Exercise Science is the study of human movement. A degree in Exercise Science gives students a versatile skill set to pursue their career goals in a wide variety of settings. Graduates of online or campus-based Exercise Science degrees can become personal trainers, delve into physiology or biomechanics research, or develop further in a Master’s program. The exercise science degree is a growing degree within sports.
Are there online exercise science degree programs?
Yes, many online Exercise Science programs exist and thrive at allowing students the flexibility of balancing an academic load along with an internship or work experience in their field of choice.
Are there online Bachelors in exercise science degrees in this area?
There are online Bachelor’s in Exercise Degrees from many universities that provide mentorship and networking opportunities alongside an academic load and schedule best tailored to each student’s needs.
Are there online Master of exercise science degrees in this area?
Yes, the Master’s in Exercise Science can be completed online through a number of distinguished universities that combine practical experience with academic rigor.
Are there COSMA or NASSM accredited programs in Exercise Science?
COSMA and NASSM accreditations are specific to Sports Administration degrees, however, many COSMA and NASSM accredited programs have a separate branch within their department for Exercise Science. This list will focus on those programs.
Top 5 Best COSMA or NASSM accredited programs in Exercise Science
#1 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Exercise and Sport Science
The Exercise and Sport Science department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Exercise Science. As the most popular Bachelor's degree at the university, the Exercise and Sport Science degree allows student to specialize in an area of concentration of their choice: General track, Fitness Professional track, and Sport Administration track. All concentrations cover foundational concepts of anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, neuromuscular control, and sport psychology. The General track is ideal for students who want to pursue graduate degrees or research in movement science. The Fitness Professional track is designed for students who want to support healthy and active individuals meet their fitness goals. The department also offers internship roles for undergraduates at many of the research labs or within the athletic department. There are no specific admission requirements for this program, but the general admissions requirements to enter the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are a 2.5 weighted GPA and a minimum of a 19 on the ACT or 1010 on the SAT. However, the average GPA for the 2018-2019 admission class was a 4.70 on a 5.0 scale. Tuition at UNC Chapel Hill will cost in-state students $8,980 and out-of-state students $36,159 per year.
The Master's in Exercise and Sport Science offers similar areas of concentration: Exercise Physiology, Sport Administration, Athletic Training, and Human Movement Science. Typically, a student is accepted through a specific research lab to collaborate and works alongside principal investigators on ongoing research. Most Master's students are able to have their tuition fully or partially waived through graduate or teaching assistantships, but for in-state students will cost $12,522 and out-of-state students $30,248 per year.
#2 American Public University Sports and Health Sciences
The Sports and Health Sciences program at American Public University offers online Bachelor's degrees in Exercise Science and related fields. The four areas of concentration are: Coaching Studies, Exercise Science, Fitness and Wellness Professional, and General. All concentrations require the core concentration of foundational curriculum such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, sports nutrition, sports psychology, kinesiology, and sports first aid. The Exercise Science concentration is designed to train students in exercise prescription for injury prevention and athletic performance, as well as covers how to train mental strategies for athletic competition. This concentration also requires statistics, training and conditioning, sports medicine, biomechanics, and therapeutic exercise. All concentrations are required to complete a senior seminar. The department also offers students discounted rates for professional certifications in the wellness field, such as Certified Professional Trainer (CPT), Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and others. The only admissions requirement for American Public University is a high school diploma or GED. A Bachelor's degree will cost non-military students $34,200 and military students $30,000 total.
The Sports and Health Sciences department also offers a Master's of Science degree with similar areas of concentration: Exercise Science and Human Performance, Health and Wellness Management, and General. The Exercise Science and Human Performance concentration includes advanced courses in exercise science, biomechanics, and physiology. Core requirements for all concentrations include advanced statistics, motor learning, nutrition, sport psychology, and strength and conditioning. A Master's degree will cost non-military students $13,320 and military students $9,000 total.
#3 Maryville University-Exercise Science
The Exercise Science department at Maryville University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with two areas of concentrations: Wellness Management and Strength and Conditioning. The core curriculum includes courses in stress management, care and prevention of injuries, exercise psychology, physiology, biomechanics, personal health, and adaptive physical activity. The Strength and Conditioning concentration includes courses in methods and programming in strength, performance coaching strategies, multidirectional speed, and program design. The Wellness Management concentration includes topics such as budgeting and administration. Both concentrations allow students to virtually work within the world-renowned Human Performance Lab, learning software and fitness assessments from anywhere. Maryville University also offers a 400-hour practicum for students in their field of interest. There are no admissions requirements for Maryville University and will cost all students $64,000 total for a Bachelor's degree.
