Why study Exercise and Health Science (EXHS)?  

The Exercise and Health Science program highlights the relationship between human function, physical activity, and health through our student-centered courses and real-world experiences. 

Foundational Coursework. In the EXHS program, you’ll build a strong foundation in the structure and function of the human body through our core courses: Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, Clinical Healthcare, Biomechanics and Physiology of Exercise. The integrated laboratory activities are designed to help you gain investigative experiences using the most current equipment and learning strategies, where you choose the project topics and pursue your interests. 

 anatomy peer mentor team poses with anatomy models

You will complement your training with elective courses in topics including advanced human anatomy, motor control and motor learning, aging, disease prevention, nutrition, epidemiology, strength and conditioning, sport leadership and management, and more. The curriculum aims to help you develop skills in critical thinking, quantitative analysis, and written, oral, and visual communication. Our interdisciplinary program connects with other scientific disciplines, such as psychology, biology, and public health.  

What are the favorite EXHS courses? Our students say:

word cloud of students' favorite EXHS classes

Real-World Experiences. Our focus is on providing real-world experience for students. Our curriculum incorporates evidence-based material and helps students develop hands-on skills through peer collaborations, experiences with community partners, and the availability of internships. Students have the opportunity to join the human cadaver dissection team, help peers as teaching assistants and peer tutors, serve as first responders through the Willamette Emergency Medical Services, and more. 

two students conduct functional tests of strength, balance, and gait function with an older adult community member in our aging, health, and functional assessment course

Research Training. You will also have opportunities to pursue graduate-level research, independently and alongside your professors, which often leads to presenting at conferences and publishing in scientific journals. Our students and faculty explore wide-ranging topics, such as the effects of type 2 diabetes on balance, fall risk detection and fall prevention strategies in the elderly, training interventions to improve athletic performance and reduce injury in young gymnasts, the effects of concussion on sports performance and injury risk, and the advantages of ballet for football players are a few recent projects.  

a student conducts body composition measurements with another student using a BodPod

Career Pathways. Students become well-positioned to competitively pursue graduate or professional studies and careers in healthcare, including physical therapy, athletic training, nursing, and medicine, in addition to the fields of education, fitness, wellness, business, and more.  

Students on the human anatomy cadaver dissection team prepare sections of the body for the next week's anatomy lab sessions

Our students say: 

“EXHS is the major where you get to do it all. You get the academically rigorous coursework AND the hands-on experience you will need for any career be it PT, OT, MD, professor, or researcher you are well prepared for whatever you may want to do.” 

“I was drawn to EXHS because of its focus on humans, and as a student wanting to go to medical school that seemed very beneficial to me. I know my time here in this department has prepared me well to take on the future, whatever it may hold.”

Dedicated Faculty. Department faculty are heavily involved in providing for our students intensive and personalized advising, assistance gaining internships in the surrounding region and beyond, and support with career planning and applying to graduate school. 

Our students say: 

“The professors are all great and care about your education and your success and are willing to meet with you to help you if you need it, or to just talk about your future. There are many opportunities that come up along the way that are incredible, such as research with a professor, or being an anatomy TA and performing dissections. There are enough avenues that many people with varying interests can find something that suits them within the major.” 

“The faculty operate as a team that provides mentorship as well as genuine care for all of their students, and they all have been a source of support for us during our time studying with them. I can't think of a better place for students who have any sort of interest in the study of the human body.” and “The professors make it a point to help you with any needs - in and outside of class. They care about the education you are getting and want to build strong individuals to send out in the world after graduation.”

How should we describe the Exercise and Health Science major? Our students say: 

a word cloud of the single word or phrase best capturing their impressions of the EXHS major



Willamette University

Exercise and Health Science

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6894 voice
503-370-6773 fax

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