Online exercise science degrees can allow you to channel your passion for physical activity into a fulfilling career.
Exercise science professionals help clients and patients improve their health, physical fitness, sports performance, and overall well-being. The demand for experts in this field has surged recently as Americans increasingly recognize the value of exercise and recreational sports.
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Earning an exercise science bachelor degree online can unlock many exciting job opportunities in healthcare, fitness, leisure, and other areas.
Online Exercise Science Degrees
Exercise science is an interdisciplinary field that draws on biomechanics, kinesiology, nutrition, physical education, and other disciplines. Specialists in this field use scientific approaches to investigate how diet, fitness, and physical activity affect the human body and movement.
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An online bachelor’s degree in exercise science can help you develop expertise in fitness and learn about the human body’s inner workings. You can expect to take courses on a broad range of challenging yet fascinating topics, including:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Exercise Biochemistry
- Exercise program design
- Health psychology
- Human movement
- Injury care and prevention
- Obesity and other health disorders
- Public health
- Sociology of health
- Strength training
Your online program may also require you to participate in clinical lab experiences or an internship. These valuable hands-on learning opportunities enable you to apply your skills in job settings.
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.
Additionally, a bachelors degree in exercise science can prepare you for graduate school. For example, some exercise science majors earn master’s degrees to become physician assistants. You could also pursue a graduate degree in athletic training, physical therapy, and similar fields.
Common Online Exercise Science Degrees
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:
- Associates Degree in Exercise Science: 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.
- Bachelors Degree in Exercise Science: A Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) takes about 4 years to complete. With a BS, 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 or an entry- to mid-level position in fitness.
- Masters Degree in Exercise Science: This degree involves the advanced study of the application and research of the movement sciences, as well as an internship and/or research project. The program will take 1-2 years to complete. An exercise science master’s program will help you secure mid-to-high-level positions.
- Doctorate Degree in Exercise Science: 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.
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.
Exercise Science Careers & Salaries
A Bachelor of Exercise Science online degree may open the door to a range of satisfying career opportunities. Many people who earn this degree want to work directly with clients or students in recreational fitness settings. You may find these positions in colleges, corporations, fitness centers, gyms, nonprofit organizations, schools, and training facilities.
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Other graduates use their degrees in fitness to help patients improve their health and manage illnesses or injuries. Potential employers in the healthcare industry include hospitals, occupational therapy offices, physical therapy clinics, and rehabilitation centers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here are the median annual salaries of potential career paths where you can apply your exercise science knowledge.
|Annual Median Salaries
|High School Teachers
|Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides
|Fitness Trainers and Instructors
|Coaches and Scouts
The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for many of these career paths will increase over the next decade. For instance, the demand for coaches and scouts will expand by 20% during this period, and openings for fitness trainers and instructors will grow by 19%.
Other careers with positive job outlooks include physical therapists (17% growth), recreation workers (10%), and exercise physiologists (9%). An online exercise science bachelor’s degree could be beneficial if you want to enter a rapidly growing field that may have more job openings than some other career paths.
Exercise Science Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
Every college has a unique curriculum, but here are typical classes you may take while pursuing an exercise science bachelor degree online:
- Behavior Change Strategies: This class explores behavioral principles and techniques to alter health-related behaviors, like poor diet and sedentary habits.
- Biomechanics: This course focuses on biomechanical applications, concepts, and solutions to motor performance errors.
- Chronic Disease and Obesity: You’ll study chronic diseases like obesity and learn about behavioral, nutritional, pharmacological, and surgical techniques to treat these disorders.
- Exercise Prescription: This course teaches you how to develop safe and effective exercise prescriptions tailored to the individual needs of your clients or patients.
- Exercise Program Design and Management: You’ll learn practical techniques for overseeing health and fitness programs, such as managing business finances and designing athletic facilities.
- Health Fitness Management: This introductory course discusses guidelines and strategies for managing a fitness facility, focusing on practical topics like emergency policies, equipment safety, and operating practices.
- Introduction to Exercise Biochemistry: You’ll gain a foundational knowledge of bioenergetics, human metabolism, and the ways that the human body adapts to exercise.
- Physiology of Exercise and Aging: This class teaches you how to assess fitness and design exercise programs for special populations, including adolescents, children, older adults, and pregnant women.
