Exercise and movement science (EMS) is a named option offered in the Department of Kinesiology. The department's mission is to research, teach, and apply knowledge related to movement, exercise, and human occupation with the ultimate goal of enhancing human health, productivity, and quality of life.

Students in this major take coursework grounded in the basic sciences (e.g., physiology, anatomy, physics) and in kinesiology. EMS core courses examine how the body responds to physical activity, the role of physiological and psychological factors in exercise, mechanics driving movement, and how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the lifespan.

The curriculum includes coursework, laboratory research opportunities, and hands-on learning experiences. In addition, at least 11 credits of electives in exercise and movement science are required, giving students some flexibility to tailor the program to their specific interests. Examples of elective topics include strength and conditioning, leadership, clinical exercise prescription and advanced courses in exercise physiology, psychology and biomechanics.

The EMS science major is a pre-professional program. This means that our students are well prepared for subsequent graduate or professional training in different health-related disciplines such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, or biomedical research. The major also prepares students for graduate training programs in kinesiology (e.g., exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, biomechanics, physical activity epidemiology, exercise psychology, motor learning). Exercise and movement science graduates may also pursue entry-level careers in the fitness area.


Admission to the Kinesiology–Exercise and Movement Science degree program is limited and competitive. Students must meet the minimum eligibility requirements outlined below to be considered for selection. Students are admitted to the program only once a year, effective for the summer following selection. Once admitted, exercise and movement science students typically spend two years completing their remaining coursework.

Entering the School of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

New freshmen and transfer students interested in kinesiology are admitted directly to the School of Education with a “pre-professional” classification. This classification indicates that a student is interested in a program offered by the school, but has not applied and been admitted to the professional program. Students interested in the exercise and movement science degree program within Kinesiology or the athletic training degree program receive a classification of PKN. This classification indicates that a student is interested in one (or both) of these programs, but has not applied and been admitted to the professional part of the undergraduate program.

On-campus students wishing to be admitted to the school while working on eligibility requirements and application can apply for admission to the School of Education by completing a Pre-Professional Application. A minimum GPA of 2.5, based on UW–Madison coursework, is required to transfer into the School. This GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits rule (detailed below). It is not necessary to be a "pre-professional” student before applying to a professional program. Admission as a “pre-professional” student does not guarantee admission to the professional program.

It is strongly recommended that students interested in a School of Education program meet with an academic advisor in Education Academic Services (EAS), 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall. Students may call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment with an advisor.

Prospective Transfer Students

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the university to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.


Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Application and Admission

Prospective applicants must complete prerequisite coursework for eligibility and should make progress toward meeting the School of Education's Liberal Studies requirements. Students typically apply for admission during the sophomore year. Students are admitted only once a year, effective for the summer following admission. Once admitted, exercise and movement science students typically spend two years completing remaining coursework.

Professional program applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the University to enroll in a School of Education professional program. Thus, program admission is contingent upon admission to the campus. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. Prospective applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus are strongly encouraged to contact an academic advisor in Education Academic Services for assistance with planning their applications to both the professional program and to the UW–Madison campus. See Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information.


Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Apply to a Program page for application deadlines and detailed information regarding current eligibility requirements and selection criteria prior to submitting an application.

To be eligible for admission, applicants must:

  • complete at least 54 credits of college coursework by the end of the spring semester of the application year.
  • complete the following prerequisite coursework by the end of the spring semester of the application year:
Biology Sequence
Complete one of the following Biology sequences:
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology 1
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam score of 4 or 5 2
International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology exam score of 4 or 5 3
Chemistry Sequence
Complete one of the following Chemistry sequences:
CHEM 103
CHEM 104
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry5
CHEM 115
CHEM 116
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Physics Course
Complete one of the following Physics courses:
PHYSICS 103 General Physics4
PHYSICS 201 General Physics5
PHYSICS 207 General Physics5
Kinesiology Course
KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology2
  • complete all but two of the prerequisite courses listed above by the end of the fall semester of the application year. Exception: Students enrolled in BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 during the spring semester of the application year may have this course and up to two additional prerequisites above in progress during the spring semester of the application year. For this purpose,  Advanced General Chemistry (CHEM 109) satisfies the full general chemistry requirement but constitutes one course. BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  101 Animal Biology and BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  102 Animal Biology Laboratory are counted as two courses in determining eligibility for the program.
  • earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA or last 60 credits GPA by the end of the fall semester of the application year (see "Last 60 Credits Rule," below).4
  • submit completed program application form(s), transcripts, and all other related application materials by the application deadline specified on the School of Education's Apply to a Program page.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to programs. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

Application Review and Selection

Applicants to the Exercise and Movement Science Degree Program in Kinesiology will compete for an identified number of admission openings assigned to this program. Each application will be reviewed by at least two academic faculty or staff from the Admissions Committee. Each committee member will independently examine and rate applicants' files on a scale of 1 (do not accept) to 5 (definitely accept) based on the criteria above. Committee members will then share and discuss their ratings and select the final cohort for admission.

The Admissions Committee will review application files with four key areas in mind:

  • Academic Qualifications. The kinesiology program seeks students with strong academic credentials. This includes cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA), course selection and trend of college grades.
  • Goals. The required personal statement provides an opportunity for students to express their reasons for studying kinesiology and can provide insight into the student's long-term goals.
  • Recommendation Letters. Thoughtful letters from teachers or employers addressing the student's interest and experience are beneficial to the selection process. Recommendation letters should provide information about a student's intellect, imagination, or diligence that is not evident in other parts of the application.
  • Other Contributions. The kinesiology program seeks students whose diverse work experience, life experience, stated goals, and cultural background are assets to the learning environment in the kinesiology program.

Provisional Admission

Students will be provisionally accepted in April. The offer of admission will be revoked and the student withdrawn from fall Kinesiology courses (typically during July) if any of the following requirements are not met:

  • All prerequisite courses completed by the end of the spring semester of the application year.
  • Maintenance of a cumulative GPA or last 60-credit GPA of at least 2.75.

Criminal Background Investigation

Criminal background investigations will be conducted for all students admitted to this program. Detailed instructions on how to complete the required criminal background check will be included in offers of admission. This is not completed until after an applicant has been offered admission.

Results of criminal background checks may be shared with other agencies when required by state code, or with a cooperating school or other agency in which the student has been assigned to complete field experiences. Students should be aware that criminal background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. Field site administrators have the right to determine the appropriateness of a student placement.

An individual who is deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the academic dean in Education Academic Services.

Advising After Admission

Included with the offer of admission is information about mandatory spring orientation sessions for new majors, led by a departmental advisor. Sequencing of coursework and enrollment in Kinesiology courses will be addressed at these meetings. Students will be authorized to enroll in Kinesiology courses after the orientation meetings are completed. Upon formal admission to the program, advising about the major will be provided by the Department of Kinesiology. Majors are required to meet with the departmental advisor at least once per semester. All questions about School of Education and university requirements should be referred to an advisor in Education Academic Services.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Program Structure

The Exercise and Movement Science degree program has five components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Science core coursework offers in-depth study of the basic sciences and mathematics.
  • Kinesiology core courses look at how the body responds and adapts to exercise, the role of psychological factors in sports and exercise, mechanics applied to biological systems, and how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the life span.
  • Advanced coursework in Exercise and Movement Science requires at least 11 credits of Kinesiology electives, thus giving students some flexibility to tailor the program to their specific interests.
  • Elective classes are generally related to the student's area of study and are taken to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Science Core

Select one of the following:5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Select one of the following:4-10
AP or IB Biology score of 4 or above
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
PSYCH 202 Introduction to Psychology3-4
Complete the following:
MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 15
or MATH 211 Calculus
STAT 371 Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences3
or PSYCH 210 Basic Statistics for Psychology
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology (formerly Physiol 335)5
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy (formerly Kines 337) 13
ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory 12

Kinesiology Core

KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support 1 22
KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology 12
KINES 300 Practicum in Kinesiology3
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise4
KINES 318 Biomechanics of Human Movement3
KINES 330 Research in Kinesiology2
KINES 350 Introduction to Exercise Psychology 13
KINES 361 Motor Learning and Performance3

Exercise & Movement Science Option Core Course Requirements

Elective Coursework

Select additional courses to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

Continuation Requirement: Department of Kinesiology

All students admitted to undergraduate programs in the Department of Kinesiology, including Physical Education, must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75, based on all UW–Madison campus coursework. Consult the School of Education's Academic Policies and Procedures for additional information about the Continuation requirement.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

These requirements are based on UW-Madison coursework.

  • Must earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative grade point average. Graduation GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • Major residency: Students must complete a minimum of 15 credits from the Department of Kinesiology while enrolled on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Must complete a minimum of 120 credits.

Degree Audit (DARS)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas in the School of Education.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

1. (Knowledge) Define and explain major concepts across the breadth of kinesiology.

2. (Application) Apply their knowledge related to movement and physical activity techniques and approaches in clinical and applied settings to enhance human health and quality of life.

3. (Critical Thinking) Demonstrate competence in the scientific research process, which includes the ability to consume, analyze, interpret and critically review scientific literature.

4. (Communication) Develop appropriate styles of written and oral communication to use both within and outside of the scientific community.

Exercise and Movement Science Advising

Students not yet admitted to Kinesiology: Exercise and Movement Science meet with advising staff in Education Academic Services (EAS) and/or the Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (OURR), see below. Once admitted to the professional program, students are also advised in the Department of Kinesiology.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755

Need assistance with any of the following? 

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that incorporates individual passions, interests, and values that will help one reach specific career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning a job search and learning where to start and what to do
  • Seeking assistance with developing a résumé, a cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Networking and connecting with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist students in reaching their career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website:

  • Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Investigate Career Options. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying a student’s personal criteria for success, linking specific career options to majors, and identifying steps for career/major selection.  It includes strategies for making the most of a student’s academic and student experience.
  • Confirm major and career decisions.  Gain hands-on experience in the career field of study.  Assess the perceptions of selected career and major options for accuracy.  Develop professional and soft skills.  The Test Drive and Confirm Career Choice section provides strategies for acquiring real-world experience.
  • Preparation is critical for entering one’s next career phase.  Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop promotional materials for employers and/or graduate schools and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them.  Acquire materials that support one’s applications.  The Prepare and Connect section provides offers additional details.
  • Implement helps students plan for the future.  Attend recruiting events.  Apply for graduate school or for job opportunities.  Practice interviewing skills.  Interview.  Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  To schedule an appointment visit,

Informational workshops and career-related events are conducted each semester.  The schedule of these events can be found on the center’s website.

The Career Center coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Kinesiology can be found on the department's website.

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.