University of South Carolina

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Exercise Science: What to Expect

Exercise Science majors in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina are exposed to challenging coursework and work with nationally known faculty and staff experts. The Exercise Science program at the University is consistently ranked among the top five nationally. You will have unique hands-on opportunities including involvement in clinical and community programs which provide exercise-related services to children, teens, young adults, and adults. Through your courses, you will develop the knowledge needed to describe the relationship among physical activity, functional capacity, health and disease across the life span. You will also be able to demonstrate laboratory proficiency through written and practical evaluations. As an Exercise Science major, you will choose an area of concentration from Health Fitness, Motor Development, and Scientific Foundations. You will gain additional skills through your area of concentration. You will also receive your first aid certificate through core requirements.
The following courses fulfill some of the requirements for a Bachelor of Science with a major in Exercise Science:  

  • Physical Activity and Health
  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Acquisition of Motor Skills
  • The Physiology of Muscular Activity (and Lab)
  • Principle of Epidemiology

The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for areas of concentration:
Health Fitness

  • Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • Applied Aspects of Human Nutrition
  • Health Fitness Practicum
  • Practicum in Community Fitness Programs
  • Health/Fitness Programs

Motor Development

  • Perceptual-Motor Development
  • Practicum in Life-Span Motor Development
  • Internship in Life-Span Motor Development
  • Physical Activity and the Physical Dimensions of Aging

Scientific Foundations

  • Cell and Molecular Biology (and Lab)
  • General Physics II (and Lab)
  • General Chemistry II
  • Organic Chemistry I and II (and Labs)
  • Independent Study

The student-teacher ratio varies based on courses. However many major-specific courses average less than a 20 to 1 student-teacher ratio. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Website for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. Exercise Science majors may pursue the opportunity to be a part of the Arnold School Dean’s Student Advisory Council. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. Find a student organization on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Exercise Science majors often go on to pursue graduate studies in fields such as medicine, veterinary science, physical therapy, and other allied health sciences.  Many graduates also go on to attend law school.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Career Opportunities

Exercise Science majors often pursue career opportunities in academic institutions, hospitals and other medical or clinical settings, research laboratories, physical therapy facilities, rehabilitation facilities, health and fitness centers, and public health agencies. Many graduates may also explore employment as personal fitness trainers, corporate or worksite fitness promoters, and in community-based nonprofit organizations.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the Arnold School of Public Health

The Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina is one of 44 Council on Education for Public Health accredited schools in the nation and is the only school of Public Health in the state of South Carolina. The school was the first to build a department focused on teaching and research in communication and disorders and today leads the state and region in annual production of high quality speech pathologists. It is also a leading competitor for top tier National Institute of Health funding in brain and laryngeal studies related to speech acquisition/production, stroke, and dysphasia. As one of the first accredited schools of Public Health in the nation, the Arnold School offers over 30 specialized degrees, dual degrees, and certificate programs. Undergraduate students may select one of three Bachelor programs including a Bachelor of Science with a major in Exercise Science with a choice of four emphasis areas including Health Fitness, Motor Development, and Scientific Foundations; Bachelor of Science with a major in Public Health; and Bachelor of Arts with a major in Public Health.

Points of Pride

  • The Arnold School of Public Health leads the University’s colleges and schools in extramural funding per tenure-track faculty and is a major contributor to the University’s recognition by the Carnegie Foundation as an institution of both “high community service activity” and “high research activity.”
  • Our undergraduate program in Exercise Science is one of the largest and best recognized at USC. We have a young doctoral program in Physical Therapy that is rapidly becoming one of the most competitive in the country.
  • Our program in Exercise Science is consistently ranked among the top five nationally and we have three faculty members who are past presidents of the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • We are the first school of Public Health in the nation to have a department of Exercise Science.

Additional Resources
Department of Exercise Science Website
Arnold School of Public Health
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin