Southern is one of only 153 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus. The university earned gold-level designation from the Exercise is Medicine® On Campus (EIM-OC) program, as well as earning EIM’s COVID Conqueror Badge, a new honor given to campuses that demonstrated creative adaptations to physical activity programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exercise is Medicine 2021 Gold Campus Award

Mission Statement

The M.S. in Physical Activity & Chronic Disease is an interdisciplinary Master’s Degree, with coursework in the Departments of Health & Movement Science and Public Health. This degree program prepares graduates for a career dedicated to the promotion and programming of physical activity as community health workers or other public/private sector health promotion positions. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of this emerging field, graduates of this interdisciplinary program are uniquely qualified for careers in physical activity promotion at the community and population level. The graduate program prepares students through coursework and a 3-credit internship to sit for the Physical Activity and Population Health certification (ACSM/NPAS) sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Current physical activity research is examining:

  • Health disparities
  • Psychosocial health
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Obesity
  • Aging
  • Adolescent health

Program Features

  • No program prerequisites
  • 100% Online
  • Discounted tuition for all of New England (MA, VT, RI, NH, & ME)
  • Accelerated (4+1) options available to qualified students
  • Opportunities to get involved with faculty research
  • Individualized advisement to focus education on student goals
  • Experience in physical activity assessment and measurement
    • Objective measurement (e.g. Actigraph accelerometers, ActivPal)
    • Subjective measurement
  • Curriculum designed to prepare students to sit for and pass the Physical Activity and Population Health certification (ACSM/NPAS) sponsored by the American College of Sports Medicine

M.S. Physical Activity & Chronic Disease Curriculum

33 Credits Required

Core Curriculum (27 credits)

HMS 500 Foundations in Exercise Physiology

PCH 500 Foundations in Public Health

HMS 510 Epidemiology, Physical Activity, & Chronic Disease

PCH 515 Biostatistics

HMS 554 Research Methods

PCH 564 Health Systems and Policy

HMS 578 Behavior Change in Health & Physical Activity

HMS 581 Physical Activity Programming & Evaluation

HMS 584 Health Promotion Strategies in Physical Activity


Elective (0-3 credits)*

HMS 555 Obesity Prevention & Treatment

CSP 569 Theories of Counseling

PCH 520 Social & Behavioral Foundations in Public Health

SWK 550 Human Behavior and Social Environment

SWK 551 Diversity, Oppression, and Social Functioning

CSP 578 Social and Cultural Diversity

REC 533 Socio-Leisure Needs of Individuals w/ Disabilities

REC 572 Planning and Dev. Of Recreation Programs and Leisure

SHE 508 Contemporary Issues in Adolescent Health

SHE 570 Advocacy and Leadership in School Health

*Students in the comprehensive exam track need to select one electives (3 credits); no elective required for thesis track


Comprehensive Exam Track (3 credits)

HMS 595 Internship in Health & Movement Science


Thesis Track (6 credits)
HMS 590 Thesis Seminar: Proposal Development

HMS 591 Thesis Completion

Career or Professional Opportunities

The MS in Physical Activity & Chronic Disease uniquely prepares students for opportunities post-graduation which include the following:

  • Physical activity programming and assessment:

    • Community Health Worker
    • non-Profit organizations
    • Hospital
    • Industry (corporate) wellness
  • Health Promotion and education
  • Research Coordinator
    • Community-based participatory research
  • Health and wellness coaching
  • Doctoral Programs in Exercise Science, Public Health, or similar fields

Requirements for Admission

  • Undergraduate degree with a GPA ≥ 3.0
  • All undergraduate transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Personal Essay

Visit the graduate catalog for program requirements and further information.


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Contact Us


Dr. Kristie Rupp, PhD, ACSM-CEP
Program Co-Coordinator
M.S. Physical Activity and Chronic Disease

Elizabeth Schwartz, MPH
Program Co-Coordinator
M.S. Physical Activity and Chronic Disease