The NSU Human Performance and Fitness bachelor's degree program will prepare you to work in the field of sports science.
    About The Program

    As a human performance and fitness major, you’ll be part of a growing program that will help you build a strong sports science foundation through courses such as anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and exercise physiology.


    Choose from two emphases:

    • Health Promotion
    • Exercise for Special Populations

    You'll also have the unique opportunity to work with professors in our Nora Staael Evert Human Performance Lab, fully equipped to enhance teaching and training in the clinical and applied aspects of exercise physiology and biomechanics!


    Students who major in human performance and fitness at Northern can plan for a career as a physical therapist through our pre-physical therapy program! Learn more at Pre-Physical Therapy.


    Lab Expansion Planned

    Northern's sports science lab will be upgraded in a state-of-the art expansion that will include a motion capture camera system and force plates for biomechanical analysis. Read more!


    Wondering if this program is for you?

    This program will be a good fit if you are:

    • Interested in exercise, sports, science and math
    • Driven and committed, wanting to pass knowledge along and stay on top of latest research
    • Personable, with good communication skills; a lot of daily contact
    • Adaptable and dependable
    • Invested in helping others and seeing them succeed
    • Caring, compassionate and empathetic; people that are in it for the long-term wellbeing of others are needed in these positions
    • Hands-on, and skilled at monitoring/assessing

    With a degree in human performance and fitness, you could work as an:

    • Athletic trainer
    • Physical therapist 
    • Occupational therapist 
    • Dietitian
    • Exercise physiologist 
    • Sports biomechanist
    • Human performance lab tech
    • Strength and conditioning coach 
    • Orthopedic sales rep
    • Cardiac rehabilitation specialist 
    • Personal trainer 

    At Northern, getting out of the classroom and into a real-world workplace setting is a critical part of your education. We offer two ways to explore potential career fields and gain experience working directly with professionals:


    • PE 395: A field experience where you'll explore a possible career field for 150 hours
    • PE 496: You'll work directly with professionals in the field for 150 hours

    Our designated internship coordinator will work with you to find the internship opportunity that's right for you. Please contact our internship coordinator, Dr. Kelsie Roberts, to learn more!


    The NSU WolfPACT is the highest guaranteed, four-year scholarship in the region. But we also offer scholarships specific to education students. Contact the School of Education at 605-626-2415 to learn more!

    Suggested Majors and Minors

    Students majoring in human performance and fitness often double major in: 

    And they often minor in:

    Study Abroad

    Experience the world while earning your degree through NSU Study Abroad! With hundreds of opportunities available around the globe, Northern can make your study abroad dream become a reality. Learn more at Study Abroad!

    Undergraduate Research

    At Northern, you'll have the chance to conduct cutting-edge research that can have real-world impacts - while still an undergraduate student. Now with our brand new, state-of-the-art Jewett Regional Science Education Center, and Nora Staael Evert Human Performance Lab, the sky is truly the limit. Learn more at Undergraduate Research!

    Contact Information

    Ready to take the next step? Contact us today:

    Want to learn more about living and learning at Northern? Contact NSU Admissions today 605-626-2544 or!


    Still unsure of a major? We can help! Contact NSU Career Services at 605-626-3007 or



    I am the academic advisor for health and physical education and psychology and business administration at Northern. Since 2015, I have greatly enjoyed working with Northern students. Before moving to South Dakota, I worked and lived in Minnesota, Illinois, Wyoming, South Korea, and Wisconsin. I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Eureka College (Illinois) and a master's of science in counseling (K-12 and higher education) from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

    Ph.D., Human Performance, Middle Tennessee State University
    M.A., Quantitative Psychology, Middle Tennessee State University
    M.S., Leisure and Sport Management, Middle Tennessee State University
    B.S., Exercise Science, Middle Tennessee State University
    Kelsie Roberts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of sport marketing and administration in Northern's Sport Sciences department and serves as the department’s internship coordinator. Dr. Roberts teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in sport psychology, sport administration and sport marketing.
    She is an active member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences (TALS) and the North American Society for Sport Management. Dr. Roberts is dedicated to providing students with experiential learning opportunities and achieving success in and outside the classroom. Her main research focus, student-athlete well-being, is derived from her past experiences as a former…
    Ph.D., Physical Education, University of South Carolina

    At the University of South Carolina, Dr. Shortt studied physical literacy, K-12 sport and physical activity (PA) policy, and child/adolescent PA behaviors in and out of educational settings. The publication of Dr. Shortt’s dissertation, "Conceptualizing Physical Literacy for Assessment of High School Students in the United States," can be found at University of South Carolina Scholar Commons.

    Dr. Shortt is Northern's SPL graduate coordinator, chair of the Sports Sciences Department, and faculty athletic representative. She is a member of the International Physical Literacy Association and serves as a country lead. 


    Dr. Shortt is dedicated to enhancing undergraduate and graduate research and providing advanced hands-on learning opportunities at Northern. 


    Ph.D., Exercise Science Concentration Biomechanics, Auburn University
    M.S., Exercise Science, Auburn University
    B.S., Exercise Physiology, East Carolina University
    Dr. Talmage directs the Nora Staael Evert Human Performance Lab at Northern and serves on the board of directors for the American Baseball Biomechanics Society. She works with multiple sports teams at Northern and hopes to continue to build a relationship with NSU athletics to keep our athletes on the field longer and unleash their maximum potential.
    Dr. Talmage is always looking for help in the human performance lab, so if you or someone you know is interested in volunteering, needs an internship, or graduate assistantship, please contact her at 
    Research Interests
    To date Dr. Talmage has…