Exercise Science M.S.

Exercise Bike



Course of Study

The Master of Science in Exercise Science graduate program offers a broad course of study to allow students the opportunity to prepare for a career in exercise science that is tailored to their specific interests. Students can personalize their degree track and course selections to prepare for careers in a variety of settings, such as sports performance, strength and conditioning, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, wellness and fitness, and sports science research. This graduate degree requires students to complete a minimum of 30 hours of academic coursework. Most classes are scheduled at night to allow flexibility with current employment and internship opportunities. The program allows students to select from three degree track options:

▼   Internship Track
The internship track includes coursework and experiences in preparation for a career in clinical settings, such as wellness and fitness, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, strength and conditioning, and sports performance. The internship is a fantastic opportunity to gain practical experience for resumé development and to foster professional connections within the student’s area of interest. This track can be completed in one year.
▼   Capstone Project Track
The capstone project track includes a guided research experience with a faculty advisor. Students in this track complete a research project, applying the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their academic career. In comparison with the thesis track, the capstone project track is more narrowly focused on the data collection process and generally excludes the comprehensive literature review and formal thesis process. Students interested in the research process or a high-level experiential learning experience, but without interest in pursuing a doctoral degree (i.e., Ph.D.) in exercise science or a related field, should consider this track. The time to complete this track is variable, but most can be completed in ~1 ½  years.
▼   Thesis Track
The thesis track includes coursework and research experiences that involve completing a thesis in an area related to exercise physiology and kinesiology. This track typically requires two full years to complete, but the timeline is variable depending on the scope of the thesis and prior experience of the student. The thesis requires extensive writing and should be completed by students planning to apply for doctoral level study (i.e., Ph.D.).

Careers in Exercise Science

What can I do with a degree in exercise science?

  • Exercise physiologist
  • Clinical exercise physiologist
  • Wellness director
  • Strength and conditioning coach
  • Sports performance specialist
  • Personal fitness trainer
  • Recreation director
  • Research
  • Preparation for professional school in various health-related fields including physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, pharmacy, etc.
▼   Why South
  • Small class sizes allow for individualized attention and experiential learning opportunities
  • State-of-the-art exercise testing equipment 
  • Courses taught by accomplished exercise science researchers
  • Opportunities to assist with research and data collection
  • Potential for qualified students to lead a research study 
  • Established relationships with many local facilities to support internship opportunities
  • Non-thesis track can be completed in one year
  • Most classes are scheduled at night to allow flexibility with current employment
▼   Exercise Science Facilities

Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport classrooms and computer labs are equipped with Smart Board® technology, projectors, and PCs with internet access.

The Molecular and Biochemistry Exercise Research Laboratory is equipped with a number of biochemistry analyzers that can assay muscle tissue and various substrates, hormones, and gene expression (e.g., microplate reader, electrophoresis, real-time PCR, etc.). This lab has the capacity to conduct a vast array of biochemical and molecular biology techniques used in exercise physiology and nutrition research.

The Human Performance Laboratory is the primary research and student clinical-learning setting for exercise physiology. This laboratory contains the necessary equipment to perform all the classical physiological measurements during exercise including a Sensor Medics metabolic cart for cardiopulmonary/ECG exercise testing, treadmills and several cycle ergometers for aerobic exercise testing, a Biodex™ Isokinetic Dynamometer and a Biodex™ Balance Assessment System, an AMTI™ force plate designed to measure forces and moments used in research and clinical studies looking at balance, gait, and sports performance. The lab is equipped with a state-of-the-art Hologic™ dual x-ray absorptiometer (DXA) for estimating body composition and bone density and Bioelectrical Impedance (BIA) measurements for the measurement of body composition and total body water.

The Department Weight-Room contains resistance exercise testing and training devices to test muscular strength and endurance with single-and multi-joint exercises and the Gymnasiums are available for class and lab instruction that provide students the opportunity to work with the latest 

▼   Program Faculty

Dr. Neil Schwarz

Research Interests: Dr. Schwarz’s research interests include the effects of exercise and nutrition on skeletal muscle gene expression and signaling cascades; effects of exercise and nutrition on skeletal muscle growth and function; sports nutrition; dietary supplements/botanicals for disease prevention and exercise performance; effects of aging on skeletal muscle function; weight management strategies. He is also interested in the study of myokines synthesized by exercise training and their effect on skeletal muscle and whole body metabolism, disease prevention, and performance.

