Exercise Science Bachelor of science degree

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Scientifically address issues of health and fitness by focusing on how people can recover from the unhealthy effects of chronic lifestyle diseases and on training athletes to extend and expand their performance.

As an exercise science major you will learn to scientifically address issues of health and fitness as well as human performance as part of a rapidly growing field. A clinical track focuses on helping people recover from the unhealthy effects of a sedentary lifestyle and an athletic track focuses on training athletes to extend and expand their capacity for exceptional human performance.

RIT’s exercise science program is a bachelor’s degree requiring the completion of 120 academic credits. This includes 65 credits in the liberal arts and sciences, six elective credits, and 49 credit hours of course work specific to exercise science. The degree is designed to be completed in four years and is offered at RIT as an on campus learning experience. The program also offers clinical and athletic tracks. 

The clinical track is designed for students interested in using exercise as therapy. Clinical exercise medicine is an emerging field that is poised to grow as the population ages. This field is for students who see the opportunity to provide exercise/fitness services as an integrated medical service. With an entrepreneurial spirit, students prepare themselves to become the newest practitioners in the health care field. Clinical exercise physiologists perform fitness assessments, design exercise prescriptions, and implement therapeutic exercise programs for health promotion.

The athletic track is for students who want to raise the bar of performance for athletes at all levels. A scientific approach to athletic conditioning improves performance while maintaining the health of athletes. Athletic track courses allow students to learn how to better train and maintain athletes, especially those performing at intense levels of competition. Skilled strength and conditioning specialists are in demand at all levels of sports and the prevalence of private sector sports specific training facilities has never been higher. Students interested in a career to train athletes and enhance the capabilities of those who play sports will be well prepared to advise and guide the next generation of athletic performers.

Program goals and student learning outcomes

The exercise science program has set the following student goals and learning outcomes:

Integrate scientific information and research into practice

  • Demonstrate how to locate, interpret, evaluate, and use professional literature to make ethical practice decisions.
  • Use current information technologies to locate and apply evidence- based guidelines and protocols.

Develop communication skills and professional behaviors for entry into pre-professional practice

  • Demonstrate effective and professional oral and written communication
  • Demonstrate assertiveness, advocacy, and negotiation skills appropriate to the situation
  • Demonstrate counseling techniques to facilitate behavior change
  • Apply established guidelines to professional practice
  • Describe the professional roles that collaborate with an exercise physiologist in the delivery of fitness services

Develop and deliver information and clinical customer services

  • Use the fitness assessment process to make decisions, identify problems and evaluate fitness interventions
  • Apply knowledge of the role of the environment, exercise, and lifestyle choices to develop interventions to affect change and enhance wellness in diverse individuals and groups
  • Utilize knowledge of education and behavior change theories to develop an educational session or program for a target population

Demonstrate foundational knowledge of core sciences

  • Demonstrate knowledge of physical, chemical and biological sciences

Prepare students for successful completion of National Fitness Certification Exams

  • Acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful completion of an advanced certification with an organization accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Examples include the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Certified Exercise Physiologist, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Minor in exercise science

The exercise science minor is designed to prepare students to take an accredited certification exam and to become a professionally credentialed personal trainer. The minor is open to all RIT students, except those majoring in exercise science. For more information, including curriculum requirements, please visit the exercise science minor page.

Certificate in exercise science

Completion of the certificate in exercise science prepares you for employment as an entry-level service provider in a fitness facility. To enroll in the certificate program, you do not need to be a matriculated student at RIT. The certificate requires the completion of three courses. For additional information, including curriculum and admissions information, please visit the exercise science certificate program page.


Students who complete the athletic track are prepared to achieve professional certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). The CSCS is a highly respected and sought-after credential in the field of strength conditioning. Students completing the clinical track are well prepared to take the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Exercise Physiologist exam. This certification validates the knowledge, skills, and abilities of fitness and exercise practitioners who are prepared to work with people diagnosed with chronic disease.

2+2 Transfer Options

The exercise science program has articulation agreements with a number of colleges that enable you to seamlessly transfer into the exercise science program upon the successful completion of your associate degree at one of the following schools. For more information regarding these 2+2 transfer options, please contact Undergraduate Admissions or the program director.

Learn more about transferring credits and additional information about transferring to RIT by visiting the Transfer Admissions website.   



