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Arnold School of Public Health

  • Climbing a wall, tug of war, and barbell squats

Exercise Science

Exercise Science is an inherently interdisciplinary field that ties together such traditional disciplines as biology, physiology, psychology, chemistry, physics, neuroscience, genetics, nutrition, and sociology in order to facilitate an understanding of the links between physical activity, exercise, fitness, diet, health, and performance.

Exercise Science has become an increasingly valued discipline within public health, the medical community, and even high-performance environments. Given the trends in heart disease, hypertension, obesity (both adolescent and adult), type II diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases, the role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of these conditions has received considerable attention and support. Exercise has even been acknowledged for its role in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and other stress related disorders. The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control estimate that $76 billion in annual direct medical costs can be attributed to physical inactivity. The research developed within exercise science has shaped the guidelines for physical activity promoted by the US Surgeon General, NIH, the Institutes of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control. Exercise and sport science has also continued to garner attention and be recognized for its contributions to the health and performance of athletes, emergency personnel (i.e., police, firefighters), military personnel, and special populations of all ages.

The mission of the Department of Exercise Science (EXSC) is to promote an environment of excellence and achievement in human health and performance. As part of our forward-thinking vision, EXSC will be used as a resource to train the next generation of scientists and practitioners in the latest techniques and technologies in the field. In addition to advancing the science, we emphasize translation of this research for greater integration into practice and application.

Career opportunities exist in health and wellness fields: corporate wellness, cardiac rehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, neuro-rehabilitation, clinical exercise physiology, research, academia, athletic training, sport science, strength and conditioning, and performance nutrition. The program also provides preparation for additional graduate training (i.e., MS, PhD, DPT, MD, and PA, among others).

The department’s Ph.D. program, which is ranked #1 in the United States by the National Academy of Kinesiology, prepares graduates for entry into positions in universities, colleges, research institutes,  research oriented clinical settings, and industry. Areas of specialization are applied physiology, health aspects of physical activity, and motor behavior/rehabilitation. Specific research emphases correspond to those listed for the departmental faculty. The M.S. program allows students to emphasize professional and clinical aspects of the field related to human performance, sport science, cardiac rehabilitation, corporate wellness, athletic training, physical rehabilitation, and disease prevention/treatment  among others, or to expand their  research competence if they might plan on pursuing a Ph.D. or further graduate study.

Degrees Offered

In addition to the bachelor degree in exercise science, we offer four advanced degrees. Each graduate degree has specific application deadlines and requirements

Exercise Science News 

Cathy Arnot

An inside look. Cathy Arnot shares what it’s like to be a physical therapist for Olympic medalists and bringing her experiences back to the classroom

The physical therapist/clinical associate professor is doing what she loves best: preparing the Arnold School’s DPT students for careers as physical therapists and traveling the world to assist dedicated athletes at the top of their game. 


New device offers first comprehensive assessment of kids' daily activity

After observing the absence of monitors that accurately and comfortably capture the everyday activities of children, UofSC researchers designed a device that is custom-made for kids and their lifestyles: small, water-resistant, wearable, all-in-one.

Ciaran Fairman

Faculty launch free exercise program to learn how physical activity benefits cancer survivors

With funding from the UofSC School of Medicine Research Center for Transforming Health, exercise science faculty Shana Harrington and Ciaran Fairman are conducting a pilot study to investigate the implementation of an exercise program for individuals with cancer. 

Victoria Simpson

Athletic training graduate kicks off career with the New York Jets

Following her May 2021 graduation, Victoria Simpson headed north to begin the first step in her career: a seasonal athletic training internship with the New York Jets where she also participates in the organization's community outreach efforts.

Christine Pellegrini

UofSC Prevention Research Center wins grant to test phone-based walking program to improve arthritis 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have awarded $1.2 million to Christine Pellegrini and Sara Wilcox at the UofSC Prevention Research Center to lead a three-year special interest project to improve arthritis through a phone-based walking program.


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