Clinical Exercise Physiology

Clinical exercise physiology (CEP) focuses on the use of exercise testing and training in persons with or at high risk of acquiring chronic disease. The clinical curriculum is designed to prepare students to take and pass the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Clinical Exercise Physiology certification exam. Students who graduate from this area of emphasis are also prepared to pursue advanced studies in health-related fields or a doctorate in the CEP field.

Clinical students engage in an intensive curriculum consisting of 34 credits, 19 in the exercise physiology MS core and 15 within the area of emphasis. Didactic coursework in biological sciences is balanced with clinical experiences and techniques needed to become a certified clinical exercise physiologist. 

Over the duration of the program, students use theory-based ideas and concepts to design and perform clinical assessments; collect and interpret clinical data; evaluate clinical outcomes and set exercise goals; and develop individual and group-based exercise interventions to improve clinical outcomes.

Program Outcomes

Reported program outcomes for exercise physiology MS, clinical track. 2021-2022 academic year, 100% rate, 90% retention rate, and GPA of 3.49. 2022-2023 academic year, 100% pass rate, 90% retention rate, and 3.562 GPA.

Program Requirements

Students pursuing the Master of Science (MS) in exercise physiology must complete the program requirements as outlined in the West Virginia University Academic Catalog

To be eligible for graduation, students must earn a grade of B or higher in all required courses and must earn a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in all coursework. Additional information on program requirements can be found in the student handbook.

Clinical Education

Students are required to complete 600 professional field placement hours working with individuals with medical conditions in which exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment (e.g., cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, and neuromuscular conditions). Our division has strong collaborations, including: 

  • Clinical internships in Phase I (inpatient), Phase II (outpatient), and Phase III (maintenance) cardiac rehabilitation programs;
  • Cancer rehabilitation; and
  • Observation opportunities within the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and Bariatric Surgery.

Clinical area of emphasis students spend a large part of the program working and learning at the Human Performance Lab (HPL), assisting clinical faculty with functional assessment, risk factor modification, exercise prescription, and monitoring hemodynamic responses in populations with various medical conditions. In the lab, students will master clinical skills such as blood pressure monitoring, pulse measurement, ECG lead placement, ECG interpretation, oxygen saturation, and blood glucose measurement. Students hone their clinical testing skills by assisting faculty in graded exercise testing with the Parvo metabolic system as well as body composition using the Bod Pod/DEXA. Using testing results, students will aid faculty in development and implementation of an individualized exercise prescription for healthy adults and those with clinical conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, cancer, pulmonary disease, and many other diagnoses.

Students are also encouraged to become involved with any of the various clinically-related research projects performed within the Division of Exercise Physiology.