LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette plans to launch its first online degree program next semester.

Students will be able to earn an online bachelor of science degree in kinesiology in the concentration of health promotion and wellness.

Classes start in January and registration is open.

University officials said they hope to attract working adults who either wish to complete a degree or are first-time college students, said Luke Dowden, director of ULL’s Office of Distance and Electronic Learning.

“It’s really about creating access,” Dowden said.

In the past year, the university’s distance learning options have grown 50 percent with 105 courses now available, he said.

The kinesiology degree program is the university’s first online degree program and more are planned in the next year, Dowden said.

The kinesiology health promotion and wellness program was selected as the first option because of market demands and the faculty’s readiness, Dowden said.

In the past 10 years, the kinesiology department has worked to develop online health courses, explained Susan Lyman, ULL kinesiology distance learning coordinator, in an email.

An online option in the health promotion and wellness concentration filled a need, Lyman stated. No other college in the state offers the program online, and it also fulfills students’ demand, she added.

“More and more students want the accessibility of online courses and/or programs,” Lyman stated.

The kinesiology program received approval from ULL’s management board: the University of Louisiana System and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Approval from its regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, was also needed for the substantive change in instruction. The SACS approval came last month after a six-month review and extends to future online programs, cutting out future delays, Dowden said.

Dowden said another online degree program is under consideration for the spring , and in the next year, graduate and graduate certificate online options will be added.

“It allows us to be more responsive to the workforce development needs,” he said.

Dowden said another online degree program is under consideration for the spring semester, and in the next year, graduate and graduate certificate online options will be added.

Dowden said he could not comment on specifics about future plans, but that market research will dictate future development.

“We have some niche programs we can deliver that we think can be responsive to the region and state’s needs,” he said.