Rehabilitation science program details
  • Program length: four years
  • Offered: in person
  • Campus: Eau Claire
  • This major does not require a minor.
  • Students majoring in this program will earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. 
Student organizations
  • Kinesiology Club
  • Pre-Physical & Occupational Therapy Club
  • Pre-Chiropractic Club

What can I do with a rehabilitation science degree from UWEC?

The rehabilitation science major provides a clear path for students to continue their education in graduate or medical school. Coursework within the rehabilitation science program prepares students for professional certification in the fields of chronic disease management, senior fitness or physical activity programming for populations with disabilities. Students typically pursue certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, National Academy of Sports Medicine or American Council on Exercise.

Graduates also have the option to immediately enter the workforce, pursuing careers in medical-based fitness centers, cardiac rehabilitation programs, gerontology/senior fitness programs and community centers.

Rehabilitation science jobs

Senior Terrell Kopping has been coaching area youth football teams throughout his years as a student at UW-Eau Claire.

Helping others 'play catch' again

Raised in a multigenerational home, rehabilitation science major Terrell Kopping grew up with his mother and grandparents as his primary caregivers. So, when he was young and his grandfather started to have heart attacks, the medical emergencies became extremely personal. Terrell was fascinated by the physical therapists who helped his grandfather regain his strength after the heart attacks.   

“They are why he was able to play catch with me again,” he said. 

It wasn't long after that Terrell decided to go into a health care career, hoping to be a geriatric or pediatric physical therapist. And he found just what he was looking for in a college — and in its faculty members — at UW-Eau Claire. 

“Dr. Janot is always there to help me keep everything balanced,” Terrell said of the professor and chair of the kinesiology department. “I’m the only one in my family earning a four-year degree, so this is all new to me. Academics have been a challenge, but I’ve done well. It’s been a good challenge. It’s just been a really good experience to be here because there are so many opportunities on campus and in the community.” 

Rehabilitation science bachelor’s degree program curriculum

Rooted in kinesiology and physiology, our comprehensive curriculum will prepare you for responsibilities involving the development of physical activity programs for individuals of varying ages, disabilities and special needs. Coursework provides a broad, liberal arts education with classes in chemistry, biology, physics and psychology. Faculty experts will also help you learn best practices and keep up on the industry's latest techniques.

Those wishing to declare a pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy or pre-chiropractic career path may find that majoring in rehabilitation science is beneficial. Graduates of the program find they are well prepared for the unique challenges and demands of a career in rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise.

What classes do rehabilitation science majors take?

Your classes may cover topics like: 

Learn more about the comprehensive rehabilitation science major in the UWEC course catalog

Related programs at UW-Eau Claire

Thinking about a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation science? Here are other programs you may be interested in exploring.

Department information

Photo of the Kinesiology Recreation Desk

Kinesiology

McPhee Physical Education Center 208
509 University Drive
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Visit the Kinesiology department website

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