Graduate Program

M.S. in Health and Exercise Science

General Program Description

The Master of Science in Health and Exercise Science offers students a health-oriented, science-based curriculum and research experience. The program is a scientifically rigorous, research focused program that prepares students for further education and/or careers in health and exercise science related fields. The program is structured to prepare students for further education that includes doctoral study, physical and occupational therapy, and medicine (e.g. physicians/physician assistant and nursing). Most students are supported during their graduate study by graduate teaching assistantships (GTA). In addition, Graduate Service Assistantships (GSA) are available in the Adult Fitness, Heart Disease Prevention and Cancer Fit Programs. M.S. students are also supported by Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) positions in their mentor’s lab. Faculty members work closely with students for academic, professional and personal advising. On-site research facilities are state-of-the-art and include the Human Performance Clinical Research Laboratory. The program offers the possibility of a direct, continuous-enrollment admit to the Ph.D. program. By this plan, the master’s student must complete a distinct research project, with hopeful submission for publication, prior to beginning the PhD program. Prospective applicants to the M.S. program must establish contact with a prospective thesis mentor before applying; no admissions will be made without a mentor in place.

Master of Science Handbook

Entry Requirements


  • Undergraduate GPA > 3.0
  • Personal Statement/letter of application
  • Contact and provisional acceptance into a specific laboratory (faculty mentor) within HES
  • Completion of the following prerequisite classes:
    1. Physiology (300 level or equivalent)
    2. Physiology of Exercise (300 level or equivalent)
    3. At least two of the following four classes
  • Nutrition (300 level or equivalent)
  • Neuromuscular or Movement Science (300 level or equivalent)
  • Biomechanics or Kinesiology (300 level or equivalent)
  • Biochemistry (300 level or equivalent)

Contact the Department if there are any questions regarding entry or prerequisite requirements or see the list of Frequently Asked Questions on this page for additional information.

Program Requirements

Example Program of Study (42 credits total)

Year 1
Semester 1Credits
HES 602: Advanced Exercise Physiology (Fall only)3
HES 600: Research Design in Health/Exercise Science (Fall only)3
HES 610: Exercise Bioenergetics (Fall only)3
HES 693: Seminar (Fall or Spring)1
Semester 2
Statistics elective (Fall or Spring)3
Elective (Fall or Spring)3
HES 698: Var. Research (Fall or Spring)3
*HES 693: Seminar (Fall or Spring)1
Year 2
Semester 1
Elective (Fall or Spring)3
HES 699: Var. Thesis (Fall or Spring)6
*HES 793: Bioenergetics Seminar (Fall or Spring)1
Semester 2
Elective (Fall or Spring)3
HES 699: Thesis Credits (Fall or Spring)6
Elective (Fall or Spring)3

*Students are required to complete two semesters of HES 693, and one semester of HES 793.

Departmental Electives (regular courses):

The department offers several 500-600 level "regular" courses. 700 level courses are available with instructor approval. Non-regular courses (independent, group study, etc.) cannot be used as "electives" for purposes of meeting the minimum credit requirements for the degree.

Variable credit or non-regular course electives:

  • HES 684 Supervised College Teaching (1-3)
  • HES 695D Independent Study Exercise Science (1-3)
  • HES 696E Group Study Exercise Science (1-3)
  • HES 696C Group Study Exercise & Nutrition (1-3)
  • HES 687 Internship (9)

Courses in other departments are available; these can be discussed with your thesis advisor or the graduate program director.

Application Process

The DEPARTMENTAL deadlines for receipt of completed applications for the MS program are:

  • December 31 for Fall admission.
  • August 31 for Spring admission. Please note that there are generally very few funded positions for spring admission. In addition, note that the curriculum is designed for a fall semester start. Questions about spring admissions on any given year can be directed to the graduate program coordinator.
  • Applications received, or remaining incomplete, after these dates will not be considered.

