Online Exercise Science Degrees

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Are you a fitness buff? Do you enjoy talking about health and nutrition?

Online Exercise Science Degrees

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Do you 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.

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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 prepares you for a wide range of opportunities to better the lives of others.

What are the Degree Options in Exercise Science?

 Physiotherapist working with patient

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 master’s 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?

Physiotherapist helping serious young sportsman

Once you have earned your undergraduate degree in exercise science online, you will have a number of options. You could:

  • 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 a certified 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 indicates that all career paths in this field will grow within the next 10 years.

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Here are some jobs you might consider as well as the degree you would likely need, the median salary, and the projected growth:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Physical Therapists $95,620
Occupational Therapists $85,570
Chiropractors $75,000
Dietitians & Nutritionists $61,650
Health Educators $48,860
Athletic Trainers $48,420
Exercise Physiologists $47,940
Recreational Therapists $47,940
Coaches & Scouts $38,970

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.

Is an Exercise Science Degree Right for Me?

therapist guiding his patient doing therapy

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 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 are the Best Online Schools for Exercise Science Degrees?

Physiotherapist in uniform using laptop at clinic

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.

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It may go by exercise science, kinesiology, exercise physiology, health and wellness, health sciences, and so many other names. There are many programs in this field that you may want to consider. 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.


Health center specialist helping woman recover

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 may be a great choice for you.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.