If you feel passionately about helping others train, improve their fitness, and recover from fitness setbacks, an online bachelor's degree in exercise science may be the perfect fit. Earning this degree can help you find a personally rewarding, competitive position doing what you love. Alternatively, you can use it as a pathway to graduate-level study and a clinical career. Read on to learn more about what to expect when looking for an accredited online exercise science program.

What Are the Best Exercise Science Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Two:

Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
2 Concordia University, St. Paul Saint Paul, MN

Earning an online bachelor's degree in exercise science can prepare you take home competitive wages and work in a fast-growing field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 19% growth for athletic trainers from 2018-2028 -- a rate much faster than the average occupation in the U.S.

In most states, a bachelor's degree is the minimum qualification needed to enter the field. This degree signals to potential employers that you possess marketable knowledge and the skills necessary to succeed in the field.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Wilmington, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

UNCW's online bachelor's degree in exercise science features an accelerated delivery format. Learners proceed through a rigorous, competency-focused curriculum in seven-week terms. Six start dates throughout the year minimize downtime between acceptance and enrollment.

Course content mirrors the school's traditional exercise science program, introducing degree-seekers to the scientific principles that underlie contemporary approaches to health and wellness, exercise, and personal fitness. After engaging with a set of core exercise science courses, students can declare a specialization in allied health or exercise physiology.

Graduates can work in roles related to personal training, exercise physiology, and corporate fitness program administration. To qualify for admission into this program, learners must complete at least 24 credits of introductory science and mathematics courses while maintaining a minimum 2.7 GPA.


Concordia University, St. Paul

Saint Paul, MN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 59%

CSP delivers an online exercise science degree. Core courses in this BA program cover 49 of the degree's 120 required credits. Students learn about topics like human anatomy, applied nutrition, biomechanics, and exercise physiology.

The second half of the program offers valuable differentiated learning opportunities. Learners must complete a senior seminar designed to develop their leadership and collaboration skills. Participants also undertake an eight-credit internship, during which they apply and refine emerging competencies in a supervised professional setting.

Designed to appeal to adult learners seeking upgraded academic credentials, the program welcomes candidates with previously completed college coursework from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants to this bachelor's in exercise science program must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 for admission consideration.

Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Program Overview

The curriculum of an online bachelor's degree in exercise science covers the fundamentals of human movement and fitness. Students explore topics like basic anatomy, nutrition, and fitness assessment. They also gain a basic understanding of what a healthy human body looks like, learning about the procedures used to evaluate fitness as a specialist. Graduates are prepared to prescribe treatments to improve human fitness and help the body repair in preparation for fitness training.

Most careers available to exercise science majors require no more than a bachelor's degree. As such, many individuals do not pursue graduate-level study. However, the scope of an online bachelor's in exercise science stops at the basics for providing rehabilitation and therapy services. Professionals who wish to gain licensure as a physical therapist often pursue a master's or doctoral degree in physical therapy.

Common Bachelor's in Exercise Science Degree Courses

Applied Nutrition

This course investigates the impact of food on human health and fitness. Students learn to prescribe proper diets to clients undergoing rehabilitation, training, and/or therapy. Discussion topics include basic nutritional concepts, current consumer issues in nutrition, and international nutrition issues.

Functional Anatomy

Students gain a broad overview of human anatomy, with a focus on the musculoskeletal system's role in healthy movement. Coursework explores the nervous, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems and their relationship with the body's movement. Coursework also investigates the kinematic processes underlying common athletic activities and movements.

Exercise Assessment

This course prepares learners to prescribe specific regimens, exercises, and best practices for athletes based on findings from stress tests and fitness evaluations. Coursework covers indications, contraindications, and applications that professionals encounter in clinical exercise testing. Coursework may also investigate specific issues encountered when assessing special populations.

Health Psychology

Students learn to provide health education to clients in a way that holistically addresses their thoughts and feelings in settings relating to therapy, rehabilitation, and training. Topics may include cognitive techniques, such as journaling, role-playing, and relaxation techniques, as well as the behavioral components of emotion and action.

Sport Business

This course investigates the world of sport business, bringing a critical eye to how it impacts athletes' livelihoods and health. Students leave with a better understanding of how the business end of the sports industry functions. Course topics include accounting, finance, and budgeting as they relate to sport business.

Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Admission Requirements

  • High School or Previous College Transcripts

    Online bachelor's programs in exercise science require at least a high school diploma, along with transcripts of previous high school or postsecondary schooling. Some programs may accept applicants who earned a GED certificate in place of a high school diploma. Other programs may show preference for transfer students from an associate program.

  • SAT or ACT Scores

    Many schools require applicants to have taken the SAT or ACT. Students who meet certain academic achievement requirements can usually apply to waive this requirement. Some schools do not require standardized test scores, paying more attention to other aspects of an application.

  • GPA Requirement

    Online bachelor's in exercise science programs have varying minimum GPA requirements, although most schools only give consideration to applicants with a 2.0 minimum GPA. Some institutions may offer probationary admission to students with a GPA below 2.0, as long as their GPA stays above a certain level throughout the program.

  • Letters of Recommendation

    Some schools require students to submit 1-2 letters of recommendation with their application. It usually makes sense to ask a teacher or mentor with whom you have a good relationship. As a courtesy, ask recommenders at least a month in advance to give them plenty of time to write your letters.

  • Technology Requirements

    When applying to an online bachelor's program in exercise science, you should ensure you meet the school's technology requirements. Make sure that you can access the school's learning management system and that you know how to use your email and web browser effectively.

Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Career Paths

Students who earn online bachelor's degrees in exercise science can access a variety of job positions, such as exercise physiologist, rehabilitation therapist, and personal trainer. For the majority of these entry-level jobs, a bachelor's degree is the minimum education level needed to succeed. However, for more specialized work incorporating rehabilitation or therapy, employers may expect a master's degree or higher.

At the moment, there are no nationally standardized licensure requirements for exercise physiologists or personal trainers. However, various professional certifications are available for exercise specialists, such as the certified exercise physiologist credential offered by the American College of Sports Medicine. Aspiring physical therapists must apply for licensure wherever they practice.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a degree in exercise science worth it?

An online bachelor's degree in exercise science can lead to many entry-level positions and serve as a stepping stone to certification for a specialized, high-salary position.

What kind of job can you get with an exercise science degree?

Earning an online bachelor's degree in exercise science opens your employment options to many positions related to athletics, physical therapy, and physical rehabilitation. Graduates may work as exercise specialists in schools, hospitals, and community centers as educators, therapists, and coaches.

What is the salary of an exercise science major?

According to BLS data, athletic trainers and exercise physiologists take home median salaries of about $50,000 per year.

Are exercise scientists in high demand?

The BLS projects that the number of exercise physiologist positions will grow by 10% from 2018-2028 -- twice the average growth rate for all occupations in the U.S. Athletic trainers are projected to experience even more rapid growth. Exercise science majors can expect to find healthy demand for their work in many settings.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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