If you are interested in the “how” and “why” of human movement and want a career in sports medicine, physical therapy, health psychology, physical education, or recreation, an online bachelor’s in kinesiology is a smart degree choice.
Kinesiology careers are growing rapidly as the health, fitness, and wellness industries continue to see high consumer demand. Here’s just one example of that growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the athletic training jobs will grow 16% from 2019-2029, with the median pay at nearly $50,000.
Another benefit? An online degree offers the flexibility to adapt your education to your timetable. You’ll learn from the same professors and be challenged by the same projects but with no commute and, in some cases, lower fees and less expensive tuition.
To help you start your search for the online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology that’s best for you, this guide highlights this year’s top-rated online kinesiology programs. It also answers common questions about earning your kinesiology degree online, details the curriculum, and showcases career options after graduation. Start your journey towards your career and online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology below.
School Spotlights: Top Online Kinesiology Programs for 2023
We’ve selected three top-rated online kinesiology bachelor’s degree programs based on critical factors, including affordability, accreditation, and flexibility. These leading programs will get you started, but be sure to look for our full list of top-ranked online kinesiology programs, coming later this year.
What You’ll Learn in an Online Kinesiology Degree Program
Kinesiology is the detailed study of the mechanics of physical movement. With this knowledge, you can evaluate the exercises and activities of others and teach them optimal motor skills to improve a specific condition or their general health.
While each online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology has different requirements, most of them have the same basic set of courses, topics, and learning outcomes. With that in mind, let’s explore some of the key skills you’ll learn in an online kinesiology program:
- Comprehensive knowledge of how major muscles, joints, and bones play a part in physical movement, and the ability to transfer this knowledge to different populations. For instance, you’ll learn how to apply this knowledge when assisting those who want to get fit or maintain fitness, premier athletes, children, and the elderly.
- The ability to conduct assessments on cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular fitness, flexibility, and body composition (fat and muscle), and then design programs specific to the client.
- Basic understanding of how select classes of pharmaceuticals affect exercise performance. For example, blood pressure medications often suppress heart rates, making it challenging to prescribe exercises that are based on heart rate.
- Competence in modifying programs to accommodate disabilities or chronic conditions such as cancer and spinal cord injuries. Common disabilities such as mobility challenges, cognitive difficulties, and vision impairment all greatly influence exercise programs. Also, chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes, are becoming increasingly prevalent and affect how to optimize exercise programs.
- Proficiency in researching, synthesizing, and communicating results to clients so they know you are basing your analysis on evidence, not opinions.
FAQs About Online Kinesiology Degrees
How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s in kinesiology online?
The timeframe for completing an online kinesiology bachelor’s degree varies widely. More minimalist programs can be completed in 16 months. Online programs that mirror on-site programs take from two to four years. Some schools offer accelerated programs, particularly when combining a bachelor’s with a master’s. The number of credits you transfer from other learning institutions and whether you are attending part- or full-time also affects the amount of time it takes.
What are the admissions requirements for an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology?
Generally speaking, an applicant for an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology needs the following:
- Completed application form
- Minimum GPA of 2.5
- Official high school or college transcripts
- TOEFL or IELTS score if you aren’t a native English speaker
Many, but not all, institutions require ACT or SAT scores. Even if the school does not require it, if you have a high ACT or SAT score, be sure to include it in your submission.
Higher learning institutions look for kinesiology students who challenge themselves in high school with demanding coursework, particularly in the sciences. Applicants are strongly advised to complete the following in high school:
- English–four years
- History and social sciences–three years
- Mathematics–three years
- Science–three years
Schools also look favorably on students who take two years of a foreign language.
How much do online kinesiology degrees cost?
Multiple factors affect the cost of getting an online bachelor’s in kinesiology. Even though it’s online, residency can greatly impact the cost by $200-$400 per credit hour. In addition, private universities generally cost more than public ones. Of course, how you are funded affects your financial bottom line. For instance, sometimes employers help pay for college tuition or books. Here’s a look at the tuition cost for three online kinesiology programs to give you an idea of what you’ll pay.
California Baptist University
Total Credits: 50
East Central University
Total Credits: 124
$264/credit Oklahoma residents
University of Louisiana at Lafayette, School of Kinesiology
Total Credits: 120
Can I earn my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology completely online?
Yes, you’ll find multiple kinesiology programs that are completely online. That said, some schools require one or more proctored tests where in-person attendance is mandatory. In addition, there are a few hybrid programs that either require or offer in-person practicums.
What’s the difference between a kinesiology degree and an exercise science degree?
The difference between a kinesiology degree and an exercise science degree can be confusing, but the distinction is important when planning your career path.
- Kinesiology is the study of athletic and nonathletic movement of the human body. Common specialties are exercise science, athletic training, sports management, sports medicine, and physical education.
