Exercise Science Major

Exercise Science is the scientific study of human movement and the changes caused by physical activity in the body with the goal of understanding how to maintain or improve health and fitness. A Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science prepares students for further study or employment by integrating applied, hands-on learning experiences with a firm understanding of basic facts, theory, and research about health and physical activity. Students are also required to complete an internship in an area of their choosing to expand their experiences and advance their career interests.

Careers

Traditionally, Exercise Science focused on enhancing athletic performance. Today however, an additional focus of Exercise Science is on improving the health, fitness, and quality of life of the general population in clinical, commercial, and workplace settings. Clinically, our students go on to work in a variety of rehabilitation or medical settings, usually after completing graduate school. Commercially, exercise scientists work in a number of settings to enhance fitness and performance, such as in gyms, community centers, schools, or sports teams. Exercise scientists are also in the workplace, coordinating employee health and wellness programs.

Following graduation, students in the Human Performance & Fitness Concentration can work in many areas in the health and fitness industries such as:

  • Personal Training
  • Community and Corporate Fitness
  • Strength and Conditioning
  • Wellness Coaching
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Group Exercise Instruction
  • Recreational Therapy

Students completing the Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration are prepared to further their studies and training by applying to graduate school to become a health science or allied health professional in areas such as:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Athletic Training
  • Nursing
  • Physician Assistant
  • Chiropractic Medicine

Students completing the 3+2 Pre-Athletic Training Concentration are able to select an affiliated university where they can further their studies to become an Athletic Trainer. If students complete the required coursework and maintain a sufficient GPA, they will have guaranteed admission into the affiliated university. Currently, we are affiliated with the following graduate programs:

  • Jefferson University
  • Lock Haven University

Students interested in attending a different graduate program for athletic training should instead join the Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration. Click here for more information about the Pre-Athletic Training Concentration.

Exercise Science Core Coursework

Courses required for Exercise Science Majors put students on track to be ready for either graduate school or the workforce. Many of these courses satisfy graduate program prerequisites, meaning that students can major in Exercise Science confident that their work will have them ready for whatever their future plans may be.

All Exercise Science Majors take the following courses:

  • ESC 150: Introduction to Exercise Science
  • ESC 244: Movement Science & Skill Analysis
  • ESC 260: Principles of Nutrition
  • ESC 336: Motor Behavior
  • ESC 340: Prevention & Care of Athletic Injuries
  • ESC 352: Psychology of Physical Activity
  • ESC 375: Exercise Testing & Programming
  • ESC 453: Research Design & Statistics

Because Exercise Science relies heavily on the basic sciences, students must also complete a Core Science requirement, which includes courses from Biology, Chemistry, and Physics:

  • Both BIO 237 and BIO 238: Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II
  • Either CHM 103: Chemistry: A Cultural Approach, CHM 105: Chemistry: An Observational Approach, or CHM 121+125: Chemical Bonding with Stoichiometry and Reactions Lab
  • Either PHY 110: Physics for Society or PHY 121+123: Introductory Physics with Physics I Lab

Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration Coursework

Because this concentration prepares students for careers and graduate study in the medical and rehabilitation fields, coursework emphasizes a detailed exploration of physiology and science of human movement. All students completing this concentration take the following courses:

  • ESC 278: Medical Terminology
  • ESC 321: Exercise Physiology I
  • ESC 333: Biomechanics
  • ESC 420: Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • ESC 421: Exercise Physiology II
  • ESC 395: Internship

Students must also complete at least one elective course. Elective options include:

  • ESC 207: Stress Management
  • ESC 325: Sport Psychology
  • ESC 360: Sports Medicine
  • ESC 452: Psychology of Injury & Rehabilitation
  • Courses from the Human Performance and Fitness Concentration or additional internship credits

Human Performance & Fitness Concentration Coursework

Because this concentration prepares students for careers in the fitness, performance, health, and human services industries, coursework emphasizes learning how to work with people on a variety of health and fitness goals. All students completing this concentration take the following courses:

