Board of Regents Approves M.S. in Exercise Science at Columbus State

Bod-PodCOLUMBUS, Ga. The state Board of Regents has approved for Columbus State University the addition of a Master of Science in Exercise Science, which CSU will begin offering in fall 2013.

CSU sought to add the degree based on feedback from current students, alumni and potential employers surveyed across the region. A recent publication by the American College of Sports Medicine cited an increased need for educated and experienced fitness professionals as the top trend in the fitness industry for 2012.

Five University System of Georgia universities — all more than 100 miles from Columbus — offer master degrees in exercise science or kinesiology. The distance from existing programs and a desire to better serve employers in the region, CSU contended those factors would produce a natural demand for the program, and result in a pool of qualified employees to draw from after students complete its program.

“There has been a great deal of interest from our students and alumni,” said Clay Nicks, associate professor and coordinator of CSU’s Exercise Science program. “They expressed a desire for a master's degree, and CSU is suited to serve the students of our region.”

CSU said its proposed M.S. degree meets the industry standard for professionals operating in a range of occupations, particularly for those pursuing employment in clinical settings, corporate wellness and fitness, university settings and allied health occupations.

The 36-credit hour master degree includes an 18-hour core, with remaining courses selected by students to meet their professional goals and needs. The elective component provides flexibility for those interested in developing a professional focus in one of the varied occupations related to exercise science.

CSU will offer a research and thesis option for students who have the ability and desire to pursue a formal independent study in the field and to prepare for advanced graduate study. Similarly, students will be able to prepare themselves for various levels of certification, for employment in a health-fitness setting, coaching-sport setting and some medical-based fields.

“The industry standard right now is that you have a graduate-level degree (for those careers),” said Tara Underwood, chair of CSU’s Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science. “It is really significant that we are starting this program here.”

CSU expects 30 students to be enrolled in the program by 2016.

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Photo caption: The Bod-Pod, a chamber used to measure body composition, is one of the more sophisticated pieces of equipment the Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science acquired when the exercise science program moved  into the Health and Wellness Center. Students in CSU's new master's program in exercise science will have access to use the chamber as part of their research efforts.