We offer the country’s most comprehensive aquatics degree program.

Established in 2002, the aquatics concentration was the first truly aquatic-specific program in the United States. Our well-rounded curriculum will prepare you for a diverse and satisfying career as an aquatic director, fitness trainer, coach, and many more opportunities. 

What You Will Learn

Coursework is as wide-ranging as

  • facilities design and management
  • pool operations
  • aquatics-focused biomechanics
  • lifeguard training and aquatics staff development
  • certifications in areas such as emergency medical responder, scuba, aquatic instruction, and aquatic special topics

Our electives are just as diverse, including sailing and kayaking, teaching diving and synchronized swimming, scuba instruction, and camp waterfront administration.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students demonstrate knowledge appropriate to the leadership of aquatic staff and facilities.
  2. Students identify common knowledge to prepare for, prevent, and respond to health and physical activity functions common to aquatic facilities.
  3. Students demonstrate effective and appropriate written communication abilities.
  4. Students demonstrate the ability to lead aquatic activities safely.
  5. Students recognize the potential impact of physical activity on society and individual quality of life. 

What It’s Like to Major in Aquatics at Ball State

Put simply, our program here at Ball State is the most comprehensive aquatics degree in the country. Since 2002, we have offered the only comprehensive bachelor’s degree in aquatics in the United States.

Students in the bachelor’s degree have the opportunity to earn at least eight industry-specific external agency certifications or licenses.

This places you in a position to earn $7,000 to $10,000 more per year compared to 25 percent of the workforce that enters the profession with no prior aquatic experience (based on a 2002 analysis).

Students who choose to major or minor in our aquatics programs with the Department of Kinesiology will get a broad range of hands-on, real-world experience before they enter the workforce. The student’s capstone experience during the 12-credit internship provides work opportunities in national and global locations.

Our students have the opportunity to take part in stroke evaluations using the departmental Flume (swim-in-place unit). This unique opportunity allows you to receive immediate feedback and rapidly apply knowledge representative to the profession.

Each May, the Aquatic School provides an intensive week of aquatic instruction including such topics as lifeguard training and instructing, swimming pool operations and maintenance, and open water scuba. The program is available for credit and is designed to build camaraderie and obtain several aquatic certifications prior to the summer season.

Major Requirements

The degree is designed so that a full time student can complete it in four years. Completion time will vary if you attend part time. We encourage you to speak with your advisor about your workload and your timeframe goals for completing your degree.


Total: 120

  • University Core Curriculum
  • Core Requirements: 15
    • AQUA 190 Introduction to Aquatics
    • AQUA 479 Aquatic Professional Internship
  • Required Courses: 34
  • Directed Electives: 10


A few of the classes you will take include:

  • Biomechanics of Aquatics
  • Water Safety Instructor (WSI)
  • Aquatic Leadership and Staff Development
  • Aquatic Facility Design

Program Advisor: Lee Yarger

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Course Catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do with a Degree in Aquatics?

A major in aquatics can provide opportunities to gain employment with various institutions, including: educational institutions; health and fitness facilities; recreation natatoriums; waterparks; private clubs and fitness centers; and government entities.

What Are Our Graduates Doing?

United States Marine Corps, Headquarters, Quantico, VA.

Ms. Kari Hemund is the Aquatics Program Specialist for the United States Marine Corps, ensuring the aquatics departments throughout the Corps worldwide operate consistently and safelyShe has overseen the operations and management of aquatic centers, SCUBA programs, and open water areas throughout her career. Kari received her Bachelors of Science from Ball State University in Exercise Science with a specialty in Aquatics; and a Master’s of Arts from American Military University in Emergency and Disaster Management. Hemund was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Aquatics Maximum Power-Intense Training (AMP-IT) program, the Marine Swim Advancement Training (MSAT), and the Community Mastering Aquatics (CMA) program. She holds multiple Instructor and Instructor Trainer certifications.

Program Manager EZPRO® / APi Water, Indianapolis, Indiana

Currently the Commercial Program Manager for APi Water, his journey in aquatics began at Ball State University as a lifeguard and an undergrad in the Exercise Science Aquatics program graduating in 2006. Following graduation he attained a master’s degree in Recreation Studies through a Teaching Assistantship at Ohio University in Athens in 2007. Following graduate school he relocated to Chicago and worked as a regional director then vice president of operations for Chicagoland Pool Management, seeing to the daily operations of 30-40 pools and approximately 300 staff annually until moving back to Indianapolis in the winter of 2013. Then beginning work for a local POOLCORP sales center as In-Ground Pool and Liner specialist he assisted pool builders with the design and logistics of residential pool construction, following this he was promoted to Business Development Representative, where he could visit customers and assist by suggesting products, programs, or other ways that they could get the most out of their business. He continued this role until 2016 when promoted to Sales Center Manager and directly oversaw a 40,000 sq ft warehouse and staff that was solely dedicated to the pool industry. He performed this role until spring of 2019 when wanting to be out in the field he left POOLCORP. Several months later he began work at APi Water where he assists aquatic professionals with specific facility water quality issues. Often consulting aquatic designers, operators, builders and service professionals on ways to proactively treat the causes of common water quality issues before they have a chance to manifest as problems.          

Aquatic Supervisor, Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina / Owner: Top Deck Aquatics

Tanner Deisch, Aquatics Supervisor for the Town of Chapel Hill North Carolina has recently been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) as a “30 Under 30” leader in the field. He earned his master’s degree from Western Kentucky University in Recreation & Sport Administration. His work history includes facility management, staff training and development, collegiate class instruction, and risk management. With over five years in municipal government, Deisch has a passion for helping make communities better. Deisch holds several instructor and instructor trainer certifications.

Aquatics Manager, United States Coast Guard / MWR, Kodiak, Alaska.

Since 2019, Mr. González has been the Aquatics Manager for the USCG Base Kodiak/MWR located in Kodiak, Alaska.  He earned his bachelor's in Aquatics (2014-2015) from Ball State University.  Additionally, earned is his master's degree in Disaster Management (2017-2018) from Florida International University located in Miami, Florida.  His work history includes the operation and management of aquatic facilities ranging from swimming pools and open water facilities at both surf and non-surf beaches. González conducts certification courses from the American Red Cross and Scuba Educators International.  He also holds multiple Instructor and Instructor Trainer certifications. 

Paying for Your Education

Department Scholarships

On top of the dozens of funding options offered through Ball State’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, our department awards scholarships to our own students. Find a scholarship.

Apply to Ball State

Admission to Ball State is selective, and we carefully evaluate all applications on an individual basis. Applying is easy. Use our convenient, comprehensive, and secure online application.

Apply Now

Connect with Us

Want to Learn More?

The best way to get a true feel for Ball State is to spend some time here, so we encourage you and your family to schedule a campus visit. Take a tour, attend an information session, meet with a professor in our area, and ask plenty of questions. Or, if you’d rather speak to someone directly by phone or email, please feel free to contact us.

Related Programs