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Physical activity programming is considered a standard of care in the treatment of a number of 21st century chronic disease epidemics including obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and mental health concerns. The Master of Science in Physical Activity and Wellness Science (PAWS) degree program addresses the pressing need for graduate-trained experts skilled in the design of lifestyle physical activity programs to improve human health and quality of life.

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About the Program

The one-year master’s program provides specialized training in physical activity programming for healthy and clinical populations in a city recognized as one of America’s healthiest places to live.

A primary objective of PAWS is to prepare health professionals to implement evidence-based programs in communities, workplaces, schools and other organizations to address the needs of those specific populations. The science underlying the relationship between physical (in)activity and chronic disease and the impact this has on an individual level and for a population as a whole will be examined. Graduates are immediately eligible for employment in a wide variety of health care and public health settings and prepared for doctoral and professional programs in public and allied health.

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    Weight Management Program Helps Adolescents

    Professor Connie Tompkins conducts physical activity interventions in elementary and middle schools. Her research reveals that healthy weight and obese children showed no differences in how hard they felt like they were working - or in their actual heart rate - while engaging in fun or non-structured exercises.

    Read the full story >>

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Upon completion of the wellness master's degree, the successful student should be able to identify the current health of a population, identify the population’s needs, identify what resources are already in place that could be accessed and applicable to the population’s needs, design an evidence-based program targeting the population’s needs including key steps, timelines, and measurable outcomes, successfully implement and evaluate their program and then effectively communicate their findings with their community as well as policy makers if warranted.

Fall Semester (15 credits)

  • EXSC 302 - Evidence-based Practice in Physical Activity
  • EXSC 303 - Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Epidemiology
  • EXSC 350 - Physiological Aspects of Physical Activity and Chronic Disease
  • EXSC 353 - Physical Activity & Wellness Promotion
  • EXSC 360 - Physical Activity, Weight Management, and Energy Balance

Spring Semester (15 credits)

  • EXSC 345 - Exercise Assessment and Prescription
  • EXSC 365 - Activity, Disability and Health
  • EXSC 368 - Physical Activity and Wellness Program Design and Evaluation
  • EXSC 370 - Physical Activity & Wellness: Communication & Evaluation
  • Elective Graduate Course

Total = 30 credits

Research literature, practices, and evidence-based content are incorporated throughout the curriculum. The final semester includes a comprehensive final exam or presentation.

Download curriculum plan (PDF)

View program handbook (PDF)

Experiential Opportunities

The UVM PAWS program prepares skilled physical activity and wellness practitioners through exposure to research literature and evidence-based content. No formal research or field work is required for the degree, although students may elect to pursue an internship to prepare for specialty certification. The Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science hosts three teaching laboratories and a newly-renovated 2,000 square-foot research suite equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for application to the Physical Activity and Wellness Science M.S. program include:

  • Undergraduate degree from accredited college or university
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Recommended coursework: Physiology (e.g. Human Physiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Exercise Physiology) and Statistics
  • TOEFL scores (international students only)
  • Statement of Career Interests
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • UVM Graduate College application form

Application Instructions

Application Process

Applications must be submitted online to the UVM Graduate College. The application requires:

  • Undergraduate degree from accredited college of university
  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.0
  • Undergraduate transcripts
  • Recommended coursework: Physiology (e.g. Human Physiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Exercise Physiology) and Statistics
  • Statement of career interests
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • UVM Graduate College application form
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for non-U.S. residents*

*Please note the minimum TOEFL score for this program is 90. Applicants must have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, which consists of 16 years of formal education.

Review of Graduate Applications

Applications are reviewed on an ongoing basis and applications submitted prior to the April 1 deadline will receive an admissions decision within six weeks. Candidates will be ranked using quantitative and qualitative metrics using admission materials. Applications will be reviewed by a formal admissions committee, which will be comprised of the program director and program faculty. The committee will then make recommendations to the Graduate College for admission.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the program?

The program was designed to be completed in one year. There is no thesis, formal research or field work required for the degree, although you may elect to pursue an internship to prepare for specialty certification. The program may be completed on a part-time basis. This would require advance planning with courses structured to be completed over a 1.5 or 2-year period.

I work a full-time job during the day. Are the required courses only offered during the day on UVM’s campus?

The core courses in the Physical Activity and Wellness Science (PAWS) curriculum are offered in a hybrid format (on-campus and online). The on-campus portion of the courses are offered in late afternoons and evenings.

What about financial aid and the tuition costs for the program?

To obtain current information for financial aid, tuition, and fees, refer to the Student Financial Services website. If you have questions about whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident, refer to the Registrar's Residency Policy.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is March 1; however the application system is currently open and you are welcome (and encouraged) to submit your application at any time prior to the deadline. We review applications on an ongoing basis and notify applicants as soon as applications are reviewed (typically within 6 weeks).

What are the minimum GRE scores?

We do not require GRE scores for application to the PAWS graduate program.

I do not have a background in exercise science or in any other health-related field. Am I still eligible to apply for the M.S. in PAWS?

A background in exercise science and/or a health-related field is not required. There is recommended, pre-requisite coursework, but these courses are not required for application or admission to the program. Courses in the PAWS program will expose students to evidence-based, theoretical models to guide the planning, evaluation and implementation of physical activity interventions, health promotion and wellness programs at community levels.

What is the minimum GPA that I need to be considered for admission to the program? May I retake courses to obtain a better grade?

Applications with GPAs of 3.0 and higher will be reviewed. Applicants are welcome to retake classes to obtain a better grade if they would like to do so.

Where should I send my application materials?

The UVM Graduate Application, official transcripts, a statement of career interests and 3 letters of recommendation must be submitted online.

When will I learn whether I have been accepted to the program?

Complete applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis (completed applications submitted prior to deadline will be reviewed within 6 weeks of submission).

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Application Deadline: March 1, 2021

Term Start Date: August

In-State Tuition: $683 per credit

Out-of-State Tuition: $1,720 per credit

Credits: 30

Duration: 1 Year

Learning Format: Online + On-campus

*Tuition may change and varies based on number of enrolled credits per term. Eligible for the New England Board of Higher Education's Tuition Break  program.


Download Program Brochure (PDF)


Potential careers for graduates of the PAWS program include:

  • Wellness/lifestyle coach
  • Community health promotion specialist
  • Community physical activity specialist
  • Nutrition and physical activity program manager
  • Community health specialist
  • School district health coordinator
  • Health educator for an organization
  • Corporate wellness program coordinator
  • Health researcher or writer
  • Health promotion program coordinator
  • Instructor in college or graduate/undergraduate program

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