Exercise & Sport Science


Career preparation starts your first year at Western. Visit Career Services in Library 120 and online at western.edu/career to discover your interests, define your goals and land your dream job.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.


For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

 EDUC 410 - K-12 Student Teaching (3 cred.)

Student teaching in a K-12 school setting on the average of 24 hours per week, over the course of the academic year, in collaboration with mentor teachers. This course must be repeated twice for credit. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: admission to the Teacher Education Program.

 ESS 181 - Foundations of Exercise and Sport Science (3 cred.)

An introduction to the field of exercise and sport science. An overview of philosophical, historical, and scientific foundations, current trends and issues, professional opportunities, and skills and competencies required for careers in a wide variety of physical activity settings.

 ESS 185 - Lifetime Wellness (3 cred.)

Provides conceptual and experiential components designed as a basis for developing a healthier lifestyle.

 ESS 201 - Essentials Human Anatomy and Physiology (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

An introduction to basic anatomy and physiology of all human systems. Lab and lecture are integrated. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.

 ESS 275 - Motor Development and Learning (3 cred.)

An application of the knowledge of motor development and learning to physical activity across the lifespan. This class introduces the physiological, perceptual, and cognitive, as well as the affective changes that occur in motor development and learning across the lifespan. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above.

 ESS 282 - Principles of Sport and Fitness Management (3 cred.)

A focus on the administration of programs within the sport and fitness industries. Topics include administrative theories and concepts, personnel, communication and problemsolving, fiscal management, budgeting, ethical considerations, and program evaluation. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of "C-" or above, ESS 181, or instructor permission.

 ESS 290 - Curriculum Development and the Learning Environment (3 cred.)

A comprehensive overview of materials, suggested teaching methods, procedures, techniques, well-directed and well-selected activities, and ways of evaluating physical education in K-12 schools.

 ESS 320 - Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (3 cred.)

A variety of issues and research areas in the psychology of sport and physical activity are addressed. Topics covered include an overview of the development of sport and exercise psychology, personality theories, exercise and mood, exercise adherence, goal setting, motivation, psychological interventions for athletes, and cohesion theories. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing.

 ESS 330 - Exercise Physiology (3 cred.)

An emphasis on the theory and principles of exercise physiology to health, physical fitness, and athletic performance in diverse populations. Prerequisites: ESS 201 or both BIOL 372 and BIOL 373; minimum Junior standing.

 ESS 331 - Exercise Physiology Laboratory (1 cred.)

Basic laboratory techniques of exercise physiology correlating with ESS 330. Laboratory experiences include aerobic and anaerobic exercise, body composition, strength, flexibility, and body composition and other indicators of exercise. Prerequisites: completion of the College Mathematics course requirement; Corequisite: ESS 330.

 ESS 340 - Mental Training for Peak Performance (3 cred.)

An application of theories and concepts of sport psychology. This course focuses on application of specific psychological skills necessary for high level performance and assisting students in teaching others those same skills. Prerequisite: ESS 320 or instructor permission.

 ESS 346 - Psychology of Coaching (3 cred.)

Psychological factors involved in coaching and leadership are explored in this course. Relevant theory and research, as well as practical applications, are discussed. Topics include expert coaching characteristics and behaviors, leadership and motivational styles, the coach-athlete relationship, stresses of coaching, reinforcement strategies, ethics in coaching, and issues related to youth sport coaching. This course is designed for current and future coaches, individuals in leadership roles, as well as anyone interested in the coach's experience. Prerequisites: ESS 320, minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

 ESS 355 - Psychology of Injury (3 cred.)

Psychological factors involved in sport-related injuries and the rehabilitation process. Course content includes relevant theory and research as well as practical applications. Topics include: stress, responses to injury, mental skills used to manage injury (i.e., goal setting, motivation, and confidence), social support, potential psychological problems faced during rehabilitation, and returning to sport after injury. Prerequisites: ESS 320, minimum junior standing or instructor permission.

 ESS 360 - Nutrition for Wellness and Performance (3 cred.)

A focus on concepts geared to promote peak performance based upon nutritional intake. An understanding of macronutrient ingestion along with other essential nutrients is gained and applied in detail to the healthy and chronically diseased populations. This includes an understanding of the metabolic effect of food. The pros and cons of select supplements are discussed and applied to real-life scenarios. Prerequisites or co-requisites: ESS 330 and ESS 331.

 ESS 363 - Inclusive Physical Activity (3 cred.)

Students develop knowledge and skills necessary to work with individuals having diverse needs in physical education, recreation, sport, fitness, or rehabilitation settings. Content includes planning, instructional design, assessment, coordination of resources, and advocacy in physical activity settings. Prerequisites: ESS 275 and minimum junior standing.

 ESS 365 - Topics in Physical Activity: (3 cred.)

Interdisciplinary study of the role of physical activity under a variety of conditions and settings, and for a variety of populations. Content focuses on current research and practice as it relates to the topic under consideration. Topics will rotate annually. Can be repeated up to three times for credit if a different topic is selected. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185; ESS 201 or BIOL 372; junior/senior standing.

 ESS 370 - Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3 cred.)

Exercise prescription and conditioning in the form of resistance training, including the use of free weights, machines, Olympic lifts, and plyometrics. Muscular adaptations to anaerobic and aerobic training, testing and evaluation, exercise techniques, and resistance training program design. Design, implementation, and demonstration of appropriate resistance training routines and proper lifting technique for a variety of populations. Content knowledge aligns with requirements for completion of certification as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Prerequisite: ESS 330 or instructor permission.

 ESS 380 - Biomechanics (3 cred.)

Investigation and analysis of human movement. Basic mechanical principles of force, motion, and aerodynamics as related to fundamental physical skills and their application to exercise, sport, and physical activity. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185, ESS 201 or BIOL 372, completion of the University Mathematics course requirement.

 ESS 382 - Management of Sport and Fitness Facilities (3 cred.)

A study of principles, guidelines and recommendations for planning, construction, and the use and maintenance of indoor and outdoor sports, physical education, recreation, and fitness facilities. Prerequisite: Junior Standing.

 ESS 385 - Program Design for Physical Activity Settings (3 cred.)

A focus on the principles of behavior modification and how they apply to program design and implementation in physical activity settings. Comprehensive behavior modification programs within exercise, wellness or sport settings are designed.Prerequisite: ESS 185.

 ESS 392 - Methods of Secondary Activities (3 cred.)

For students planning to obtain licensure in physical education. A variety of curriculum models (e.g., tactical, sport education, social responsibility) are used to present individual, dual and team sport activities. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented and assessed in keeping with Colorado and NASPE standards as they relate to secondary physical education. Prerequisites: 2 of the following: ESS 210, 211, 212, 213; ESS 290, minimum junior standing; Prerequisite or corequisite: ESS 350

 ESS 395 - Methods of Elementary Activities (3 cred.)

Units covered may include apparatus and tumbling, dance, and games. Each unit breaks down into sub-units, and progressions are emphasized. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented, and assessed in keeping with national standards and as they relate to elementary physical education. Competencies in the basic skills of each unit are also tested. Prerequisites: two of the following: ESS 210, 211, 212, 213; ESS 290; and minimum junior standing; Prerequisite or corequisite: ESS 350.

 ESS 396 - Methods of Alternative Physical Education (3 cred.)

Units covered may be: Nordic skiing, rock climbing, orienteering, camping, mountain biking, and adventure activities. Lesson and unit plans are developed, implemented, and assessed in keeping with national standards as they relate to secondary physical education. Prerequisites: ESS 290 and minimum junior standing.

 ESS 410 - Assessment and Exercise Prescription (3 cred.)

Students work with assessment formats, appraisal techniques, and metabolic calculations to gain information needed to construct exercise prescriptions designed to meet individual needs for different segments of the population. Prerequisites: ESS 331and ESS 298 or instructor permission.

 ESS 430 - Topics in Clinical Exercise Physiology (3 cred.)

A study of diseased populations, including, but not limited to, exercise therapy in cardiac and cancer patients. Course content focuses on the etiology and pathophysiology of disease, electrocardiogram and diagnostic stress test interpretation, specialized exercise prescription, and other topics at the discretion of the instructor. Prerequisites: ESS 330 and ESS 331.

 ESS 450 - Risk Management in Physical Activity Settings (3 cred.)

A focus on risk assessment and management for physical activity professionals. Topics covered include risk assessment, standard of care, negligence, forms to limit liability, constitutional law as relevant for physical activity professionals, development of a risk management plan, and risk reduction strategies. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing.

 ESS 490 - Sociology of Sport and Physical Activity (3 cred.)

A focus on the social organization of sport and physical activity and their relationship to the institutional structure, cultural patterns, and dynamics of American society. Students use different sociological approaches/theories to analyze sport and physical activity and to analyze current issues and problems in sport and physical activity settings. Prerequisite: minimum junior standing.

 ESS 495 - Senior Seminar in Exercise and Sport Science (3 cred.)

