Exercise Physiology and Science Degree Programs

Exercise physiology, or exercise science, is the study of the interaction between exercise and changes in the body, and can be studied in various degree levels. Read on to learn what is required to enter such a program, the degree levels available, coursework to expect, and employment statistics. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Exercise Physiology or Science Degree Program?

Degree programs in exercise physiology, a subsection of exercise science, aim to teach you about the relationship between exercise, movement and diet and how they relate to human physiology. Exercise and diet affect a range of bodily processes, from hormonal responses to digestion. Depending on what level of degree program you complete, you'll be expected to master a certain level of knowledge about the influence of exercise on the human body. Before you can begin in a program, you may have to meet some entry requirements.

Some schools require their students to pass physical exams and provide doctor's notes before they're granted entry to or advancement in their degree programs. This requirement ensures that you're in good enough physical condition to participate in the sometimes rigorous exercise programs that are required. Some schools also require that you have an up-to-date CPR certification.

Possible Prerequisites Pass physical exams and up-to-date CPR certification
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees
Common Courses Undergraduate: Physics, athletic training, exercise physiology
Graduate: Immunobiology, functional anatomy, electrocardiography
Median Salary (2018)$87,930 (for physical therapists)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)28% growth (for all physical therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degree Levels Are Available?

Depending upon your individual interests and career goals, you may want to complete one level of degree more than another. If you're interested in exercise physiology, you can choose from a range of available degrees. You could start by considering an associate's degree program, which can be completed in as little as two years of study, and you could work your way to a Ph.D., which can require four years in an undergraduate program and four more of graduate study.

Each level of degree will also have different graduation requirements. For example, a bachelor's degree program may require a certain GPA in courses and participation in a clinical practicum for completion of the degree. On the other hand, in order to obtain a Ph.D., you'll have to complete independent research and a dissertation.

What Courses Will I Take?

If you're enrolled in an undergraduate degree program, such as one leading to an associate's or bachelor's degree, the classes will be more general than those in a higher-level degree program. Some examples of undergraduate course topics include these:

  • Physics
  • Sports injury
  • Athletic training
  • Exercise physiology

If you enter a graduate degree program, the classes will become more specific. Graduate classes may cover such topics as these:

  • Immunobiology
  • Physiological psychology
  • Electrocardiography
  • Functional anatomy

What Can I Do With My Degree?

If you obtain an undergraduate degree, you may be able to find work in a variety of fields related to exercise science, such as personal or athletic training. As a trainer, you could work in a variety of settings, including with a sports team, in a gym or doing one-on-one training with clients. You should keep in mind that, in addition to completing your degree, you may need to meet certification requirements in order to practice as a professional. If you complete a bachelor's degree program, you may also be eligible to teach physical education at a secondary or elementary school, depending on the state.

If you obtain a graduate degree, you can increase your career options. Some options that open up, depending on which degree you obtain, include biomechanist and occupational/physical therapist. As of May 2018, physical therapists earned a median salary of $87,930. In addition, the employment of physical therapists was expected to rise 28% from 2016-2026 (www.bls.gov).

If you earn a Ph.D., you may also have the option of remaining in the academic setting as a professor at a university. In a university setting, you'll be able to continue doing research in the field of exercise physiology, attempting to learn new information about how the body reacts to exercise. You will also be able to teach all that you have learned to students of the university.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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