Exercise Science

Exercise Science encompasses a diverse field of study from personal training to clinical laboratory research. Students prepare for careers in clinical, corporate, community, or commercial settings in which exercise testing and prescription is a primary focus. Coursework is designed to aid students in their preparation for nationally recognized certifications, including those offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

An undergraduate degree in Exercise Science may also serve as a step toward the pursuit of a graduate degree in exercise physiology or related area. Students also enter specialized programs leading to careers in strength and conditioning, physical or occupational therapy, cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation, nutrition, physician’s assistant, chiropractic medicine, and clinical research.

What is the role of an Exercise Physiologist?

An exercise physiologist is capable of performing many different functions related to health, wellness, and exercise performance. Potential career paths include the following:

  • Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Specialist
  • Exercise Technician in the area of Cardiology
  • Strength and Conditioning Coach (high school, college, and professional sports)
  • Laboratory Research in areas such as sports medicine, nutrition, pathology, and human performance
  • Sports Nutritionist
  • Corporate Fitness Program Director
  • Sports and Wellness Program Instructor/Director
  • Health Promotion Specialist
  • Personal Trainer/Exercise Leader
  • Academia - higher education with a Master's Degree or Doctorate of Philosophy
  • Occupational Physiologist
  • Sport Physiologist

At Castleton, the Exercise Science Program offers specializations in three areas: Strength and Conditioning, Clinical Exercise Physiology, and Research. Courses in this major include Physiology of Exercise, Electrocardiography and Graded Exercise Testing/Prescription, Pathophysiology & Clinical Exercise Physiology, Scientific Foundations of Strength & Conditioning, Nutrient Metabolism & Athletic Performance, Practicum in Exercise Leadership, Performance Enhancing Substances, Kinesiology, and Senior Thesis.

Strength & Conditioning

Strength and conditioning is one of the fastest growing specializations in the field of exercise science. The strength and conditioning curriculum prepares students to work with high school, collegiate, professional, and other elite athletes in developing exercise programs to enhance athletic performance variables such as speed, agility, strength, power, endurance, and flexibility. Coursework is designed to prepare students for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification exam that is offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

Clinical Exercise Physiology

The clinical exercise physiologist is an allied health professional who uses exercise and physical activity to assess and treat patients at risk of, or diagnosed with, chronic diseases or conditions where exercise has been shown to provide therapeutic and/or functional benefit. Students may work in physicians' offices, clinics, hospitals, and diagnostic centers in cardiac/pulmonary rehabilitation; exercise testing, exercise prescription, electrocardiography, and disease management of cardiac, pulmonary, and metabolic diseases. Coursework is designed to prepare students for certifications offered by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).


Researchers conduct studies in either basic or applied science. Basic researchers usually conduct studies with a focus on the cellular and molecular levels, such as how organ systems work, adapt, or respond to various factors. This type of research includes both human and animal studies. Applied researchers usually conduct studies with a focus on more practical questions that appear to be more applicable for immediate use, such as ways to increase athletic performance or how to improve health and reduce disease. Students in this area take coursework designed for graduate school admission, in addition to performing independent studies.