A capstone course required for all ESS majors addressing issues, ethical considerations, problem-solving and decision-making, leadership and communication in the discipline. Students integrate content from their course of study, write and speak in discipline-specific formats, and complete a comprehensive self-assessment in preparation for graduate school, internship, or entry-level job. Prerequisites: ESS 181, ESS 185, senior standing. Students are encouraged to take this course during their final semester.

 ESS 498 - Internship in Exercise and Sport Science (3 cred.)

An opportunity for in-depth work at a professional site in an area of exercise and sport science. The internship must meet standards of the department and the University, including completion of a pre-internship checklist. Prerequisites: Satisfactory grade in ESS 405, overall GPA of 2.750, department advisor permission, and senior standing.

Faculty & Staff


Christina Buchanan, Ph.D. headshot
Professor, High Altitude Exercise Physiology Director
Phone: 970.943.2027
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 224
Michelle Conway, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor in Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science
Phone: 970.943.2104
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 227
Lance Dalleck, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Exercise & Sport Science
Phone: 970.943.3095
Office Location: High Altitude Performance Lab 171
Angela Dalleck, M.A. headshot
Exercise & Sport Science Lecturer, Wellness Elevated Manager, HAP Lab Manager
Phone: 970.943.2179
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 232
Kathleen M. Kinkema, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Professor of Exercise & Sport Science
Phone: 970.943.7133
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 233
Brett Miramon, MAT headshot
Lecturer in Exercise & Sport Science, Physical Education
Phone: 970.943.2251
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 226
Erin Smith, M.S. headshot
Lecturer in Exercise & Sport Science
Phone: 970.943.7130
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 230
Crystal Southall, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor, Exercise & Sport Science, Sport & Fitness Management
Phone: 970.943.2149
Office Location: Paul Wright Gym 225
Ryan Weatherwax, M.S. headshot
Lecturer of Exercise & Sport Science
Phone: 970.943.2010
Office Location:


Program-Based Scholarships

Degutis, Ernest Memorial Scholarship


  • Full-time juniors and seniors
  • Must be a declared major in Exercise & Sport Science
  • 3.0 GPA or greater
  • Show outstanding achievement in four of the following five areas (special talents, leadership, obstacles overcome, community service and unique endeavors)


This scholarship is provided by the estate and family of Ernest Degutis.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Western Exercise & Sport Science faculty in consultation with the Admissions Office and Financial Aid as needed. Award made at the end of the Spring Semester each year.


Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2010 | Wright Gym 209

RESS Student Professional Development Fund


  • Exercise & Sport Science and Recreation & Outdoor Education majors
  • Full-time at Western


This scholarship is provided by Alumni Donations. The Student Professional Development Fund is to support professional activities such as professional certification exams, conference attendance, research, or other professional preparation activities. 

Approximately $400 awarded every semester.

Selected by: Western RESS faculty committee  


Contact the RESS Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.2010 | Wright Gym 209

Learn more about Western's Exercise & Sport Science Program

Learn more about Western's Recreation & Outdoor Education Program

Institutional Scholarships

Common Scholarships

Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit our scholarships page.

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit western.edu/mars.

Neighboring States Program

Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Presidential Promise

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Tuition Discount Programs

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Western Merit Scholarship

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Graduate Research: Collaborate on research projects with students in the High Altitude Exercise Physiology master's program. 
  • High Altitude Performance Lab: Take classes and conduct research in our state-of-the-art facility.
  • Publish Research: Publish your work in the Center for Wellness and Human Performance Health & Fitness Journal. 
  • Wellness Elevated: Work with clinical populations and their exercise programming for a semester or more. 
  • Association for Students of Exercise Sports Science: This club is specifically tailored to ESS majors. Outings and events provide social support, professional development and networking opportunities.

Exercise & Sport Science (ESS) students learn how to promote healthy lifestyles and enhance performance in exercise, sport and physical activity settings. Western’s ESS program uses Gunnison's high-altitude environment to create an unparalleled academic experience rife with novel research projects. Graduates pursue entry-level careers in teaching, fitness, sport and wellness in addition to professional certifications and graduate degrees in physical therapy, exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation and other allied health fields.


Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

A man with short brown hair and wearing a plaid shirt smiles at the camera
Professor of Exercise & Sport Science
Office Location: 
High Altitude Performance Lab 171

Related Programs


Read more


Read more

Clinical Exercise Science

Read more


Read more

Health & Fitness

Read more

Honors Program

Read more

Physical Education

Read more


Read more

Pre-Physical Therapy

Read more

Recreation & Outdoor Education

Read more
Read more

Sport & Fitness Management

Read more

M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP) 3+2

Read more

M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP)

Read more