  • Health Care

  • Sports and Leisure

  • Health, Wellness, and Fitness

  • Non-Profit

Curriculum for Exercise Science BS

Exercise Science, BS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
   General Education – Elective: Introductory Biology I
This course serves as an introduction to molecular biology, cellular biology, genetics, developmental biology, and evolutionary biology. Topics will include: a study of the basic principles of modern cellular biology, including cell structure and function; the chemical basis and functions of life, including enzyme systems and gene expression; and both the processes and patterns of the organismal development (ontogeny) and the evolution of life on Earth (phylogeny). Laboratory experiments are designed to illustrate concepts of basic cellular, molecular, developmental, and evolutionary biology, develop laboratory skills and techniques for microscopy and biotechnology, and improve ability to make, record and interpret observations.
   General Education – Elective: Introductory Biology II
This course serves as an introduction to the diversification of life, plant anatomy and physiology, animal anatomy and physiology, and ecology. Topics include a survey of the taxonomic diversity of the major groups of living organisms, the anatomical and physiological adaptations of both plants and animals, and the principles of the ecological relationships among organisms and environments. Laboratory exercises are designed to illustrate concepts of taxonomy, anatomical & physiological adaptation, and ecological relationships. Labs are also designed to help the development of laboratory skills and techniques for experiments with live organisms, and improve the ability to make, record and interpret observations.
   General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective: General & Analytical Chemistry I 
This is a general chemistry course for students in the life and physical sciences. College chemistry is presented as a science based on empirical evidence that is placed into the context of conceptual, visual, and mathematical models. Students will learn the concepts, symbolism, and fundamental tools of chemistry necessary to carry on a discourse in the language of chemistry. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship between atomic structure, chemical bonds, and the transformation of these bonds through chemical reactions. The fundamentals of organic chemistry are introduced throughout the course to emphasize the connection between chemistry and the other sciences.
   General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective: General & Analytical Chemistry II 
The course covers the thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical reactions. The relationship between energy and entropy change as the driving force of chemical processes is emphasized through the study of aqueous solutions. Specifically, the course takes a quantitative look at: 1) solubility equilibrium, 2) acid-base equilibrium, 3) oxidation-reduction reactions and 4) chemical kinetics.
   General Education – Natural Science Inquiry Perspective: General & Analytical Chemistry I         Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-141 lecture material. The course emphasizes laboratory techniques and data analysis skills. Topics include: gravimetric, volumetric, thermal, titration and spectrophotometric analyses, and the use of these techniques to analyze chemical reactions.
   General Education – Scientific Principles Perspective: General & Analytical Chemistry II Lab
The course combines hands-on laboratory exercises with workshop-style problem sessions to complement the CHMG-142 lecture material. The course emphasizes the use of experiments as a tool for chemical analysis and the reporting of results in formal lab reports. Topics include the quantitative analysis of a multicomponent mixture using complexation and double endpoint titration, pH measurement, buffers and pH indicators, the kinetic study of a redox reaction, and the electrochemical analysis of oxidation reduction reactions.
   Seminar in Exercise Science
This course will provide first-year exercise science students with a strong foundation for a successful transition to university life. The course will introduce them to key personnel and resources essential for academic and personal achievement at RIT. Students will also develop a peer-based learning community with group projects centered on exercise science.
   Introduction to Exercise Science
In this initial course of the Exercise Science undergraduate curriculum, students will be introduced to a broad array of topics within the field. Through an introductory review of body systems and physiological concepts students will gain an understanding and appreciation for the processes of response and adaptation which enhance and improve both health and fitness of people who exercise regularly. Career options will be reviewed and explored giving students an informed exposure to potential areas of future employment.
   General Education – Mathematical Perspective A: Applied Calculus
This course is an introduction to the study of differential and integral calculus, including the study of functions and graphs, limits, continuity, the derivative, derivative formulas, applications of derivatives, the definite integral, the fundamental theorem of calculus, basic techniques of integral approximation, exponential and logarithmic functions, basic techniques of integration, an introduction to differential equations, and geometric series. Applications in business, management sciences, and life sciences will be included with an emphasis on manipulative skills.
   Cell Structure & Function
This course will cover the foundations of cellular biology and will focus on the integration of cell structure and function as a platform for advanced work in courses such as molecular biology, endocrinology, pharmacology, histology, anatomy & physiology, neuroscience, microbiology, pathology and related areas of study.
   RIT 365: RIT Connections
RIT 365 students participate in experiential learning opportunities designed to launch them into their career at RIT, support them in making multiple and varied connections across the university, and immerse them in processes of competency development. Students will plan for and reflect on their first-year experiences, receive feedback, and develop a personal plan for future action in order to develop foundational self-awareness and recognize broad-based professional competencies.
   General Education – First-Year Writing (WI)
   General Education – Elective 
Second Year
   Fitness Prescription
This course is designed to provide instruction to prepare students for certification as a Personal Trainer. It examines the role exercise plays in both the enhancement of health and fitness as well as the improvement of athletic performance. Students will develop a basic understanding of how the human body functions while physically active. Case studies are utilized to assist in the development of practical skills.
   Human Motor Behavior
