How to Get a College Degree in Exercise Science

How to be a Personal Trainer

Chapter 1: A Degree in Exercise Science

Sexy TeacherIf you’re interested in studying the effects of exercise on the body, including how people respond and adapt to the physical strain of exercise, as well as the role different types of physical activity may play in harming or helping the body, then a degree in exercise science, sometimes known as exercise physiology, may be just what you’re looking for.

Certification or Degree?

Many folks intending to get in to the physical fitness field, opt to get certified or licensed instead of acquiring a college degree. While a personal trainer or sports nutrition certification will give you a strong background in that particular field, most of those classes are either online or studied from home, and do not garner the same kind of respect in the industry as a college degree.

In fact, a master’s degree will give you the best education and will put you on the fast-track to the top in your chosen field.


This type of degree could open up a wide variety of career paths to the person who obtains it, including personal or athletic trainer, physical therapist, corporate wellness consultant, nurse practitioner, cardiac rehabilitation specialist, exercise test technician, and more (although some positions may require additional schooling for licensure).

So, how do you go about obtaining such a degree?

The first step with selecting a school for any type of degree is to find institutions that offer highly regarded programs for subject you’re seeking. However, you may suffer a couple of setbacks when it comes to an exercise science degree.

The first issue is that there really aren’t any schools that are particularly well known for offering this niche major. While you’re likely to find it available at many colleges and universities, you might want to instead seek out a school that is renowned in the sciences in general, or perhaps in the area of medicine or physiology specifically.

UC Davis, for example, is widely known as a top medical school, but it also offers a major in Exercise Biology. Selecting your school in this manner will likely net you the best education in the field you’re interested in.

Of course, there is another issue to consider with this type of degree. In most cases you will focus on a particular area under the umbrella of exercise science.

You may have to study any number of disciplines, including:

  • biology
  • physiology
  • chemistry
  • biochemistry
  • biomechanics
  • physics
  • psychology
  • hematology
  • and more

While you might specialize in any of these subjects within the field of exercise science, you can also choose to focus on areas like the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, or even neuroendocrine function. The specialization you select could impact where you choose to go to school and the courses you need to take, so it’s important to have some kind of idea about the particular facets of the degree that interest you most before you proceed.

If you have a good idea of what interests you about the degree specifically, or you know what type of job you’d like to get once you receive your diploma, you’ll have a much easier time selecting the right school or program through which to obtain your exercise science degree.

There are plenty of resources out there that can help you to learn more about UC’s online respiratory degree or SUNY’s exercise and physiology related options. Whether you want to work with patients directly or you prefer clinical research or lab work, a degree in exercise science can help you to start a career that lets you explore the science of human movement, and the effects of exercise in particular.

It’s just a matter of finding the right school and selecting the emphasis that suits your talents and your area of interest.

* Don’t miss part 2: How to Get a Degree in Physiology

* Don’t miss part 3: How to Get a Degree in Kinesiology

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