Exercise Science

Exercise science is among Pacific University’s most popular and successful majors and minors. It is grounded in the sciences of human movement and produces critical, articulate and thoughtful problem solvers with deep research skills. Students may choose from two concentrations: an integrative physicology emphasis focusing in the natural sciences or a motor behavior emphasis accentuating behavioral science perspectives related to human movements. Both prepare students for a wide range of graduate studies and employment.


  • Enjoy a multidisciplinary perspective with quality faculty from diverse disciplines
  • Learn using a hands-on emphasis with access to a cadaver dissection laboratory and an array of instrumentation to support research and instruction in the physiological, biomechanical and psychomotor domains
  • Address both basic and applied topics in natural and social sciences through a focus on the process of inquiry, discovery and application
  • Interact closely with faculty through Pacific’s individualized approach to education, particularly during the design and conduct of capstone projects
  • Benefit from strong ties to top health professions programs at Pacific and beyond, including a 3:2 pathway to a master's degree in athletic training in the College of Health Professions


Core coursework includes biology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, motor learning, and nutrition in two main tracks of course work: integrative physiology incorporates additional course work from the parent natural/physical sciences disciplines, and motor behavior accentuates behavioral and applied considerations related to movement. Students are able to choose additional course work to satisfy specific interests and meet core requirements. A human anatomy course — in addition to the standard charts, models and computer simulations most college anatomy courses utilize — also involves the use of cadavers for instruction.

Hands-on experience opportunities include:

  • Cardiopulmonary function and metabolic analysis
  • Body composition, flexibility and isokinetic strength assessment
  • Reaction and anticipation time evaluation
  • Balance and stability assessment
  • Video motion analysis
  • PC-based data acquisition systems to support use of force platform, accelerometry, electrogoniometry and electromyography instrumentation

Examples of recent exercise science projects include:

  • Explorations of the effects of caffeine on postural stability, ventilatory capacity and muscle compliance
  • Effects of cold temperatures, breathing strategies and exercise devices on human performance in varies domains
  • Consequences of practice session organization on the learning of motor skills
  • Influence of strength, fatigue, stretching and balance training on landing forces related to injury susceptibility
  • Examination of factors leading to D-III student-athletic burnout
  • Study of psychosocial factors potentially related to injury


Exercise science graduates pursue a myriad of options. These include entry-level positions in ergonomics, research assistance, private and corporate fitness and wellness programs, recreation, and sales. They may also do advanced disciplinary study in movement science, such as exercise physiology, biomechanics, motor control and learning, and sport psychology. Other options include professional studies in education and healthcare. Many of our students are interested in Pacific's graduate programs in athletic training and physical therapy. Our graduates are athletic trainers, clinical researchers, disability analysts, leaders in hospital rehabilitation programs, and healthcare professionals.