Program in Exercise Science

Exercise Science

Exercise is an important part of American culture — for the young and old, the sports-minded, and those who just want to live healthy longer. We’re seeing a boom in the need for trained professionals in exercise careers, especially as the population matures. Our bachelor's degree in exercise science provides both foundational knowledge and practical training to prepare you to work in this rewarding field. Through Cardinal Fit-our nationally recognized experiential learning program, rigorous course work, and an immersive internship, you'll be ready to influence the lives of your clients in the next step upon graduation.

As a graduate of our curriculum, you'll be prepared to pursue one or both of the following certifications to set yourself apart: American College of Sports Medicine Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP) and/or National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (NSCA-CSCS). The nationally recognized NSCA-approved Exercise Science curriculum at North Central College prepares students with the knowledge and skill areas needed to successfully challenge both of these rigorous certifications to establish yourself as a health and fitness expert. 

If this sounds appealing and you like helping others and working with people, our program will give you a solid background in exercise physiology, exercise selection, program design, principles of health and wellness, and fitness testing procedures. You’ll be qualified to instruct and guide others in achieving a healthy lifestyle and be prepared to earn certifications as an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, or strength and conditioning specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, or the National Academy of Sports Medicine Among others.

If post-graduate study for careers in cardiac rehabilitation, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or athletic training interest you, our program will prepare you for graduate or professional school in these areas and others. You can also choose an accelerated 3+2 program leading to a B.S. in Exercise Science and a Master of Athletic Training Degree in 5 years. Whatever your path, you'll gain skills you can use in the next step of your education through your Exercise Science courses. 

Exercise Science, B.S.

Exercise Science is broad discipline that studies the effects of physical activity on the human body. Exercise Science includes topics such as kinesiology, biomechanics, exercise physiology, fitness assessment, exercise training techniques and exercise programming for healthy and special populations. Exercise Science is a degree that prepares graduates to work in wide range of careers related to health, fitness and human performance.

For additional programs and courses in this department, see Kinesiology.

NOTE:  This page contains all of the regular course descriptions for this discipline or program. Academic credit for each course is noted in parenthesis after the course title. Prerequisites (if any) and the general education requirements, both Core and All-College Requirements (ACRs), which each course fulfills (if any) are noted following each course description. Not all courses are offered every year. Check Merlin, our searchable course schedule, to see which courses are being offered in upcoming terms.

EXSC 101 - Foundations of Exercise Science

4.00 credit hours

Introduces students to the field of exercise science as a discipline and profession. Topics include the role of physical activity on morbidity and mortality, methods and techniques the fitness professional will use to develop positive lifestyle behaviors in their clients, basic components of fitness, liability concerns and considerations, professional roles and certifications, careers in fitness and health, and facility management among others. Observations at various exercise science related facilities are required. Required: Physical activity may be utilized to facilitate learning experiences in this class. Participate at a level at which you are comfortable or consult the instructor.


EXSC 295 - Research Practicum

2.00 credit hours

A class designed to allow students to engage fully in an ongoing research project or develop a project of their own. Activities will vary according to project needs and student background, but may include literature review, recruitment of participants, data collection, and/or statistical analysis. This course may be repeated once for credit.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 250.


EXSC 345 - Training Techniques

2.00 credit hours

In-depth study of safe and effective training techniques including resistance training using free weights, weight machines, resistive bands, body weight and other major fitness equipment. Plyometrics, speed and agility drills and core stability exercises are studied. Proper execution of exercise along with spotting techniques and appropriate cuing are emphasized. Students are expected to demonstrate mastery of techniques. Physical activity is required in this course.

Prerequisite(s): KINE 247.


EXSC 347 - Physiology of Exercise

4.00 credit hours

Investigation of cellular mechanisms of various body systems and the impact of acute exercise and prolonged training on those mechanisms; in-depth study of bioenergetics and metabolism; mechanisms associated with fatigue and recovery, and special populations are discussed. Laboratory required. Required: Physical activity may be utilized to facilitate learning experiences in this course. Participate at a level at which you are comfortable or consult the instructor.

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 202.

iCon(s): Examining Health.


EXSC 354 - Applied Nutrition

2.00 credit hours

Application of nutritional principles. Topics discussed include nutritional programming for daily life, management of body composition, hypertrophy, physical activity, hydration, pre and post-competition nutrition, supplementation, and eating disorders. Students practice skills to help them develop healthy nutritional habits for life.

Prerequisite(s): BCHM 140.

iCon(s): Examining Health.


EXSC 390 - Special Topics

2.00 credit hours

A project-based class designed to engage students with community partners or institutional departments. Students work with the agency or department to assist in project development, implementation, or assessment. This course may be repeated once for credit.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 250.