  • ESC 343: Foundations of Exercise Physiology
  • ESC 348: Group Exercise Techniques & Leadership
  • ESC 350: Nutrition for Sport & Fitness
  • ESC 387: Theory & Practice of Power & Agility Training
  • ESC 475: Exercise Prescription for Special & Athletic Populations
  • ESC 495: Internship

Students must also complete at least two elective courses. Elective options include:

  • ESC 207: Stress Management
  • ESC 213: Organization & Administration for Fitness & Sport Facilities
  • ESC 425: Exercise Metabolism & Weight Control
  • Courses from the Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration or additional internship credits

3+2 Pre-Athletic Training Concentration Coursework

There is a common set of coursework that all students need to complete regardless of which master's program they plan to attend. Those courses are:

  • ESC 278: Medical Terminology
  • ESC 343: Foundations of Exercise Physiology
  • ESC 333: Biomechanics

Students must also complete 10 credits of elective courses. Some elective credits will go towards their affiliated master's program prerequisites, which are slightly different from program to program. Remaining electives are drawn from the other two concentrations.

Minor Program Options

Students also have the opportunity to minor in other programs. While there are many minors available, we recommend the following complementary minors:

Internship Requirement

Students must complete one supervised internship in order to graduate. This real-world experience makes our students more attractive to graduate schools and more marketable in the workforce.

Internships may be completed at any location as long as it advances students’ career interests. This means that students have the freedom to choose where to do their internship. For example, those interested in personal training can intern at a fitness center, those interested in occupational therapy can intern at a rehabilitation clinic or hospital, and future athletic trainers can intern at a school, university, or professional sports team. This ensures that the internship is relevant and helps students achieve their goals.

For students in the Allied Health concentration, internships are typically completed during their second or third year and are oriented towards gaining knowledge and experience in their chosen setting. For students in the Human Performance concentration, internships are completed at the end of the program as a capstone experience, once all Exercise Science courses have been taken successfully.

Please view the Student Internships page for more information and highlights.

Certification Exams

Passing a certification exam demonstrates that students have obtained the theoretical and practical competencies to work in the Exercise Science field. As such, certification increases the likelihood that clients will want to work with you and make you a top choice for hire. Our program prepares students and has resources available for them to take exams from two industry-leading fitness organizations, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Please view the Certification Exams page for more information.

Admission Requirements

Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration

High school students interested in the AHPP Concentration must meet the following criteria:

  • Top 50% of graduating class
  • Overall high school GPA of 3.40 or better

Students transferring from another major or another university must meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of at least 15 credits with a GPA of 2.50 or above
  • Completion of BIO 161, BIO 162, or BIO 237 (or their equivalents) with a grade of C or higher

Human Performance & Fitness Concentration

High school students interested in the HPF Concentration must meet the following criteria:

  • University admission standards

Students transferring from another major or another university must meet the following criteria:

  • Completion of at least 15 credits with a GPA of 2.00 or above
  • Completion of a Biology, Chemistry, or Physics course with a grade of C or higher

3+2 Pre-Athletic Training Concentration

High school students interested in the PAT Concentration must meet the following criteria:

  • Top 50% of graduating class
  • Overall high school GPA of 3.40 or better

For students transferring from another major or another university, it is suggested they transfer into the Allied Health Pre-Professional Concentration as it will be difficult to complete the required coursework in less than 3 years. You can still become an athletic trainer from the AHPP Concentration.

Note for All Transfer Students

It is strongly recommended that students complete (or are scheduled to complete) BIO 237: Anatomy & Physiology I and BIO 238: Anatomy & Physiology II (or their equivalents at other institutions) with a grade of C or higher before transferring to Exercise Science. Both courses are necessary to progress through the major, and not having these courses already completed may delay your progress (or your graduation semester if you are transferring as a junior). Please speak with the Department Chairperson if you have questions.

Non-Major Enrollment in Exercise Science Courses

While any student may enroll in and complete any course in the Exercise Science Department, any and all prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment. Students can complete no more than three Exercise Science Major courses without admission into the program.