Pre-Health Majors

The Movement and Exercise Program in the Department of Kinesiology is a great option if your ultimate goal is physical therapy, occupational therapy or chiropractic health professions.


Picture of Alumni Alexandria UdingAlexandria Uding (B.A. '12) , Physical Therapist

“Northern Iowa's movement and exercise science program was an amazing launching point for my professional career. The small classroom size, dedicated professors, and well-rounded curriculum allowed me to explore my individual interests while always feeling supported by knowledgeable and compassionate faculty. The program gave me a pathway to getting into the physical therapy program of my choice.”

Picture of Jonathan Bopes - Occupational TherapistJonathan Bopes (B.A. '16), Occupational Therapist

"The education I received in the movement and exercise science major at UNI prepared me for a career path in occupational therapy. The professors made classes enjoyable, and you can see the passion they have for their students by their willingness to ensure success in every facet of life -- not just academically. Choosing this program and university was the best decision I've ever made."


High Acceptance Rates

The Department of Kinesiology has a high acceptance rate of students in graduate health programs such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractic. As an example, check the acceptance rates of UNI movement and exercise science majors to physical therapy programs:

  Applied      Accepted    % Accepted
2017-2018   6 6 100%
2018-2019 13 11 85%
Total 19 17 89%






Opportunities for Pre-Health Students:

Undergraduate research experiences

The Department of Kinesiology offers you great opportunities for several undergraduate research experiences. These experiences prepare you for the rigor of pre-health graduate school programs, making you more competitive in admission processes. Check a sample of research work done in collaboration with students below:


  • Fontana, F., Bopes, J., Bentixen, S., Speed, T., George, M., & Mack, M. (2018). Discrimination against obese exercise clients: An experimental study of personal trainers. International Journal of Exercise Science, 11(5), 116-128.
  • Silva, M., Fontana, F., Callahan, E., Mazzardo, O., & Campos, W. (2015). Step-count guidelines for children and adolescents: A systematic review. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 12, 1184-1991.


  • Carhart, L. H., Helgeson, K. M.  & Rathje, R. M. (2016). The effects of daily interactions on athlete’s self-efficacy and rehab outcome. Round table presentation at the Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium, Chicago, IL.
  • Speed, T., Bopes, J., Bendixen, S., George, M., Strabala, C., Mack, M., & Fontana, F. (2016). Do personal trainers discriminate against overweight clients? An experimental study. North American Society for Sport Psychology and Physical Activity, Montreal, Canada.
  • Henningsen, A., Fontana, F., Uding, A., Cleneden, A., Cain, L., Shaddox, L. A., & Mack, M. (2013). Differences in gaze behavior during walking tasks in younger and elderly adults. American College of Sports Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.

Picture of Jenna Willer, pre-occupational therapy majorJenna Willer, current movement and exercise science major and pre-occupational therapy student 

"Being given the opportunity to be part of research with Dr. McNamara has allowed me to experience research hands on. Research is an essential part of graduate school. Because of this experience, I feel more prepared to continue on my journey to become an occupational therapist."


As an undergrad student, you will work with state-of-the-art technology in three labs: Exercise physiology, biomechanics, and sport psychology. A sample of technology available in the labs is provided below:


Picture of Eye-Tracker Device


Metabolic system

Picture of Metabolic Measurement System

Motion capture

Picture of Motion Capture System


EMG system

Picture of Electromyography Measurement System

 Body composition

Picture of Bod Pod - Body Composition Measurement System


Force plates

Picture of Force Plates



What happens if you change your mind midway through the program?

Sometimes students will change their minds about pursuing a health profession. As a movement and exercise science major, you'll find career opportunities in other areas such as strength and conditioning, fitness industry, coaching, athletic administration and medical sales. Students often complement the major with a minor in coachingsports administration or strength and conditioning.