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Health and Human Performance

People are prioritizing their health more than ever. As a result, the need to understand the human body continues to grow. As a health and human performance (HHP) major at Dordt, you’ll learn how to help people train, heal, and live life to the fullest. From athletes striving to achieve greatness to elderly folks recovering from injuries, you’ll gain skills to aid people in living their healthiest lifestyle—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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Program Overview

A degree in HHP from Dordt will equip you with the tools you need to succeed, whether you enter the workforce right away or you pursue further education. Dordt’s thoughtful combination of book knowledge and hands-on learning prepares students with a variety of opportunities such as working as a student trainer, internship experiences, participating in clubs, and more.

Professors also integrate their faith into every aspect of their teaching. Instructors in the HHP program help students understand the need to honor the Lord with our bodies. Knowing their work can serve God’s kingdom gives students greater purpose and clarity on the value of training and healing the body.

A group of health students works out with dumbbells in Dordt's weight room

What can I do with a degree in health and human performance?

HHP majors benefit from an array of job opportunities when they’re ready to enter the workforce. You may want to pursue a career in fitness, physical training and therapy, health club management, or coaching.

An HHP degree can also be the first step toward Dordt’s master of education in sport leadership program. The sports leadership program prepares teachers, coaches, and other education professionals for leadership in educational athletics. Whichever route you choose, you have plenty of options to achieve professional success. Here are just a few of the career options you can pursue as an HHP major:

Recreation Specialist

Recreational Specialists oversee and coordinate all the activities and events that take place in a recreational program.

Wellness Specialist

Wellness Specialists perform assessments on their clients and provide them with customized programs that fit their health needs and preferences.

Exercise Physiologist

Exercise Physiologists determine the best exercise and fitness route for their clients to take based on their patient’s medical history.

Career Preparation

Dordt University's 2023 Career Outcome Rate was 99.4%! “This data point tells us that Dordt graduates are prepared for the careers of their choosing,” said Amy Westra, director of Career Development. “A Dordt education provides students with industry-relevant courses and connections that make a difference.”

Program Options

Health & Human Performance Major

Your exercise science education will integrate classroom and lab-based learning, field experiences, internships, and a vast array of hands-on opportunities to develop your career. By participating in Dordt University’s program, students gain access to our Pre-Physical Therapy club, Pre-Professional Health Sciences Club, and can pursue becoming a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Graduates from Dordt’s health and human performance (HHP) program have worked for businesses like CrossFit Phos in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Alignright Chiropractic in Richardson, Texas; and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Students will be able to:

  1. Recognize the guiding role of the Bible in unfolding God's will for the human body.
  2. Develop a scripturally based perspective and strategies for leisure, play, health, fitness, and competition.
  3. Acquire knowledge, understanding, and skills in the areas of history and philosophy; of anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics; of exercise physiology, first aid, and athletic injuries; of assessment in physical education, recreation, and health; and of the psychological aspects of human behavior.
  4. Understand the historical context of health and human performance and how to live obediently in a rapidly changing world.
  5. Demonstrate and model positive attitudes toward physical activity.
  6. Be equipped for and committed to lifelong learning in the HHP field of investigation.
Learning Opportunities

As an HHP major, you can capitalize on our pre-physical therapy track, which helps prepare you for graduate school. Students can also go on to study in our Master of Education program to study Sport Leadership.

Dordt also has a pre-physical therapy club. The club adviser, Dr. Stiemsma, helps guide students as they look at applying to graduate schools. U.S. News & World Report shared advice from Dr. Stiemsma on some of his suggestions for students pursuing careers in physical therapy.

To learn more, you can also view the program strengths and learning outcomes for this program.

Students looking to get a degree in HHP will take five required HHP courses and one biology course. Additionally, students will choose an emphasis. This coursework includes at least one credit hour of lab work.

  • Introduction to Health, Physical Education, and Sports Management: Designed to be the entry-level course for those interested in exploring the areas of health, physical education, and sports management. The course will provide the student with an overview of the body of knowledge, the historical background, and career opportunities in each of the areas. The student will also develop and articulate a Christian perspective on health, physical education, and sports management.
  • Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics: A study of the anatomy of human movement, including the application of physical laws of motion to the human body and how the body functions in and responds to exercise.
  • First Aid and Athletic Injuries: study of accepted methods used to prevent athletic injuries. Instruction in administering first aid practices in emergencies. Fall semester emphasizes the elementary school child; spring semester focuses on participants in interscholastic sports. Priority will be given to students majoring in HHP or pursing a coaching endorsement.
  • Assessment in Physical Education and Health: A study of elementary statistical procedures, the preparation and administration of physical fitness tests, health assessment procedures, and various athletic skills. A grading system in physical education and health is formulated.
  • Motor Learning and Development: The course introduces the major concepts of motor control and motor learning as they are expressed across the human lifespan. The course emphasizes the practical application of these theories in teaching, coaching, and therapy settings. The course will also explore how a reformed view of the person informs our understanding of motor learning and the resulting implications for teaching, coaching, and therapy.
  • Human Biology I: An overview of the structure and function of the human body, using an experimental approach. Addresses how worldview impacts the use of one’s own body and guides ethical decision-making. Cadaver lab exercises will be included. Three lectures and one laboratory per week. For nursing, HHP, and other non-biology majors.
Core Courses for the General Emphasis
  • Psychosocial Dimensions of Physical Activity: This course adds to students’ understanding of physical activity by exploring the psychological and sociological aspects of human physical activity. Also, students will demonstrate a Reformed Christian understanding of human movement in discussion of a variety of issues related to health and human performance.
  • Substance Abuse and Consumer Health: The first half of the course is devoted to introducing the student to the use, misuse, and abuse of drugs. Emphasis is placed on the psychological and physiological effects of drugs. The second half of the course will provide the student with basic health-related information that will aid the student in making sound decisions regarding personal health.
  • Curriculum in Physical Education and Health: Provides the student with the necessary background in organizing and administering a desirable curriculum in physical education and health (elementary and high school), including intramurals and adaptive programs.
  • Personal and Public Health: This course examines the physical, mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and occupational dimensions of health. Emphasis is on the utilization of health information in making good health choices.
  • Nutrition: This course will focus on the basic science of foods and their components including relationships to health and disease. The implications of personal decision making and behavior change, as well as social, economic, and cultural influences, will be discussed. Does not count toward the biology major.
  • Coaching Theory of Basketball: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of basketball. Not open to freshmen.
  • Coaching Theory of Track and Field: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of track and field. Not open to freshmen.
  • Coaching Theory of Volleyball: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of volleyball. Not open to freshmen.
  • Coaching Theory of Baseball/Softball: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of baseball and softball. Not open to freshmen.
  • Coaching Theory of Soccer: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of soccer. Not open to freshmen.
  • Coaching Theory of Football: Seven-week course with emphasis on coaching skills, philosophies, and techniques of football. Not open to freshmen.
  • Health, Physical Education, Sports Management Internships: Intended to provide the HHP major the opportunity to apply knowledge principles and skills gained from the classroom into a workplace environment.
  • Individual Studies

See the course catalog for more information

Education Emphasis

An education emphasis is also available with the HHP program. As you study physical education you'll also train in education, giving you the tools to teach others.

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“Everything molded me while I was at Dordt, not just the coursework, but the athletics events, the students, and the activities that took place outside of the classroom. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to attend classes where faith was talked about openly and I knew that my classmates believed in the same God as me.”

Daniel Poel
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