In order to meet the demands of the booming health and fitness field, Montclair State University has introduced a new interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science degree program in Exercise Science this fall.
The program prepares students to enter into a variety of corporate, clinical, commercial, community and private health or fitness-related settings, as well as health/fitness-related sales positions, including those in the pharmaceutical industry.
Before it was developed into a separate degree, Exercise Science had been offered as an Adult Fitness concentration in the Physical Education program. It differs from a degree in Physical Education, which prepares students to teach in K-12 school systems.
“The Exercise Science program applies to a broad age spectrum, from children to older adults,” explains Robert Horn, chair of the Exercise Science and Physical Education Department at Montclair State. “The US has an aging population so more programs are needed that help people with lifetime fitness. The program is also important because of rising obesity, Type II diabetes and other health-related issues that come about from diet and lack of exercise.”
Potential jobs for graduates range from health fitness instructors and strength and conditioning specialists to personal trainers. “We want our students to develop the skills they need to instruct people, but we also want them to take a leadership role so they can design and run programs,” Horn said.
Those interested in a clinically based career can take prerequisite courses that meet the entrance requirements for graduate allied health programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, cardiac perfusion and those for physicians’ assistants.
The program has a strong science component, with courses such as anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and motor learning, along with a 600-hour internship requirement. It has been designed to meet the accreditation requirements of The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs and the American College of Sports Medicine, the two most prestigious accreditation bodies for this area of study.
Over the next several years, Montclair State expects 120 students to major in Exercise Science. This includes the 80 or so students currently enrolled in the Adult Fitness concentration under the Physical Education degree who would be likely to transfer into the Exercise Science program, plus at least 10 additional students per year for the next four years, Horn said.
Montclair State is only the third university in New Jersey to offer an Exercise Science degree program. The others are Rutgers University and The College of New Jersey.