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Welcome from the Department Chair

Our faculty, staff, and students would like to welcome you to the Department of Health and Exercise Science, which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences. I hope that you can use our website to thoroughly explore all of our programs, get to know our faculty, and discover the many research opportunities available through our department. I also hope you will get a feel for the closeness and camaraderie that our faculty and students share. We are very proud of our department and our academic and research programs. We have developed an excellent core of faculty in the areas of exercise physiology and health promotion and we take pride in the fact that all of our faculty are involved with both the undergraduate and graduate programs. We have eight exercise physiologists with expertise in muscle and nerve physiology, body composition, bone physiology, muscle physiology, endocrine function, aging, cardiorespiratory physiology, and biological signal processing. We have six health promotion faculty with expertise in designing and evaluating theory-based health programs, prevention of childhood obesity, public health and individual nutrition behaviors, physical activity measurement, tobacco use prevention, social marketing, health disparities, the efficacy of health coaching on chronic disease management, the impact of historical trauma on diabetes risk and management, social determinants of health, obesity and weight management, and functional movement assessments. Our programs integrate the biological, physiological, medical, and behavioral sciences as they relate to physiological responses to exercise and human health.

The Department of Health and Exercise Science is located in the west wing of the S. J. Sarkeys Complex and includes classrooms, a computer lab, conference room, and offices for all of our faculty and staff, providing easy access to all members of our department. Additionally, most of the exercise physiology laboratories are housed on the lower floor of the department. There is one additional exercise physiology Lab, located in the Collums Building, which also houses a separate teaching lab and four health promotion labs. For more detailed information about faculty members, their laboratories, research experiences, and current students, please visit the 'Research' section and 'People' sections of this website.

Our undergraduate program attracts students who have diverse interests including exercise/fitness, personal training, strength and conditioning, community and worksite health promotion, medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, public health, and many other areas of the allied health professions. We encourage undergraduate participation in the Honors College, departmental research projects, internships, fieldwork experiences, and membership in professional organizations and societies as a means of enhancing their basic academic preparation. As I mentioned, the HES faculty are readily accessible to students, and we pride ourselves in our attention and concern for our undergraduate majors. Our undergraduate program has a pre-HES track with about 750-800 students, allowing about 225 students to enter the HES major per year. Non-HES students can also pursue a minor in Health and Exercise Science and this program has about 100 students currently enrolled. Students who graduate from our undergraduate program have successfully entered many professional programs like medicine, physical therapy, dietetics, dentistry, nursing, etc. They are also very competitive for graduate programs in exercise physiology and health promotion and finding employment in areas like strength and conditioning, fitness centers, pharmaceutical sales, and wellness programs.

Our graduate program offers master's degrees in health promotion, exercise physiology, health and exercise science (an interdisciplinary degree that incorporates both health promotion and exercise physiology), and sports data analytics. We also offer separate doctoral programs in exercise physiology and health promotion. We primarily accept full-time MS and Ph.D. students into our graduate programs, and we support them with graduate assistantships for the duration of their programs. All of our graduate programs have a strong emphasis on research experiences that help develop competent and independent researchers in exercise physiology and health promotion. Our MS graduates have been very successful in entering Ph.D. programs, entering many of the allied health professions like medicine, physician assistant, etc., and finding employment in fitness and clinical settings. Our doctoral graduates have gone on to post-doctoral experiences in some of the best labs in the country, found academic positions in many excellent universities around the country, or found employment in corporate settings.

Our graduate programs have excellent collaborative efforts with some of the programs at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, including physiology and biophysics, gerontological medicine, nutritional sciences, rehabilitation sciences, biostatistics, the Stephenson Cancer Center, and the Hudson College of Public Health. There are also several collaborative efforts on the main Norman campus with departments like Biology, Industrial Engineering, and Psychology.

The University of Oklahoma, the flagship university of the state, is a doctoral-granting research institution. Norman is a great college town with all the amenities of a small town (100,000) and within 30 minutes of Oklahoma City. If you have any questions regarding our programs, please contact our Undergraduate Academic Advisors, our Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Mrs. Donna Tall Bear (, or our Graduate Liaison Dr. Dan Larson, (

 Michael G. Bemben, Ph.D.
 David Ross Boyd Professor, C. B. Hudson Presidential Professor, and Department Chair


The mission of the Department of Health and Exercise Science is to lead the state and nation in exercise science and health promotion education and research by providing a rich and diverse undergraduate and graduate curriculum which draws from the life sciences, social sciences, health and exercise sciences, and the humanities; and to contribute to the enhancement of quality of life for the general public. 



Our faculty are some of the foremost scholars and researchers in their fields. Their cutting-edge research is published in trade journals and many are invited to speak at national and international conferences. In addition to doctorates, many hold certifications such as Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS), Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT), and are members of organizations such as Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM), Fellow of the Research Consortium, Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology. Most importantly, they truly enjoy teaching and are accessible to undergraduate and graduate students alike. 


At any given time HES faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students have multiple research projects ongoing focusing on the areas of bone density, nutrition, resistance training, stretching, aging and school/community interventions to increase physical activity. Our state-of-the-art laboratory facilities are conveniently located in the HES and Collums buildings. As a HES student, research opportunities will be an integral part of your educational experience. 


Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, studying health promotion or exercise physiology, you will have a broad educational experience that includes biological, physical, medical, and behavioral sciences as they relate to human health and physiological response. These multidisciplinary experiences will prepare you for many exercise physiology and health promotion-related careers. 

The Department of Health and Excercise Science is a member of the
American Kinesiology Association