- Sports Nutrition: This course examines the connections between health, nutrition, sports performance, and weight management.
- Strength and Conditioning for Health Performance: You’ll study exercising training approaches and theories used in aerobic and resistance training programs.
Many programs also require students to take general education courses in mathematics and the sciences.
How to Choose an Online Exercise Science Degree Program
Many colleges offer online degrees in fitness, so choosing the best program for you can be challenging. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you research programs:
- Class Format: You may prefer a particular online format depending on your learning style, schedule, and other factors. Busy working professionals may need the flexibility of asynchronous classes, while people who want to interact with their peers and teachers may thrive in synchronous courses.
- Cost: A college degree can be an expensive investment, so comparing the price tags of programs of interest can be beneficial. Enrolling in a more affordable school can reduce your financial stress and allow you to focus more on your studies. However, you may qualify for financial aid that can reduce your expenses, so you shouldn’t necessarily write off more expensive programs before exploring all your options.
- Hands-on Learning Opportunities: Many colleges offer exercise science internships and other experiential learning experiences. These opportunities can boost your resume and skills by enabling you to gain on-the-job experience.
- Specializations: Some online programs offer concentrations in areas like coaching and physical education. These pathways allow you to develop expertise in a specific area of exercise science, potentially making you more marketable to employers.
These factors can help you narrow the possibilities and identify the right program.
All colleges have specific admissions processes and requirements, but you may need to submit some of these common materials:
- Letters of Recommendation
- Personal Statement
- Standardized Test Scores (if required)
Most programs also require you to submit an online application and pay a fee.
Schools can receive regional accreditation if they meet rigorous quality standards. Accredited schools must provide excellent education and pass inspections by an external accrediting body.
Course credits transfer more easily between accredited institutions, and many graduate schools only accept students from accredited programs. Additionally, federal financial aid is limited to students at accredited schools.
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Visit the U.S. Department of Education’s website to learn more about accreditation and check a program’s status.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) assesses and accredits health education programs, including exercise science degrees.
Schools must pass an intensive process to receive CAAHEP accreditation, including passing a site inspection and complying with educational standards set by the organization. CAAHEP accreditation is a prestigious credential.
Many employers in healthcare, fitness and other industries prefer to hire graduates from CAAHEP programs. Enrolling in an accredited school may improve your employment prospects.
Exercise Science Licensure and Certifications
An online bachelor’s degree in exercise science can prepare you to pursue certificates and licenses, such as:
- Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT): You can earn this prestigious certification by passing an exam that tests your knowledge of four areas, including exercise techniques and program planning.
- Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS): This certificate demonstrates your proficiency in designing safe strength training and conditioning programs to improve athletic performance.
- EXOS Performance Specialist (XPS): This credential demonstrates your expertise in science-based approaches to improving human performance.
These popular certifications may help you secure a preferred position as a coach or personal trainer.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
You may be eligible for financial aid opportunities that can decrease the cost of your online bachelor’s degree in exercise science.
Many students begin exploring their options by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may qualify for federal or state grants or work-study programs. Your college may provide grants and scholarships for eligible students.
Professional organizations related to exercise may also offer scholarships. Finally, many employers offer tuition assistance programs for employees who pursue relevant degrees.
What is an Exercise Science Major?
An exercise science major is a degree program that focuses 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.
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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 prepares you for a wide range of opportunities to better the lives of others.
Should I Major in Exercise Science?
Is an exercise science degree right for me? This field shows diversity, with a wide selection of career options in a variety of industries, as well as great salary potential.
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 some people may 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 Can You Do With an Exercise Science Degree?
If you’re wondering, “What can I do with an exercise science degree?” it’s helpful to know your options. Once you have earned your undergraduate degree in exercise science online, you will have a number of options. You could:
- Get a job working directly with patients or clients
- Pursue a more advanced degree that will allow you to secure a higher-level position
- Become a certified personal trainer, group exercise instructor, exercise physiologist, and 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.
Is Exercise Science a Good Major?
Yes, exercise science is a good major for many undergraduate students. This major allows you to combine your love of physical activity with scientific knowledge and practical skills. This degree can be a strategic choice if you want to help people improve their health and fitness.
