ACSM Updates Education Requirement to Maintain Gold Standard Certifications

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ACSM Updates Education Requirement to Maintain Gold Standard Certifications

Nov 05, 2020

ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologists and Clinical Exercise Physiologists will be required to graduate from accredited programs starting August 2027


(Indianapolis, IN) – The ACSM Committee on Certification and Registry Boards (CCRB) today announced substantial changes to the educational requirements for its two highest level certifications, the ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-EP®) and the ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist® (ACSM-CEP®). The change will require candidates for the ACSM-EP and ACSM-CEP exams to have a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in Exercise Science or Exercise Physiology from a regionally accredited college or university that is also programmatically accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Previously, candidates were only required to graduate from a regionally accredited college or university. The requirement change will be rolled out over a seven-year period and fully implemented by August 2027.

“ACSM has been at the forefront of exercise science since 1954, creating education and practical application opportunities for members and providing gold standard certifications,” said Christie Ward-Ritacco, Ph.D., chair of ACSM’s CCRB Executive Committee. “This new education requirement will continue to ensure the highest standards are being met by ACSM exercise physiologists and clinical exercise physiologists.”

This change aligns with ACSM’s commitment that certified exercise professionals are prepared to successfully enter the workforce. It also aims to reduce variances between exercise science programs and to safeguard employers as well as the general public.

“Currently, the number of unaccredited exercise science programs exceeds the number that have achieved voluntary accreditation, which can create discrepancies in curriculum and program structure,” added Ward-Ritacco. “The enhanced standardization will ensure students are adequately prepared, both theoretically and practically, to enter the workforce and provide safe and effective programming.”

The Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) establishes the standards and guidelines for academic programs to prepare students for employment in the health, fitness and exercise industry. It works with CAAHEP to manage the accreditation process for the exercise sciences. Programmatic accreditation offers several benefits for academic programs and students, including:

  • Verification that national standards and guidelines have been met within the program
  • Official endorsement from CoAES’ sponsoring organizations like ACSM and the American Red Cross
  • Cost-saving vouchers for certification exams

View the updated requirements or learn more about the decision in this blog from the CCRB Executive Council Chair Christie Ward-Rittaco, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, and past chair Meir Magal, Ph.D., ACSM-CEP, FACSM.