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Kennesaw State University will offer a Master of Science in prosthetics and orthotics beginning in fall 2020.

The program recently received approval from the University System of Georgia board of regents, making it the only institution in the state to offer the graduate program.

University officials say KSU’s program will also be one of only 13 in the nation.

The program will be housed in the department of exercise science and sport management and will focus on design, fabrication and fitting of artificial limbs and external braces, according to a news release from KSU.

The program was first approved by the Board of Regents at Georgia Tech in 2002, and will transfer to KSU to leverage the university’s “established strengths in clinical care, health sciences and engineering,” according to KSU officials.

“The WellStar College (of Health and Human Services) at KSU has a rich history of educating health practitioners while also fostering impactful collaborations between industry partners and the university’s academic units,” said KSU President Pamela Whitten. “This graduate program has the potential to grow into a marquee program and positively impact not only the state, but the broader region through robust research and service opportunities.”

University officials cited the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics expectation that demand for prosthetics and orthotics practitioners in the U.S. is expected to grow by 22% by 2026, as part of its decision to offer the graduate program.

A surge in the number of wounded service members with amputations — from 25,000 in 2001 to 90,000 in 2016 — was another factor. Georgia has one of the largest wounded veteran populations in the U.S., according to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We need only look in our backyard to see the kind of positive impact this program can bring to Georgians, our state and the nation,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kathy Schwaig. “As a research university, we have the ability to leverage an array of institutional strengths, allowing us to elevate this important work to an even higher level.”

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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