Exercise Science, 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:

  • At least 81 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
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-A Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

The Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science 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 classes; 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 

  • Students will be able to communicate scientific information effectively with specialized knowledge of issues in health related fields related to exercise science.
  •  As preparation for careers in exercise and the health sciences, students will be able to collect, analyze and interpret scientific data with application to problems including human disease and acute and chronic responses to exercise.
  • Students will develop proficiency in the quantitative skills necessary to analyze biological problems (e.g., arithmetic, algebra, dimensional analysis, and statistical analysis), with an emphasis of quantitative techniques applicable to exercise science.
  • Students will be able to apply the scientific method as a demonstration that they understand the basic paradigm of scientific inquiry as it relates to exercise science.
  • Students will be able to access and interrogate the primary scientific literature.
  • Students will be able to synthesize material from across a human biological sub-discipline and apply this to advanced-level course material (i.e., a Capstone experience) specifically, students will draw from their learning experiences in the fields of anatomy & physiology, nutrition, exercise testing, etc as related to the topic of their capstone course.
  • Students will develop an understanding and ability to describe the role of science as applied to human movement, exercise and work, and human-environment interactions.
  • Students will develop an appreciation for the interdisciplinary role of science as applied to human health challenges, with a focus on the health and wellness benefits of exercise.
  • Students will understand the acute and chronic metabolic, cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular responses to exercise.

Major Requirements

    Please note that many of the following major requirements also satisfy Liberal Studies requirements. 

    All prerequisite coursework must be completed with grades of C or better.
    The Department of Biological Sciences does not allow dual majors within the department.

    If you are considering a minor, 18 units of qualifying chemistry satisfy the requirements for the Minor in Chemistry.


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.