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M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP)

Master of Science in Exercise & Sport Science

Whether you want to pursue a career in academia, research or therapy, an advanced degree in exercise and sport science will open doors to a variety of in demand career opportunities.

Program Overview

Apply your expertise to improve the health of your community and beyond.

The High Altitude Exercise Physiology program examines how the human body functions physiologically in extreme environments. In the program, you’ll conduct original research and hone your ability to share your research as presentations and publications. You’ll also learn how to critically evaluate scientific literature and apply the scientific method to exercise science, by actively engaging in the research process. To ensure that you’re proficient with exercise testing equipment and relevant computer skills, you’ll use state-of-the-art technology to complete research and assessments as you would in exercise science professions. Overall, you’ll complete at least 36 total credits, including six thesis credits. The thesis will be a culminating research project, to be completed during the last semester of the two-year program.

Real-world experience

Students work closely with real clients and subjects to develop an acute understanding of human physiology – at rest and during exercise, in healthy and diseased populations – in extreme environments, including hyper- and hypobarometric conditions, heat and cold.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

The Master of Science in High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP) program is designed to examine how the human body functions physiologically, both acutely and chronically, in extreme environments (including, but not limited to, high altitude, heat, cold, and low humidity) during exercise in healthy and diseased populations. The HAEP program is a 36 credit, two year, residential program that culminates in a research-based thesis project. Students who complete the HAEP program will be prepared for careers in academia, research, or clinical practice, as well as further study in the discipline.

Program Goals

  • To enhance student understanding of human physiology – at rest and during exercise, in healthy and diseased populations – in extreme environments, including hyper- and hypobarometric conditions, heat, cold, pollution and zero gravity.
  • To prepare students for original research under supervision of the ESS-HAEP faculty.
  • To prepare students to share their research as presentations, publications or both.
  • To prepare students for careers in academia, research or clinical practice, as well as for further study in the discipline.

Student Outcomes

Research — HAEP Graduates will understand Exercise Science research methods and demonstrate the ability to recognize and employ various study designs. They will:

  • Be adept at retrieving and analyzing information relevant to Exercise Science.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the background and principle research in their specialization.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate scientific literature and apply the scientific method to exercise sciences, by actively engaging in the research process with critical analysis and research.
  • Demonstrate the ability to situate their own research within the broader context of the Exercise Science field.

Communication and Writing — HAEP graduates will master oral and written skills to present and publish their research in peer-reviewed venues.

Application/Outreach — HAEP graduates will be able to translate research into practice, developing evidence-based exercise prescriptions for individuals with performance goals – particularly those at risk, including special populations – who seek to perform in extreme environments, such as altitude, cold and heat.

Critical Thinking — HAEP Graduates will effectively use information obtained through traditional and non-traditional sources to solve problems related to academic or professional practice.

Technology — HAEP Graduates will use technology to complete tasks within the Exercise Science profession. This includes proficiency with exercise testing equipment and relevant computer skills.

Requirements for Full Admission

Candidate must submit: 

  • Official Transcript of BA or BS degree in Exercise and Sport Science, or related field from a regionally accredited college or university showing cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE): General Test Scores: minimum score of 150 for Verbal Reasoning and 150 for Quantitative Reasoning and 4.5 for Analytical Writing. School code for Western’s graduate programs is 7527.
  • Undergraduate Prerequisite Coursework (all prerequisites must be completed by the end of the first year of the MS. Students cannot start the program with more than two course deficiencies.):
    • General Health and/or Wellness course (lower or upper division)
    • Kinesiology or Biomechanics (lower or upper division)
    • Statistics (lower or upper division)
    • Chemistry (1 year lab-based) (lower or upper division)
    • Biology (general biology with lab) (lower or upper division)
    • Anatomy (with lab), Physiology (with lab) – can be a combined course (lower or upper division)
    • Exercise Physiology (with lab) (upper division)
    • Physics (lower or upper division)

Provisional Admission: An applicant who does not meet the requirements for full admission to the MS in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology program may be required to submit additional materials in order to be considered for provisional admission upon the recommendation of the program director and approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Prerequisite courses that must be completed prior to entering the HAEP program include Anatomy and Physiology and Exercise Physiology (with lab). A provisionally admitted student will have a maximum of one calendar year to complete any pre-requisite academic coursework. The program director or Dean of Graduate Studies may set additional timeline requirements.

International Students: see Graduate Academic Catalog section, Criteria for International Admission.

