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Exercise Science

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Discover our Bachelor of Exercise Science

Pursue what moves you.

As an exercise science major at Mount Mercy, you’ll gain both classroom knowledge and hands-on experience. Our exercise science degree offers several distinctive features:

  • Mount Mercy’s state-of-the-art Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex provides an innovative space for you to practice what you study.
  • You can choose electives that support your interests and desired career path.
  • Experience is key. In your final year of study, you’ll complete an internship to increase practical understanding of course knowledge and help gain insight into your future exercise science career.
  • Examine social, economic, and cultural inequalities in the exercise, physical activity, health, and sport contexts and engage in discussions about how to make these spaces more inclusive for all people.

Graduate with your exercise science degree prepared to succeed in your chosen path.

What is exercise science?

Exercise science is an interdisciplinary field that spans the physiological, psychological, nutritional, motor, and functional adaptations and responses to exercise, physical activity, and sport.

Explore each of those topics as an Exercise Science major at Mount Mercy and collaborate closely with professors who are experts in the field.

What can you do with an exercise science degree?

Employment of exercise science professionals is projected to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, well above the average for all occupations.

With Mount Mercy’s exercise science degree, you have the flexibility to pursue multiple exercise science careers.

Interested in a pre-professional path (athletic training, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and sports medicine)? You’ll take coursework in chemistry, physics, and other disciplines to meet the prerequisites for these programs.

Interested in an applied path (coaching, personal training, strength and conditioning, and health promotion)? You’ll take elective courses that support your interests and goals.

Our exercise science program prepares students interested in pursuing careers or graduate/professional degrees in:

  • Athletic training
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Sports medicine
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Dietetics
  • Personal training
  • Health promotion
  • Strength & conditioning
  • Coaching
  • Sport & performance psychology

Why an Exercise Science degree from Mount Mercy?

Mount Mercy’s exercise science major blends classroom learning, beyond-the-classroom work, and real-life experience to prepare you in understanding terminology, concepts, and theories necessary to succeed in an exercise science career. Learn to pinpoint, synthesize, and critique scientific literature and identify appropriate evidence-based practices in exercise science.

Having a curriculum specifically geared toward pre-professional and entry-level healthcare positions will better prepare our next generation of therapists, trainers, and exercise professionals.


What can you do in our Bachelor of Exercise Science program?

As an exercise science major, there are numerous ways to get involved:

  • Participate in athletic events
  • Conduct undergraduate research alongside faculty members
  • Join a student club
  • Access a guaranteed exercise science internship

 Potential internship sites include:

  • Mercy Medical Center
  • UnityPoint Health—St. Luke's Hospital
  • Kepros Physical Therapy & Performance
  • The M.A.C.
  • YMCA
  • Mount Mercy University Athletic Training

What will you learn in our Bachelor of Exercise Science program?

Take courses in everything from Exercise Physiology and Human Nutrition to Motor Learning and Control and Principles of Strength and Conditioning.

Pursue your Exercise Science degree and put your knowledge to work through a guaranteed internship during your final year.

What courses will I take?

Exercise Science Major

BI 125Foundations of Biology & Scientific Inquiry I3
BI 125LBiostatistics and Scientific Investigation I1.5
BI 273Human Anatomy4.5
EX 101Introduction to Exercise Science3
EX 255Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries3
EX 275Human Nutrition3
EX 280Practical Skills in Exercise Science3
EX 305Exercise Physiology4
EX 315Structural and Functional Kinesiology4
EX 350Sport and Exercise Behavior3
EX 355Principles of Strength and Conditioning4.5
EX 375Exercise Testing and Prescription3
EX 450Exercise Science Internship3
PS 101Introductory Psychology3
Choose One of the Following:3 - 4.5
BI 274
Human Physiology
BI 374
Integrated Physiology
Choose One of the Following:3
EX 307
Environmental Exercise Physiology
EX 308
Motor Learning and Control
EX 309
Exercise for Special Populations
Total Hours51.5-53


The following courses are recommended but not required:

PS 259Health Psychology: Health & Wellness Applied3

Academic Requirement

All exercise science majors must achieve a minimum grade of C (C- does not count) in all courses required for the major. This requirement applies equally to any course equivalents that may be accepted by transfer from any other college/university.

