Kinesiology degrees, sometimes called an Exercise Science degree, are most commonly available at the following levels: Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate. Online degrees are available at all levels, but most common is the Masters in Kinesiology degree.
At its simplest form, Kinesiology is defined as the study of the mechanics of human body movement. Kinesiology combines scientific principles of biology, anatomy, psychology, and physiology with functional movement activities like sports, physical therapy, and strength and conditioning. Because of this combination, kinesiology and exercise science are used interchangeably.
There are a variety of directions students can take once graduating with a kinesiology degree, from fitness or athletic training to wellness coordinators and occupational therapists.
Are there online Kinesiology degrees?
Yes, there are multiple options for online Kinesiology degree programs. However, most, if not all, online programs are offered at the Masters degree level. Keep an eye out on this website for online Master of Exercise Science or online Master of Kinesiology degrees. We have multiple online featured programs with our partners that are currently accepting applications.
COSMA or NASSM Accreditation for Kinesiology Degrees
While there is a significant amount of overlap between Kinesiology/Exercise Science and Sport Management, COSMA and NASSM are primarily concerned with Sport Management programs which don't always go into the level of scientific detail that a degree in Exercise Science does.
Additionally, there are only roughly 50 programs that are COSMA certified at this time. The only COSMA accredited Master of Science in Kinesiology is at Louisiana State University which can be achieved on campus or online. There are other relevant accreditations that give several Kinesiology programs across the country a leg up when researching programs.
5 Top Accredited Bachelors Programs in Kinesiology
#1 Concordia University Chicago - Online B.S. in Kinesiology
This degree is conducted 100% online with rolling admissions and requires 128 credit hours to complete. At a per credit hour cost of $431 (including technology fee) this degree is $55,168 in total. Asynchronous classes begin about once a month with a low professor to student ratio and a tuition guarantee offering maximum flexibility. Transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 on a 4.0 scale are required for admissions along with a completed application. Classes include Health and Fitness Assessment, Health Risk Appraisal, and Nutrition, Exercise, and Behavior.
#2 Maryville University of St. Louis - Online B.S. in Exercise Science
This degree is conducted 100% online with rolling admissions and requires 128 credit hours to complete. At a per credit hour cost of $500 this degree is $64,000 in total. Students have two concentrations to choose from within this program: Wellness Management or Strength and Conditioning. This program is also recognized by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Education Recognition Program. Transcripts showing a minimum 2.5 on a high school 4.0 scale or 2.0 on a college 4.0 scale are required for admissions along with a completed application. Classes include Injury Care and Prevention, Current Health Issues, and Performance Coaching Strategies.
#3 California Baptist University - Program name
Again 100% online with rolling admissions, CBU's program only requires 50 credit hours to complete. At a per credit hour cost of $613, this degree is one of the most affordable at $31,000 in total. This program is accredited by a few different organizations including the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) and is a recognized degree by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). By being recognized by these organizations, graduates of CBU will be sufficiently prepared to sit for either certification exam should they choose to pursue one. Transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 on a 4.0 scale are required for admissions along with a completed application. Classes include Foundations of Kinesiology, Lifelong Motor Development, and Behavioral Aspects of Sport.
#4 University of North Carolina Greensboro - On Campus B.S. in Kinesiology
UNCG's undergraduate degree in Kinesiology is conducted on campus, though they do have a combined Masters/Doctorate program online. UNC Greensboro has an above average GPA requirement for admissions at 3.0. Tuition and fees are dependent upon residence: $7,400 per year for North Carolina residents and $22,500 for out-of-state students. Classes include Instructional Methods of Physical Activity, Critical Analyses for a Physically Active Society, and Lifetime Wellness.
#5 Concordia University St. Paul - Online B.A. in Exercise Science
Offered completely online with rolling admissions and asynchronous course progression, Concordia's program has the lowest credit requirements of the five featured programs at 44 credit hours. At a per credit hour cost of $420, this degree is the most affordable at $18,500 in total. Transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 on a 4.0 scale are required for admissions. Concordia St. Paul boasts the highest average salary among private Minnesota universities four years after graduation at an average of $57,700. Classes include Applied Nutrition, Applied Exercise Prescription, and a required Internship.
5 Top Accredited Masters Programs in Kinesiology
#1 University of South Dakota – On Campus or Online M.A. in Kinesiology & Sport Management
Offered both on campus and online, USD’s program requires 30 credit hours and can be taken part-time or full-time (at a full-time rate graduation is possible 12 months after beginning). Classes are on a semester schedule and applications are accepted until 3 weeks before the start of a new term. Transcripts from undergraduate studies, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose are all required for admissions.
#2 Liberty University – Online M.A. in Exercise Science & Wellness
Completed all online, Liberty’s program can be completed in as few as 18 months, requiring 33 credit hours that begin every 8 weeks. Cost for this degree is $565 per credit hour, just over $18,600 in total. This degree also offers two specializations: Fitness & Performance or Nutrition & Wellness.
#3 Concordia University Chicago – Online M.S. in Applied Exercise Science – Human Movement Science
Very similar to its Bachelor counterpart, this Masters is conducted 100% online. At a per credit hour cost of $490 (including technology fee). With a low professor to student ratio and a tuition guarantee, this program is ideal for those needing maximum flexibility. Students pursuing this concentration will be prepared to pursue the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) credential upon completion.
