Are you a fitness buff? Do you enjoy talking about health and nutrition? Want a degree that can help you help others lead healthier, more productive lives? An online Exercise Science degree might be the perfect fit for you!
What is Exercise Science and Kinesiology?
Exercise Science and Kinesiology are healthcare fields that focus on anatomy and the mechanics of body movement.
In this major, you can expect to learn about nutrition, kinesiology (the study of body movement), sports ethics, injury prevention and rehabilitation, anatomy and physiology, and fitness and wellness concepts, among other things.
Because the major is relatively broad, some colleges offer formal emphasis areas to allow you to further narrow your expertise within the program. For example, at Truman State University, an Exercise Science Major may choose between the following concentrations:
- Pre-Medical Sciences – Covers pre-chiropractic studies, pre-physical therapy, pre-medicine, pre-physician assistant, and related fields.
- Applied/Pre-Athletic Training – Covers biomechanics, exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, personal training, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and related fields.
- Sports/Recreation Management – Prepares students for positions of leadership in athletics, parks, and recreation, YMCA, aquatics, fitness/wellness, intramurals, outdoor recreation, and more.
- Physical Education/Health – Prepares students to teach physical education and health in a K-12 public school system.
Most paths within the Exercise Science and Kinesiology field are focused on helping others live an active, healthy lifestyle. Whether you are interested in developing safe exercise routines for asthmatics or pregnant women, rehabilitating the injured, teaching health and wellness in schools, or coaching top athletes, a degree in exercise science will prepare you for a wide range of opportunities to better the lives of others.
What are the degree options in Exercise Science?
You can find online Exercise Science degree programs and online Kinesiology degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.
Here is an overview of each degree level:
- Associate Degree – Both the Associate of Science (AS) and the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) are available in this field and generally take around 2 years to complete. These degrees would allow you to pursue entry-level positions in fitness, such as Personal Trainer or Exercise Instructor.
- Bachelor’s Degree – A Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) would take about 4 years to complete, and the two paths are quite similar. Both will require more core education and culminate with an internship or research project. With a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, you will likely be able to choose a concentration and gain specific expertise related to your intended career path. Your degree will qualify you for an entry-level position in healthcare (such as an Exercise Physiologist or Recreational Therapist) or an entry- to mid-level position in fitness (such as training, coaching, managing, etc.).
- Master’s Degree – A Master of Science will involve more advanced study of the application and research of the movement sciences, as well as a more intense internship and/or research project and presentation. The program will take 1-2 years to complete and allow you to further narrow your focus. An Exercise Science Masters Program will help you secure mid-to high-level positions in fitness, and entry- to mid-level positions in healthcare.
- Doctorate Degree (Ph.D.) – A Ph.D. is the highest level of education in this field, and the process will take 2-3 years. You will choose an undeveloped area of focus and likely be required to research, write and present a dissertation, which will take at least 1 year to complete. Most Ph.D. holders pursue careers in academics, either teaching or researching.
The degree level you pursue will depend heavily on what type of career you’d like to have. Keep reading to learn about your career options and earning potential so you can better decide what’s right for you.
What can I do with an Exercise Science degree?
Once you have earned your undergraduate degree in Exercise Science online, you will have a number of options.
- Get a job in your field, working directly with patients or clients;
- Pursue a more advanced degree that will allow you to secure a higher-level position in the healthcare field;
- Pursue a more advanced degree that will allow you to secure a position in academia, teaching or researching;
- Become certified by taking an exam through The American College of Sports Medicine (certification options include: Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, Exercise Physiologist, Clinical Exercise Physiologist, as well as a number of specialty areas);
- Become a licensed Physical Education teacher.
With so many different career options, an Exercise Science degree could lead you to work in any number of settings. You may be employed in a hospital, a research lab, a private corporation, a government facility, a school system, a non-profit organization, a rehabilitation facility, or a fitness center, for example.
How much money can I earn with a degree in Exercise Science?
There is a high demand for professionals with Exercise Science degrees. In fact, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that all career paths in this field will grow as fast or faster than other careers.
Here are some jobs you might consider as well as the degree you would likely need, the median salary and the projected growth:
|POSITION||DEGREE LEVEL||2019 MEDIAN SALARY||PROJECTED GROWTH|
|Coaches & Scouts||Bachelor’s Degree||$34,840||12%|
|Health Educator||Bachelor’s Degree||$46,910||13%|
|Athletic Trainer||Bachelor’s Degree||$48,440||16%|
|Recreational Therapist||Bachelor’s Degree||$48,220||8%|
|Exercise Physiologist||Bachelor’s Degree||$49,170||11%|
|Dietitian & Nutritionist||Bachelor’s Degree||$61,270||8%|
|Occupational Therapist||Master’s Degree||$84,950||16%|
|Physical Therapist||Doctoral Degree||$89,440||18%|
As you can see, by getting your Exercise Science degree online, you can earn a very competitive salary. And a more advanced degree can help you earn a higher salary.
Is an Exercise Science degree right for me?
Certainly, this field shows diversity – with a wide selection of career options in a variety of industries – as well as great salary potential. But it’s important to find a degree that suits you personally.
Exercise Science may be a good choice for you if you:
- Are interested in subjects like science, biology and health
- Enjoy working out and/or playing organized sports
- Feel passionate about health and wellness
- Like to work with and help others
While people tend to assume that Exercise Science is all about lifting weights and coaching sports teams, that’s simply not accurate. This is a field designed for individuals who are passionate about helping others improve their physical abilities, overcome injuries, and lead healthier, longer lives.
What are the best online schools for Exercise Science degrees?
There are many schools that offer excellent programs to study Exercise Science online.
As you begin your search, you should know that it can be tricky to find online Exercise Science degree programs because there is not a uniform degree name that all colleges and universities use. It may go by Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, Health and Wellness, Health Sciences, and so many other names.
Here are a few top programs in this field that you may want to consider:
- American Public University – Their online Bachelor of Science in Sports and Health Sciences offers concentrations in Coaching Studies, Exercise Science, Fitness and Wellness Professional Studies, and General. A Master of Science is also available.
- Liberty University Online – Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science online can choose from two programs of study: Fitness Specialist and Therapeutic Science. At the graduate level, Liberty offers master’s degrees in Exercise Science and Wellness and in Human Performance, each with its own set of specializations.
- Concordia University at St. Paul – Exercise Science students can pursue either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts The school also offers an online Master’s program, and a unique “3+2 Program” that allows students to earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s on a shorter timeline.
Other highly rated Exercise Science (and related) programs are available at these and many other colleges and universities:
Because there are so many names used for this field, be sure to take your time searching. You may also wish to speak to professionals already working in the industry to ask for program recommendations.
Exercise Science is much more diverse than most people would assume. An undergraduate degree can lead to a number of different careers in a wide variety of industries, or serve as a stepping stone to a more advanced degree in healthcare or academia. The field as a whole is growing and pays well.
If you’re interested in subjects like fitness and physiology, an online Exercise Science degree may be a great choice for you!