Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Department Contact

1600 Harden Street
Columbia, SC 29204
Office Hours 9:00AM - 5:00PM

The mission of the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department (HPER) is to offer a variety of courses that seek to promote optimal health, wellness and quality of life for members in our communities. The department provides a solid foundation for students to enter into their respective program area and/or continue graduate studies. The Public Health program prepares students for professional health, wellness-related occupations. The Sport Management program prepares students to work in service-related marketing and promotions, facilities management, and sports programming.

Majors Offered

The Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department offers several courses in both Health and Physical Education that are required for all students. The department also offers three major programs of study: Recreation and Leisure Services, Public Health and Sport Management.

The Recreation and Leisure Services major seeks to prepare students to be able to work in a variety of Recreation and Leisure Service settings. Students majoring in Recreation and Leisure Services may work in city and county parks; municipal and county park and recreation agencies; adult and youth correctional facilities; university unions; college and university campus recreation and intramural sports programs; military recreation; outdoor/environmental recreation; youth development agencies (e.g. YMCA,  YWCA, Boys & Girls Clubs); recreation and leisure settings (e.g., golf courses, amusement parks, resorts, cruise lines and event management), and commercial recreation services (e.g. event management, theme parks, hotel and resort management).

The Public Health major is designed to prepare students for professional public health, health- related wellness, and fitness- related occupations. Special attention is given to public health issues that pertain to the African American population. Students who pursue a career in Public Health will be able to work in a variety of professions to include: Community Health Educator; Disease Intervention Specialist; Health Communications Consultant; Health Education Consultant; Health Information Representative; Workplace Health Coordinator; and Rural Health Program Specialist.

The Sport Management program is designed to prepare students to work in a variety of sport careers and recreational settings offering sports related programs. Students completing this major may work in community sport programs (e.g. private sport club leagues, youth-focused organizations, and church recreation leagues); college sport programs, and sport facility management (e.g. athletic arenas and stadiums). Students may seek careers in: Athletics, Sport Media, Sport Marketing, Event Management, Academic Support Services, Ticketing and Finance, Directors of specific sport leagues, and Promotion of sport and recreation events.

The Recreation and Leisure Services, Public Health and Sport Management programs of study provide students with a solid foundation for continued graduate studies.

Required Activities

All Health, Physical Education and Recreation majors are required to present a Senior Research and/or a Program Evaluation Paper prior to graduation.


Each student is required to complete a minimum of 120 hours of approved service-learning activities for graduation. 

Honors Courses

Honors courses are writing intensified, technologically enhanced, and internationally focused. All Benedict College students may enroll in Honors courses with the permission of the instructor.  Students may earn honors credits in designated General Education courses or in regular courses. Students interested in more information should confer with the Honors Program Director.

Career Options

The Recreation and Leisure Services major seeks to prepare students who will pursue a career in Recreation and Leisure Service will be able to work in a variety of settings to include:

  • Public Recreation Centers
  • Private Recreation Center
  • Municipal and County Park and Recreation Agencies
  • Mental Health Institutions
  • Rehabilitation Clinics
  • Nursing Homes
  • Transition Living & Group Homes
  • Campus for Special Population (Special Olympics)
  • Youth & Adult Correctional Facilities
  • Community-Based Programs (YMCA’S, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc.)
  • Intramural Director of Campus Recreation
  • University Unions and Recreation Departments 
  • Hospitals
  • Hotels and Resorts
  • Recreation and Leisure Settings (Golf Courses, Amusement Parks, Resorts, Cruise Lines, and Event Management)
  • Racquet Clubs
  • Corporate Recreation
  • Travel and Cruise Industry
  • Outdoor Adventure Program
  • Military Recreational Programs

The Public Health program of study is designed to prepare students for professional public health, health related wellness and fitness related occupations. Special attention is given to public health issues that pertain to the African American population. Students who pursue a career in Public Health will be able to work in a variety of professions to include:

  • Community Health Educator
  • Disease Intervention Specialist
  • Health Communication Consultant
  • Health Education Consultant
  • Health Information Representative
  • Rural Health Program Specialist
  • Public Health Adviser
  • Public Health Business Manager
  • Public Health Physician
  • Public Health Dentist
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Public Health Nutritionist/Dietitian
  • Public Health Information Officer
  • Public Health Inspector
  • Public Health Planner
  • Public Health Specialist
  • Public Health Sanitarian
  • Public Health/Environment Health Technician
  • Public Health Support Staff
  • Outreach Worker
  • Local Public Health Educator
  • Local Public Health Director or Commissioner
  • Environment Health Center
  • Research Scientists

The Sport Management program is designed to provide students with opportunities for comprehensive preparation in the area of sport industry. The program will provide students with practical and professional enrichment and commitment to service. The program will offer internships, placement sites, professional development seminars, conferences and workshops. Students will gain knowledge that will enable them to work in diverse settings of sport industry, including:

