Bachelor’s in Exercise Science Degree: Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis

Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with an Emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy

Offered By: College of Natural Sciences

Earn Your BS in Exercise Science: Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis From GCU

A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Exercise Science with an Emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy can provide graduates with a solid foundation for pursuing potential opportunities in the field of physical therapy. Offered by the College of Natural Sciences at Grand Canyon University (GCU), you will be taught a substantial body of knowledge relevant to exercise science and pre-physical therapy, equipping you with the essential skills and expertise to pursue your academic and professional goals. After completing the coursework, some graduates may go on to seek acceptance into a graduate-level physical therapy program that may lead to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

In addition to the pre-physical therapy preparation and exercise science focus, this program teaches you interpersonal communication and other critical healthcare topics. While completing this program, you’ll also study the intersection between psychology, spirituality and physical health.

Study the Relationship Between Exercise Science and Physical Therapy

In this pre-physical therapy emphasis, you will focus on mastering various domains that cover topics specific to physical therapy, including more widely applicable topics such as professionalism and ethics. As an aspiring physical therapist, you will need to have more than just a solid understanding of the human body and movement; you will also need advanced interpersonal, collaborative and other soft skills to excel in daily interactions with clients.

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The range of coursework taught in GCU’s pre-physical therapy curriculum can prepare you to graduate as a well-rounded healthcare professional. Additional domains you will study include the following:

  • Science foundations
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Scientific communications

These domains encompass essential scientific concepts that are highly relevant to a future career in physical therapy, providing a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge base necessary for professional advancement. The BS in exercise science is thoughtfully designed to teach you the foundational tools and resources essential for your journey toward this field. As you pursue your goal of becoming a physical therapist, you can develop a strong background that can empower you to make a positive impact on the lives of others through your dedicated work.

Pre-Physical Therapy Focus Course Topics

As an exercise science student, you have the benefit of completing coursework that is not only science-related but also applicable to functional and physiological movement. In addition to applying specific exercises and techniques when working with clients, you will be taught to recognize their effectiveness and the scientific principles that underlie them. This program highlights topics in exercise science and physical therapy including:

  • Nutrition and wellness
  • Sports performance and coaching
  • Exercise science research
  • Motor learning, including skills and control
  • Corrective exercises

By exploring these subjects and more, you will delve into the scientific foundations that form the basis of physical therapy. Upon completing the program, you will have been exposed to the techniques, concepts and applications of principles commonly employed by physical therapists in their professional practice. GCU’s pre-physical therapy emphasis can help you position yourself for a graduate-level program, where you can further develop your knowledge and practical experience.

Career Paths for Graduates With a Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis

GCU’s pre-physical therapy studies can equip you with the necessary preparation to effectively engage with patients across diverse settings, as well as prepare you for your next degree. Physical therapists are essential to almost every industry that involves human movement, athletes, rehabilitation or improving human health.1 After obtaining the necessary degrees and licensure, you may find yourself working in different settings that can include the following:

  • Private clinics or offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals

Earning an undergraduate degree in a related field is a starting point for many aspiring physical therapists. As a pre-physical therapy student at GCU, you’ll focus on the exercise science and physical therapy knowledge necessary to advance in your education, as well as the spiritual, Christian worldview that underlies everything we do. If you’re interested in pursuing opportunities to become a physical therapist, a pre-physical therapy emphasis may be a great choice for you.

Earn Your BS in Exercise Science from an Accredited University

Earn your Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Exercise Science from our institutionally accredited university. With a focus on providing a comprehensive education in exercise science principles, this program can prepare you for a range of potential career opportunities in various fields related to health, fitness and wellness while meeting Higher Learning Commission (HLC) standards and criteria. Embrace the opportunity to study at an institution known for its commitment to academic excellence as well as teaching based on Christian values, as you pursue your passion and develop the skills needed in the field of exercise science.

BS in Exercise Science: Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis FAQs

Ready to earn your degree in exercise science and physical therapy emphasis but still have a few questions? We’ve gathered a few of the most frequently asked questions to help you make your decision.

