AdmissionsU.S.News Best Colleges 2011

Exercise Science

Combining excellent instruction with hands-on field experience

The mission of Elon’s exercise science program is to examine the health and fitness benefits of physical activity using a multidisciplinary approach. Classroom, laboratory and professional settings provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to improve the human condition through participation in physical activity. 

Health-related fields are among the fastest-growing careers in the country. Elon’s exercise science curriculum is designed to train students to become excellent practitioners in this dynamic field. Guided by expert faculty with professional experience, students benefit from an engaged classroom learning environment and field experiences, which prepare students to move into a variety of careers, including personal training, strength and conditioning coaching and corporate wellness specialists. The curriculum also provides a sound foundation for graduate study. 

Science-based curriculum

Elon’s exercise science curriculum begins with fostering a solid understanding of anatomy, chemistry and physiology. Students then apply theories learned to courses in biomechanics, nutrition and physiology of exercise, expanding their knowledge base by exploring the body’s many responses to exercise. They learn how to structure exercise programs, promote fitness and enhance conditioning in healthy populations and for those with health limitations. Along the way, students build the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are essential to professional success.

"Undergraduate research provided a way to satisfy my intellectual curiosity and was the driving force behind my current ambitions to profoundly impact the profession of Physical Therapy by using research to enhance patient care. I am thankful to my mentors and Elon University for the support I received in helping me take my first step (of many!) toward a career which merges research and clinical practice."

Jacqueline Del Giorno ’08
Doctoral physical therapy student, Duke University

Expert, accessible faculty

At Elon, students learn from dedicated faculty who have years of expertise in their fields and in academia. Small classes offer students unique access to professors and one-on-one instruction. All faculty maintain professional contacts in their fields, so they are able to help students identify appropriate graduate and professional schools, internships, and career opportunities.

Dr. Barry Beedle, program coordinator for exercise science, researches physical fitness testing and training, and he is currently studying the relationship of anthropometric variables to sleep disorders.

Dr. Wally Bixby conducts research about psychological and mental health benefits associated with exercise with a special interest in increasing exercise participation, and the affects of exercise on cognitive performance and learning. 

Dr. Joyce Davis’s research interests include examining obesity and fitness levels of elementary school children. Her goal is to help identify successful interventions to reduce obesity in children.

Dr. Eric Hall’s research examines the individual difference variables that influence individual’s perceptions of effort and affect during and following exercise, including personality, self-efficacy and brain activity. He coordinates Elon’s new neuroscience minor and serves as the university’s faculty athletics representative to the NCAA.

Dr. Caroline Ketcham studies movement control and coordination, seeking to better understand how the central nervous system controls and regulates coordinated movement in healthy individuals and those with neurological disease and/or brain injury.

Dr. Paul Miller’s research involves examination of exercise adaptations and recovery, including issues pertaining to muscle healing, attenuation of delayed onset muscle soreness and supplementation strategies. Recently, Dr. Miller was tapped to direct Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program.

“Elon’s exercise science faculty guided me and offered me unique opportunities to pursue research, hold teaching assistant positions and develop as a leader. The most remarkable aspect of Elon’s exercise science department is that the faculty genuinely cared about my learning and future.  They established a meaningful relationship with me during my undergraduate career that continues to this day.”

Stephanie Lane ’10
Graduate student, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions


Excellent facilities and equipment

Exercise science majors work in Elon’s Koury Athletic Center, which houses a full complement of health, training, exercise and sports facilities. The Health and Human Performance Laboratory features instrumentation to assess body composition, aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and sport performance. The lab also includes new electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) equipment.

Learning outside the classroom

One of the hallmarks of an Elon education is hands-on learning, and nowhere is that more evident than in the exercise science program. Putting the discipline’s skills, approaches and theories to test in real-world situations is essential to a full understanding of the subject. This can be achieved through practicum, internship and undergraduate research experiences. 

Exercise science majors are required to complete at least one practicum and are strongly encouraged to complete one internship. Both give students invaluable opportunities to sharpen their skills, observe how the industry works, gain experience working with people, build confidence and make valuable industry contacts.

Many students pursue undergraduate research opportunities and present their findings at regional and national conferences. 

Opportunities After Graduation

Elon’s exercise science graduates are highly regarded by graduate schools and the professional community. Recent alumni have pursued graduate study in disciplines such as physical or occupational therapy, exercise science, medicine and chiropractics. Other graduates have chosen careers in personal training, corporate wellness and other health-related professions.

Exercise science graduates have attended excellent graduate institutions including Elon and:

  • Duke University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Wake Forest University
  • Columbia University
  • Emory University
  • Medical University of South Carolina.


Visit the Department of Exercise Science Website.

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