Augustana to Offer Strength & Conditioning Major in Fall 2024

Program Set to Become First Accredited in South Dakota
By Keeley Meier '20 | June 05, 2024
Strength & Conditioning

Augustana University will offer a major in strength & conditioning beginning in the fall. Based within the School of Health Professions, the program is set to be the first in South Dakota accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Strength and Conditioning Education (CASCE).

The strength & conditioning major is designed for students who are interested in strength & conditioning or personal training and will likely not pursue a professional health program, but possibly a graduate program.

“The major is for those students that want to enter the workforce right away, or who will maybe go on to a graduate program in exercise science or biomechanics,” said Dr. Andrea Powell, assistant professor of exercise science & sport sciences and director of the strength & conditioning program. “Strength & conditioning professionals can work in a college setting, high school setting or any sort of sports performance facility. If someone wanted to go into personal training, they would also fall under this umbrella.”

Parker Fitzgerald ‘26

Upon hearing news of Augustana’s newest academic program, Parker Fitzgerald ‘26, who hopes to someday become a sports performance coach, added strength & conditioning as his major.

“I’m very excited to learn about the different techniques and exercises that I can teach other athletes in the future and those that I can apply to my own training plan as I continue my collegiate athletic career,” said Fitzgerald, a Harrisburg, South Dakota, native. “I am a runner on the Augustana Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field Teams, so learning something that I can apply to myself is truly amazing.”

The strength & conditioning major consists of 10 required exercise science courses, as well as the required supportive courses of Biological Principles, Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, General Chemistry and Nutrition.

Along with an internship, students will complete a 6-week field experience under the supervision of a certified strength coach — observing and coaching warm ups, flexibility, resistance training techniques, Olympic lifting, performance testing and program design.

Students will also take part II of an advanced programming course called Theory & Techniques of Strength & Conditioning — differentiating this major from exercise science.

“Part I is required for everyone (exercise science and strength & conditioning majors), and part II is a more advanced class. Those two together will set them up to take the CSCS,” Powell said.

Strength & Conditioning

The CSCS is an exam administered through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) that all students hoping to become Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS) must take. Beginning in 2030, students who plan to take the CSCS Exam must graduate from an accredited program.

That’s why Powell is working hard to ensure that Augustana’s strength & conditioning major will be accredited, and she’s making great strides — the program is in the middle of its year-long self-study, which will be submitted in October. At this pace, Augustana is set to be the first accredited strength & conditioning program in the state.

“I think creating this accreditation standard is meant to elevate the profession of strength and conditioning,” said Powell. “We are the first line of defense on the preventative side of things. When you're thinking about youth athletes and ACL tear prevention, that is the role of a strength & conditioning coach. When we're talking about athletes, you have your sport coaches and they're the Xs and Os, but then you have the strength coaches — they're the ones who are getting them ready to play, to be physically ready to do their sport and do it well, decrease injury and enhance performance.”

“I feel this major can help me widen my job opportunities with the knowledge that the major can provide about bettering individuals athletically,” added Fitzgerald.

Powell said the strength & conditioning major will pair well with a fitness management major and minors in coaching or psychology. Overall, she said she’s most excited to see where students end up.

“We're making sure that our students are able to get the gold standard of certification in this field,” said Powell. “You’ll have a 4-year degree, CPR certification, a background in the field and the experience. We're putting very educated individuals into whatever area they decide to go into.”

To learn more about Augustana’s strength & conditioning major, visit

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