Best Online Kinesiology Programs

A bachelor's in kinesiology prepares students for high-demand careers in exercise science. Learn about the best online kinesiology programs.

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Published on January 12, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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Kinesiology studies the mechanics of human movement and how exercise, stress reduction, and mobility can impact overall health and well-being. A bachelor's degree in kinesiology prepares students to work as exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, and recreational therapists.

A bachelor's in kinesiology (sometimes called an exercise science program) typically takes 3-4 years to complete. Degree programs are available in person or online.

Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree can pursue a career in many different areas, including physical therapy, sports medicine, fitness, healthcare, and coaching. According to Payscale data from December 2021, the average annual salary for bachelor's in kinesiology degree-holders is $63,000 a year.

Read on to learn more about these degrees and why kinesiology graduates are in high demand today.

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

Kinesiology students learn the science behind how people's bodies move. It's a growing field of study where graduates can use their knowledge to:

Kinesiology students delve into a variety of topics. These programs are a good fit for learners with a deep interest in physical sciences, including biology and human anatomy. Students who go into this major should expect to learn about chemistry and physics, along with sports biomechanics and the psychology of exercise.

Most bachelor's programs take four years to complete and require around 120 credits. That includes general education requirements, as well as kinesiology-specific courses. Some accelerated programs, including online or on-campus bachelor's degrees, are available so that students can finish their degree in a shorter time.

Since kinesiology borrows from so many disciplines, many programs offer focus areas to help students get the specific knowledge required for their chosen career path. For example, a program might offer the following concentrations:

In addition to classroom learning programs, most kinesiology programs include lab work and an internship to apply knowledge in a real-world setting.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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

Human Movement Basics

This course delves into human movement in the neuromuscular, fascial, and skeletal systems. Covered topics include the physiology and mechanics of movement and how they are related to exercise, recreation, and sports.

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

In this course, students learn the different parts of the musculoskeletal system (bones, joints, and skeletal muscles) and how they work together to protect the body and allow a person to move in different ways.

Biomechanics of Sports and Exercise

This course covers external and biomechanical factors that influence movement and athletic performance. Students learn about linear and angular kinetics, torque and force, and biomechanical stresses that can put athletes at risk of injury.

Exercise Psychology

Exercise psychology is the study of how sports and physical activity affect a person's behaviors, along with the different environmental, individual, and social factors that can influence a person's level of physical activity.

Physical Activity Across the Lifespan

This course looks at how physical activity can promote wellness throughout life, starting as an infant and continuing through the geriatric years. The course also covers how physical and mental health are intertwined and how experts can promote physical activity.

What are Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Kinesiology Program?

Online and on-campus kinesiology programs usually maintain similar admission requirements. In recent years, some online and on-campus programs have decided to waive standardized test score requirements in an effort to open up admission to a broader and more diverse pool of applicants.

Application

An application is the first step to get into any bachelor's program. Today, most programs make their applications available online, where prospective students can fill them out and submit them electronically. Applicants can attach any required documentation in the application. Many schools also give students a way to track their application after submitting it and see their status online.

Test Scores

Applicants may also need to submit ACT or SAT scores. However, many schools, especially online programs, decided to waive standardized testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are making that permanent as they reevaluate other options for evaluation.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation from high school teachers, supervisors, coaches, or other mentors can help admissions departments get a better sense of who the applicant is beyond their test scores and GPA.

Essays

Some programs require that students submit a personal essay reflecting on their life experiences. Others request a statement of purpose, which is an explanation of why the applicant is interested in the program and what they want to do upon graduation.

Official Transcripts

All online and on-campus programs require applicants to submit an official transcript showing the completion of any prerequisites, such as a high school or GED diploma. Students transferring credits from another college or university need official transcripts from those programs.

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

Career Outlook

One of the benefits of a kinesiology degree is the versatility it offers to graduates. Kinesiology can lead to many different careers in fitness, healthcare, nutrition, and teaching. Students can also go on to get a master's degree or pursue a doctoral degree for more advanced careers related to kinesiology, including becoming a physical therapist or physician.

Kinesiology professionals are in high demand because they have extensive training in human anatomy and movement. The expertise students gain in a kinesiology program is increasingly important because it factors in several components of wellness, including:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% job growth for exercise physiologists between 2020 and 2030. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $50,280 as of May 2020.

See where a bachelor's degree in kinesiology can take you. Learn about careers in sports medicine and exercise physiology.

Career Paths

Exercise Physiologist or Kinesiologist

Exercise physiologists (also called kinesiologists) create exercise programs to help patients recover after sickness or injury. About half are self-employed, but many work for hospitals and healthcare providers. They work directly with patients to improve cardiovascular function and flexibility and build muscle or lose fat.

Median Annual Salary: $50,280

Athletic Trainer

An athletic trainer works with athletes to prevent sports injuries and to diagnose and treat muscle or bone injuries that result from sports or fitness training. These jobs are available in a variety of settings, including public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and professional sports organizations. Trainers can also work in healthcare settings or fitness centers.

Median Annual Salary: $49,860

Dietitian

A dietitian helps people understand how to eat healthily and how to plan and cook meals that support their goals. Some dietitians or nutritionists specialize in certain areas, such as sports performance or weight loss. Becoming a dietitian requires a bachelor's degree and usually a state-issued professional license.

