MS Health & Exercise Science

MS Health & Exercise Science: Overview

The Department of Health and Exercise Science (HES) offers a 2 year program leading to a Master of Science degree. The HES department has a research agenda focused on understanding the determinants and prevention of chronic disease and disability across the lifespan. The curriculum is designed to prepare individuals for careers as clinical exercise specialists in preventive and rehabilitative lifestyle programs, positions in clinical research programs, and further study in graduate programs or allied health programs.

We offer students (a) rigorous coursework from faculty who are teacher-scholars, (b) an internship in the chronic disease management program run by the department where students apply the principles learned in the classroom, and (c) a MS thesis requirement where students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor. Members of the HES faculty are engaged in collaborative research and funded studies with the Departments of Cardiology, Pulmonology, Public Health Sciences, Pediatrics, Geriatrics, and Neurology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.


On campus interviews are strongly encouraged and should be scheduled for January or February. If logistics prevent an on campus interview, arrangements can be made to conduct the interview by phone/Skype.

To make arrangements for an MS Health & Exercise Science interview, contact Dr. Jeff Katula, the HES Graduate Program Director, at 336-758-3612 or

Orientation And Teaching Assignment

All first year MS Health & Exercise Science students arrive on campus in the fall, one week prior to the start of the academic year, to participate in orientation. In the first year, students receiving a Teaching Assistantship (see Financial Assistance) assist a faculty member in teaching one departmental course each semester: Exercise for Health. This is a one-credit course required of all freshmen at Wake Forest. During the second year, Teaching Assistants assist a faculty member in teaching two classes each semester. These classes include the Exercise for Health class and/or activity classes, e.g., weight training.

Academic Calendar

The Fall semester starts in late August with the first year graduate students arriving one week prior to the official start of classes for a week of orientation. Classes and exams are generally over by the second or third week of December; however, graduate students continue to work in the Healthy Exercise & Lifestyle ProgramS (HELPS). Graduate students are also required to spend the summer between the first and second year in Winston-Salem. The major reasons for this are:

  1. The internship in HELPS is a year round appointment,
  2. Students will begin work on their thesis project,
  3. Students work on additional research projects conducted by faculty members.

Students are paid to work in HELPS during the summer months. This generally involves 8-10 hours per week. Following the completion of the second year, second year students are encouraged to assist with HELPS until the end of June.

Internship In Healthy Exercise And Lifestyle ProgramS

First year students in the MS Health & Exercise Science program serve an internship with the Wake Forest University Healthy Exercise & Lifestyle ProgramS (HELPS). Internships in the HELPS program provides HES graduate students with valuable practical experiences, such as exercise testing/prescription as well as other lifestyle interventions (nutrition, weight management, stress management) in a chronic disease prevention program. HELPS is offered jointly through the Departments of Health and Exercise Science and Community/Sports Medicine at Wake Forest University.

Research & Thesis

All MS Health & Exercise Sciencestudents are required to complete a thesis under the direction of one of the graduate faculty members. During the spring semester of the graduate students’ first year, students are asked to select a thesis advisor. Each graduate faculty member supervises one student. The thesis topic of the student parallels the research interest of the faculty advisor. Listed under the description of the graduate faculty are recent publications which exemplify the graduate faculty members’ research interest. In addition to the thesis project, other opportunities for involvement in research exist within the department. Students contemplating further graduate study at the doctoral level are encouraged to become involved with these projects.