Pre-Clinical Exercise Physiology program

Learn how to use exercise as a tool to help patients.

Exercise is medicine. That is the idea behind the relatively new and growing profession of a clinical exercise physiology. Professionals in this field develop individualized fitness and exercise programs for patients who have a history of cardiovascular (heart), pulmonary (lung), and metabolic disorders and chronic diseases. 

Pre-CEP is NOT a major at UW-La Crosse. It is a statement of your intention to apply to CEP programs. You will still need to select a major to complete your undergraduate degree.  

UWL offers an internationally-recognized Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology program, which prepares students to sit for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) examination. 

What does a clinical exercise physiologist do?

Clinical Exercise Physiologists (CEPs) work closely with patients and their medical providers during the rehabilitation process to develop individualized treatment plans. CEPS typically work in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, cancer rehabilitation, stress testing, health education, or wellness centers. These professionals use science to create individualized exercise plans for patients and then work to monitor and supervise patient progress on those plans. Learn more on the Clinical Exercise Physiology Association website.

Additional professional association websites: 


  • Anatomy & Physiology I & II (ESS 205/206 OR BIO 312/313) 
  • General Chemistry I (CHM 103, C or better) needed if taking BIO 312/313 at UWL; ESS 205/206 does not have a CHM prerequisite 
Exercise & Sport Science
  • Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries (ESS 281)
  • Physiology of Exercise (ESS 302) 

Make your intention to pursue a career in Clinical Exercise Physiology official by adding it as an "intended pre-professional track"

Declaring a Pre-CEP track will help you determine common requirements for CEP programs. However, each program's requirements vary. When selecting coursework, it is important to consult the websites of the programs to which you plan to apply. 

  • Many professional schools do not accept prerequisite courses that have been taken online or at non-U.S. institutions; AP, IB, AICE, and community college credit policies vary by school/program

To request a Pre-CEP advisor, reach out to your college's dean's office:

Grow through experience

Shadow or observe CEPs

Job shadowing is a great way to experience the profession and learn more about what it takes to become a CEP. Make sure to ask for the “Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department”at any local hospital when inquiring about job shadowing opportunities. Most CEP graduate programs require shadowing hours. 

Gain related experience

Any care-related experience where "touch" is involved is a good idea, paid or unpaid. This will help improve your comfort level working closely with people. The La Crosse Exercise and Health Program is one of the top nationally-recognized programs, and provides an on-campus opportunity to gain relevant experience.  

Join the club!

Visit the Exercise Science Club on MyOrgs to learn more about the advantages of being involved and when they meet.

Prepare to apply

Selecting programs

To search master's level programs in Clinical Exercise Physiology, the ASEP website is a place to start, but we recommended that you search for clinical exercise physiology, exercise science, and kinesiology programs doing an independent web search to find more options. Always consult the individual programs' websites for the most accurate and up-to-date information. 


UWL does not require the GRE exambut some programs will. For more info about standardized testing, see UWL's preparing for tests resource. 

How to apply

Most CEP programs, including UWL's, will have their own application process. You will need to visit each individual programs’ website to review their application process and requirements.


Timelines vary. For example, UWL's applications are due by January 15th of each year. Check individual programs' websites for specific information.  

Need more help?

See Apply with confidence for more information on personal statements, letters of recommendation, interviewing, and more.