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Exercise Science

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Welcome to the Only CAAHEP Accredited Exercise Science Program in the State!

Student conducting physical assessment on athlete running on treadmill

Exercise science is the study of human movement performed to maintain or improve physical fitness. Exercise science graduates are well trained to assess, design and implement individual and group exercise and fitness programs for individuals who are healthy and those with controlled disease. They are skilled in evaluating health behaviors and risk factors, conducting fitness assessments, writing appropriate exercise prescriptions and motivating individuals to modify negative health habits and maintain competence as a leader of health and fitness programs in the university, corporate, commercial or community settings in which their clients participate in health promotion and fitness-related activities. Exercise science students will be prepared to become a certified American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) during their senior year in the program. Students will also be prepared to become a certified Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor and Strength and Conditioning Specialist.

Exercise science students have the opportunity to gain hands on experience by completing an on campus internship and an off-campus field experience. Students have worked selected sites both domestically and internationally in the fields of strength and conditioning, cardiac rehabilitation, worksite wellness, fitness management, community physical activity promotion and biomechanics.

Areas of Employment

Exercise science graduates from SDSU go on to thrive in graduate programs related to allied health such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology and chiropractic. Graduates also excel in sports performance, fitness and wellness related occupations like personal training, fitness management, worksite wellness, strength and conditioning coaching and cardiac rehabilitation.

  • Hospitals – cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise specialists, clinical exercise specialists, exercise stress testing technologist, research technologists, disease management, diabetes education and wellness/health coaching.
  • Corporate – corporate fitness management, personal training, strength and conditioning, pharmaceutical sales, health and fitness technology development and medical device sales.
  • Community – worksite wellness, wellness programming, health education, fitness club management, personal training, health programming, state and local health department specialist.
  • University – strength and conditioning, research technologist, wellness programming and health education.
  • Military – research technologist, exercise physiologist, exercise testing technologists and wellness center manager.

 Exercise Science Program Handbook

Athlete completing jump test


The exercise science program at South Dakota State University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES). CAAHEP is the largest accrediting agency in the health science field and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Currently, SDSU has the only CAAHEP accredited Exercise Science program in the State of South Dakota.

Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs
25400 US Highway 19 N., Suite 158
Clearwater, FL 33763

Program Goals

The goal of the Exercise Science program is to provide quality academic instruction and learning experiences to:

  • Prepare students to procure entry-level employment in the health/fitness/wellness field, or continue formal education in schools offering advanced degrees in health-related graduate programs.
  • Prepare students to obtain the ACSM Health Fitness Specialist certification.
  • Produce qualified employees in the health and fitness profession.
  • Provide academic satisfaction to student graduates.
  • Provide an academic curriculum that engages students with hands-on experiences and individual support to foster student retention.
male student runs on a treadmill

Program Outcomes

  • Implement personal fitness assessments.
  • Prescribe exercise and healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Create comprehensive wellness programs for diverse population needs.
  • Demonstrate effective communication/interpersonal skills.

The Exercise Science curriculum at SDSU includes the performance domains and associated competencies documented in the Standards and Guidelines for the Accreditation of Educational Programs in Exercise Science. A breakdown of the Performance Domains and Associated Competencies assigned by course is reviewed and updated annually.

Field Experience

All SDSU Exercise Science students complete a 350-hour culminating field experience during their last semester of the program. The percentage of SDSU exercise science students who successfully complete their field experience.

  • 2022 Graduates: 99%
  • 2021 Graduates: 100%
  • 2020 Graduates: 100%
  • 2019 Graduates: 100%
  • 2018 Graduates: 100%
  • 2017 Graduates: 100%

National Credentialing Exam

All SDSU Exercise Science students have the opportunity to sit for the American College of Sports Medicine Certified Exercise Physiologist Exam in their final semester. Across the nation, pass rates were 72% in 2019 and 78% in 2020 for first time candidates. The SDSU exercise science program consistently scores higher than the national average.

  • 2024 Graduates: 89%
  • 2023 Graduates: 94.4%
  • 2022 Graduates: 91%
  • 2021 Graduates: 83%
  • 2020 Graduates: 100%


Percentage of students who are accepted to the program and complete the course requirements for graduation with a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science:

  • 2022 Graduates: 98%
  • 2021 Graduates: 82%
  • 2020 Graduates: 90%
  • 2019 Graduates: 93%
  • 2018 Graduates: 100%
  • 2017 Graduates: 100%

Graduate Placement

Percentage of students that gain employment in the field of exercise science and/or are placed into pre-professional or graduate schools to further their education:

  • 2022 Graduates: 94%
  • 2021 Graduates: 97%
  • 2020 Graduates: 96%
  • 2019 Graduates: 92%
  • 2018 Graduates: 94%
  • 2017 Graduates: 96%
  • 2016 Graduates: 100%

Meet the Faculty and Staff

Not sure if this major is for you?

Check out the Degree Explorer in Exercise Science, to learn more. 

Student Spotlights