Two new majors at Rider University teach students the science of motion

Undergraduate programs in dance science and exercise science prepare students for growing career fields
Adam Grybowski

The science of motion that underlies human performance in dance and other fitness activities is the subject of two new undergraduate programs launching in the fall at Rider University.

Students in the new dance science and exercise science programs will gain the foundational knowledge and experience to be prepared for careers in health and wellness, rehabilitation, teaching, coaching and research. The dance science program is the only one of its kind on the East Coast.

The two 120-credit programs are grounded in scientific principals of physical activity, exercise and training and include courses in human exercise physiology, biology and more. Students will learn how to optimize human performance, reduce injuries, and promote better overall health and fitness.

Through the dance science program, which is offered through Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts, students will become better dancers and better dance teachers. "This program trains students to develop their talents through an understanding of the human body, which will then allow them to transform the lives of others,” says Associate Professor Dr. Kimberly Chandler Vaccaro.

Dance is not just an athletic pursuit but also an artistic expression of the body and mind.  Students will gain an understanding of how dance fits into the growing movement of emerging therapies in health care, medicine and education. "Dance is recognized as a valuable form of both physical and psychological therapies that can reduce stress and anxiety, and promote wellbeing," Vaccaro says.

Graduates of the dance science program will be prepared for careers as dance teachers and choreographers, and to pursue advanced training in fields such as physical therapy, rehabilitation or medicine. Graduates would be well-suited to pursue a dance/movement therapy concentration in Rider's clinical mental health counseling master’s program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects careers in recreational and dance therapy to increase by 7% through 2026.

Demand for exercise science professionals is expected to grow even more — by 13% — over the next decade. Graduates of the new exercise program, which is offered through Rider’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will be immediately prepared for entry-level career options in exercise, conditioning, nutrition and physiology, and through additional graduate studies, for careers in rehabilitation, research and medicine.

The exercise program will provide a solid scientific understanding of physical activity, exercise and training so students will know how the body works and how exercise impacts physical performance and brain function.

"This is a program that will help individuals understand how to help others achieve their personal best at every level of performance and fitness," says Assistant Professor Dr. Drue Stapleton. “Because the desire for healthier lifestyles is forever growing, this program will be a springboard for people who want to contribute to building healthier communities through hands-on work.”

More information about Rider's new Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, including how to apply, can be found at Information about new Bachelor of Arts in Dance Science can be found at