Academic Catalog 2020-2021

Strength and Conditioning, Master of Science

The Master of Science in Exercise Science - Strength and Conditioning (MSSC) program will prepare students to work with recreational, secondary school, collegiate, professional, and/or elite athletes developing and implementing exercise programs to support and enhance performance. The 36-credit-hour program provides coursework, both theoretical and clinical, designed to prepare students to become leaders in the field of Strength and Conditioning and Sports Performance, with a specific focus on injury prevention and return-to-play criteria. The dual-degree program (3+2) allows undergraduate Exercise Science students to enter the MSSC program the beginning of their fourth year at Gardner-Webb University and earn a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (BS) and a Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning (MS) degree in five years.

Admission Requirements

Admission into the traditional two-year MSSC degree program is based on a comprehensive review of multiple criteria, including the following program-specific minimum requirements. 

  1. A baccalaureate degree is required, preferably in exercise science, health and fitness, physical education, or another related area.
  2. Undergraduate cumulative grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. Students with less than a cumulative 2.75 undergraduate grade point average may be admitted with additional requirements upon the recommendation of the program coordinator. The probationary period will consist of no less than 12 credit hours, during which the student will be required to maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.75.
  3. A one-page personal statement indicating the applicant’s interest in the program and describing professional intent.
  4. Undergraduate coursework in the following: Human Anatomy and Physiology (eight credit hours); Kinesiology, Biomechanics, and/or Exercise Physiology. These courses should be completed prior to formal admission into the program and registration in graduate courses with few exceptions. Assessment of prerequisite requirements is made at the discretion of the graduate program coordinator.
  5. Two letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s potential to succeed in the physical activity professions and in graduate work.

Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning 3+2 Program

The dual-degree program (3+2) allows undergraduate Exercise Science students to enter the Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning program the beginning of their fourth year at GWU and earn a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (BS) and a Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning (MS) degree in five years.

Students will follow departmental requirements for admission into the professional phase of the BS in Exercise Science. Exercise Science majors who have at least a 3.0 GPA and who will have completed all of their prescribed courses by the spring of their junior year will be eligible to apply for the five-year program.

Applicants to the five-year program will submit the same materials as other MSSC applicants by the spring deadline of their junior year, and those who meet all minimum requirements, including having earned a "B" or better in EXSI 306, EXSI 310, EXSI 406, EXSI 410, and EXSI 420 will receive placement in the MSSC program. The admissions criteria for the five-year program will be the same as for other MSSC applicants.

Degree Requirements

Students continuing into the fourth year of the 3+2 program must finish the entire BS and MS curriculum to obtain both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Students will be conferred two degrees once they complete the fifth year of the concurrent program.

Students in the 3+2 program will be required to complete the same two-year (36-hour) curriculum as other students admitted to the MSSC program. Students will take 128 hours of undergraduate courses and 36 hours of graduate coursework, of which nine hours will be applied to the undergraduate degree. Students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA through all graduate coursework.

Students not accepted or unable to continue with the 3+2 program may complete the remaining requirements for the BS degree in Exercise Science in a concentration that is most suitable to their needs (e.g., Health Fitness). These students may apply to the traditional (4+2) graduate degree program.

Student Learning Outcomes


To interact and communicate effectively by presenting information in oral, written, and technology formats; collaborating with professionals and peers; expressing ideas clearly; and giving and receiving feedback.


To utilize knowledge, skills, and abilities to evaluate tasks and individual and environmental constraints; develop, implement, and evaluate strength and conditioning programs; and employ behavioral strategies to motivate individuals to adopt and adhere to programming goals.


To demonstrate behavior, grounded in Christian faith and the liberal arts tradition, that preserves the integrity of a profession, prevents misrepresentation, and protects the consumer.


To continuously improve knowledge, skills, and abilities and to uphold a professional image through actions and appearance.


To demonstrate critical thinking by making decisions based on multiple perspectives and evidence-based practice.

NOTE: Students desiring to complete the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning degrees in five years will be able to begin MS coursework while still in the BS program. After acceptance into the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science major, students may begin completion of master's coursework, which can be applied to the Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning degree. Master's coursework will be applied to master's degree-completion requirements after completion of the undergraduate Exercise Science curriculum. Eligible students will be allowed to complete the following graduate courses while still enrolled in the undergraduate degree program: EXSI 535, EXSI 532, EXSI 530, EXSI 524, PSYC 520.

MSSC Curriculum (36 hours)

EXSI 511Elite Conditioning


EXSI 524Sports Nutrition


EXSI 527Fitness Facility Management


EXSI 530Advanced Strength and Conditioning


EXSI 531Advanced Programming


EXSI 532Research Methods


EXSI 535Kinesiology


EXSI 545Programming for the Endurance Athlete


EXSI 551Practicum I


EXSI 552Practicum II


EXSI 597Internship


PSYC 520Exercise and Sport Psychology


Total Credit Hours: 36