For admissions requirements for B.S. in Exercise and Sport Science, Clinical Exercise Physiology Emphasis & M.S. in High Altitude Exercise Physiology (3+2) program, please refer to the guidelines outlined in the undergraduate academic catalog under EXERCISE AND SPORT SCIENCE.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 36 credits is required for the HAEP MS degree. A 24 credit core (including 9 thesis credits, taken during the final year) and at least 12 other HAEP credits are taken over the course of two years. 

Core Courses
ESS 600Advanced Statistics3
ESS 601Quantitative Research Methods3
ESS 605Exercise and Sport Science Testing and Instrumentation-Lab3
ESS 606Exercise and Sport Science Testing and Instrumentation-Field3
ESS 640Environmental Exercise Physiology I3
ESS 695Thesis9
Select at least twelve credits of the following:12
ESS 630
Clinical Exercise Physiology
ESS 641
Environmental Exercise Physiology II
ESS 660
Health Promotion
ESS 675
Clinical Exercise Programming-Lab
ESS 685
Cardiopulmonary Physiology
ESS 692
Independent Study
ESS 696
Research
ESS 699
Practicum/Internship
Total Credits36

Spotlight

M.S. in Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology (HAEP)

Bryant Byrd

Student

“I’ve learned the importance of understanding my clients’ limitations and developing rapport.”

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Student Outcomes

Preparing students for rewarding careers in exercise & sport science.

Research — HAEP Graduates will understand Exercise Science research methods and demonstrate the ability to recognize and employ various study designs. They will:

  • Be adept at retrieving and analyzing information relevant to Exercise Science.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the background and principle research in their specialization.
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate scientific literature and apply the scientific method to exercise science, by actively engaging in the research process with critical analysis and research.
  • Demonstrate the ability to situate their own research within the broader context of the Exercise Science field.
  • Communication and Writing — HAEP graduates will master oral and written skills to present and publish their research in peer-reviewed venues.

Application/Outreach — HAEP graduates will be able to translate research into practice, developing evidence-based exercise prescriptions for individuals with performance goals – particularly those at risk, including special populations – who seek to perform in extreme environments, such as altitude, cold and stressful heat.

Critical Thinking — HAEP Graduates will effectively use information obtained through traditional and non-traditional sources to solve problems related to academic or professional practice.

Technology — HAEP Graduates will use technology to complete research and assessments within the Exercise Science profession. This includes proficiency with exercise testing equipment and relevant computer skills.

High Altitude Performance Laboratory (HAP Lab)

Early exposure to cutting-edge research through Western’s High Altitude Performance Laboratory (HAP Lab)—7,717 feet above sea level—enables students to gain career-ready skills.

Get Involved

Make your education a life-changing experience.

A college education is so much more than attending classes. Expand your community and network, while gaining hands-on experience in your field with these exciting opportunities.

  • Wellness Elevated: Work with clinical populations and their exercise programming for a semester or more.
  • Assistantships: Gunnison Valley Health collaborates with the HAEP program to offer five full tuition research assistantship positions with the rehabilitation department.
  • Shadowing: Shadow practicing clinicians both locally and throughout the United States.
  • Research Funding: Apply for research stipends from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) worth thousands of dollars. All projects are published in ACE’s ProSource magazine and submitted to various journals.
  • Paid Positions: At the end of their fourth year, students can apply to be a paid trainer in our Wellness Elevated program, where they perform fitness assessments, write exercise prescriptions and train clients.

High Altitude Performance Laboratory

Early exposure to cutting-edge research through the High Altitude Performance Laboratory (HAP Lab)—7,717 feet above sea level—enables students to gain career-ready skills normally found only in graduate school.

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Additional Resources

Admission Requirements

Learn more about HAEP admission requirements.

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Course Requirements

Description of the Program A minimum of 36 credits, including six thesis credits, are required for the High Altitude Exercise Physiology master program. All students must complete 24 core credits in …

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Current Student Projects

The effectiveness of the ACE Integrated Fitness Training model Researchers: Devan E. Haney and Lance C. Dalleck ​Purpose:  It is well accepted that regular exercise has positive effects on health …

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Tuition & Financial Aid

Program Cost Total Program Cost:  $24,314.40 (36 required credits @ $675.40 per credit. Students typically enroll in 9 credits/semester.) Credits Required Tuition/credit Research Fee/credit Campus …

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Department Chairperson

Lance Dalleck, Ph.D.

Professor of Exercise & Sport Science

Administrative Assistant

Terri Stinson

Administrative Assistant

Contact Information

970.943.7129

970.943.7125

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Paul Wright Gym 209
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

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