Applied Physiology MA

Master of Arts in Applied Exercise Physiology


The M.A. program emphasizes bridging between the movement sciences and clinical or education practice. The objective is to develop a comprehensive and coherent view of theory and research that can be applied to practice within the student’s professional field.

The program includes:

  • Substantive study of applied physiology and movement sciences theory and research as embodied in lecture, tutorials, and special topics courses.
  • Development of clinical or educational skills in laboratory and fieldwork courses.
  • Research training to enable students to critically read and interpret original research and to carry out educational, clinical, or laboratory research.
  • Seminars to discuss movement sciences-related research, identification of research problems, and clinical/educational applications.
  • Elective courses to meet specific student needs which may be taken throughout the College. These may include areas such as health education, higher and adult education, neurosciences, nutrition, psychology, and science education.
  • A culminating Integrative Final Project or Comprehensive Examination.
Two students chat inside a faculty member's office at Teachers College

Admissions Information

Master of Arts

  • Points/Credits: 32
  • Entry Terms: Spring/Summer/Fall

Application Deadlines

  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer/Fall (Priority): January 15
  • Summer/Fall (Final): Rolling

* For details about rolling deadlines, visit our admission deadlines page.

Supplemental Application Requirements/Comments

Application Information

While students come from a variety of fields, the following backgrounds are most appropriate: kinesiology, movement sciences, exercise science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physical education, athletic training, biology, nutrition, nursing, health education, public health, and psychology. Students with strong academic records who have deficiencies in their science backgrounds, may be admitted on a provisional basis with the understanding that these deficiencies will be remedied with appropriate courses taken in addition to those required for the MA degree. It is strongly recommended that students without undergraduate coursework in anatomy and physiology (usually a two-semester sequence with laboratory) or exercise physiology take these courses or their equivalent prior to entering the program.

It is recommended that prospective students communicate with an academic advisor to discuss program plans prior to admission. Students are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the College to meet with faculty. If desired, it may be possible to audit a class or seminar session during your visit. Applicants are reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the academic year. Prior to formal admission, enrollment in up to 8 points of study as a non-matriculated student is permitted.

Requirements from the TC Catalog

View Full Catalog Listing

The Applied (Exercise) Physiology concentration involves the study of the integrative physiology of exercise, focusing on the acute and chronic adaptations to exercise across the lifespan. The effects of exercise training on sports performance and physical and mental health are emphasized. The program emphasizes the application of scientific evidence to the practice of exercise physiology. Students in the applied physiology program study physical activity behavior, the physiological and psychological effects of acute and chronic exercise, how exercise influences physical and mental health, sports performance, and  the promotion of physical activity in community, clinical, and public health settings. Students can apply their academic work to jobs that involve exercise testing and training, including programs designed to improve sports performance,  health and physical fitness in healthy individuals, in people with or at risk for chronic illness or disability, movement arts, and in community, clinical, research, and public health settings. The program also may serve as a stepping-stone to medical, professional schools, and doctoral studies.

The Master of Arts (M.A.) program emphasizes bridging science and practice. The overarching objective of the program is to develop competence in practical skills and critical thinking skills that facilitate applying scientific knowledge to practice within the student’s professional field. The program can be individualized to span the movement sciences and includes at least two Teachers College courses (for a total of 6 points) in programs outside of the movement sciences (i.e., non “BBSR” courses), such as neuroscience, nutrition education, health education, and other programs.

The Masters of Arts program in Applied Physiology requires a minimum of 32 points of graduate study, and it typically takes twelve months of full-time, or two years of part-time study. Full time students who wish to graduate in May-- or who have no previous formal study in a Kinesiology/Movement Science-related field-- are strongly advised to start the program in the Summer semester.

The Program has five components:

1. Substantive study of theory and scientific research as embodied in lecture and laboratory courses.

2. Development of clinical practice skills in laboratory and fieldwork courses.

3. Research training to enable students to read and interpret original research.

4. Elective courses to meet specific needs, which may be taken throughout the Teachers College in an area of your choice.

