The master’s in exercise science curriculum builds theoretical principles and practical skills that are crucial to success in a dynamic and increasingly diverse professional environment. This 30-credit program, consisting of seven core courses and three elective courses, can be completed in less than two years.

By the time they graduate, students should be able to:

  • Synthesize and apply advanced principles in exercise science.
  • Analyze scientific research in exercise science.
  • Conduct exercise testing and formulate exercise prescriptions.
  • Describe the role of physical activity in public health.

The coursework is primarily delivered in an asynchronous online format, allowing students to balance their obligations as they build job-ready experience. To provide students with opportunities for real-time learning and collaboration, the program also incorporates synchronous components, including a 4-day on-campus lab component in EXSC 5210 Physical Activity and Exercise: Prescription, Measurement and Testing. During this immersive experience, students apply knowledge and hone practical skills in our dedicated on-site laboratory that is equipped with state-of-the-art technology.


Students have the opportunity to customize their education by choosing a concentration in Physical Activity & Public Health or Applied/Clinical Exercise Physiology. These concentrations provide the multidisciplinary knowledge and real-world skills professionals need to reach their unique career goals.

To graduate with either concentration, students are required to complete placements with organizations in the field. Northeastern helps students find placements by leveraging our world-renowned model of experiential learning, partnering with local, national and global employers.

Physical Activity & Public Health

The concentration in Physical Activity & Public Health is designed for students seeking careers in public health, community health, healthcare policy development, health education and more. This concentration comprises three courses:

  • Health Education and Program Planning
  • Urban Community Health Assessment
  • Practicum

Applied/Clinical Exercise Physiology

The concentration in Applied/Clinical Exercise Physiology is designed for students seeking careers in exercise physiology, nutrition/dietetics, fitness training, wellness coordination and more. This concentration comprises three courses:

  • Clinical Nutrition Applications
  • Physical Activity and Musculoskeletal Health
  • Internship

Course Descriptions


Exercise Science Core Courses

This course offers students an understanding of physiological principles of the cardiopulmonary system. This advanced course covers 1) the structure and functional operation and regulation of the cardiopulmonary system; 2) disease-associated physiological changes and cardiopulmonary dysfunction; 3) exercise-induced acute responses and physiological adaptations of the system and their applications to chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. This course encourages students to integrate their knowledge of exercise and physical activity with cardiopulmonary health and fitness, as well as cardiopulmonary disease prevention and treatment.

The objectives of the course are to provide an advanced level of competency and application in cardiopulmonary physiology.

This course will teach students fundamental concepts and techniques to measure physical activity, exercise and related testing procedures through a hands-on approach. Topics will cover the use of questionnaires and activity monitors to measure physical activity, measurement of different components of fitness including aerobic capacity, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. The fundamental concepts of exercise prescription and use of measurement techniques taught in this course are applicable to careers in exercise physiology, physical therapy and as a physician assistant. Student competency in course material will be assessed through written and practical examinations and take-home assignments.

Note: EXSC 5210 is offered online with a 4-day, on-campus, hands-on lab component in a low residency format to prepare students for experiential education in the field during internship or practicum. Under exceptional conditions when a student cannot make it to campus, they can engage in alternative in-person learning activities to fulfill the learning objectives and contents required by on-campus training.

This course covers advanced concepts, principles and research in the field of exercise physiology. The neuromuscular, metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory and endocrine responses to exercise and exercise training will be discussed in detail. Specific study of the physiological control mechanisms regulating these systems during periods of rest, acute exercise and following chronic exercise training will also be addressed. Comparisons will be drawn among individuals who are healthy and sedentary, moderately and highly trained and those with certain chronic diseases.

The focus of this course is the identification and management of chronic diseases. Students will learn skills to interpret EKGs. Topics include cardiac electrophysiology, lead systems, dysrhythmia, axis, infarction, ischemia, hypertrophy and the effects of cardiovascular drugs and exercise on the EKG. Through case studies, students will interpret exercise test results, prescribe exercise and evaluate exercise programs for clinical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary conditions and metabolic diseases. The objectives of the course are to provide an advanced level of competency and application in clinical exercise physiology skills.