Human movement is complex and learning to move is an essential component of a lifetime of healthy activity. Exploring the nexus of learning and movement is the primary aim of this course. Using application-based activities students will develop the skills to recognize movement patterns, perform assessments, and correct inefficient movement. After successful completion students will be able to provide appropriate instruction leading to better movement mechanics, reduced risk of injury, and higher levels of athletic performance.
   General Education – Elective: Human Anatomy and Physiology I
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the nervous, endocrine, integumentary, muscular and skeletal systems. Laboratory exercises include histological examination, actual and simulated anatomical dissections, and physiology experiments with human subjects.
   General Education – Elective: Human Anatomy and Physiology II
This course is an integrated approach to the structure and function of the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, immunological, respiratory, excretory, and reproductive systems with an emphasis on the maintenance of homeostasis. Laboratory exercises include histological examinations, anatomical dissections and physiological experiments using human subjects.
   General Education – Elective: College Physics I
This is an introductory course in algebra-based physics focusing on mechanics and waves. Topics include kinematics, planar motion, Newton’s laws, gravitation; rotational kinematics and dynamics; work and energy; momentum and impulse; conservation laws; simple harmonic motion; waves; data presentation/analysis and error propagation. The course is taught using both traditional lectures and a workshop format that integrates material traditionally found in separate lecture, recitation, and laboratory settings.
   General Education – Elective: College Physics II
This course is an introduction to algebra-based physics focusing on thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, optics, and elementary topics in modern physics. Topics include heat and temperature, laws of thermodynamics, fluids, electric and magnetic forces and fields, DC electrical circuits, electromagnetic induction, opyics, the concept of the photon, and the Bohr model of the atom. The course is taught using both traditional lectures and a workshop format that integrates material traditionally found in separate lecture, recitation, and laboratory settings.
   General Education – Mathematical Perspective B:  Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
   General Education – Artistic Perspective
   General Education – Ethical Perspective
   General Education – Global Perspective
Third Year
As a study of human movement this course will cover topics that begin with a review of the functional anatomy of the musculo-skeletal system including both the upper and lower extremity as well as the spinal column and thorax. Factors of linear and rotary motion are reviewed along with postural analysis and movement elements associated with pushing, pulling and throwing objects. There is no separate Lab for this class and laboratory experiences will be incorporated into specifically designated lecture times. At the conclusion of this course students will have a functional capability to assess the intricacies of human movement.
The study of mechanics as it pertains to living organisms is the basis of biomechanics. Principles of physics are applied to human motion with movements being analyzed for their relationship to statics and dynamics. Kinematics and kinetics are explored within the context of sports performance and functional human locomotion.
   Exercise Physiology
Exercise Physiology is the scientific basis for the field of exercise science. This course provides students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the body’s responses and adaptations to exercise. Neuromuscular physiology is reviewed along with energy systems and mechanisms of fatigue. The cardiorespiratory system is examined with a focus on control and regulation during activity and there is a look at the physiological components of exercise training. Environmental factors that impact sport activities as well as training techniques which optimize performance will be reviewed. The differences in performance and adaptation that exist between children, adolescents, and adults as well as between males and females will be compared and contrasted. Exercises influence on long term health and fitness will conclude the course. Laboratory experiences will allow students to integrate and apply the concepts of exercise physiology through investigative experiments.
   Exercise Science Research 
Gathering and analyzing data in order to establish the need and effectiveness of athletic training interventions is the focus of this course. Students will learn sport specific protocols and become familiar with analytical software as well as develop proficiency in the application of data in the design and implementation of training programs.
   Professional Electives
   General Education – Social Perspective
   General Education – Immersion
Fourth Year
   Group Exercise
Group exercise has progressed to include a wide variety of activities, equipment and environments. This course explores both the dynamics of group participation as well as techniques of instruction across a number of modalities including; hi/low impact, step training, kickboxing, sport conditioning, stationary indoor cycling, water exercise, yoga, and Pilates. Students will not only learn theory but will also design and teach classes to one another. Graduates of the class will be prepared to achieve certification in many of the modalities included in the course.
   Coaching Healthy Behavior
This course will teach students to encourage those with long standing lifestyle habits that contribute to their chronic illness to change is a very challenging proposition. It addresses this problem by incorporating psychological, sociological and counseling principles, along with coaching skills, into an intervention technique that emphasizes the positive and leads people to choose and adhere to a wellness lifestyle. Students will review case studies and meet with professionals in the field.
   Open Electives
   Professional Elective
   General Education – Immersions
Total Semester Credit Hours

Please see General Education Curriculum (GE) for more information.

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

Admission Requirements

Freshman Admission

For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.

Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations

  • 3 years of math is required. Pre-calculus is recommended
  • Biology and Chemistry required

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree

Courses in liberal arts, sciences, and math

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer

AS degree in liberal arts with science option

Please note: The exercise science program has articulation agreements with the following institutions:  

Learn more about transferring credits and additional information about transferring to RIT by visiting the Transfer Admissions website. 

Learn about admissions, cost, and financial aid 

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