Best Online Exercise Science Programs of 2021

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September 1, 2021

Edited by Darlene Earnest
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Despite the many proven benefits of regular exercise, a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that only 23.2% of U.S. adults meet guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening physical activity.

Exercise science professionals can help turn the tide on this inactivity by creating individualized fitness plans and promoting everyday exercise routines.

An online exercise science program teaches students the science behind physical activity. Participants learn how to help future clients obtain top physical results while avoiding injuries.

Some graduates go straight into the workforce. Others use this degree as a stepping stone to a physical therapy, physician assistant, occupational therapy, or other healthcare-related graduate program.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Program?

Students pursuing an online bachelor's in exercise science should enjoy an active lifestyle. They also should want to help others achieve their health goals through exercise and good nutrition. To succeed in this field, you need good communication skills, a passion for fitness, and a desire to help people realize their potential.

Most bachelor's programs require 120 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Some accelerated options may be completed in three years. In addition, many programs culminate in a capstone project, field experience, and/or internship that can help students improve their skills.

Schools may offer a bachelor of science (BS), bachelor of arts (BA), or bachelor of applied science (BAS) in exercise science.

A BS track may meet the prerequisite for graduate studies in physical therapy and other healthcare programs. This pathway often includes more courses in research and science. A BA may provide greater flexibility and more classes that focus on the humanities. A BAS typically prepares students for direct entry into the workforce.

Exercise science programs also help students get ready to pursue certification from several industry organizations, including the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American College of Sports Medicine.

A few of the certifications available include certified personal trainer, certified sports nutritionist, and tactical strength and conditioning facilitator. While not mandatory, these certifications may increase job opportunities.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Program?

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What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Degree?

Graduates with an online bachelor's in exercise science often pursue careers as exercise physiologists, personal trainers, coaches, and wellness directors. The country's aging demographics and obesity epidemic contribute to the growing demand for healthcare professionals who are knowledgeable about exercise and nutrition.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 11% job growth for exercise physiologists and 15% employment growth for fitness trainers and instructors between 2019 and 2029. These professionals earned median annual salaries of $50,280 and $40,510, respectively, as of May 2020. Additionally, the top 10% of exercise physiologists earned more than $78,000 per year.

See where a bachelor's in exercise science can take you, and learn more about healthcare careers.

Exercise Science Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

2021 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Exercise Science Programs

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California Baptist University View School Profile Riverside, CA

Based in Riverside, California Baptist University offers a fully online bachelor's in kinesiology for students seeking a flexible degree completion program. This program consists of 50 major credits and typically takes students 18 months to complete.

Graduates can go on to work as exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, nuclear medicine technologists, and nuclear medicine technologists. Required courses include applied movement anatomy, lifelong motor development, and care and prevention of athletic injury.

This program meets the standards set out by both the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. Regardless of their location, online learners pay $613 per credit (as of August 2021).

CBU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Concordia University-Saint Paul View School Profile Saint Paul, MN

Concordia University, St. Paul's online bachelor's in exercise science serves degree completion students looking to graduate quickly. Consisting of 44 credits taught in eight-week courses, this program delivers all coursework asynchronously.

Required coursework covers topics like sport business; foundations of exercise and sports science; applied exercise prescription; and motor development, control, and motor learning. All students must complete an internship. Graduates often go on to work in coaching, health and wellness education, personal training, and rehabilitation.

Applicants must provide official transcripts from all previous schools with a minimum GPA of 2.0. All prospective students must also have access to a computer that meets CSP's technology requirements.

CSP is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Exercise Science Programs

true Is a bachelor's in exercise science worth it?

Students passionate about health and fitness often find that a bachelor's in exercise science can lead to a fulfilling career. These careers include exercise physiologist, coach, and wellness program director. This degree also can pave the way to graduate programs in occupational or physical therapy, athletic training, and other health-related fields.

true What can I do with a bachelor's in exercise science?

Graduates with a bachelor's in exercise science may pursue various positions in the health and fitness industry. Possible careers include exercise physiologist, personal trainer, recreation director, and health coach. Graduates can work in numerous settings, including fitness centers, hospitals, and corporations.

true Are exercise science majors in high demand?

The BLS projects 11% employment growth for exercise physiologists between 2019 and 2029. Demand may increase as practitioners turn to exercise and preventive care to help treat or avoid chronic diseases. The projected growth rate for fitness trainers is even higher — 15%.

true How much money can I make with a bachelor's in exercise science?

People with a bachelor's in exercise science reported to PayScale that they earned an average annual salary of about $61,000, as of August 2021. Wages vary based on a worker's employer, experience, position, and location.

true What are some of the highest-paying jobs I can get with a bachelor's in exercise science?

Recreational therapists organize treatment programs for people with injuries, disabilities, and illnesses. According to BLS, the top 10% of recreational therapists earned a median annual salary of $79,250, as of August 2021. Those who work for the government take home a median annual wage of $64,100. Additionally, exercise physiologists reported a median yearly wage of $50,280. Professionals who worked for the government typically earned higher wages, taking home a median salary of $75,740 per year.

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