A completed application will include ALL of the following:

  • A completed On-Line Application form (all fees paid) from:
  • TRANSCRIPTS FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS –submit ONE official transcript of all collegiate work completed. Colorado State University transcripts are not required.
  • INTERNATIONAL applicants are referred to the Graduate School website to follow those requirements.
  • MILITARY: Training course transcripts from branches of the U.S. military that show credit received with neither grades nor degrees awarded are exempt from the transcript requirement.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation. You will provide an email contact for your letter writers; they will be contacted by the online admissions system and can directly upload their letter.
  • A letter of support from the prospective mentor with whom you have been corresponding. The letter will simply confirm their agreement to take you on as a trainee in their lab.
  • NOTE: incomplete applications will NOT be considered, contact the Department if you are having problems completing your application.

Graduate School Forms

All Graduate School forms, policies, and procedures can be found at the hyperlink above. Your will find fillable PDF versions of each form via this hyperlink. The most commonly used forms are described below

Graduate Program of Study (GS6)
The Program of Study is a document which must list all the required courses (taken and planned) to achieve your degree. The Program of Study must be filed with the Graduate School before the time of the fourth regular semester registration – this occurs in the third semester. Students who fail to meet this requirement may be denied subsequent registration. This form must be submitted to the Graduate School prior to applying for graduation.

Report of Final Examination Results (GS24)
All Ph.D. students and Master’s Plan A and Plan B students are required to complete and pass a final examination/defense. The examination must be held by the published deadline of the student’s graduating term. The completed and signed form must be submitted to the Graduate School Office within two working days after the results of the examination are known.

Application for Graduation or reapplication for Graduation (GS25)
A student must apply or reapply to graduate by the published deadline of the student’s graduating term. A student applying to graduate will start the process using the “Apply or Reapply to Graduate” link in RAMWeb.

Departmental requirements Clearance (GS25B)
Departmental requirements listed in Section 4 of the GS25 Application for Graduation may be cleared by completing this form. This form must be signed and submitted to the Graduate School when these requirements have been met and by the published deadline of the student’s graduating term.

Request for Letter of Completion (GS26)
This letter can be issued to a student who has completed all of his/her degree requirements, including the posting of grades. Letters will be issued until the degree is recorded on the student’s official transcripts.

Thesis/Dissertation Submission (GS30)
This form is required of all Master’s and Ph.D. students submitting a thesis or dissertation after the final thesis/dissertation has been reviewed and approved by the student’s committee. The completed and signed form must be submitted to the Graduate School Office by the published deadline date of the student’s graduating term and before the electronic submission of the thesis or dissertation. In the event that your thesis committee determines that your thesis project is best suited as a Plan B thesis, this form will not be required (only the GS24 is submitted for a Plan B thesis).

Timeline: From Application to Graduation


  • Review departmental website for information on graduate program & application process
  • Review faculty bios and research lab descriptions; reach out to prospective mentors to discuss the possibility of training in their lab
  • Contact Graduate Program Director with any questions
  • Submit all application materials by application deadline dates

Review and Admission

  • Departmental review of applications generally takes several weeks. Not all applicants will be invited to interview, and not all interviewees are offered funded (assistantship) positions.
  • Questions during this period can be directed to the Graduate Program Director.
  • Formal offer letters will follow the interview for all applicants who will receive assistantship offers.
  • The formal graduate school admissions process can take several weeks (even after a formal offer letter has been accepted).
  • For admitted students, discussions on course registration, expected arrival date, and the expectations of the assistantship will be shared in writing.

Year 1

  • Work with your mentor on your thesis proposal and to form a graduate committee (2 members from HES and one member from outside HES as a minimum requirement).
  • Work with your mentor and the Graduate Program Director to complete and submit the Program of Study (GS6) by the end of the 2nd semester, if possible. It must be completed no later than October of the 3rd semester, or a hold will be placed on your registration.
  • Year 1 tends to be a bit more course-intensive than year 2; you should expect more regular courses to be taken this year.

Year 2

  • Remaining required courses, electives, and thesis credits will be the primary curricular aims of year 2.
  • Your work on data collection, data analysis, and writing your thesis will be ongoing.
  • You will schedule your thesis with your mentor and committee, secure a room for the public presentation, and the date, time, and location of your thesis will be shared with HES faculty, staff, and students.
  • You should have the final draft of your thesis to all committee members 1-2 weeks prior to the date of your defense to allow them time to review and comment.
  • The Graduate School publishes a calendar of Academic Deadline dates each semester (these are typically early April & early November in each academic year; the summer deadline is in early July). In order to meet the deadline for graduation in the semester in question, you must successfully defend your thesis and submit your final thesis and all forms by the deadline date.
  • The form to report the outcome of your thesis defense (GS24-Report of Final Exam) must be submitted within 2 business days of the date of your defense. The thesis submission form (GS30) is submitted only when the edits/revisions are approved by your committee, and is often submitted several days to weeks after the date of your defense. To meet graduate school deadline dates in any semester, BOTH the GS24 and GS30 must be submitted to the graduate school (with all required original signatures) by the posted deadline date.


