Exercise Science Majors with Career Information

Exercise science programs prepare graduates for careers as coaches, physical education teachers, fitness trainers or recreation directors. Students learn how to create fitness or activity programs for children and adults.

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Essential Information

A bachelor's degree in exercise science prepares graduates to work in a broad range of careers related to health and fitness promotion. In a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science program, course topics include kinesiology, nutrition, sports injury rehabilitation and fitness concepts.

Students can also enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, which focuses on teaching methods and coaching. It prepares students to pursue licensure as a physical education teacher or to continue their studies at the master's level. Further training, certification or licensure can apply to some positions.

Both of these programs require incoming students to have a high school diploma or equivalent and satisfactory SAT or ACT scores.

Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

A 4-year bachelor's degree in exercise science teaches students how to create and execute exercise programs that are both safe and effective for a variety of individuals. Students learn to promote wellness within individuals of different fitness levels and abilities, including those who are obese, pregnant or diabetic. Coursework focus on fitness testing, rehabilitation, injury prevention and sports performance, and often concludes with an intensive internship.

Graduates are well-prepared for a variety of health and wellness careers, and may take the exam to become certified fitness instructors through the American College of Sports Medicine. They are also qualified to pursue a graduate education in another health-related field, such as medicine, physical therapy or chiropractic medicine. Common coursework for a B.S. in Exercise Science includes:

  • Kinesiology
  • Sports ethics
  • Fitness and wellness concepts
  • Nutrition
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Exercise science pedagogy

Bachelor of Science in Physical Education

A bachelor's program in physical education prepares students to become P-12 physical education instructors within the public school system. Coursework provides students with a strong background in health and wellness and gives them the necessary skills to pass on this information to others through teaching and technology. A significant focus is put on designing programs and curriculum for different age groups and fitness abilities.

Depending on a person's state of residence, further credentials - such as teacher licensure - may be necessary to work as a physical education leader in an educational setting. Graduates may also continue their education with a Master of Science in Physical Education.

A bachelor's program in physical education generally takes four years to complete. Degree-specific courses prepare students for instruction in an elementary or secondary school setting, and complement general education classes. Core coursework includes:

  • Physical education instruction
  • Education psychology
  • Teaching technologies
  • First aid for sports
  • Biomechanics

Popular Career Options

A B.S. in Exercise Science will open the door to several different career options. While graduates will be prepared to become a certified fitness instructor, there are several other career paths to follow, which include:

  • Wellness program manager
  • Clinical rehabilitation supervisor
  • Exercise specialist
  • Athletic director
  • Conditioning coach
  • Personal trainer

Graduates with a B.S. in Physical Education will be prepared for a variety of positions in elementary or secondary school settings. While graduates of this program commonly become physical education teachers, there are several other career options available, including:

  • Director of activities
  • Director of recreation
  • Director of intramural athletics
  • Athletic coach

Individuals wanting to coach other individuals, such as adult athletes, in physical fitness, health wellness, sport injury recovery and/or nutrition may be interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in exercise science. Individuals wanting to become a physical education teacher for grades P-12 will need to earn a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a teaching license.

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