Mary’s Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology (MSCEP) curriculum is one of only nine in the United States

BISMARCK, ND — Continuing to answer the needs of the region and beyond, this fall the University of Mary is launching the state’s first accredited Master of Science in Clinical Exercise Physiology (MSCEP) program and the world’s first in a blended format—online and on-site.

Dr. Moran Saghiv, MSCEP program director and associate professor at the University of Mary

“The blended format optimizes one of the major pillars of the program which is provide maximum flexibility for our students,” said Dr. Moran Saghiv, MSCEP program director and associate professor at the University of Mary. “This format allows our students to have a full time job, a family and still do well in the program. It’s our belief that this method lowers the overall cost of the program. Our students are from all over the US, most of which do not wish to move and prefer to stay near their family and support system. It also allows them to sustain any existing professional career ties or relationships.”

Mary becomes only the ninth university in the United States to offer an accredited MSCEP program from the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES). Starting this fall, the program includes five semesters (fall; spring; summer; fall; spring) for a total of 43 credit hours with three intense hands-on experiences that are clinical in nature: 600 hours of internships; research; and five on-site lab weeks at Mary in Bismarck—one each semester typically Monday through Saturday.

“A MSCEP degree maximizes our students’ professional options of occupation,” added Saghiv. “A clinical exercise physiologist is unlimited in his or her ability to work with the healthy, the diseased and all populations, so there are no limitations.”

That is great news for patient care and a huge benefit to all healthcare, continued Saghiv. He is already seeing a culture shift across the nation’s healthcare industry as CEPs become an emerging profession and the wave of the future with their unique skill set. It’s natural to see CEPs in cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab, hospitals, clinics, outpatient care, private practice, health and fitness businesses, the academic system and more. A CEP typically obtains a medical history on a client, prior to administering exercise-related tests. From the test results, the CEP would then be able to design an individualized exercise prescription that meets the specific needs of each client. Along with each client, the CEP will determine short and long term goals. The CEP will use his or her expertise to assist clients to lose or gain weight, improve aerobic capacity, decrease heart disease risk factors such as high body fat and high blood pressure, poor cholesterol levels or high blood glucose levels. Heart disease is a very serious disease—the number one killer in the United States today, and the CEP can work with high-risk clients to decrease risk, taking the road to a much healthier future. Many factors go into risk reduction, and the CEP will creatively counsel clients to set goals necessary to meet risk reduction objectives. CEPs will work with clients to prioritize exercise as an enjoyable habitual lifestyle practice.

Dr. Moran Saghiv works with his exercise science students at the University of Mary.

“The majority of CEPs will deal with cardio-respiratory (cardio-pulmonary) patients, as they are the majority of clinical manifestations within the population, and also with metabolic diseases such as diabetes, renal problems, hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure) and more,” stated Saghiv. “Properly done, and in full collaboration with the person’s physician, the CEP may lower the need for medication—a bit or completely—lower the financial cost of the treatment, and improve the person’s quality of life through improvements to functional capacity, battling adverse signs, and changes to lifestyle.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of clinical exercise physiologists is projected to grow 11 percent until 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand may rise as hospitals emphasize exercise and preventive care as part of their treatment and long-term rehabilitation from chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

University of Mary’s announcement follows very favorable site visit by (CoAES) who approved the curriculum standards, and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) who awarded the final accreditation.

“The program drew high praise from those governing bodies for its professional distinction; maximal flexibility; teaching of advanced topics such as exercise pharmacology, biogenetics and exercise science; establishing and managing a hands-on pro bono clinic; providing high quality internship sites; and the extensive amount of hours students receive within the labs,” explained Saghiv. “Immediately following completion of the program, the University of Mary will allow students to sit for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) exam—regarded as the gold standard certification for clinical exercise physiologists.”

 The University of Mary is currently accepting 15 students for the program. However, that cap number could increase in the years to come if demand rises as expected. Those with an undergraduate degree in the field of exercise sciences, kinesiology, or other related degrees with a science basis are welcome to apply. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required.

Anyone interested in this program can contact Aimee Limke-Hodny at (701) 355-8273 or Dr. Moran Saghiv at (701) 355-8103,; or go online for more information at: