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.

    Jessica Talmage, who joined Northern's faculty in fall 2021, earned a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology in 2017 from East Carolina University. She then obtained a master's degree in 2018 and doctorate degree in 2021 in exercise science with a concentration in biomechanics from Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.


    Research Interests

    My research focuses on biomechanical analysis of athletes for injury prevention and performance enhancement. Specifically, I focus primarily on baseball/softball athletes and have published multiple papers on the topic.