5. A culminating examination or project integrating material from Applied Physiology coursework.

SPECIAL ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS/ACADEMIC PREREQUISITES

While students have come from a variety of fields, the following backgrounds are most appropriate: kinesiology, movement sciences, exercise science, physical therapy, occupational therapy, physical education, athletic training, movement arts, biology, chemistry, nutrition, nursing, health sciences, public health, health education, and psychology. Students with strong academic records who have deficiencies in their science backgrounds, may be admitted on a provisional basis with the understanding that these deficiencies will be remedied with appropriate courses taken in addition to those required for the M.A. degree.

Prospective students should communicate with an academic advisor to discuss program plans prior to admission. Students are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the college to meet with faculty. If desired, it may be possible to audit a class or seminar session during your visit. Applicants are reviewed on an ongoing basis throughout the academic year. Prior to formal admission, enrollment in up to 8 points of study as a non-matriculated student is permitted.

PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

The Masters of Arts program in Applied Physiology requires a minimum of 32 points. These courses come from the required core courses, electives in movement sciences, and breadth elective courses taken outside of the program. In addition, students who enter the program without prior formal study in Kinesiology, Movement, or Exercise Sciences or a closely-related field may be required to take coursework in addition to these program requirements, and it is strongly recommended they start in the summer semester if at all possible. All students must complete a final comprehensive examination or integrative project. No transfer credit from other graduate schools is awarded for Master of Arts students.  Students are expected to consult with the Registrar’s Office or website for additional information about degree requirements, policies and procedures:

https://www.tc.columbia.edu/registrar/students/degree-information--degree-audit/degree-requirements/

The specific requirements for the M.A. program in Applied Physiology are described below:

Required Core Courses (minimum of 15 points)

Students are required to complete all of the following courses with a grade of B or better. Students who earn grades of B- or below will need to retake those courses or an alternate course with approval of the program director and will incur additional tuition charges.

  • BBSR 4095 Applied physiology I (3)

  • BBSR 5594 Applied physiology II (3) 

  • BBSR 4195 Applied physiology laboratory I (3)

  • BBSR 5194 Applied physiology laboratory II (3)

  • BBSR 5582 Research Design in the Movement Sciences (3) OR

  • BBSR 4001 Qualitative Research Methods in Biobehavioral Sciences (3) 

 

Electives in Movement Sciences and Education (BBSR) (9-12 points)

Students are required to take at least three additional BBSR courses (for a minimum of 9 points) in addition to the core required courses.  These electives may include, but are not limited to, the following BBSR courses:

  • BBSR 4001 Qualitative Research Methods in Biobehavioral Sciences and Education (3)

  • BBSR 4002 Visual Methods and Education (3)

  • BBSR 4054 Anatomy and Physiology (3)

  • BBSR 4005 Applied anatomy and biomechanics (3)

  • BBSR 4050 Biomechanical Analysis of human movement (3)

  • BBSR 4060 Motor learning (2-3)

  • BBSR 4070 Introduction to Psychosocial Aspects of Sports/Exercise (2-3)

  • BBSR 4090 Physical Fitness, Weight Control and Relaxation (2-3)

  • BBSR 4900 Research and Independent Study in Movement Science and Education (1-3)

  • BBSR 5028 Motor Development (2-3)

  • BBSR 5055 Basis of Motor Control (3)

  • BBSR 5057 Movement disorders (3)

  • BBSR 5095 Exercise and health (3)

  • BBSR 5096 Advanced Exercise and Physical Activity Prescription (3)

  • BBSR 5101 Scientific Basis of Exercise and Weight Management (3)

  • BBSR 5120 Critical issues in Physical Culture and Education (3 credits)

  • BBSR 5151 Introduction to Programming for Signal Analysis of Biobehavioral Signals (2-3)

  • BBSR 5200 Fieldwork in Movement Sciences and Education (1-3)

  • BBSR 5195 Advanced Applied Physiology Laboratory (3)

  • BBSR 5595 Research seminar in applied physiology (1-3)

Elective Courses for Those Planning for Health and Fitness Professional Certifications

Any student considering taking a professional certification should discuss course selection with program faculty and also check the certification requirements posted by the certifying organization. Please note it is possible that you may need to take extra courses above the 32 point requirement to meet the requirements to sit for some professional certifications.