The following is the typical sequence of courses required for the major*:

Exercise Science

BI 1253CO 1013EX 2553
BI 125L1.5 Literature Domain3
EX 1013 MA 1353
Portal3 PS 1013
Writing Competency4 SO 1223
 14.5 3 15
Historical Roots Domain3EX 2753BI 2734.5
Ultimate Questions - Religion Domain3 EX 2803
Holistic Health Domain3 PL 2693
Elective3 PS 2243
 15 3 13.5
EX 3154Elective3EX 3054
BI 274 or 3743 EX 3753
Elective3 Elective3
Elective3 Elective3
 13 3 13
EX 308 or 3093Elective3ME 4501
EX 3554.5 EX 4503
Fine Arts Domain3 Elective3
Global Awareness Domain3 Elective3
Elective1.5 Elective2
 15 3 12
Total Hours: 123

Note: Elective courses could be used for a second major, a minor, a course of interest, an internship, or study abroad experience.

Note: See the Curriculum section for more information on Portal, Competency, Domain, and Capstone courses.

***PS 259 Health Psychology is recommended for students.


The course offerings, requirements, and policies of Mount Mercy University are under continual examination and revision. This Catalog presents the offerings, requirements, and policies in effect at the time of publication and in no way guarantees that the offerings, requirements, and policies will not change.

This plan of study represents a typical sequence of courses required for this major. It may not be applicable to every student. Students should contact a department faculty member to be sure of appropriate course sequence.


EX 101 Introduction to Exercise Science: 3 semester hours

Exercise science is an interdisciplinary field that spans the physiological, psychological, nutritional, motor, and functional adaptations and responses to exercise, physical activity, and sport. This course introduces students to foundational terms and concepts in the field. A broad overview of the various subdisciplines in exercise science is provided. Career opportunities within exercise science will be reviewed and explored so that students can make informed decisions regarding their academic and professional goals.

EX 255 Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries: 3 semester hours

This course provides instruction and practice in the prevention, care, and evaluation of common sport-related injuries. Students gain familiarity with managing injury and emergency situations when an athletic trainer or physician is not available.

EX 275 Human Nutrition: 3 semester hours

This course provides an overview of food and metabolism, particularly as it pertains to exercise, health, and performance. Biochemical and physiological processes in digestion are addressed. Students learn how to calculate nutritional intake and caloric expenditure based on professional guidelines. Psychosocial factors influencing diet are also discussed. Prerequisite: BI 125.

EX 280 Practical Skills in Exercise Science: 3 semester hours

The course is offered to introduce students to the concepts of resistance training, translational and dynamic movement assessments, speed and agility, power training, and professional practices in exercise science. Students will actively engage in hands-on application and work to develop practical cueing and observational assessment skills. Prerequisite: EX 101.

EX 300 Principles of Personal Training: 4 semester hours

A study of the scientific principles related to physical fitness, fitness programming, and personal training in fitness, recreation, and corporate settings. This course provides an overview of functional anatomy, exercise physiology, health and physical fitness, weight management, exercise prescription, and programming considerations. Students will be prepared to sit for a personal training certification following completion of the course. Students will be involved in setting up, participating in, and evaluating physical fitness in a lab setting. Prerequisite: EX 101.

EX 305 Exercise Physiology: 4 semester hours

This course provides information on the nature and function of metabolism, circulation, respiration, and acid-base balance as it pertains to exercise. In the laboratory portion, students are exposed to research methods and equipment evaluating physiological responses at rest and during exercise. Prerequisite: BI 274 OR BI 374.

EX 307 Environmental Exercise Physiology: 3 semester hours

This course offers an exploration of the acute and chronic effects of exercise on physiological systems under various environmental conditions, including heat, cold, hypoxia, hyperbaria, microgravity, and pollution. Prerequisite: EX 305.

