Allied Health Sciences Program Enrollment ‘Explodes’ at Rogers State University

Allied Health Program Coordinator Brian Coley (left) and allied health student Lillian Walsh, currently studying to become a physical therapist.

Allied Health Program Coordinator Brian Coley (left) and allied health student Lillian Walsh, currently studying to become a physical therapist.


Necessity, as the saying goes, is the mother of invention.

Such is the case with Rogers State University’s Bachelor of Science in allied health sciences degree program – a course of study developed when RSU faculty recognized the need for a program to address the demand for students interested in careers for which degrees didn’t yet exist.

“The allied health program was developed and implemented in 2019, when we began to see that several of our students were wanting to pursue careers in physical therapy, occupational therapy or athletic training,” said Brian Coley, allied health program coordinator. “At the time, Rogers State didn’t offer a set degree program for these areas. The only degree programs available to them were those in fitness management or medical/molecular biology degree.

“Both of these degrees are very good, of course, but if the student was pursuing a fitness management degree, they had to take several other classes as pre-requisites, and if they were in the medical/molecular degree, they were taking many classes they didn’t need, just to apply for physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy (OT) or athletic training (AT) graduate school,” he continued.

Similarly, students interested in careers in athletic training had few choices available to them within the state.

Dr. Susan Willis (academic dean) and I started to talk, and we both felt there was a need at RSU to develop a degree program to address this need for our students,” Coley said. “As such, we looked at the PT, OT and AT graduate schools in the region, determined what courses the students would need, plus the extra studies that wouldn’t fit into the core classes but still met the requirements for graduate school.”

Since its implementation, the allied health program has grown exponentially, with roughly 100 students currently enrolled in the program.

Students like Lillian Walsh of Tulsa.

“I’d gotten a few scholarships and visited a couple of different campuses in the area. RSU was the most warm, the most welcoming,” said Walsh, a 2020 graduate of Lincoln Christian School. “I got into the allied health program here because I had always wanted to be a physical therapist, and the PT program here will help me accomplish that. The hands-on training and lab environments have been extremely educational.

“Being a part of the program here makes me really excited about my future,” she said.

Coley says RSU has an articulation agreement with Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa to guarantee two seats to graduates wishing to further their studies in graduate school at OSU or TU, after earning their B.S. in allied health sciences from RSU.

As the program continues to grow, Coley said the goal is for the university to continue to keep up with student demand in the program.

“We knew the demand for training for these careers was high, that there were a lot of students wanting to concentrate on these areas of study, but the program has far exceeded what we were expecting,” he said. “It’s just exploded – and that’s a good problem for us to have.”

Rogers State University offers concentrations to help tailor a student’s educational journey to their specific career goals, also providing business classes as electives for allied health sciences majors who are interested in positions as medical or health service managers.

For more information about RSU’s allied health sciences program, email Coley at [email protected] or visit