College of Health Professions

Dr. Janelle K. O’Connell

The College of Health Professions was established in 2019 and includes programs at the undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. The College offers undergraduate degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Exercise Science, and Fitness, Recreation & Sports Management and a post-baccalaureate degree in Health Professions. Graduate programs in the College include Master degrees in Athletic Training, Kinesiology, Sport & Recreation, Physician Assistant studies, a Certificate program in Anatomy and the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Training students in both didactic and clinical education in a Christian environment, students are prepared to enter the healthcare field and carry out the mission of Christ in a compassionate and loving manner. Clinical research is integrated into the programs, and the opportunity to participate in mission trips across the United States and abroad to serve others is one of the hallmarks of this college. Medical ethics are an integral part of most curriculums. Faculty within the College conduct and collaborate on research and encourage and provide internship and shadowing experiences with healthcare providers in Abilene and around Texas to prepare undergraduate students for admission into the graduate programs.

Undergraduate Degrees:

Communication Sciences & Disorders 

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ goal is to provide an academically challenging pre-professional education in the fields of speech-language-hearing pathology and audiology in an environment that encourages intellectual and spiritual growth and preparation for graduate school.

The program encourages students to lead lives of service to individuals across the lifespan who have communication delays or disorders by providing clinical opportunities in a variety of settings. Both a major and a minor can be pursued in CSD for preparation toward a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, a Doctoral degree in Audiology, or as the terminal degree for a SLPA (Assistant) license.

Exercise Science

The wide range of subject matter within Exercise Science prepares you for many career pathways both entry-level positions in the exercise science/human performance field and entrance into allied health professional programs (Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, Physician Assistant, Occupational Therapy, Chiropractic), medicine, and graduate programs in Exercise Science or Kinesiology. You will learn how to best utilize exercise to improve health and human performance for different populations across the lifespan.

The HSU Exercise Science Program, guided by Christian faith and values, prepares students for a variety of career opportunities in health and human movement. Foundational to the Program is the multidisciplinary study of human movement involving components of biological, physical, psychological, and health sciences to explain structural and functional changes that occur on the physiological, biochemical and biomechanical levels.

Fitness, Recreation & Sports Management

This flexible degree offers a wide array of employment options after graduation such as Personal & Group Fitness Training, Recreation in the city, church, university or military settings or Sports-related communication/marketing, Exercise Facility ownership, Athletics Administration and Parks Management, to name a few options! Program flexibility allows you to select courses from other Colleges at HSU to develop a degree plan to suit your interests. However, this degree does not provide an opportunity toward teacher certification. Guided by Christian faith and values, this degree option is committed to promoting excellence in education and professional preparation within the disciplines of health, wellness and movement sciences.

Health Professions Postbaccalaureate program

The mission of the Post-baccalaureate program is to provide supplemental education to the baccalaureate degree that will prepare students for graduate programs in the health profession by improving the competitiveness of each student through education, service to mankind, and research.
This program is targeted toward individuals who hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university seeking to pursue admission into a health professions program. Undergraduate courses (including chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics) will be provided to baccalaureate-holding students to help improve their foundational knowledge of the health sciences. Additionally, students may pursue research opportunities in the areas of Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Public Health, and Biomedical/Pharmaceutical Sciences. Shadowing and medical service opportunities locally and/or abroad will be identified.

Graduate Degrees:

Master of Science in Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation 

This fully online degree, which can be completed in one year, is guided by Christian faith and values, is designed to provide theoretical learning that is integrated into real life experiences of students. Courses within the degree use evidence-based research to 1) enhance the careers of students who are currently working in the field; and 2) prepare students for future educational endeavors and professional growth in the field of kinesiology, sport, and recreation. The degree prepares graduates for careers in areas of wellness, sport performance enhancement/strength and conditioning, health, fitness and recreation, facilities and programs, athletic administration, sport marketing, recreation, professional sport management, and coaching.

Master of Athletic Training

The Hardin-Simmons University Athletic Training Program (AT) provides the opportunity for professional preparation and growth of athletic training students and staff members, through a combination of formal and informal education along with structured practical experiences in a Christian environment. HSU offers a Master of Athletic Training degree which upon completion provides students the opportunity to become licensed and certified as an athletic trainer.

A 3-2 option is available for qualified HSU students, providing students the opportunity to earn both their bachelor’s and MAT degree in 5 years, or the bachelor's, MAT, and Doctor of Physical Therapy in 7.5 years (selected students only). Specifics about entrance requirements for the HSU MAT program can be found on the program’s website.

Hardin-Simmons University is currently accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), 6850 Austin Center Blvd., Suite 100, Austin, TX 78731-3101.

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)

The Hardin-Simmons University Physician Assistant Program is dedicated to academic excellence in medical education. Their mission is to develop compassionate PA leaders who are committed to lifelong learning and community service. Working together as part of a greater healthcare team, our graduates will deliver exceptional healthcare to patients in West Texas and worldwide. There is an emphasis on Rural Health and healthcare delivery to underserved populations globally.

The ARC-PA granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Hardin-Simmons University Physician Assistant Program in 2017 and reaffirmed this status in 2020. Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

The first graduating PA class from HSU in 2019 achieved a 100% first-time pass rate on the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Hardin-Simmons University offers a seven-semester Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The program prepares individuals who demonstrate excellence in the practice of physical therapy and are enlightened by Christian faith and values. Excellence and integrity are developed and demonstrated through lifelong learning, service and faith. Students who are self-motivated, dedicated and self-driven are provided an outstanding education by a highly qualified and engaged faculty who are dedicated to student success. An excellent, well-equipped facility, and numerous integrative learning experiences within the curriculum result in outstanding, exceptionally qualified practitioners.

This entry-level professional degree prepares the graduate to be eligible for licensure and entry into the profession as a physical therapist. It is not necessary for applicants to hold a master’s degree to pursue the DPT.  A new cohort of 40 students begins each fall semester. Over the last 25 years, the program has demonstrated excellent graduation, licensure and employment rates. The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Hardin-Simmons University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:


Certificate in Clinical Anatomy 

This 12-hour certificate will prepare individuals to teach gross anatomy in a variety of health professions including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, nursing, medicine, respiratory therapy, radiological sciences, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, dietetics, athletic training, exercise physiology/sport sciences and chiropractic. A strong science foundation and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required for admission. The purpose of this certificate is to meet the shortage of qualified professionals to teach anatomy. This unique certificate program includes 4 online courses with a final, short, intensive course on campus, where human cadaver dissection leads to increased knowledge, skills and new ways of teaching anatomy. Unique to this certificate is incorporation and application of differential diagnosis and diagnostic imaging utilizing clinical anatomy.