EX 308 Motor Learning and Control: 3 semester hours

The course is offered to introduce students to the concepts of teaching motor skills, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and methodology for motor learning in human performance, coaching, and/or therapeutic setting. Students will engage in hands-on learning and application using a clinical or performance lens to assess human movement and motor control/learning. Prerequisite: EX 101.

EX 309 Exercise for Special Populations: 3 semester hours

The course is offered to introduce students to the concepts of special populations in exercise and human performance. Special populations include but are not limited to: older adults, children, obesity, diabetes, CVD, cancer, multiple sclerosis, COPD, arthritis, and musculoskeletal injuries. Basic principles of exercise programming for optimal health will be reviewed. Evidence-based, advanced programming for population-specific considerations will be discussed and applied. It is vital for Human and Sport Performance Coaches, Athletic Trainers, and Exercise Science professionals have a full understanding of how to utilize effective exercise programs in specialized conditions. Prerequisite: EX 101.

EX 315 Structural and Functional Kinesiology: 4 semester hours

Kinesiology is the study of human movement. This course specifically applies anatomical principles to examine the causes and effects of motion produced by human biological systems. Functional movements pertaining to physical activity, human performance, and physical rehabilitation are emphasized. Three hours of lecture and two hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisite: BI 273.

EX 350 Sport and Exercise Behavior: 3 semester hours

This course explores the basic concepts and principles essential to understanding the behavioral aspects of sport and exercise. Current concepts and research are presented to develop an understanding of behaviors in sport and exercise settings. Emphasis is given to the applied aspects of sports performance enhancement and mental skills, sport and exercise behavior, motivation, and coaching skills. Prerequisite: EX 101, PS 101.

EX 355 Principles of Strength and Conditioning: 4.5 semester hours

This course explores scientific theories and principles of strength and conditioning for the purposes of optimizing health and human performance. Students evaluate popular (mis)conceptions of resistance training by examining scholarly evidence in the discipline. Instruction on proper form and technique is also provided. Students gain hands-on experience by participating in multiple resistance training activities and assignments. Prerequisite: EX 315.

EX 375 Exercise Testing and Prescription: 3 semester hours

This course includes an overview of testing protocols for assessing health-related components of physical fitness, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Exercising prescription principles (frequency, intensity, time, and mode) are also addressed. Students gain experience working with a client, assessing their health/fitness and creating an appropriate exercise plan using American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. Co-requisite: EX 305.

EX 450 Exercise Science Internship: 3 semester hours

Students gain direct and indirect educational experience by working with a professional in an exercise science-related career. Students are jointly supervised by a faculty member and an employer. Typically completed during the senior year. Prerequisite: EX 395.

Master of Athletic Training

Mount Mercy exercise science students can go on to earn their Master of Athletic Training in as little as two years, thanks to a partnership with Drake University

With four years to complete the exercise science program and the advantage of a fast-track application and acceptance into Drake University's Master of Athletic Training program, you can get a head start on your future.

Students now have the option of finishing their exercise science degree at Mount Mercy and then getting their master's at Drake for a 4 + 2 program, or completing all Drake prerequisites in 3 years for a 3 + 2 program.

Here's how it works:

  • Submit your fast-tracked application by February 1 of your senior year. Applications and acceptances are completed on a rolling basis, and a new application cycle opens each year in July. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required.

  • Complete the pre-requisite courses during the year of your application.

  • Get your master's in just two years!


What are the next steps?

Mount Mercy offers competitive tuition and generous scholarships.

We also encourage all students to apply for federal, state, and other kinds of financial assistance.

Learn more about:

We make it easy by accepting applications year-round! No deadline, no fee, no pressure.

  1. Create your application
  2. Apply under standard admissions criteria or go "test optional"
  3. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Mail to:

* Mount Mercy University Admissions
  1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
  Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

For more detailed instructions on how to apply, see our Admissions page.