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On a mission to improve health

Department of Health and Exercise Science

Health and Exercise Science at St. Thomas

The core mission of the Department of Health and Exercise Science (HES) is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to promote healthy living and well-being for individuals and their communities.

Our world is faced with significant health challenges affecting individuals and the population more broadly. Graduates of the Health and Exercise Science programs are meeting these challenges by putting theory into practice by promoting healthy lifestyles, evaluating human movement and the body’s response to exercise, and finding solutions that address complex health issues and health disparities in our communities. The department’s programs in health promotion and wellness, exercise science, public health, and nutrition prepare graduates to help both individuals and communities improve health.

Majors and Minors

Depending on your major, you’ll study the complex functions of the human body through an examination of its anatomy, physiology and kinesiology while analyzing the relationships between diet, bodily health, and available energy and their connection to populations and disease prevention.

Exercise Science

Examine how the body moves, responds and adapts to physical exercise, and how exercise contributes to overall health and wellness across the age span. Exercise science prepares you for a variety of allied health-related career paths or a graduate program in a related field.


Health Promotion and Wellness

Health Promotion and Wellness is a major designed to assist others to change personal behavior to achieve health and whole-person wellness. The major teaches you how to promote awareness in the community about leading a healthy life while providing you with practical experiences in a variety of health-related settings.


Public Health

The public health major challenges students to think critically about much-needed solutions to our most complex health challenges—pandemics, cancer, heart disease, health inequity.


Co-major and additional minor

Other Academic Options

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Nutrition Minor

Students will learn about nutrition and how a balanced eating pattern can support well-being and meet diverse nutritional needs across the lifespan. Available starting fall 2021.

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A lot to do, a lot to learn

The Student Experience

You’ll receive individual attention from faculty and have access to best-in-state facilities and equipment for undergraduates, research opportunities, student clubs and internships. We set our students up for career success or graduate school, whichever comes first.

Student running on the HES equipment

Our Partnership with Tommie Athletics

The Sports Science Institute

The University of St. Thomas is the first college to ever make the jump from DIII to DI athletics. Read how health and exercise science students are helping our athletes train, perform and recover at a higher level. 

Sports Science Institute


Dr. Paul Mellick

Dr. Paul Mellick

Dr. Paul Mellick is an Associate Professor and department chair for the Department of Health and Exercise Science. He holds a Master of Arts from the College of St. Scholastica and a doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro. Dr. Mellick’s research interests are focused on metabolic function and hormonal regulation, particularly their relationships to high-intensity exercise.


Dr. Starr Sage

Dr. Starr Sage

Starr Sage, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Public Health. Her research focuses on examining the ways in which social determinants influence health, particularly cancer outcomes. She also conducts qualitative research using a sociological lens to examine college students’ perceptions of diversity, inclusion, and difference in university settings.

Amber Roy

Amber Roy

Amber Roy is Clinical Faculty in the Department of Health and Exercise Science. She holds a B.S. in Dietetics and an M.S. in Food Science and Technology from Iowa State University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Amber is passionate about using culturally affirming, transparent and inclusive teaching and mentoring strategies in her work.