A physical therapy focus is not typically considered "pre-med" in the traditional sense. The term "pre-med" usually refers to an educational track that prepares students for admission to medical school to pursue careers as medical doctors (MD) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO). It's important to note that while physical therapy and medicine share some common foundational knowledge in the sciences, they have different focuses and career paths. Each field requires specific training and education tailored to its respective scope of practice. You do not need to attend medical school to advance into this profession.

Pre-physical therapy emphasis programs may vary in length depending on the university. The bachelor’s in exercise science degree requires a total of 120 credits for completion. Most of the classes are 15 weeks in length. Fill out the form on this page to speak to a university counselor to better understand how long it can take to earn your degree.

An exercise science and physical therapy emphasis degree can provide you with a combination of core knowledge courses and program-specific coursework. This major is a great choice if you plan to advance your pre-physical therapy studies through a graduate degree. You may also benefit from this degree if you wish to explore exercise science-related professions in the healthcare field.

Ignite your journey toward a career in physical therapy by earning your Bachelor of Science (BS) in Exercise Science with a Pre-Physical Therapy emphasis from GCU. To start your journey, fill out the form at the top of this page.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022, Sept. 8). Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Physical Therapists Do. Retrieved on July 13, 2023.

TOTAL CREDITS & COURSE LENGTH:
Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
[More Info]
TRANSFER CREDITS:
Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
TUITION RATE:
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
Major:
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.

Requirements

Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4
  • UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
  • PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
  • BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4

Requirements

Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is a study of biological concepts emphasizing the interplay of structure and function, particularly at the molecular and cellular levels of organization. Cell components and their duties are investigated, as well as the locations of cellular functions within the cell. The importance of the membrane is studied, particularly its roles in controlling movement of ions and molecules and in energy production. The effect of genetic information on the cell is followed through the pathway from DNA to RNA to protein. Co-requisite: BIO-181L.

Course Description

This lab course is designed to reinforce principles learned in BIO-181 through experiments and activities which complement and enhance understanding of macromolecules, cell membrane properties, cellular components, and their contribution to cell structure and function. Assignments are designed to relate cellular processes such as metabolism, cell division, and the flow of genetic information to cell structure. Co-requisite: BIO-181.

Course Description

This course is a study of biological concepts emphasizing the interplay of structure and function at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels of organization. Relationships of different life forms are studied, noting characteristics and general lifecycles of the different types of organisms, including bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Plant structure, function, and reproduction are studied, as well as photosynthesis and plant nutrition. Ecological principles are discussed, including organism interactions at the various ecological levels. Principles of conservation are introduced. Prerequisite: BIO-181. Co-Requisite: BIO-182L.

Course Description

This lab is designed to reinforce principles learned in BIO-182. Organisms are examined to recognize similarities and differences among different types. Plant structure and processes, including photosynthesis and water transport, are investigated through observation and activities. Concepts of ecology are explored through study of species interactions projects and other activities. Co-requisite: BIO-182.

Course Description

This course provides the knowledge necessary to enter the field of sports performance. The topics of movement preparation, plyometrics, acceleration, absolute speed, and multidirectional speed are introduced. Students are also introduced to testing, movement skills, nutrition, mindset, motivation science, exercise techniques, and regeneration, as well as program planning for energy system development designed to improve strength, power, sprint, and speed. The course includes a focus on the science of coaching and training tactical populations such as fire, police, and military. Co-Requisite: EXS-210L.

Course Description

This course provides the skills necessary to enter the field of sports performance, with a focus on field and laboratory experiences designed to reinforce the practical application of the skills introduced in lecture. Co-Requisite: EXS-210.

Course Description

This is the first course of a two-semester introduction to chemistry intended for undergraduates pursuing careers in the health professions and others desiring a firm foundation in chemistry. The course assumes no prior knowledge of chemistry and begins with basic concepts. Topics include an introduction to the scientific method, dimensional analysis, atomic structure, nomenclature, stoichiometry and chemical reactions, the gas laws, thermodynamics, chemical bonding, and properties of solutions. Co-Requisite: CHM-113L.

Course Description

The laboratory section of CHM-113 reinforces and expands learning of principles introduced in the lecture course. Experiments include determination of density, classification of chemical reactions, the gas laws, determination of enthalpy change using calorimetry, and determination of empirical formula. Co-Requisite: CHM-113.