EXSC 410 - Fitness Evaluation

4.00 credit hours

Comparison of fitness tests and techniques followed in schools, health/fitness clubs and cardiac rehabilitation programs. Development of fitness assessment proficiencies and certification requirements of various certifying boards. Special populations are covered. Practical fieldwork. Exposure to fitness computer software programs. Required: Physical activity may be utilized to facilitate learning experiences in this course. Participate at a level at which you are comfortable or consult the instructor.

Prerequisite(s): KINE 247EXSC 347 or concurrent enrollment.


EXSC 420 - Exercise Program Design

4.00 credit hours

Provides the fundamental knowledge of exercise programming. The integration and application of kinesiology topics are applied practically through direct :client-practitioner interaction. Scientific principles are applied to the design of exercise programs that encompass the health-related components of physical fitness. Topics include exercise prescription for the general adult population, special populations and athletes including design of programs to enhance mobility, balance, strength, power, endurance and muscle hypertrophy.

Prerequisite(s): EXSC 410.


EXSC 440 - Athletic Conditioning

4.00 credit hours

An in-depth examination of sport-specific demands, work capacity enhancements, movement skills development, periodization programming, and regeneration techniques. The student learns to properly analyze any sport in terms of specific conditioning demands and be able to design a training prescription for any sport.

Prerequisite(s): EXSC 420.


EXSC 447 - Exercise Medicine

4.00 credit hours

A course examining acute physiological adaptations to exercise and chronic physiological adaptations to exercise training. The student will learn to prescribe exercise as medicine to mitigate disease and improve health outcomes of clients. This is an advanced clinical exercise physiology course covering exercise metabolism, immunology, cellular and molecular physiology, ECG, endocrinology, and pathophysiology.

Prerequisite(s): EXSC 347.


EXSC 450 - Exercise in Extreme Environments

2.00 credit hours

An in-depth, research-based course on how certain environmental stresses alter the physiological responses to exercise. The environmental stressors covered include: altitude, heat, cold, diving, microgravity, hyper-gravity, and air pollution.

Prerequisite(s): EXSC 347.


EXSC 490 - Internship Seminar

2.00 credit hours

Students engage with their internship cohort and reflect on the internship experience. Provides students the opportunity to reflect on the internship experience. Course includes weekly reflections of fieldwork interactions, group discussions of discipline related topics, and a culminating project.

Prerequisite(s): KINE 317EXSC 347 and Exercise Science Clinical Coordinator Approval. Concurrent enrollment in EXSC 497.


EXSC 497 - Internship

10.00 credit hours

Students complete a 15 week, fully immersed, field-based experience in an approved facility. The facility is selected through cooperation between the student, the Exercise Science Clinical Coordinator, and an agency supervisor. Students must apply one term in advance through the Exercise Science Clinical Coordinator.

Prerequisite(s): KINE 317EXSC 347, and Exercise Science Clinical Coordinator Approval. Concurrent enrollment in EXSC 490.

The Human Performance Lab is located in Wentz Science Center and includes the following:

Major equipment:

Cosmed Bod Pod

InBody 770

Portable Force Plate

iWorx system with LabScribe Software

Cosmed K5

Dartfish Motion Analysis Software

Woodway Treadmill

Monark Cycle Ergometer

Portable Blood Lactate Meter

Portable Blood Glucose Meter


Minor equipment:

Posture Zone Chart

Blood Pressure Cuffs and Stethoscopes

Lange Skinfold Calipers

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitors

Video Camera and Tripod

Hand Dynamometers

Plyo Boxes

BOSU Balls

Stability Balls


Foam Rollers


Vertec Vertical Jump Tester

Bands and Tubing

Jump Ropes

Medicine Balls





Examination Table


The lab is accessible to all students who have declared Exercise Science as their major or are taking classes in Exercise Science.

Extra-curricular and professional activities that will enrich your exercise science education.

HEXA (Health and Exercise Association)

  • This organization is open to student majoring in exercise science or who are interested in learning about a career in health and exercise.  Among other things, the group invites professional speakers to campus, visits fitness and human performance training facilities, attends professional meetings and seminars, and serves as a networking resource.

PHO (Pre-Health Organization)

  • PHO is a student-run organization that provides helpful information, valuable resources, and amazing opportunities to North Central College students who are interested in entering health-related careers such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, optometry, veterinary medicine, podiatry, and much more!

CATS (Cardinal Athletic Training Students)

  • This organization is open to students majoring in athletic training or a related allied health profession. Among other things, the group invites professional speakers to campus, visits other athletic training or sports medicine facilities, attends professional meetings and seminars, and serves as a networking resource.


  • Naperville is located in the heart of Chicago’s large metropolitan area with access to many of the Midwest’s premier corporations, park districts, community centers and professional sports teams. Internships are available in health clubs, corporate wellness centers, performance enhancement centers and group exercise programs.

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