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A bachelors degree in exercise science can qualify you for many exciting jobs. Popular career paths include athletic trainer, coach, exercise physiologist, and physical therapist assistant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that many of these careers will experience rapid growth in the next few years.
What Jobs Can You Get With an Exercise Science Degree?
Graduates of exercise science programs may qualify for a wide range of careers in healthcare, fitness and recreation, entertainment, and other industries.
Many exercise science professionals work as athletic trainers, coaches, and fitness trainers. These experts work with clients individually or in groups to help them boost their athletic performance. They may work for athletic facilities or have their own business.
Other graduates choose to enter the healthcare field and secure positions as exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, physical therapist aides, or physician assistants. Some of these careers require additional education or certifications, like a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
Is Exercise Science a Hard Major?
The difficulty level of any major is subjective. As an exercise science major, you can expect to take numerous courses in the sciences. Many programs require you to complete prerequisite classes in anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physiology.
You’ll take courses in more specialized scientific topics like exercise physiology, kinesiology, and sports nutrition. You may also need to participate in clinical lab sessions, internships, and other hands-on learning experiences. Students with an aptitude for the sciences may consider this major easy, while other students may find the rigorous scientific coursework challenging.
How Much Money Do Exercise Science Majors Make?
How much money can I earn with a degree in exercise science? is a common question among graduates. There is a high demand for professionals with exercise science degrees.
Here are some jobs you can get with an exercise science degree and their annual median salaries:
- Physical Therapists: $95,620
- Occupational Therapists: $85,570
- Chiropractors: $75,000
- Athletic Trainers: $48,420
- Exercise Physiologists: $47,940
As you can see, by getting your exercise science degree online, you can have the opportunity to earn a very competitive salary. And, a more advanced degree can help you earn a higher salary when applying to jobs with an exercise science degree.
How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science Online?
The exact time it takes you to complete a Bachelor of Exercise Science online degree varies by program. If you attend full-time and follow a traditional 16-week semester, you can expect to complete your bachelor’s degree in 4 years.
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Some schools offer accelerated programs with 8-week semesters and summer courses. These programs can reduce the time it takes you to graduate. If you enroll part-time, completing your bachelor’s degree may take 5 or 6 years. Many parents and working professionals choose this option because of its flexibility.
What’s the Difference Between a BS in Exercise Science vs. Kinesiology?
Exercise science is a subfield of kinesiology. Here are a few significant differences between degrees in these disciplines:
|BS in Exercise Science
|BS in Kinesiology
Your professional goals can help you determine which degree is the best fit.
Is an Online Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science Worth it?
Yes, an online bachelor degree in exercise science is worth it for many students. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of human physiology and study fascinating subjects like biomechanics, psychology, and nutrition.
Graduates can pursue positions as exercise physiologists, personal trainers, physical therapy assistants, and more. The BLS anticipates faster-than-average job growth for many of these positions. For example, the employment of fitness trainers and instructors will grow by 19% in the next decade.
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This degree can be especially rewarding for students who want to share their enthusiasm for exercise and help people improve their health and fitness.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Exercise Science Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Abilene Christian University offers a BS in Health and Human Performance that can be earned entirely online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, including up to 17 elective hours. Courses are conducted in an asynchronous format, and there are several start dates offered each year. Potential courses include Nutrition for Exercise and Sport and Leadership and Management for Health Promotion.
Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
American Public University offers a BS in Sports and Health Science. The program is fully online, and courses are conducted in an asynchronous format. APU offers a mobile app that may be used to access coursework. The program requires the completion of 120 credits, and up to 90 qualifying credits may be transferred in. Courses start monthly and are 8 to 16 weeks long.
APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Arizona State University offers a fully online program for a BS in Health Science with a concentration in Healthy Lifestyles and Fitness Science. The program requires the completion of 40 classes for a total of 120 credit hours. Each class is 7.5 weeks long. Potential courses include An Exploration of Well-Being and Health Theory.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Online School Report named California Baptist University the #4 school in the country for an online degree in kinesiology. CBU offers a BS in Kinesiology that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 50 credit hours in the major. The degree can potentially be finished in just 18 months. Each course is 8 weeks long.
California Baptist University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Cameron University offers a BS in Sports and Exercise Science that may be earned fully online. There are also blended, flex, and hybrid options. The program can potentially be finished in 4 years. Courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters. A potential course in the program is Physiology of Exercise.