#4 University of Kansas-Exercise Science
The University of Kansas offers an online Bachelor's of Applied Science in Exercise Science that is well-regarded. This program is tailored for students interested in pursuing fitness or wellness professional careers and includes a core curriculum of strength and conditioning, nutrition, coaching strategies, biomechanics, and therapeutic exercise. The University of Kansas offers discounted rates for students to take examinations for professional certifications such as Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS), and Sports Nutritionist (ISSN). Through a partnership with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA), students also receive first priority for internships and scholarships. There are no admissions requirements and a Bachelor's degree will cost students $58,200 total.
#5 California University of Pennsylvania-Exercise Science
California University of Pennsylvania offers an online Bachelor's of Science in Exercise Science degree that prepares students for a number of careers in the movement science world. Recognized and partnered with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), this program offers students the opportunity to become a Certified Personal Trainer though the NASM as well as a Certified Speed Coach from the National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE). The core curriculum includes courses in biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, physics, biomechanics, sports nutrition, sports psychology, and injury prevention. The Exercise Science program also offers an applied laboratory course and practicum component that can be an internship in the student's field of choice. The only admissions requirement is a high school diploma or GED. A Bachelor's in Exercise Science will cost in-state students $30,864 and out-of-state students $46,296 total.
Typical curriculum for Exercise Science
Anatomy and Physiology
Learning about human movement requires a foundational understanding of the bones, muscles, and nerves that create movement in courses such as anatomy. Anatomy gives students a roadmap to understanding why humans move the way they do. Physiology is the understanding of how the body meets the demands of its environment, which is especially important in a field like exercise science.
Psychology is typically understood as the study of human behavior. In sports psychology, students delve into topics such as motivation, learning, and resilience. These facets of psychology inform Exercise Science students how to design better fitness plan, improved coaching strategies, and collaborative rehabilitation programs.
Biomechanics is often described as the “physics of the body.” This courses helps student understand optimal human movement strategies such as how to run the fastest, throw the furthest, or jump the highest using physics. It is a foundational course for many students whom want to pursue movement science research or strength and conditioning as careers.
A knowledge of the basics of nutrition is pivotal to improving athletic performance and preventing athletic injury, which is the responsibility of many graduates in the Exercise Science field. Sports nutrition is unique because it highlights how to optimize the time and type of nutrients that athletes should consume in order to fuel recovery and future athletic performance.
These courses are sometimes titled “First Aid,” “Sports Medicine,” or “Emergency Care,” but they all have the same goal of providing an introduction to the prevention of and care for athletic injury. With many graduates of Exercise Science entering fitness, wellness, and athletic fields, an understanding of how athletic injury can occur is crucial to preparing students to work in a multidisciplinary team.
What jobs or careers could you have with a degree in Exercise Science?
Many graduates of Exercise Science degrees go on to pursue careers as Personal Trainers or Strength and Conditioning coaches. With this degree, students can work at private fitness studios, corporate offices, or even with a professional or collegiate athletic team. Fitness professionals design short and long-term fitness plans according to the goals of their clients or coaches. They then help motivate their athletes to adhere to the plans by using coaching strategies and sport psychology.
Athletic Trainers are medical providers with a unique understanding of the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injury. They are often the most consistent medical provider for athletes at high school, collegiate, and professional teams. However, they can also work in clinics acting as physician extenders, with theater and dance companies such as Cirque de Soleil, and in corporate settings preventing workplace injury. Since a Master’s degree is required to take the licensing exam, many undergraduates major in Exercise Science while completing the observational hours necessary to apply to graduate school.
Exercise Science Researcher
Many students in Exercise Science degrees end up enjoying the research aspect so much that they pursue this as a career. Typically, an Exercise Science researcher works in a lab that specializes in a specific area, such as exercise as a cancer treatment, recovery from ACL tears, or the treatment and management of concussion. This allows students to pursue their niche field of interest in a collaborative learning environment of people with the same goal. Typically, researchers are responsible for designing studies, recruiting participants, collecting data, and analyzing data.
Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist
Students who want to enter the healthcare setting right away often enjoy the Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist role. Individuals in this field work in conjunction with a cardiologist to support patients recovering from cardiac pathologies. They are often responsible for the designing and maintenance of exercise programs to help patients safely return to activity. They have a deep understanding of biometric software and exercise physiology in order to monitor and progress their patients in the safest way possible.
Coaches are responsible for much more than motivating their athletes, therefore, Exercise Science graduates have the advantage of understanding optimal human movement when designing coaching plans. Coaches are responsible for creating practice and game strategies that allow for the best performance and recovery of their athletes. Moreover, when athletes are injured, it is important that coaches use their Exercise Science knowledge to understand the degree of injury. Lastly, coaches are responsible for recruiting athletes and assistant coaches, which is made easier when they show foundational knowledge of athletic performance.