Wednesday, December 2, 2020
  Around Campus, Announcements

By Victoria Brito

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV College of Health Professions will offer a new Bachelor of Science hybrid degree program in Integrated Health Sciences starting Spring 2021.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the undergraduate program in late October.

This 120-credit hour program is an open admission major in the UTRGV College of Health Professions. Many of the course requirements already are offered in the college, with new courses being developed specifically for this program with topics like healthcare system administration, health disparities, and ethics in healthcare.

Dr. Michael Lehker, dean of the UTRGV College of Health Professions, said the multifaceted structure of the program is unique to UTRGV.

“The program is designed as an entry point to any student interested in our health affairs programs at UTRGV,” he said.

Lehker said students express an interest in the many programs offered by the College of Health Professions but don’t have a specific idea which program they ultimately want to pursue. This new program will allow students to declare Integrated Health Sciences as a major, and then option out to other health profession programs in their third year. Or, they can remain in the program and get a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Health Sciences.

Other programs the college offers include occupational therapy, physician assistant, health and human performance, health and biomedical sciences, communication sciences and disorders, and rehabilitation services and counseling. 

Lehker said the new program incorporates the concept of a meta majorcareer clusters or communities of interest – which groups individual majors under a larger academic umbrella.

“In their second year, many students can apply to our other programs, such as nursing or social work, for example, and will already have started required coursework through this major,” he said.

This non-direct patient healthcare program can prepare the graduate to pursue a career in healthcare administration or government health agencies, among others. Or the graduate can continue on to any of the five MS in Health Sciences concentrations offered at UTRGV, or other programs offered by the UTRGV School of Medicine.

The program faculty and staff will guide the students along the way to make the best choice for their individual career goals.

“If a student thinks they want to be in health care but don’t know where, during their first year we will be providing career guidance for all students and advising on what it takes to enter into other health programs,” Lehker said. “So, they really have a whole year, maybe two years, to really decide which direction they want to go. We will help them to make that decision.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.