Cameron University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Concordia University—St. Paul’s CSP Global Program offers a BA in Exercise Science. The program is mostly online, but students do have the opportunity to complete an internship. The completion of 120 credit hours, with 44 credit hours in the major, is required to graduate. Six start dates are offered each year. A potential course offered in the program is Sport Business.
Concordia University – St. Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Eastern Oregon University offers a BA and a BS in Health and Human Performance that may be earned fully online. Four concentrations are offered: Nature and Outdoor Recreation Programming, Community Health, Exercise Science, and Physical Education and Sport. Both programs require the completion of 180 credits and can potentially be finished in 4 years.
Eastern Oregon University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Florida Atlantic University offers a BS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a concentration in Exercise Physiology. The program may be completed entirely online but offers the option of on-campus classes. The program offers the opportunity to complete a 9 credit internship. It also offers a combined bachelor’s to master’s program.
FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Franklin University offers a BS in Exercise Science that can be earned fully online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, and up to 75% of the required credits may be transferred in. The degree can potentially be finished in just 20 months. Classes are 6 to 12 weeks long, and several start dates are offered each year.
Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Maryville University offers a fully online program for a BS in Exercise Science with the option to choose a concentration in Wellness Management or Strength and Conditioning. Students on a master’s track may also apply 12 credits to a graduate degree. The curriculum covers topics such as personal health, community health, and the care and prevention of injuries.
Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Methodist University is committed to helping students get an affordable education. The school offers a BS in Exercise and Sport Science that can be earned through an entirely online program. Courses are conducted in an 8 week, accelerated format. The program requires the completion of 124 credit hours, and up to 93 qualifying credit hours may be transferred in. The degree can potentially be finished in 30 months.
Methodist University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Park University offers a fully online degree program in sport and exercise science. It offers concentrations in exercise physiology, fitness management, health promotion, and sports performance. There are several start dates offered throughout the year, with two or more sessions per term. The program requires the completion of an internship.
Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Pennsylvania Western University—California’s Global Online program offers a BS in Exercise Science. The program does not require campus visits. Students are not required to come to campus. The completion of 120 credit hours is needed to graduate, which can potentially be done in just 3 years. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format.
Pennsylvania Western University – California is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University offers a BS in Exercise Studies. The program is offered through the school’s kinesiology department. It requires the completion of 120 credit hours, including 43 hours in the major. The degree can typically be finished in 4 years.
SWOSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Tarleton State University offers a BS in Kinesiology. The program is available online and on campus. It offers six concentrations, including Fitness, Athletic, and Strength Training and Exercise and Sport Studies. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours and can potentially be finished in 4 years. Classes are 8 to 16 weeks long.
Tarleton State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Best Health Degrees named Tulane University as having one of the 25 best bachelor’s for exercise science and kinesiology. Tulane’s BS in Exercise Science can be earned on-campus and online. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours, 40 of which must be in the major. Potential courses include Exercise and Sport Psychology and Biomechanics.
Tulane University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Best Health Degrees named the University of Kansas as having one of the best online bachelor’s in kinesiology and exercise science. The University of Kansas’s online degree completion program offers a BS and a BAS in Exercise Science. Both degrees require the completion of 120 credit hours, including 51 in the major.
The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
EdSmart ranked the University of North Dakota as the ninth-best online college in the country. UND offers a BS in Kinesiology that can be earned entirely online. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format. The program requires the completion of 120 credit hours and can potentially be finished in 4 years. Courses start in the fall, spring, and summer.
UND is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Saint Mary offers a fully online degree completion program for a BS in Exercise Science. It can potentially be completed in 2 years. There are up to five start dates offered each year. The program is designed to provide the same degree as its on-campus counterpart and prepare students for certifications.
The University of Saint Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
The University of Wisconsin—Whitewater offers a Bachelor’s in Human Performance that can be earned fully online. The program offers four minors, including Strength and Performance. Courses follow a semester schedule with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. There are short sessions in the winter and summer.
UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelors in Exercise Science Degree Online
There are many schools that offer excellent programs to study exercise science online. 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, programs leading to online degrees in exercise science and online fitness degrees may be a great choice for you.