Exercise and Sport Science Major, B.A.–Fitness Professional

Department of Exercise and Sport Science


209 Fetzer Hall, CB# 8700

(919) 962-2021

Alain Aguilar, Professor


Professor Sherry Salyer, Director of Undergraduate Studies


The goal of the fitness professional program is to prepare students to assume roles as leaders in the fitness field and the area of fitness research. The blend of theoretical coursework and practical experience will assist the student in preparing for career opportunities and national fitness certifications.

Interested students should attend the organizational meeting held approximately two to four weeks before spring and fall registration begins. The exact date/time/place will be posted in Fetzer Hall and online. For more information, interested students can also access the fitness professional Web site or contact Professor Alain Aguilar.

Department Programs



Graduate Program


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC-Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Students seeking the major in exercise and sport science–fitness professional (EXSS–FP) must complete the following departmental requirements in addition to required General Education courses:

Core Requirements
EXSS 175Human Anatomy3
EXSS 220Fitness Management3
EXSS 273Research in Exercise and Sport Science3
EXSS 276Human Physiology3
EXSS 288Emergency Care of Athletic Injuries and Illnesses3
EXSS 360Sports Nutrition3
EXSS 376Physiological Basis of Human Performance3
EXSS 385Biomechanics of Sport3
EXSS 408Theory and Application of Strength Training and Conditioning for Fitness Professionals3
or EXSS 478 Sports Performance Training
EXSS 410Exercise Testing and Prescription4
EXSS 593Practicum in Physical Fitness and Wellness1-3
Additional Requirements
BIOC 107Introduction to Biochemistry4
or CHEM 101
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
MATH 110Algebra (prerequisite for EXSS 273, EXSS 376, and EXSS 385)3
Total Hours43-45

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Exercise and Sport Science

Honors in Exercise and Sport Science

The senior honors program provides exercise and sport science majors the opportunity to pursue an independent, two-semester research project. A student must have an overall grade point average of 3.3 or above prior to acceptance into the departmental honors program and must maintain an overall average of 3.3 or above to remain in the program. Students complete EXSS 693H and EXSS 694H. Honors study involves the completion of a substantial piece of original research and the formal oral presentation of the results. Those successfully completing the program are awarded their degree with either honors or highest honors. Previous senior honors thesis topics and more information can be found on the EXSS department Web page. Please contact Dr. Meredith Petschauer by email or at (919) 962-1110, if you are interested.

Departmental Involvement

In addition to its academic offerings, the department houses the campus recreation program. Students may also affiliate with the Carolina Fitness Professionals Club, Carolina Sports Business Club, and the Student Athletic Trainers Association. The “Get Real and Heel” program, offering exercise and recreation therapy services to women with breast cancer, and the “Sport Concussion Research” program provide opportunities for qualified students to volunteer and gain valuable research experience.

Experiential Education

EXSS 51, EXSS 207, EXSS 393, EXSS 493, EXSS 593, EXSS 693H, EXSS 694H, and RECR 420 satisfy the experiential education requirement.

Laboratory Teaching Internships and Assistantships

Athletic training students work with UNC–Chapel Hill sports teams and local high schools. The fitness professional students serve a practicum with local fitness organizations.

Study Abroad

The Department of Exercise and Sport Science currently offers summer study abroad programs in Montevideo, Uruguay, and Beijing, China. Refer to the department’s Web site for more information. For other study abroad experiences the department will gladly work with its majors to determine appropriate credit.

Undergraduate Awards

The Patrick F. Earey Award, named in honor of a longtime faculty member, is given annually to the outstanding senior major in the department. The award signifies exemplary leadership, academic achievement, and extracurricular involvement by a senior exercise and sport science major.

The Ronald W. Hyatt Scholarship, named in honor of the late Dr. Hyatt, one of Carolina’s “priceless gems” and a faculty member in the department, is a merit-based scholarship awarded annually to an outstanding full-time undergraduate exercise and sport science major with junior status.

The EXSS Scholar Athlete Award is a merit-based award recognizing outstanding scholarship of a senior student athlete majoring in exercise and sport science.

Undergraduate Research

Students are encouraged to explore research interests by completing independent research studies and senior honors theses. For a few highly motivated and dedicated individuals, working with faculty on faculty research projects is possible.