Physical Activity and Health, MS

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This program's name has changed, effective Fall 2021. The previous name was Exercise and Wellness, MS.

The MS program in physical activity and health offers a unique opportunity for advanced training with options to focus on exercise science, fitness and conditioning, or physical activity and health promotion alongside faculty who are immersed in the latest research.

This program prepares students to translate and apply evidence-based exercise science, fitness and lifestyle behavior change approaches to improve health and well-being and prevent chronic disease across the lifespan. It also prepares students to design fitness and conditioning programs for athletes.

Students in the program develop competencies in research design, statistical methods and the ethical conduct of research studies and they have the opportunity to conduct a mentored research project as part of a thesis, if desired. They also learn to apply theoretical models of behavior change for the development and implementation of interventions to facilitate the adoption and maintenance of physical activity and other health and wellness behaviors. Students develop and demonstrate their knowledge of the causes, risks factors and impact of exercise, physical activity and fitness on the disease process in cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, cancer, musculoskeletal health and functional fitness through a critical examination of epidemiological research and exercise intervention studies.

The skills and knowledge acquired during the course of training enables each student to develop professional competencies that can be applied to significant problems and issues within the field of exercise and wellness.

Would you like to improve health and chronic disease outcomes across the lifespan or develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of exercise and fitness programs? This flexible program helps prepare you for a variety of careers in corporate, clinical or community settings.

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The MS program in physical activity and health offers a unique opportunity for advanced training with options to focus on exercise science, fitness and conditioning, or physical activity and health promotion alongside faculty who are immersed in the latest research.

This program prepares students to translate and apply evidence-based exercise science, fitness and lifestyle behavior change approaches to improve health and well-being and prevent chronic disease across the lifespan. It also prepares students to design fitness and conditioning programs for athletes.

Students in the program develop competencies in research design, statistical methods and the ethical conduct of research studies and they have the opportunity to conduct a mentored research project as part of a thesis, if desired. They also learn to apply theoretical models of behavior change for the development and implementation of interventions to facilitate the adoption and maintenance of physical activity and other health and wellness behaviors. Students develop and demonstrate their knowledge of the causes, risks factors and impact of exercise, physical activity and fitness on the disease process in cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, cancer, musculoskeletal health and functional fitness through a critical examination of epidemiological research and exercise intervention studies.

The skills and knowledge acquired during the course of training enables each student to develop professional competencies that can be applied to significant problems and issues within the field of exercise and wellness.

At A Glance

Physical Activity and Health, MS

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Earn your BS in exercise and wellness and MS in physical activity and health quicker through our 4+1 accelerated program. Learn more

  View Student Handbook    View Factsheet

GRE Waivers

GRE waivers for the MS in physical activity and health are approved on a case-by-case basis. Our admissions committee takes a holistic approach to reviewing each applicant's background and relevant experience. To be considered for a GRE waiver, contact CHSgrad@asu.edu.

Degree requirements

Required Core (9 credit hours)
EXW 501 Research Statistics (3)
EXW 536 Physiological Aspects of Physical Activity and Chronic Disease (3)
EXW 542 Health Promotion (3)

Research (5 credit hours)
EXW 500 Research Methods (3)
EXW 591 Exercise and Wellness Seminar (2)

Electives (12-18 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (0-6 credit hours)
EXW 599 Thesis (6) or
EXW 593 Applied Project (6) or
written comprehensive exam (0)

Additional Curriculum Information
All students must focus their plan of study in one of three areas: exercise science, fitness and conditioning, or physical activity and health promotion. The focus determines the choice of electives available to students. For a list of approved elective courses, students should contact their academic unit.

Exercise science -- This is focused study in areas such as advanced exercise physiology, muscle physiology, fuel metabolism, exercise endocrinology, advanced exercise testing and prescription, physiology of physical activity and chronic disease, biomechanics and motor control. This focus area is a good option for students who are interested in pursuing further graduate study in the area of exercise science and chronic disease prevention and management.

Fitness and conditioning -- This is focused study in areas such as resistance training, sport and fitness conditioning, advanced sport nutrition, advanced exercise testing and prescription, health behavior theory, motivational interviewing, and exercise for obesity and aging. This focus area is a good option for students who are interested in pursuing careers in the fitness industry, and who may be pursuing further graduate study in applied exercise science or physical therapy.

Physical activity and health promotion -- This is focused study in areas such as health promotion program planning, implementation and evaluation, physical activity policy in public health, health behavior change theory, motivational interviewing, physiology of physical activity and chronic disease, exercise for obesity, aging and sleep, and the role of mindfulness in stress, health and health behavior. This focus area is a good option for students who are interested in pursuing careers in health promotion, corporate wellness or public health, and who may be pursuing further graduate study in health promotion or public health.

All students are admitted to the nonthesis option but may apply to the thesis option.

The nonthesis option requires an applied project or a written comprehensive exam as the culminating experience. The nonthesis option is an appropriate choice for those students who cannot devote full-time to their research endeavors or for students who are seeking to continue their education, advance their skill level as practitioners or advance their current careers. Students who take the written comprehensive exam are required to take six additional elective courses in the focus area.

In the thesis option, the thesis is considered the final integrative experience of the degree; it involves conducting research that is guided by a recognized research paradigm (e.g., scientific, interpretive) and producing a scholarly report of the process and results. The thesis option is a good choice for students who are interested in pursuing more advanced graduate study in the field.

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the College of Health Solutions.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field from a regionally accredited institution. Students are expected to have the coursework and undergraduate credit for the basic courses required for a BS degree in exercise and wellness. Students who do not have these course competencies can be admitted with deficiencies. Deficiencies are determined upon admission, and these courses must be completed, usually by the end of the first year of study. These courses are not considered part of the graduate plan of study. A graduate course may be substituted for a deficiency but will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. GRE scores
  4. statement of career or research interests
  5. three professional letters of recommendation
  6. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must submit proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency.

BIO 201 and BIO 202 must be completed prior to admission to the master's degree program. Other deficiency courses may be taken prior to or during the master's degree program. The corresponding ASU course can be found in parentheses:

Human Anatomy and Laboratory (BIO 201 Human Anatomy and Physiology I)
Human Physiology and Laboratory (BIO 202 Human Anatomy and Physiology II)
Human Nutrition (NTR 241 Human Nutrition)
Exercise Physiology and Laboratory (SSP 315 Exercise and Sport Physiology)
Kinesiology and Laboratory (EXW 330 Kinesiological Foundations of Movement)
Exercise Testing and Laboratory (EXW 420 Exercise Testing)
Exercise Prescription (EXW 425 Exercise Prescription for Health and Wellness)

An undergraduate course in statistics is strongly recommended.

Students should see the program website for application deadlines.

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What are Accelerated Programs at ASU?

ASU students may accelerate their studies by earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in as little as five years (for some programs) or by earning a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 or 3 years.

Accelerated bachelor's and master's degree programs are designed for high-achieving undergraduate students who want the opportunity to combine undergraduate coursework with graduate coursework to accelerate completion of their master’s degree. These programs, featuring the same high-quality curriculum taught by ASU's world-renowned faculty, allow students to obtain both a bachelor's and a master's degree in as little as five years.

Accelerated bachelor’s degree programs allow students to choose either a 2.5- or a 3-year path while participating in the same high-quality educational experience of a 4-year option. Students can opt to fast-track their studies after acceptance into a participating program by connecting with their academic advisor.