- Exercise science is a subfield of kinesiology that focuses on human response to exercise, human adaptation to exercise, and the fundamental physical mechanisms that affect exercise. Most exercise science majors work in the healthcare industry to develop exercise programs. To learn more, visit our online exercise science degree programs page.
Funding Your Online Kinesiology Degree
When determining the price of an online kinesiology degree, remember to factor in all costs: tuition, books, additional school fees, and any travel that might be required. Add up all the costs and compare that total to the sum of your available financial resources to determine where you stand. Not to worry, though, as most of the online bachelor’s kinesiology programs offer substantial financial assistance if you know where to look.
On any college website, you can find available scholarships and grants on the financial aid page (or just use the search feature). For example, the University of North Dakota Financial Aid page includes links to scholarships, grants, loans, and employment (work-study and internship) opportunities.
Accreditation for Online Kinesiology Degrees
Ensuring your online kinesiology degree is properly accredited in critical. Not only does it give you peace of mind, but it also tells both your prospective employers and clients that your educational background meets high-quality standards.
Credits from an accredited school are easier to transfer, which is particularly important if you plan to get a master’s or a doctorate at a different institution, and federal financial aid is only available through accredited schools. Finally, accreditation may open additional career opportunities, particularly if you work in the healthcare, recreation, or physical education industries.
When reviewing accreditation for your online kinesiology degree, you’ll want to check to see if the entire college is accredited (institutional accreditation) and whether the kinesiology program itself is accredited (programmatic accreditation). Institutional accreditation is the most important, but programmatic accreditation can also be important depending on the career you plan to pursue after graduation.
Because kinesiology is a broad field with many specialties, numerous programmatic accreditations could apply. Here is a list of some of the most popular programmatic accrediting organizations.
What Can You Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology?
An online kinesiology degree can take you into multiple industries, including healthcare, recreation, administration, sports, business, and education. These fields are currently expanding, with projections for continued growth. Why? Because while COVID-19 brought much of the world to a halt, it also brought awareness to our need to maintain health and fitness. Scientists know, for instance, that regular, moderate-intensity exercise is critical to strengthening our immune systems and in turn, to our susceptibility to contagious diseases. Now that the pandemic is slowing, people want to get out and get fit. They’re eager to return to their normal athletic activities and to try new ones as well.
Even before the pandemic, the Global Wellness Institute was seeing significant growth in wellness industries, such as in wellness communities. Similar growth is expected in both physical and mental healthcare industries since physical activity helps with the prevention of cardio- and obesity-related illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes. It also improves mental clarity and diminishes the ravages of mental illnesses by reducing stress and anxiety.
Moreover, as our knowledge about health and well-being grows, we are learning that exercise is not only a preventative measure but it can also be a cure to some illnesses. For instance, the Exercise is Medicine (EIM) network that started in the US in 2007 has grown into a global health initiative. This program promotes exercise as a standard in care centered on evidence-based physical activity resources, thus broadening the healthcare industry’s use of physical activity.
Understanding this growth potential, let’s take a look at popular careers you might choose as a graduate with an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology:
- Athletic trainer
- Exercise program director
- Exercise test consultant
- Fitness and wellness manager
- Outdoor education and recreation instructor
- Physical education (PE) K-12 teacher
- Recreational therapist
- Sports consultant
- Strength and conditioning coach
How much can you earn with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology?
With an online kinesiology degree, the career opportunities are wide and so is the potential for a solid entry-level salary. For instance, an entry-level personal trainer makes approximately $39,000, while a physician assistant makes up to $99,000. To see a few specific examples, here are the average salaries for some of the careers available with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
|Career||Median National Annual Salary (2020)||10th Percentile||90th Percentile|
|Recreation and Fitness Studies Postsecondary Teacher||$66,290||$33,140||$130,580|
Continuing Education Opportunities & Related Degrees
Given the wide choice of careers with a BS in kinesiology, it’s no surprise there are ample, high-paying opportunities with more advanced degrees. If you prefer to fine-tune your kinesiology knowledge, or if you are interested in different career paths, look at the options in this section to see if they are a suitable fit.
Online Resources for Kinesiology Students and Professionals
The accreditation organizations previously listed give volumes of useful resources and expert advice. We highly recommend you take advantage of the accreditor’s available resources. Then check out these additional helpful resources.
- American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT)
- American Kinesiology Association (AKA)
- American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM)
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
- Anatomy Arcade
- Essence Health and Wellness Training Kinesiology Resources
- Human Kinetics
- National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA)
- North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM)
- PlayerFM Kinesiology Podcasts
- ProProfs Kinesiology Quizzes and Trivia
- Quizlet Kinesiology Flash Cards
- Visible Body