Schools with an Exercise Science Major: How to Choose

The field of exercise science combines biology, public health, human anatomy and sports to help make students experts on the maintenance of the human body. An exercise science program, often combined with an internship, prepares students for a variety of careers.

Students interested in studying exercise science can find undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the field. Relevant programs can be found at two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Schools with Exercise Science Programs

The following private and public schools offer degrees in the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (In-state, 2015-2016)*
Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's $40,426
DePaul University Chicago, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's $36,361
Concordia University Chicago River Forest, IL 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $29,520 undergrad, $14,328 grad
Central College Pella, IA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $33,345
Capital University Columbus, OH 4-year, Private Bachelor's $32,830
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $12,436 undergrad, $10,618 grad
Central Washington University Ellensburg, WA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $8,688
Central Oregon Community College Bend, OR 2-year, Public Associate $4,599
University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $9,381 undergrad, $10,870 grad
Northeastern University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's $21,801

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for an exercise science school:

  • Students may want to find out if the program prepares students for specific credentialing exams offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
  • Prospective students may want to look into the internship opportunities offered through the school in order to ensure that they will have the chance to gain experience in a setting that they might someday hope to work, such as a health club, college sports department or nutritional counseling center.
  • Prospective students may want to find out if the program requires students to declare a formal concentration; those with specific academic interests should make sure that their desired specialty is offered.
  • Individuals who are considering research-based graduate programs should make sure that there are faculty members at the school with whom they share research interests, who may act as thesis or dissertation advisors.

Associate's Degree Programs

Associate's degree programs in exercise science provide a basic introduction to the field. Over the course of a two-year Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AAS) program, students take introductory courses in topics such as anatomy, physiology, sports psychology, public health and injury prevention. They also take fulfill general education requirements. At some schools, credits from these programs can be applied to four-year bachelor's degree programs in the future.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Comprehensive 4-year degree programs in exercise science give students a broad understanding of the scientific concepts behind health and fitness. Topics of study can include kinesiology, nutrition, athletic injuries and motor development. At some schools, students are required to take physical education classes in specific sports and/or activities such as weight training. An internship may also be required for graduation.

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in exercise science vary depending on the school. Some provide advanced coursework in the field and may allow students to choose a concentration such as sports nutrition, performance training, human movement science or fitness and health promotion. These programs may be offered online. Alternatively, students may enroll in a research-based Master of Science (MS) program, which allows students to conduct scientific investigations into a particular subfield of interest, culminating in a final thesis.

Doctoral Degree Programs

In PhD in Exercise Science programs, students have the opportunity to take graduate-level courses and conduct extensive research in a topic of interest within the field of exercise science. They may have the chance to declare a formal area of emphasis, such as applied physiology or nutrition. Prior to graduation, graduates must submit and defend a final dissertation.

Students interested in enrolling in an exercise science degree program can attend several 4-year public or private institutions throughout the country. Students should consider internship opportunities and concentration options, among other things, when selecting a school to attend.

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