  • In the semester in which you plan to defend and graduate, you will submit an application for graduation by the Academic Deadline date (typically mid-September and mid-February in each academic year, with the summer deadline the 3rd week of May).
  • The application for graduation will trigger a review of your Program of Study (GS6) by the Graduate School. If there are any discrepancies (taking a different course(s) than originally planned, etc.), both you and the department will be notified and given an opportunity to respond (GS52) and explain the discrepancy. These discrepancies are NOT unusual; plans often do change and they can be readily handled by the department in most cases.
  • The HES department requires an exit interview with the Department Head. Completion of this exit interview is the final step (and final form-GS25B-Departmental Requirements Clearance) submitted to the Graduate School.
  • Come to the end of semester luncheon in which we celebrate graduating students and their mentors, then enjoy the commencement exercises with your family and friends!

Frequently Asked Questions

I do not have all the prerequisite courses; can I still apply?
No, all prerequisite courses must be completed before admission.

My undergraduate GPA is 2.97, how will this affect my application?
We cannot admit a student with less than a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, regardless of how close the GPA is to 3.0. In rare circumstances, the Department can petition the graduate school to admit a student with less than a 3.0 GPA, but there must be strong evidence to support this type of admission. The Department cannot financially support a student admitted in this manner, as they are admitted conditionally, on probation. We generally do not review applicants with less than a 3.0 GPA.

My undergraduate GPA is 3.0 from my degree granting institution. As part of my degree, I did take a couple of courses from a community college. Will those courses affect my GPA?
Yes. Your undergraduate GPA is calculated based on all courses taken at all institutions involved in your degree program. This may lower or raise your current GPA.

I have a 3.3 GPA in my last two years, though my overall GPA is 2.9. Do you consider the last two years or the GPA in the major when reviewing an applicant?
No, we consider the overall GPA. In this case, it is less than a 3.0 and would not be considered. If the overall GPA were 3.0 or better, we would also consider how the student performed in courses relevant to the graduate program to further evaluate the student. We do not separate the last two years or the GPA in the major. Current average GPA of admitted students is 3.6.

I am an in-state resident, will this help my application?
No. The state in which the applicant resides is not considered when reviewing the applicants, therefore it neither helps nor hinders. The Department encourages in-state applicants to apply.

I am an out-of-state resident, how do I become an in-state resident for tuition purposes?
It requires a calendar year to become an in-state resident. Our Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to achieve in-state status for the second year. Students must begin immediately prior to their first semester to meet the requirements. The website for residency has the requirements.

How many applications do you receive and how many do you admit?
For Fall admission, we typically receive around 60 applications. While it varies, we typically admit from 6 to 10 students for Fall. As noted above, spring admissions are far smaller in number. There are typically 5-10 applicants, and admit (with support) only 0 to 2 students.

How large is your program?
We typically have 25-28 Master's students. We have 20 graduate faculty. Graduate classes typically are 10-15 students. We have over 1500 undergraduate majors.

