Exercise Physiology, Bachelor of Science

Department of Biological Sciences

College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

This degree prepares students for the job market in areas such as clinical exercise physiology as well as for entry into graduate programs in the exercise sciences or professional programs in the health professions.

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's diversity, liberal studies, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • 80 - 92 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements.

  • For this major the liberal studies prefix is BIO. Contact Biology Advisement for information about liberal studies courses that are recommended for this major.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 125
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology consists of core studies in areas such as chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, and general biology, as well as more advanced courses specific to the study of physiology and movement during exercise. Students will develop an understanding of human physiology, human movement, and the biological and chemical responses of the body to acute and chronic (training) exercise in the core Exercise Science courses; Introduction to Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology and its lab, Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology, Exercise Testing and Prescription and its lab, and in their senior capstone.  With the help of advisors, students choose approved Exercise Science electives, which cover a wide range of disciplinary areas and are selected based on the individual student’s career or graduate school goals.  These include courses in psychology, microbiology, genetics, pathology, cell and molecular biology, amongst many others.
Research opportunities are available for students in individual faculty’s research labs, as well as in NAU’s research centers and institutes, such as the Center for Bioengineering Innovation (CBI).  Exercise Science students also have the option of completing an internship in sports performance or cardiac rehabilitation if they are considering a career in clinical exercise physiology.
Students graduating with an Exercise Science degree will be well prepared for careers in clinical exercise physiology, for admission into graduate programs in exercise science and for admission into professional programs such as physical therapy, physician’s assistant, occupational therapy, athletic training, and medicine.

Student Learning Outcomes 

  • Identify, describe, and apply major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in exercise physiology, including:
    • Basic molecular and cellular units of structure that define the function of all living things
    • Fundamental principles of biology, such as the central dogma, diversity of life, and evolution
    • Homeostasis and the role of temporary perturbation of homeostasis in exercise adaptations
  • Apply scientific and quantitative reasoning in data interpretation and analysis:
    • Applying the scientific method and the processes of inquiry and discovery as they relate to questions in exercise physiology
    • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting scientific data with application to problems involving human physiology, including health and disease, and the effects of acute exercise and exercise training
    • Graphically presenting scientific data to communicate scientific findings in exercise physiology 
    • Developing proficiency in the quantitative skills (e.g. arithmetic and algebraic methods,
    • statistical analyses) necessary to analyze physiological problems, with an emphasis on
    • quantitative techniques applicable to physiological and biomedical fields
  • Effectively communicate and apply evidence-based recommendations in physiological sciences.
    • Interrogate primary scientific literature and access specialized resources available within
    • exercise sciences (e.g. Exercise is Medicine ®) 
    • Apply exercise physiology principles to interpret data in evaluating the strength of evidence and conclusions.
    • Synthesize empirical findings related to exercise science, and communicate the findings through collaboration, writing, and oral presentation
  • Synthesize fundamental concepts, apply core knowledge, and conduct civil discourse in exercise physiology as it relates to human health and disease.
    • Apply specialized knowledge of the role of exercise in health and the acute and chronic
    • metabolic, cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular responses to exercise to new contexts and situations to make clinical recommendations.
    • Apply exercise physiology principles to interpret data in evaluating the strength of evidence and conclusions.
    • Analyze the interdisciplinary role of science as applied to human health challenges, including
    • health issues affecting the global community and health disparities among various communities
    • Apply quantitative reasoning skills to solve novel problems and clinical examples related to exercise physiology in humans.

Major Requirements
  • This major requires 80 - 92 units distributed as follows:

    • Exercise Physiology Coursework: 38 units
    • Physical Science Requirements: 30 - 31 units
    • Exercise Physiology Electives: 12 - 21 units

    Take the following 80 - 92 units:

  • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Program
    • This program is available as an Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Plan wherein a student may start a master's degree while simultaneously completing their bachelor's degree.

    • Students enrolled at the Flagstaff campus for both undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible to complete the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and start a Master of Science in Athletic Training at NAU.

    • Students must apply to the master's program by the graduate program's application deadline, meet all admissions requirements listed in the policy Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's Programs, as well as the admissions requirements for the specified master's plan to be considered for admission. Admission to programs is competitive and qualified applicants may be denied because of limits on the number of students admitted each year.

      Be sure to speak with the Master's Program Director/Coordinator regarding your interest in the accelerated plan.
    • Students accepted into the Accelerated Program should complete the following requirements:

    • This major requires 83 - 95 units distributed as follows:

      • Exercise Physiology Coursework: 41 units
      • Physical Science Requirements: 30 - 31 units
      • Athletic Training Coursework: 8 units
      • Exercise Physiology Electives: 4 - 16 units

      Take the following 83 - 95 units:

    • Students enrolled in this plan may not enroll in or pursue the following due to the number of overlapping units:

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit.

    You may take these remaining courses from any of the academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. You may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.

    We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you.

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.