#4 University of the Southwest – Online M.S. in Health & Human Performance
This particularly fast-tracked degree requires only 30 credit hours towards completion but is designed for students currently working in or interested in pursuing health care careers. With an increasing demand for trained health care professionals who actively raise awareness and provide quality instruction to reduce health care costs and assist individuals in improving and maintaining their health, this degree is designed to send individuals out into the workforce to meet that exact demand. Courses include Neurological Basis for Motor Learning & Control and Diagnostic Tests & Measurements in Exercise Science.
#5 Texas A & M University Corpus Christi – On Campus or Online M.S. in Kinesiology – Sport and Exercise Science
Students can choose a thesis or non-thesis track with this degree program, which requires 36 credit hours, including 3 hours of a graduate research project capstone experience or thesis at the end of the degree program. Applications are accepted 6 times throughout the year and courses include Research Design, Sport Biomechanics, Sport Business, Statistics in Kinesiology, and Athletic Testing.
10 Typical Courses Found in Kinesiology Curriculum
Foundations of Sports & Exercise Science
The start of most degree journeys, students learn the basics of kinesiology and the sub-disciplines involved and create a personal development plan for the duration of the degree.
Emphasizes human anatomy and the role of the musculoskeletal system in producing different movements. Elements of the nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems are heavily involved as well as kinematic features of common athletic pathways.
The study of the interaction of humans with food. Elementary nutritional concepts are covered, as well as current consumer issues in nutrition, nutritional needs through a full human life cycle, and international nutritional concerns.
Focuses on exercise testing and prescription as they relate to stress testing and fitness evaluations. Indications and applications for clinical exercise testing and contraindications to exercise testing are also confronted.
Behavioral Aspects of Sport
A deep dive on the sociological and psychological impact of physical activity on people and their bodies. Psychological factors like self-perception, motivation, cooperation, and competition are examined and used as descriptors to illustrate the idea that sport is an institution of society.
Principles of Athlete Conditioning
This looks at the unique physiological and biomechanical basis of conditioning for different sports. Topics include bioenergetics, specificity of training, periodization, and administration and upkeep of a strength and conditioning facility.
Health & Exercise Psychology
Looks at aspects of psychology for understanding and explaining behavior in the context of exercise and sport including the ability to identifying high-risk individuals, counsel and refer individuals for help. This course also studies the relationships between psychological factors and human physical activity that affect achieving peak performance.
Current Health Issues
Addresses issues relevant to exercise science, wellness and sports medicine. The course provides a broad overview of the many dimensions exercise plays on health promotion, wellness, and sport including chronic diseases, socioeconomic issues, environmental factors, and epidemiology.
Management principles relating to facility design, budgeting, purchasing, marketing, fitness center program development and personnel issues in the field of exercise and wellness are the main topics of discussion in this class.
Topics include general terminology, concepts and principles of pharmacology specifically in the field of exercise science. Common dosage, ranges and routes of drug administration, contraindications, side effects and implications of various pharmacological agents are committed to memory. The range of drugs studied is wide including those used for hypertension, diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, cardiac abnormalities, CVD, cardiac arrhythmias, orthopedic problems and common illnesses.
7 Kinesiology Career Possibilities
A degree in Exercise Science and/or Kinesiology affords graduates a wide range of potential jobs and fields of work. The different sectors of work after degree completion mainly fall within the categories of Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Sports & Coaching, Nutrition, Medicine, Rehabilitation, or Teaching.
Analysis of a patient’s medical history to determine the best possible exercise and fitness regimen going forward is a primary function of an exercise physiologist. This career also involves developing fitness and exercise programs that help patients recover from chronic diseases and improve cardiovascular function, body composition, and flexibility among other key body functions.
Strength & Conditioning Coach
A S & C Coach is responsible for establishing and maintaining a strength and conditioning program for one or more sports, with the major goals of reaching peak athletic performance, reducing athletic injuries, and teaching sound fitness movement form. Training plans must be devised specific to the team being trained, monitoring of training sessions, evaluations of individual athletes, maintains athlete records, and possibly oversee other S & C coaches. This job also requires meeting regularly with coaching staffs to determine progress and next steps for the programming.
Somewhat of a mix between sports physician and physical therapist, athletic trainers work at either a school or with a team to prevent injuries before a game, evaluate injuries when they do happen, give emergency care or first aid if needed, create and supervise rehabilitation plans, and monitor patient injury, healing and recovery.
Whether it be within a corporate organization, on a college campus, or stationed at a resort location or on a cruise ship, a wellness coordinator plans and facilitates health and fitness programming. This includes classes, speakers, seminars, personal training sessions, and fitness assessments that all exist to promote healthy lifestyles.
This type of work involves treating injured, ill, or disabled patients through therapeutic style everyday activities. They help with the development, recovery, improvement, and maintenance of the skills needed for daily living and working. A working knowledge of mobility modalities is crucial to becoming an occupational therapist including wheelchairs, adaptive equipment, leg braces, and eating aids.
Creating nutrition plans to help the general public or athletes at all levels improve their health. Main duties of a dietician depend on the type of organization they work within but generally include analyzing the health status or clients, dietary goal-setting, tracking caloric intake and progress towards maintaining a balanced diet.
Working on a college campus, at a partnering hospital, or on staff with a professional team, a sports physician specifically treats athletes in preventing or recovering from serious injuries. A Doctorate in Medicine would be required in addition to your degree in Kinesiology as this is one of the most advanced career paths in this arena.