Course Description

This course examines human anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on function and homeostasis of the following areas: tissues, integument, skeletal system, muscular system, and the nervous system. Case studies are utilized to reinforce physiological processes. Prerequisites: BIO-181 and BIO-181L. Co-Requisite: BIO-210L.

Course Description

This course involves study of the gross anatomy and function of the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. This experiential lab involves an advanced exploration of concepts utilizing human cadavers and other supplemental materials. Co-Requisite: BIO-210.

Course Description

This course introduces the principles and techniques of strength and cardiovascular training. Musculoskeletal, cardiac, and respiratory anatomy are discussed, as well as how these systems adapt and manage the stress of regular exercise. Effective exercise programming is also discussed and applied to various physical abilities to develop a well-rounded program. Knowledge gained in this course prepares students for professional certification in the field of Resistance Training and Cardiovascular Fitness. Prerequisites: EXS-210 and EXS-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-250L.

Course Description

This field and laboratory experience course introduces exercises that target specific muscle groups and systems of the body to show students how to design an effective exercise program. Students are introduced to effective coaching strategies, including progression, regression, coaching cues, and proper evaluation; these skills can then be applied to the professional development and delivery of an exercise session. Prerequisites: EXS-210 and EXS-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-250.

Course Description

This is the second course of a two-semester introduction to chemistry intended for undergraduates pursuing careers in the health professions and others desiring a firm foundation in chemistry. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and/or skill in solving problems involving the principles of chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and thermodynamics; understanding chemical reactions using kinetics, equilibrium, and thermodynamics; comparing and contrasting the principal theories of acids and bases; solving equilibrium involving acids, bases, and buffers; describing solubility equilibrium; describing terms associated with electrochemistry and solving problems associated with electrochemistry; and describing the fundamentals of nuclear chemistry. Prerequisites: CHM-113 and MAT-154 or higher. Co-Requisite: CHM-115L.

Course Description

The laboratory section of CHM-115 reinforces and expands learning of principles introduced in the lecture course. Experiments include determination of rate law, examples of Le Châtelier’s principle, the use of pH indicators, buffer preparation, experimental determination of thermodynamic quantities, the use of electrochemical cells, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. Prerequisites: CHM-113L and MAT-154 or higher. Co-Requisite: CHM-115.

Course Description

This course examines human anatomy and physiology with an emphasis on function and homeostasis of the following systems: endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary and reproductive. Case studies are utilized to reinforce physiological processes. Prerequisites: BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: BIO-211L.

Course Description

This course involves study of the gross anatomy and functions of the endocrine, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, and reproductive systems. This experiential lab involves an advanced exploration of concepts utilizing human cadavers and other supplemental materials. Prerequisite: BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: BIO-211.

Course Description

This course is a study of basic concepts of physics, including motion; forces; energy; the properties of solids, liquids, and gases; and heat and thermodynamics. The mathematics used includes algebra, trigonometry, and vector analysis. A primary course goal is to build a functional knowledge that allows students to more fully understand the physical world and to apply that understanding to other areas of the natural and mathematical sciences. Conceptual, visual, graphical, and mathematical models of physical phenomena are stressed. Students build critical thinking skills by engaging in individual and group problem-solving sessions. Prerequisite: MAT-154, MAT-250, MAT-261 or College Algebra. Co-Requisite: PHY-111L.

Course Description

This course utilizes lab experimentation to practice concepts of physical principles introduced in the PHY-111 lecture course. Learners are able to perform the proper analysis and calculations to arrive at the correct quantifiable result when confronted with equations involving gravity, sound, energy, and motion. Prerequisite: MAT-154, MAT-250, MAT-261 or College Algebra. Co-Requisite: PHY-111.

Course Description

This is a course in developmental psychology with emphasis on the physical, social, cognitive, personality, and moral developments within an individual. The course is designed to provide an understanding of the transitions of life from conception to death.

