The Guide to Online Bachelor’s in Kinesiology and Exercise Science Programs

Are you seeking an education that focuses on subjects like nutrition, biometrics or pathology? Are you interested in anatomy, physiology and overall well-being? If so, a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology may be the right educational path for you. When you become a kinesiologist, you provide services that could enhance the health and wellness of your clients.

Being able to promote the importance of good health through client work and education could be very valuable. You can find some kinesiology applications in physical education, health promotion, rehabilitation and in the workplace. If you’re interested in learning more about getting a kinesiology degree online, read on.

What is Kinesiology?

Sometimes identified as the study of body movement, Britannica defines kinesiology as the “scientific study of the mechanics and anatomy of human movement and their roles in promoting health and reducing disease.” 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of the world’s adolescent population does not get enough exercise. With a degree in kinesiology, you can teach others the importance of physical activity, not just exercise, but of body movement and how it affects health and well-being.

Kinesiology vs. Exercise Science

Although often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between kinesiology and exercise science. The broad field of kinesiology focuses on movement, function and performance, and how movement affects a person’s health. Exercise science is a subfield of kinesiology that concentrates on human response and how it adjusts to exercise and the underlying processes that affect exercise.

Kinesiology vs. Physiology

Exercise physiology, like exercise science, is a specialization within the field of kinesiology. Exercise physiologists study how the body responds to physical activity and how it adapts to physical activity over time.

Can You Earn a Kinesiology Degree Online?

Yes, many colleges and universities offer an online kinesiology degree program, the most common being bachelor’s and master’s healthcare degrees. Although typical kinesiology programs range from certificate to Ph.D. level, not all are available in an online format. Depending on the school, degrees may require on-campus visits.

Online Kinesiology Degree Program Admission Requirements

Before you apply to a university or college, you should have graduated from high school or passed the General Education Development (GED) test. As part of the application process, you may need the following:

  • High school transcript or GED completion certificate.
  • Test scores from the SAT, ACT or TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills), depending on the school’s requirements.
  • Results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if applicable.
  • A completed admissions application, which will include a personal essay or statement. Some applications will give you a specific prompt. You should include the reasons you want to pursue kinesiology or exercise science, examples from your life that show how you overcame a hardship, any volunteer or work experience that demonstrates your interests, and anything you believe will make you stand out.
  • Recommendation letters from teachers, especially those in relevant subjects such as biology, health sciences, nutrition, etc.
  • History of volunteer experience, especially in healthcare fields, if applicable.
  • Your application fee (varies by school).
  • Interview. In some cases, a personal interview is part of the process. 

Kinesiology Online Program Curriculum

Courses that are likely to appear in an online bachelor of kinesiology program include core physiology instruction such as:

  • Kinesiology
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Sports Medicine and Injury Prevention
  • Fundamentals of Training and Sports Conditioning

In addition to any required general courses, such as English or history, these classes would make up your bachelor’s degree program. Although some programs may offer specialization in certain areas, such as health and wellness or exercise physiology, you should expect biology, nutrition, human anatomy and physiology to be included in your core kinesiology courses. 

It is also common for kinesiology students to complete an internship at a health or sports facility. Kinesiology students will often need to complete 1,000 clinical internship hours in kinesiotherapy to graduate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Some kinesiology degree programs, especially graduate degrees, can focus on a specialization such as physical education, sports administration, coaching or athletic training. Classwork may include sports psychology, Injury assessment, elementary physical education, program development and exercise physiology. 

In any case, both undergraduate and graduate degrees require elective courses and either an internship, independent study or clinical work, or a combination of the three. 

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology Concentrations

Explore these common kinesiology concentrations. Keep in mind that different schools will offer different specializations and courses. The following list provides examples of kinesiology concentrations:

Exercise Science Concentration

This concentration prepares a student for advanced study in biometrics, exercise physiology, motor control and learning. It provides the knowledge and practical experience for a career in exercise science and research. 

Classwork may include Motor Control and Movement Dysfunction, Environmental Exercise Physiology and Biomechanical Analysis of Human Movement.

Clinical Movement Science Concentration

Students interested in pursuing a graduate program or career in clinical or in exercise and allied health (occupational therapist, physical therapist, athletic trainer chiropractor and clinical exercise physiologist) would find this an appropriate concentration. 

Courses may encompass Integrated Human Anatomy & Physiology, Human Physiology, Principles of Strength and Conditioning, and Cardiovascular Exercise Testing and Prescription.

Gerokinesiology Concentration

A concentration in gerokinesiology provides the knowledge and skills to develop and teach various fitness and wellness classes, rehabilitation programs for older adults and personalized training. This option prepares students for advanced study in related allied health professions.

Coursework may include Functional Performance Assessment and Programming for Older Adults, Principles of Teaching Group Fitness and Physical Dimensions of Aging.

Sport Studies Concentration

This concentration provides knowledge related to physical activity and sports programs in athletic and community settings. Sports Studies prepares students for advanced study in similar sport-related areas.

Courses may include Techniques of Coaching, Legal Issues in Sport and Exercise and Pathologies in Sport/Exercise.

Recreation, Fitness and Health Promotion Concentration

Students seeking a career in recreation, physical fitness, worksite health promotion, corporate fitness and older adult fitness and wellness might enjoy this concentration. This prepares students for advanced study in recreation, fitness and health promotion. If this interests you, you may need to select either recreation or fitness and health promotion as your area of concentration.

Classes may include Legal Issues in Kinesiology, Introduction to Recreation and Leisure Time Physical Activities and Principles of Teaching Group Fitness.

What Can You Do with a Kinesiology Degree?

The American Kinesiology Association, a professional organization promoting the study of kinesiology, lists various kinesiology careers related to health, fitness, athletics and more. Your degree concentration will help determine which direction you should take. Here are a few careers that may be of interest:

  • Athletic trainers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Cardiac rehabilitation specialist
  • Recreational therapists
  • Occupational health and safety specialists
  • Physical therapists
  • Epidemiologists 

Kinesiologist Salary and Career Outlook

Because kinesiology is a broad, interdisciplinary field of study with many specialties, the salaries will vary. Here are median 2019 wages and the 2018-2028 job growth outlook for various kinesiology careers, as reported by the BLS: 

Why Pursue a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology Online?

There are many reasons to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. If you are new to online learning here are a few considerations:

  • Choice: Online education allows you to choose from a variety of schools that offer courses/degrees not available in your area.
  • Pacing: Whether it’s accelerated courses, full-time or self-paced, online programs offer you the opportunity to attend school at your own speed.
  • Savings: Since classes are virtual, you eliminate some of the costs associated with on-campus learning, such as housing and transportation.
  • Flexibility: Online classes offer a schedule that can work around your other commitments.

Last Updated July 2020