  • Sport Management/Physical Education Department 
  • Athletic Director Junior High/High Schools/ Colleges/ Universities/ Athletic Departments/ Semi Professional Arenas/ Professional Arenas
  • Academic Service for Student Athletics
  • Stadium & Arenas (Management positions, Marketing & Public Relations, and Design & development) 
  • Arenas and Stadium 
  • Sport Gyms 
  • Sport Program Directors 
  • Sport Event Management 
  • Public and Private Fitness Center Managers
  • Marketing Agencies (International Management Group (IMG)
  • Major Advertising/ Public Relation Agencies 
  • Corporate Sales Director 
  • Director of Ticketing and Finance
  • Sporting Goods 
  • Sales Representatives 
  • Sport Media (Newspapers, Television)
  • State & City Sports Commissions  
  • Sport Equipment & Supply Industry (Wilson, McGregor, Head, Spalding)
  • National Sports Organizations (National Association of Governors Councils on Physical Fitness & Sports)
  • National Collegiate Athletic Association 
  • Players Agent or Representatives- Sport Law
  • Professional Player Association & Unions 
  • (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA Associations) 
  • Professional Leagues (National Football League)
  • Professional Minor Leagues (Division II, III, D- League 
  • Individual Sports Associations (PGA Tour)
  • Motor Sports (NASCAR)
  • The Olympics Movement (The IOC & USOC)
  • Alumni Spotlight
  • Student Spotlight

Dr. Jessica Houston (c/o 2001)

Dr. Houston graduated from Benedict with her BSW degree in 2001. She is a woman who wears many hats as she currently works as: a Professional Social Worker; Professor for Kaplan University; Owner of her personal and business development training company, and host of “The Real Women” talk show. In addition to that, Dr. Houston is a published author. Her book,”Women’s Secret: It’s Time to Stop Suffering in Silence” is available now. Wow!   

We recently visited with Dr. Houston to ask her about keys to success in the classroom and life. When asked what her key to success was as a student, Dr. Houston said that she “was determined to not live in poverty as an adult.” She mentioned that she grew up in not the best financial situation and wanted to make sure that her life would be different. She also said that she encourages all students to “not waste their time” while in college. During our conversation she recounted how a faculty member while she was an undergraduate student (Dr. Cooper-Lewter) “spoke life” into her future that she didn’t even believe at the time. She shared how, while she was a Senior, Dr. Cooper-Lewter “pulled me aside and said that he saw me earning a PhD and traveling the world speaking.” Sixteen years later, his words appear to be prophetic as Dr. Houston went on to earn her MSW degree from Barry University (2002) and her PhD from Capella University (Minneapolis, MN – 2012).  

 One final lesson that Dr. Houston would like all current and future students to abide by is to “take your education seriously.”  She mentioned that “a lot of times students are so wrapped up in friends, going out, to the mall, etc.” that they may let their educational experience waiver.  She warned that a lot of people I started out with either didn’t finish or took 6 or 7 years to complete their degree. We salute you Dr Houston. Congratulations on your success, and we thank you for being a great role model for future social workers.  

Blood Drive

A few of our December 2018 graduating seniors, Dajae Brown, Precious Gray, and Angel Harrison, planned and led a blood drive sponsored by the American Red.  The event was held on Thursday, September 25, 2018 inside of the Benedict College Swinton Center.  The students did this event as a part of their Field Practicum at the American Red Cross where they are responsible for 400 hours of internship experience this semester.  From creating the proposal, to hosting the event, to making decisions on the entertainment, food, and incentives, these scholars were involved in every step of the process.  Their targeted goal was to have at least 50 people in participate in the blood drive. On the day of the event they arrived, bright and early, to set up and sign in participants. Their hard work paid off as well over 100 students, faculty, and staff donated blood to the American Red Cross.

Emergency Shelter

In addition to the blood drive the students also participated in disaster preparedness activities as Hurricane Florence approached the state.  Specifically, the interns traveled to Branchville, SC, a small town located in Orangeburg County, to spend three days and two nights at Branchville high school to assist in preparation efforts.  In preparation for the storm, they unloaded and set up an emergency shelter for the first time, giving them a hands on learning experience of what it is like to be in a critical situation. They all agree, it was not easy to adapt to an environment with such a lack of resources. It was challenging for them to cope and remain calm throughout the process, but above all, they gained so much knowledge and feel they will be better prepared in the future. Another asset they obtained from this experience is networking, they were able to meet a lot of people who work in DSS, have been social workers for years, in different organizations, and this gave them a great platform to promote the blood drive. All and all they learned the importance of patience, and now they have a better idea of what they will face in the future as professional social workers.  

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