Course Description

This writing intensive course is a study of the effects of exercise on the body. Topics include nutrition as the basis for physical activity; how energy is produced and utilized during physical activity; the energy delivery and vital functions of the respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems during exercise; how these systems can be enhanced through training; the impact of ergogenic aids and environmental stress on performance; and the effect of exercise on body composition, weight control, aging, and disease prevention. The body’s responses and adaptations to exercise at the systemic, as well as the subcellular level, are also discussed. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-340L.

Course Description

This is a course of field and laboratory experiences designed to reinforce the basic principles learned in the lecture course. Skills of measurement and evaluation, including computerized methods employed to facilitate testing, are applied to physiological and systemic principles of exercise. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-340.

Course Description

This course is the second in a one-year introductory physics sequence. In this course, the basics of three areas in physics are covered, including electricity and magnetism, optics, and modern physics. Course topics include an introduction to electric and magnetic fields, the nature of light as an electromagnetic wave, geometric optics, quantum mechanics, and nuclear reactions. Prerequisites: PHY-111 and PHY-111L. Co-Requisite: PHY-112L.

Course Description

This course utilizes lab experimentation to practice concepts of physical principles introduced in the PHY-112 lecture course. Some of the topics learners understand and analyze involve the relationship between electric charges and insulators/conductors, magnetism in physics, energy transformations in electric circuits, the relationship between magnetism and electricity, and how they relate to the medical industry. Prerequisites: PHY-111 and PHY-111L. Co-Requisite: PHY-112.

Course Description

This is a writing intensive foundation course in the science of abnormal behavior that offers students the opportunity to study the origin and development of abnormal patterns and disorders. This course is designed to assist students in recognizing and understanding mental illness through increased awareness of emotional, functional, and physiological factors influencing mental health. Specific topics include symptoms, diagnoses, etiology, epidemiology, and treatment of various psychological disorders and syndromes.

Course Description

This capstone course acts as a culmination of the learning experiences during the exercise science program. A focus will be on career preparation including resume building, portfolio creation, and networking. Prerequisite: EXS-250 or EXS-318 or EXS-430 or EXS-485.

Course Description

This course is an analysis of human movement, integrating knowledge of the skeletal, muscular, and neurological systems with the effects that gravity, friction, internal and external forces, and the laws of motion have on their functions. Topics presented include biomechanics of human bone, joint, and skeletal muscle; structure and function of the upper extremity, lower extremity, and spine; concepts of linear and angular kinematics and kinetics as applied to human motion; equilibrium and stability on land; and motion through a fluid medium of air or water. Included is the application of these factors to various types of physical skills. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-335L.

Course Description

This laboratory course is designed to apply the anatomical, kinesiological, and biomechanical principles learned in the lecture course to human body movement. Movement of all of the major joints of the body is analyzed by relative and absolute joint position and muscle action, and biomechanical terms such as linear and angular kinematics, friction, work, power, energy, and torque are applied to human motion. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-335.

Course Description

This writing intensive course is designed to provide the foundation of healthy behavior change in relation to influential factors. Content includes motivation for physical activity and healthy choices, as well as an introduction to the psychology of sports.

Course Description

This course provides the knowledge necessary to teach motor skills throughout the lifespan and apply current principles and theories of motor control and motor learning to exercise and rehabilitation populations. Content includes foundational neuroscience and connections with the musculoskeletal system, developmental motor milestones, motor control and motor learning principles, practice and feedback variables, teaching skill acquisition, and achieving maximum performance and retention. Prerequisite: BIO-202 or BIO-211.

Course Description

This course incorporates evidence-based concepts and application of corrective exercises to improve muscle imbalance and movement efficiency to decrease injury risk and promote recovery. Techniques include myofascial release, static and neuromuscular stretching, strength training, isometrics, and integrated dynamic movements. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L.

Course Description

This course introduces analysis of special populations to assist in designing health education and physical fitness programs.

Course Description

This course provides students with basic instruction in research methods needed to read and critique published research in physical activity, health, nutrition, and sports performance. The course will also provide you with the skills needed to design studies and develop a research proposal. Statistical terminology and calculations will be introduced in the context of evaluating research. Students will be required to use statistical software throughout the course.

Locations

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Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.