Research Core Courses

This course offers an introduction to the principles, concepts and methods of population-based epidemiologic research. It is designed for students who are interested in epidemiologic research. The goal of this course is to prepare you to understand and critically review epidemiologic studies. The lectures and discussions in this course aim to serve as a foundation for further training in epidemiology, quantitative methods and population-based health research. The course is a required introductory course for students in the Master of Public Health program and is appropriate for students who are interested in epidemiologic research. To enroll in this course, students outside of the designated program must seek permission from the instructor.

This course offers students an opportunity to obtain the fundamental concepts and methods of biostatistics as applied predominantly to public health problems and the skills to perform basic statistical calculations. Students will learn about topics including descriptive statistics, vital statistics, sampling, estimation and significance testing, sample size and power, correlation and regression, spatial and temporal trends, small area analysis and statistical issues in policy development. The course material draws from examples of statistical methods from the public health practice and introduces how to use computer statistical packages.

This course will teach students to conduct scientific research in exercise science. Students will propose a research project and design appropriate methodology to complete the project. Class will include discussions on developing research hypotheses, comparing study designs, selecting appropriate statistical analyses and interpreting data. The course will incorporate interpretation of published research to support the proposed research project and students will present their own research plans through scientific writing.


Physical Activity & Public Health Concentration Courses

This course focuses on the underlying concepts of health education and program planning and explores current health education and health promotion issues that require intervention. Program planning models and theories used in health education and health promotion will be studied. Students will develop a working knowledge of the planning process through the analysis of case studies and through the creation of a health promotion program plan that addresses a health issue in an area of interest.

This course is designed to enable students to develop an understanding of the multiple and complex public health issues confronting communities across the nation by applying models of community health assessment. The course utilizes a community organizing and community-building framework grounded in the theoretical perspectives of community organization and social planning for applied public health practice. Through lectures, readings, skills-building and experiential learning opportunities, students will learn to develop community health assessments that may be used in public health planning, programming and policy in urban communities.

Contemporary issues in urban public health will be addressed, especially those associated with race and ethnicity, and with density and poverty, such as prevention and treatment of chronic disease, health challenges of the built environment, social inequities, inequities in education outcomes, racial and ethnic disparities in health, community violence and control of infectious and communicable diseases.

The course will cover key principles and methods for conducting community health assessments, utilizing a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, including community epidemiology, major data sets, surveillance data, behavioral risk and other population-based surveys, as well as focus groups, informant interviews, participant observation and other primary and secondary data sources.

This course provides eligible students with an opportunity for practical experience.

Note: Practicum is regarded as an essential component of experiential education when students select Physical Activity & Public Health as their concentration of study. However, students may choose to take an alternative course as an option when a practicum is not possible. An alternative course can be chosen from MPH course offerings upon approval.

Applied/Clinical Exercise Physiology Concentration Courses

This course prepares health professionals to effectively communicate the principles of diet and nutrition to their clients and the public. It covers public health promotion strategies, techniques used to teach diet and nutrition and behavioral theories used in diet and nutrition intervention. Emphasis will be placed on clinical applications for the treatment of weight disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, brain health, fitness and healthy aging.

This course provides the foundation for the understanding of the benefits of physical activity and exercise, as well as the detrimental effects of physical inactivity, sedentary behavior and disease on musculoskeletal health. Students will study the function/dysfunction of the musculoskeletal systems resulting in common and uncommon disorders. They will develop an understanding of the benefits of physical activity and exercise on musculoskeletal health. Students are expected to apply previously learned exercise physiology principles such as exercise prescription and neural and motor control adaptations to physical activity and exercise. The course will discuss key physiological mechanisms underlying common and uncommon musculoskeletal disorders and examine the preventive and beneficial effects of regular physical activity and exercise as endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine.

This course offers students an opportunity to obtain practical experience and to synthesize, integrate and apply skills and knowledge learned in the exercise science curriculum in a professional environment. Field experiences are an important part of graduate education programs in exercise science. The student is expected to complete a minimum of 300 hours of supervised experience in a research or practice setting.

Note: Internship is regarded as an essential component of experiential education when students select Applied/Clinical Exercise Physiology as their concentration of study. However, students may choose to take an alternative course when an internship is not possible. HINF 6240 Improving the Patient Experience through Informatics is recommended as an alternative course.

Online MS in Exercise Science

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