Graduate Career Examples

Health and Exercise Science M.S. Graduate Career Placement

  • Ph.D Program CSU, Health and Exercise Science
  • Clinical Physiologist with Physical Therapist
  • Exercise Physiologist, Arizona Heart Institute, Phoenix AZ
  • Professional Research Assistant, UCHSC Denver
  • Employee Wellness Program Coordinator, U. Michigan
  • Rocky Mt. Cancer Institute, Cancer Rehabilitation Exercise Physiologist
  • Physical Therapy School, Washington University, St. Louis MO
  • Exercise Physiologist, Rocky Mt. Cardiology, Boulder, CO
  • Professional Research Assistant, Barbara Davis Center, UCDHSC, Denver
  • Health and Wellness Director, YMCA, Seattle
  • Research Assistant, UCDHSC, Denver CO
  • Professional Research Assistant, UCDHSC, Denver CO
  • Ph.D., Nutrition, CSU
  • Ph.D. Program, CSU, Physiology
  • Ph.D. Program, Exercise Science, University of New Mexico, NM; Asst. Prof. UW Eau Claire, WI
  • Ph.D. Health Education, U. of Minnesota
  • Women's Ice Hockey Coach, New England College
  • Exercise specialist, Las Vegas, NV
  • Ph.D., Physiology, CSU; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Univ. of Colorado Health Sci. Ctr., Denver
  • Midwestern University, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Professional Research Assistant, Exercise Science, CA; Ph.D. Program, U. Wisconsin-Madison
  • Pharm. D. Program, UCHSC, Denver, CO
  • Toyota Headquarters, CA Corporate Health
  • Strength & Conditioning, USOC, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Charlotte General Hospital, South Carolina
  • Ph.D. Program, Nutrition, CSU; Post-doctoral fellow UCHSC, Denver
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation, Albuquerque, NM
  • Instructor, Kinesiology, University of Wyoming
  • Exercise Specialist, Coordinator of Cancer Rehabilitation, HEALTHSOUTH, Fort Collins, CO
  • Teacher, Public School System, Verona, CO
  • Research Dietitian, Healthetech, Denver, CO
  • Instructor, Front Range Community College, Fort Collins
  • Professional Research Assistant, UC Davis School of Medicine, CA
  • Head Athletic Trainer, WY
  • Exercise Specialist, Knope Inst. For Core Strength, Tucson AZ
  • Health Promotion/Denver CO
  • Weld County Public Health, Greeley, CO
  • Staff Research Associate/Technician, University of California at Irvine Medical Center
  • Director, Wellness Center, Casper WY
  • Professional Research Assistant, Orthopedics, Baylor College SOM; Ph.D. program U. Houston
  • U. of Colorado Doctoral Program In Integrative Physiology
  • Professional Research Assistant, UCHSC, Internal Medicine, Denver CO
  • Professional Research Assistant, Joslin Diabetes Ctr.
  • Physicians Assistant Program Midwestern University AZ
  • Field Analyst, Nike Sport Research Lab, Portland OR
  • Exercise Physiologist, University of Minnesota, MN
  • Health Education, Central Jr. High School, Denton, TX
  • Adult Fitness Director, Virginia Tech, VA
  • Professional Research Assistant, Exercise Physiology, MA
  • Wellness Program Director, Drake University
  • Co-Founder, Valeo Systems, Houston, TX
  • Ph.D., Pharmacy, University of Rhode Island; Pharmacist
  • Ph.D. Program, Kinesiology, UC-Boulder, CO; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University
  • Ph.D. Program, Exercise Science, South Dakota State; Post Doctoral Fellowship Colorado State Univ.
  • DO program University of Illinois
  • Instructor, CSU Health and Exercise Science
  • Ph.D. Program, University of Michigan
  • Clinical Instructor, University of Utah, Exercises and Sport Science
  • Professional Research Assistant, Nike, Portland OR
  • Ph.D., Physiology, University of Vermont, VT
  • Ph.D., Exercise Physiology, Brunnel University, Scotland
  • M.D., University of Colorado
  • Ph.D., CSU; Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard, MA; Scientist, Medtronics, MN

Recent Graduates/ Thesis Projects


Nate Bachman
Assessment of Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Middle-Aged Ultra-Endurance Athletes
Advisor: Dr. Frank Dinenno

Emily Edwards
Proposing A Health Education Unit for 5th Graders in the U.S
Advisor: Dr. Brian Butki

Kelli Lebreton
Cardiologists and Oncologists Exercise Promotion Study (CONCEPTS)
Advisor: Dr. Heather Leach

Kayla Nuss
Feasibility assessment and evaluation of the 12-week real transformation weight loss program: changes in psychological determinants, behaviors, and body weights, and their associations.
Advisor: Dr. Kaigang Li

Felix Proessl
No association between leg strength asymmetry and walking performance, fatigability or perceptions of fatigue in MS
Advisor: Dr. Thorsten Rudroff

Justin Reid
Novel Insights into Protein Synthesis Rates in the Brain Following Two Lifespan-Extending Treatments
Advisors: Dr. Ben Miller and Dr. Karyn Hamilton