Median Annual Salary: $63,090

Recreational Therapist

Recreational therapists plan and coordinate programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses. They use different tools to improve both physical and emotional well-being. Many recreational therapists work in hospitals or nursing homes, but there are also jobs available with government parks and recreation or nonprofit organizations. A few states require recreational therapists to get a state license.

Median Annual Salary: $47,710

Adaptive Physical Education Specialist

An adaptive physical education specialist creates individual physical therapy plans for children or adults with motor development delays or impairments. They use many different techniques to help people improve physical fitness and motor skills and achieve specific goals in their physical, emotional, and social development.

Average Annual Salary: $50,410 (as of December 2021, Payscale)

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Continuing Education

Continuing education for bachelor's degree-holders in kinesiology depends on the career they pursue. Some students who get a degree in kinesiology or exercise science plan to go on to get a master's degree or doctoral degree. However, graduates are qualified for many jobs without any advanced degrees.

A bachelor's in kinesiology is a good prerequisite for the following advanced degrees:

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Kinesiology Program?

Cost

Average annual costs for a four-year bachelor's degree vary by the type of institution:

  • In-state public university: $9,580
  • Out-of-state public university: $27,437
  • Private nonprofit: $37,200
  • Private for-profit: $13,475

That breakdown doesn't include other costs like housing, books, and fees. Some online schools offer lower tuition than in-person programs. Online students can also avoid paying some of the fees related to on-campus services and may save on housing and transportation costs.

Program Format

Teaching styles and course formats can impact how well a student does in an online program. For example, the flexibility of asynchronous programs, which eliminate scheduled class sessions, can provide a better fit for working professionals. Other students prefer the scheduled consistency of synchronous programs, where they can attend live online lectures.

Other options for online programs include the ability to attend full time or take an accelerated program and finish quickly. Some students prefer to enroll part time while meeting professional or familial responsibilities.

Location

One benefit of online bachelor's programs is the ability to take classes from anywhere without relocating to a new city or state. However, some online kinesiology programs may require students to attend lab classes or certain seminars in person or on campus. Programs that require an internship may also be restricted to certain geographic areas where internships are available.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools complete to prove that they meet academic standards. Public universities and some nonprofit universities are regionally accredited. Many for-profit universities are nationally accredited. Accreditation is important, as students who attend schools that do not hold regional accreditation cannot receive federal financial aid.

Student Support

Most universities offer student services, which include advising, mentorship, and career services. Some schools also provide additional services like internship assistance, tutoring, and alumni relations to help students connect with professionals who graduated from the same program. Even online programs can offer these services, although most are virtual instead of in person.

Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Kinesiology Programs

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Best Online Bachelor's in Kinesiology Programs

  1. California Baptist University
    Location

    Riverside, CA

    An online bachelor's degree in kinesiology from CBU can be completed in less than two years. Classes prepare students for the certification exams from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. Admission requirements include a 2.0 GPA and a high school diploma or equivalent.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $613
    • Program Length: 18 months
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 50
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: N/A
    • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission
  2. Concordia University-Saint Paul
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    CSP does not offer a specific degree in kinesiology but does offer an online bachelor of arts degree in exercise science which includes an understanding of the principles and concepts of kinesiology.

    This program requires a high school diploma or equivalent with a 2.0 GPA. Students will also need to submit an essay or need to have earned 20 college credits. After graduation students can still take part in personalized career development offered by CSP.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $420
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 120
    • Degree Completion Program: Yes
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: N/A
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Kinesiology Programs

Is a bachelor's in kinesiology worth it? true

Bachelor's degrees in kinesiology offer students plenty flexibility to choose a career in a high-demand field. Kinesiology degrees provide broad knowledge in the study of human movement, which means graduates can pursue a career in many different sports medicine and exercise science jobs.

A bachelor's in kinesiology is also a good degree for students interested in going on to a master's or doctoral program or for students interested in attending medical school.

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

With a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, students can choose from various careers, including athletic trainer, dietitian or nutritionist, exercise physiologist, personal trainer, physical therapy assistant, sports performance consultant, and strength and conditioning coach.

Graduates interested in getting a master's or doctoral degree can use a bachelor's in kinesiology to get into programs for chiropractors, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists, physician assistants, podiatrists, and sports medicine doctors.

Are kinesiology majors in high demand? true

Kinesiology is a high-demand field because graduates have such broad knowledge in so many aspects of exercise science and movement. The program teaches students about the physical, social, and psychological basis for exercise, health, and wellness.

As athletes and individuals become more interested in pursuing a healthy lifestyle, fitness professionals with a background in kinesiology will be in even higher demand. The BLS projects 13% job growth for exercise physiologists between 2020 and 2030.

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

According to the BLS, exercise physiologists made a median annual salary of $50,280 in May 2020. The top 10% of earners in this field made a median annual salary of more than $78,170 as of May 2020, while the bottom 10% earned less than $36,070. Students who choose to go on to medical school or to a master's or doctoral program can expect to make a much higher salary.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in kinesiology? true

The highest-paying positions available with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology are dietitians and nutritionists. According to the BLS, these professionals made a median annual salary of $63,090 in May 2020.

Dietitians and nutritionists help people understand how to eat for a healthy lifestyle, or how to eat a diet specific to certain goals and outcomes. For example, nutritionists can advise athletes on the best diet to optimize athletic performance or advise individuals on healthy eating to lose weight.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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