Dr. Ryan Colquhoun

Research Interests: Dr. Colquhoun’s research revolves around the function and adaptations to the nervous system and skeletal muscle following exercise, nutrition/supplement interventions, and fatigue. Dr. Colquhoun’s research involves the use of many neuromuscular techniques, including motor unit decomposition, peripheral nerve stimulation, and surface EMG and MMG, among others. The goal of his research is to better understand the processes associated with the neuromuscular system in order to improve exercise prescription.

Dr. Geoffrey Hudson

Research Interests: Dr. Hudson’s current research interests are related to the prevention of obesity and type II diabetes. More specifically, he is currently researching the utilization of optical body fat scanners for digital anthropometry and estimation of percent body fat. He has also completed numerous research projects investigating the effects of exercise training, nutritional interventions, and aging on the physiological adaptations and biochemical mechanisms involved in the regulation of metabolism, body composition, insulin sensitivity/glucose uptake, weight loss and weight management. Additional research interests of Dr. Hudson’s include the effects of caffeine on high-intensity exercise performance and pain perception.

Dr. Matthew Stratton


Dr Stratton's research focuses on the use of specialty diets – primarily intermittent fasting – and their impact on exercise performance and body composition. Furthermore, how we may manipulate these dietary protocols to increase long term adherence to aid in the prevention of obesity and subsequent disease risk. Additionally, Dr. Stratton is interested in the use of ergogenic aids and their impact on exercise performance and metabolism in ecologically valid settings. He has also published research in the fields of neuromuscular aspects of aging, body composition methodology, and the impacts of various methods on the progression of Parkinson’s disease. 

▼   Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships in the Department of Health, Kinesiology, and Sport are available to support high-quality students in their graduate education. These positions are competitive and the number of available positions varies.

Responsibilities of the Graduate Assistant
Tasks include teaching activity courses, administering health and fitness labs, assisting with research activities, and other similar duties for up to 20 hours per week. Graduate assistants are obligated to maintain the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity.

Assistantship Stipend and Tuition Fellowship
Graduate Assistants receive a stipend of $3,000 for each fall and spring semesters and $1,500 for the summer semester ($7500 total annually). In addition, tuition remission is granted for a maximum of ten semester hours per term, but only for courses that are essential to the degree program (course fees not included). Out-of-state-tuition is also covered by the tuition fellowship for up to ten semester hours.

Click here for more information and application instructions.

▼   Admissions Deadline and Requirements

Application deadlines:

  • Summer: May 31 (Classes begin June 3)
  • Fall: August 18 (Classes begin August 18)
    • February 1 for Graduate Assistantship
  • Spring: January 10 (Classes begin January 11)
    • September 1 for Graduate Assistantship
  1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
    *USA students applying to a USA graduate program in the College of Education and Professional Studies should complete a transcript request form found on the University Registrar's Office website.
    In the Name/Organization field for the transcript recipient write, "USA Graduate School". There is no charge associated with this request. This option applies only to USA transcripts for students applying to USA graduate programs.

  2. GPA Requirement: A minimum overall grade-point-average (GPA) of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale based on the GPA used as the basis for granting the degree and posted on the official transcript from a regionally accredited institution at the time the degree was earned OR a 2.5 GPA on the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate course work posted on the official transcript from a regionally accredited institution at the time the degree was earned.

    GPA Exception: Individuals who have earned a bachelor 's degree from a regionally accredited institution at the time the degree was earned and who do not have a qualifying GPA for admission may seek admission based on a qualifying score of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). For the GRE, this standard is defined as having a score at the 50th percentile on all of the following subtests: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. For the Miller Analogies Test, students must have a score at or above the 50th percentile based on the total group percentile rank score. For Alternative Class A programs, applicants must submit a qualifying alternate score on the Alabama-prescribed Praxis subject-area test.

  3. Personal statement on applicant's career goals and purpose for graduate study.

  4. Sufficient coursework in the major subject to qualify for graduate study in the involved discipline. Students with a deficiency in relevant coursework may be required to successfully complete additional prerequisite courses.