Clayton Swanson
Associations between gait coordination, variability and motor cortex inhibition in young and older adults
Advisor: Dr. Brett Fling

Vicki Zablocki
Motor control of driving performance in older adults and individuals with stroke
Advisor: Dr. Neha Lodha


Matt Carnal
Validation of Smartphone-Based Assessment of Sit-To-Stand Power
Advisor: Dr. Brian Tracy

Kelley Covington
Cancer Fit: The Feasibility and Effectiveness of a Community, Group-Dynamics based Exercise Program for Cancer Survivors.
Advisor: Dr. Heather Leach

Jaime Laurin
Evaluation of a Novel Phytochemical Nrf2 Activator on Cytoprotective Gene Expression and Proteostasis in Vivo
Advisors: Dr. Karyn Hamilton and Dr. Ben Miller

Ashley Sanders
Effectiveness of a Low Dose Behavior Change Intervention on Physical Activity Maintenance in Pre-Type 2 Diabetics
Advisor: Dr. Heather Leach

Jeremy Theisen
Endurance Exercise Performance in Hypoxia: The Role of Modality-Specific Training
Advisor: Dr. Chris Bell


Alissa Ackerman
The Effects of Obesity and Duration on the Energetics and Biomechanics of Walking in Children.
Advisor: Dr. Ray Browning

Tim Brodsky
Fatigue Resistance vs. Fall Resistance: Sprint Interval Training and the Dissociation of Stamina andSstability in Older Adults.
Advisor: Dr. Chris Bell

Sarah Ehrlicher
Nrf2 Activation but not Vitamin C Treatment Promotes Proteostatic Maintenance during an Oxidative Challenge
Advisor: Dr. Karyn Hamilton and Dr. Ben Miller

Neal Fox
The Influence of Soft Tissue Deformations on the Mechanics and Energetics of Walking in Obese Children.
Advisor: Dr. Raoul Reiser

Nate Grimm
Liposomal Alpha-lipoic Acid, Benfotiamine, and Curcumin: Making the ABC's of Diabetes Prevention Bioavailable?
Advisor: Dr. Chris Bell

Nathan Ketelhut
Rehabilitative Targets to Increase Physical Activity in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
Advisor: Dr. Thorsten Rudroff

Sean Nielsen
A Gut Feeling: The Impact of the Intestinal Microbiome on Type 1 Diabetes
Advisor: Dr. Matt Hickey

Ricky Pimentel
Lower-Extremity Asymmetries and their Correlations to Disability in Multiple Sclerosis
Advisor: Dr. Raoul Reiser

Cassandra Ortiz
Review and Analysis of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, Preservation of the Force and Family, Human Performance Intervention among the 10th Special Forces Group Airborne.
Advisor: Dr. Tracy Nelson

Corrie Voss
Depressive Symptoms and Metabolic Syndrome Risk factors in Male and Female Coloradan Firefighters
Advisor: Dr. Dale Devoe


Scott Binns
Combining Curcumin and Alpha Lipoic Acid to Treat Metabolic Syndrome
Advisor: Dr. Chris Bell

Trevor Connor
The Influence of a Wheat-Free Diet on Autoimmune Progression
Advisor: Dr. Loren Cordain

Melanie Lashbrook
Functional Responses of Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Mitochondria to Hyperphagic Obesity: Are All Obesities The Same?
Advisor: Dr. Adam Chicco

Sarah Lewis
Evidence-based Criteria for Using Mobile Technology to Prevent the Decline in Physical Activity in College Students.
Advisor: Dr. Ray Browning

Rob Musci
Investigating the Effects of an Endogenous and an Exogenous Oxidant Stressor on Protein Synthesis in C2C12 Myoblasts
Advisors: Dr. Karyn Hamilton and Dr. Ben Miller

Jenny Newman
Built Environment Strategies to Promote Healthy Behaviors for Obesity Reduction
Advisor: Dr. Tracy Nelson

Mark Prescott
Losing your MND: a Contributing Factor in Sarcopenia
Advisor: Dr. Matt Hickey

Kylie Soliday
Effects of Prolonged Standing on Ground Reaction Force Control and Core Muscle Activation
Advisor: Dr. Raoul Reiser