Health-related majors such as exercise science are popular and growing career paths. However, little research has attempted to determine what drives undergraduate student interest in health-related majors. PURPOSE: To investigate factors influencing undergraduate students to major in a health-related field, and determine whether such influences differ by classification. A second purpose was to investigate future plans after earning a bachelors degree in a health-related major. METHODS: Qualtrics was used to develop a self-administered, paper and online survey distributed to a list serve of undergraduate students majoring in a health-related field in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Positive and negative influential factors on decisions to major in a health-related field were rated on a Likert scale ranging from 1 (no influence) to 5 (major influence). Descriptives and non-parametric tests were used for statistical analysis. 388 (M=20.9 ± 2.6 yrs) participants were included. RESULTS: The most positive influential factor reported was interest (4.63 ± 0.03), and the negative factor was difficulty of the major (1.77 ± 0.05). Working with hand on tasks (59.1%) and helping others (56.3%) in classes and/or future career was reported as the primary reason for selecting a health-related major. 82.4% reported planning to pursue a master’s (n=164) or doctorate (n=155) degree to enhance their knowledge in a particular subject (52.7%) and improve their marketability (44.7%). Accumulating debt (23.3%) was the primary reason not to attend graduate school. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to determine differences between positive influences in freshman (F) (n=66), sophomores (S) (n=75), juniors (J) (n=99), seniors (S) (n=95), and fifth year seniors/graduates (GS) (n=44). The results indicated that interests (χ2(4)=9.62, p=0.05), friends (χ2(4)=10.98, p=0.02), college advisors (χ2(4)=20.18, p=0.01), introductory courses (χ2(4)=13.72, p=0.01), and compensation in the field (χ2(4)=11.32, p=0.02) were significantly different between the groups. Post hoc analysis revealed lower influence from discussion with friends in F compared to J (2.68 ± 0.15 vs 3.26 ± 0.12). College advisors had lower influence in F compared to J and S (1.82 ± 0.14 vs 2.66 ± 0.15 vs 2.70 ± 0.15), respectively. Introductory courses had lower influence in F compared to J and GS (2.29 ± 0.15 vs 2.82 ± 0.13 vs 3.14 ± 0.20). Compensation of pay scores was greater in F compared to GS (3.42 ± 0.15 vs 2.61 ± 0.20, p=0.01). CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that length of study in health-related majors influence overall factors that motivate student’s major selection.

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