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

Department of Exercise and Sport Science

Visit Program Website

209 Fetzer Hall, CB# 8700

(919) 962-2021

Professor Alain Aguilar


Darin A. Padua, Chair

Meredith Petschauer, 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

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Exercise and Sport Science program (fitness professional track), students should be able to:

  • Apply curriculum learning to pass fitness-related accredited certifications
  • Efficiently and independently demonstrate accurate fitness testing methods to create comprehensive fitness programs for healthy and clinical populations
  • Explain, correct, and modify exercise techniques to healthy and clinical populations
  • Explain general nutritional concepts for specific fitness goals
  • Comprehend the basic administrative duties of fitness management
  • Critically analyze fitness-related research, blog posts, and other outlets of information


In addition to the program requirements, 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 276Human Physiology3
EXSS 360Sports Nutrition3
EXSS 376Physiological Basis of Human Performance3
EXSS 380Neuromuscular Control and Learning3
or EXSS 385 Biomechanics of Sport
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 Wellness3
Select two courses from the following options: 6
Practicum in Physical Fitness and Wellness (can be taken for an additional 6 hours, or a total of 9 hours for the core requirements)
Additional EXSS elective course(s) excluding first-year seminars 1
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
Select one:4
Introduction to Biochemistry
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I 1
Total Hours42

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 and the Carolina Sports Business Club. 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

The following courses satisfy the experiential education requirement.

EXSS 51First-Year Seminar: Entrepreneurship in Human Performance and Sport3
EXSS 207Coaching Principles3
EXSS 393Athletic Training Clinical1
EXSS 395Undergraduate Research Course1-3
EXSS 420Program Planning in Recreation Services3
EXSS 493Field Experience in Sport Administration3
EXSS 593Practicum in Physical Fitness and Wellness1-3
EXSS 693HSenior Honors Thesis3
EXSS 694HSenior Honors Thesis3

Laboratory Teaching Internships and Assistantships

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 and Uruguay. Refer to the department’s Web site for more information. For other study abroad experiences the department will gladly work with its majors in advance of the experience 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 taking EXSS 395, completing independent research studies, and writing senior honors theses. For a few highly motivated and dedicated individuals, working with faculty on faculty research projects is possible.