Students in MA programs in Applied Physiology can meet the curricular requirements for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C) and Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) certifications, as long as certain elective courses are taken in addition to the required core courses, or these courses were taken in previous study. The courses you elect will depend on the certification you select and your previous undergraduate study. For those interested in the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), there are currently no specific course requirements to take the examination beyond the core course requirements, however, there may be elective courses that will add to your preparation such as the courses listed below:

  • BBSR 4005 Applied anatomy and biomechanics (3) OR BBSR 4050 Biomechanical Analysis of human movement (3)

  • BBSR 4090 Physical Fitness, Weight Control and Relaxation (2-3) 

  • BBSR 4070 Introduction to Psychosocial Aspects of Sports/Exercise (2-3)

  • BBS 5060 Neuromuscular responses and adaptation to exercise (2), ·  

  • BBSR 5096 Advanced Exercise and Physical Activity Prescription (3)

Further information about the CSCS certification can be found here: https://www.nsca.com/cscs-exam-prerequisites/#bd

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certifications requirements can be found here:  http://certification.acsm.org

Breadth Courses outside of Movement Sciences and Education (minimum of 6 points)

Breadth elective courses must be taken in any program or department at Teachers College, except Movement Sciences (BBSR) courses. Please see the academic schedule and academic catalog for a full list of available courses. Popular breadth elective courses for students in Applied Physiology have included courses in Biobehavioral Sciences (BBS), Health Education (HBSS), Nutrition (HBSV), Diabetes Education (HBSD), Neuroscience and Education (BBSN), and Statistics (HUDM). Please note that courses taken at Columbia Schools outside of Teachers College cannot count toward the breadth elective requirement, but they may count toward your degree if approved by your advisor, as long as other degree requirements are met. It is recommended that you discuss your electives with your advisor or program faculty for assistance in selecting courses that may contribute toward your educational and career goals.

Here is a partial list of popular breadth courses in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences to consider:

  • BBS 5060 Neuromuscular responses and adaptation to exercise (2)

  • BBS 5068 Brain and Behavior I Communication in the nervous system (1-2)

  • BBS 5069 Brain and Behavior II (1-2)

  • BBSN 4000 Cognitive Neuroscience (3)

  • BBSN 4003 Foundations of Neuroscience (3)

  • BBSN 5122 Psychoneuroimmunology and Education (3)

 

Research Seminar (minimum of 3 points)

Registration and attendance at a research seminar is required for all who choose the Integrative Final Project option. Students should expect to register in seminar during all semesters when working on an Integrative project, with at least 3 points over one or more semesters.  Students who have selected the Comprehensive Examination option and who are interested in research may elect to attend research seminar; this course can count toward the Movement Science (BBSR) elective.

  • BBSR 5595 Research seminar in applied physiology (1-3)

Recommended Background Courses for Students Entering without Prior Study in Kinesiology, Movement or Exercise Sciences

It is recommended that students who come in without prior formal study in Kinesiology, Movement or Exercise Sciences take one or more of the following courses in addition to the program requirements outlined above. Some of these courses can be taken in the summer so a summer semester start may be advisable. Students should consult with their program advisor about taking additional courses. The courses that may be recommended can include one or more of the following:

  • BBSR 4054 Anatomy and Physiology (3)

  • BBSR 4005 Applied anatomy and biomechanics (3)

  • BBSR 4060 Motor learning (3)

  • BBSR 4090 Physical Fitness, Weight Control and Relaxation (2-3)

Comprehensive Examination or Integrative Final Project

A comprehensive examination or integrative final project is required for the M.A. degree in Applied Physiology. The comprehensive examination option is strongly recommended for most M.A. students. The decision to complete the integrative project should be made early in the program in consultation with your advisor or program faculty, as this takes at least two semesters to complete and requires registration in BBSR 5595 Research Seminar in Applied Physiology for at least one semester (ideally during the proposal development and writing phase on the project).

The comprehensive examination is given during Fall, Spring, and Summer A semesters. The examination covers the content of the required core courses and can be completed as soon as these required core courses are completed. Arrangements to sit for the examination can be made with the Applied Physiology Program Director the semester before you plan to take the examination.

The Integrative Final Project may consist of one of the following:

  • A scholarly review of research in applied physiology and movement sciences within a topical area drawing application to practice

  • An educational project including the development of an assessment instrument/method for clinical or educational practice or a presentation for a continuing education, health promotion, or physical activity program

  • An applied research project under the mentorship of a doctoral student or program faculty member

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