Exercise and Sport Science Major, B.A.–General

Exercise and sport science examines the physics, physiology, psychology of sport and exercise, and the recognition and treatment of athletic injuries. The general major provides foundational courses in exercise science and is an excellent preparation for the allied medical fields.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Exercise and Sport Science program, students should be able to:

  • Understand the role and importance of lifelong physical activity and exercise in society
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply fundamental concepts of human physiology to explain how the human body responds to exercise and changing environments
  • Describe neuromuscular control systems and concepts related to movement and motor skill acquisition, retention, and transfer
  • Describe biomechanical and anatomical concepts of human motion and apply these concepts to understanding exercise, performance, and injury
  • Understand the research process including research design, statistical terminology, and utilization of literature. Through this process they will be able to critically analyze current research in the field of exercise and sport science
  • Demonstrate knowledge and procedures to respond in an emergency situation, identify and manage individual injury in health and fitness settings, and understand how to maintain a safe environment


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • earn a minimum final cumulative GPA of 2.000
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major core requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.000 in the major core requirements. Some programs may require higher standards for major or specific courses.

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

The core requirements were updated on October 4, 2023 to reflect the new EXSS 155 & 256 course sequence.  

Core Requirements
Select one of the following options:6
Human Anatomy and Physiology I
and Human Anatomy and Physiology II
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Human Anatomy
and Human Physiology F
EXSS 180Physical Activity in Contemporary Society3
EXSS 181Sport and Exercise Psychology3
EXSS 273IDEAs in Action General Education logo Research in Exercise and Sport Science3
EXSS 288Emergency Care of Athletic Injuries and Illnesses3
EXSS 376Physiological Basis of Human Performance4
EXSS 380Neuromuscular Control and Learning3
EXSS 385Biomechanics of Sport3
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
IDEAs in Action General Education logo Principles of Biology
and IDEAs in Action General Education logo Introductory Biology Laboratory H, F
Total Hours32

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


FY-Launch class sections may be available. A FY-Launch section fulfills the same requirements as a standard section of that course, but also fulfills the FY-SEMINAR/FY-LAUNCH First-Year Foundations requirement. Students can search for FY-Launch sections in ConnectCarolina using the FY-LAUNCH attribute.

A maximum of 45 hours of EXSS courses may be applied toward the B.A. degree.

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. J.D. DeFreese by email if you are interested.

Departmental Involvement

In addition to its academic offerings, the department houses many research laboratories, and the campus recreation program. Both provide experiences outside the classroom. Students may also affiliate with the Carolina Sports Business Club and the Carolina Sport Administration Club.

Experiential Education/High-Impact Experience

The following courses satisfy the experiential education requirement in the Making Connections curriculum and some satisfy the high-impact experience requirement in the IDEAs in Action curriculum.

EXSS 51IDEAs in Action General Education logo First-Year Seminar: Entrepreneurship in Human Performance and Sport3
EXSS 207Coaching Principles3
EXSS 393IDEAs in Action General Education logo Sports Medicine Clinical1
EXSS 395IDEAs in Action General Education logo Undergraduate Research Course1-3
EXSS 420IDEAs in Action General Education logo Program Planning in Recreation Services3
EXSS 493IDEAs in Action General Education logo Field Experience in Sport Administration3
EXSS 593IDEAs in Action General Education logo Practicum in Physical Fitness and Wellness1-3
EXSS 693HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior Honors Thesis3
EXSS 694HIDEAs in Action General Education logo Senior 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 offers summer study abroad programs depending on faculty availability. Refer to the department’s website and the study abroad website 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.

Undergraduate Research

Students are encouraged to explore research interests by taking EXSS 395, completing independent research studies, or writing senior honors theses. Please review the EXSS website under the research laboratories tab to determine where your research interest lies. Contacting individual faculty in your area of interest is encouraged, or reach out to J.D. DeFreese, the EXSS director of undergraduate research.

Department of Exercise and Sport Science

Visit Program Website

209 Fetzer Hall, CB# 8700

(919) 843-9630


Troy Blackburn

Director of Undergraduate Studies

J.D. DeFreese