Kinesiology leads to fulfilling and rewarding careers in sports science, sports medicine, allied health, and wellness. Graduates of a kinesiology degree can become exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. They can also go on to become scientists and researchers who conduct studies and experiments.
This line of study can be said to have a bright outlook, as the number of kinesiology degrees awarded is growing by 1.48%. To put that into perspective, 30,750 students received this degree in 2019. More people are joining the workforce, too, as their numbers are increasing at a rate of 9.61%.
You can find out more about this degree, the requirements to enter a program, how much you should prepare for college, and potential career paths, such as different types of doctors.
Kinesiology Degree Table of Contents
- What is a Kinesiology Degree?
- Cost of Kinesiology Degree
- Kinesiology Degree Jobs
- Types of Degrees in Kinesiology
- Kinesiology Degree Requirements
- What to Look for in a Kinesiology Program
- Majors Related to Kinesiology
What is a kinesiology degree?
Kinesiology is an academic discipline that deals with the study of human motion and its various components, ranging from anatomical and physiological to neurological and psychological. The term is a combination of two Greek words: “kinesis” which means “to move” (Canadian Kinesiology Alliance, 2019), and “logos” which can be taken to mean “study.”
Therefore, an essential kinesiology definition connects to the examination of the way human bodies move and how muscles work. To that end, students are introduced to a system of testing that allows the identification of weak muscles. Once those are localized, then they can go about building a strategy to strengthen those (ECPI University, 2016).
What can you do with a kinesiology degree?
Holders of a kinesiology degree can become athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, epidemiologists, exercise physiologists, and massage therapists. You can also become personal trainers, occupational therapists, or hold administrative or academic positions in educational institutions. You can use your degree to become a sports journalist and a sports marketer as well. And should it be up your alley, you can proceed to become a registered nurse or a medical doctor (American Kinesiology Association, 2021).
Cost of Kinesiology Degree
Based on four-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions, the average kinesiology degree tuition is $7,344 for in-state public schools and $30,988 for out-of-state private colleges and universities. Knowing these figures may help you prepare financially for college.
How much does it cost to get a kinesiology degree?
The following table outlines the average costs of studying kinesiology, from the associate level to the doctorate level.
Kinesiology Degree Tuition
| ||Public In-State||Public Out-of-State||Private
|*Values are estimates.||
|Doctoral Degree|| $10,830||$17,270||$42,920
Is a degree in kinesiology worth it?
There are disciplines where passion plays a big role and kinesiology is one of those. In 2017, the reported average base salary for kinesiology majors was $40,000 (McCarthy, 2017). However, later data from BLS (2021) shows that exercise physiologists now have a median pay of $50,280 per year. So, if you are looking for something more lucrative, then kinesiology may not be worth it for you. But if you enjoy working with athletes and patients who need assistance with their fitness and exercise programs, then having a career in kinesiology would be well worth it.
Kinesiology Degree Jobs
As mentioned earlier, a degree in kinesiology opens to a wide array of occupations. You can become a private practitioner or you can be attached to hospitals or clinics. In some cases, you can even be a part of a professional or collegiate sports team as a therapist or a fitness coach. Later on, should it be the path you want to take, you can further your career by becoming a doctor.
Is kinesiology in high demand?
Kinesiology degree jobs are in demand because of their relevance, particularly due to the obesity epidemic and the rise in the value of sports and athletes (Candelaria, 2017). Additionally, baby boomers are entering their senior years. Thus, many require the help of kinesiologists for the long-term care of previous injuries and to aid them in avoiding further injuries. They are also seeking treatments for bodily pains caused by arthritis and other ailments (Lifemark, 2018).
As a result, the job outlook for physical therapists is 18% from 2019 to 2029. Exercise physiologists are in great demand, too, as the number of workers in the occupation is expected to rise by 11%. Occupational therapists and athletic trainers are on the rise as well, with the job outlook for these occupations sitting at 16%. Likewise, fitness trainers and instructors continue to be popular in this period by 15% (BLS, 2021).
What jobs can you get with a kinesiology degree?
- Exercise Physiologists. They look at the medical history of patients, especially with regard to injuries, to assess their risks when doing exercises. And based on their assessment, they come up with the best fitness and exercise regimen. Their work also involves the performance of fitness and stress tests using medical equipment.
- Athletic Trainers. Their main role is to apply protective or injury-preventing devices like tapes, bandages, and braces to athletes. As well, they assist in providing first aid or emergency care in case of injury. The job description includes planning and implementing programs to avoid injuries in athletes, too.
- Physical Therapists. Helping people who have injuries or who experience pains is the primary responsibility of physical therapists. They assist patients in improving movements and in managing pain. To do that well, PTs diagnose patients by listening to them or have them undergo a series of small tests.
What kind of salary can I earn with a Kinesiology Degree?
The average wage of kinesiology majors is $60,784 (Data USA, 2021). Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and chiropractors have annual median wages above the recorded average, though. Individuals holding those occupations earn $91,010, $86,280, and $70,720, respectively (BLS, 2021).
Types of Degrees in Kinesiology
There are four kinesiology degree types: associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate. Kinesiology degree programs at the bachelor level are more common, though. Meanwhile, those who have master’s and doctorate degrees in kinesiology or similar are either into research/education or are kinesiotherapists who wanted to take their practice further.
What kinds of kinesiology degrees are there?
1. Associate Degree in Kinesiology
Average time to complete: 2 years
An associate degree in kinesiology provides students with a foundation in the discipline. They will be introduced to basic knowledge and skills in the field as well as theory and strategy. Students will also encounter discussions in the history, research, and current trends in the study and practice of kinesiology (Saddleback College, 2020)
Of course, they will learn about human anatomy and physiology as well. In some cases, students will have courses in biology, chemistry, and physics. And as kinesiology majors, they may have first aid and CPR courses, too (San Bernardino Valley College, 2021).
Entry-level jobs: physician’s assistant, occupational therapist, sports manager
2. Bachelor Degree in Kinesiology
Average time to complete: 4 years
At the bachelor level, kinesiology majors will go deeper into human anatomy. This time, they will delve into exercise physiology anatomy. Students will have courses in applied exercise physiology, applied biomechanics, and functional kinesiology. Since assessment and record-taking is part of the field, they will learn how to do assessments and evaluations as well. They could also learn how to coach certain sports and individuals for personal training (UCF, 2019).
Entry-level jobs: corporate wellness trainer, cardiac rehabilitation therapist, athletic trainer
3. Master’s Degree in Kinesiology
Average time to complete: 2 years
Going into graduate studies in kinesiology allows a student to explore concentrations. For example, the Oregon State University (2021) lets you choose between biophysical kinesiology and psychosocial kinesiology. The former focuses on biomechanics, exercise physiology, and motor control. Meanwhile, the latter concentrates on motor development, sport and exercise psychology, and the sociology of sport.
As part of the acquisition of the degree, students are expected to conduct research.
High-level positions: clinical exercise physiologist, wellness coach, strength and conditioning specialist
4. Doctoral Degree in Kinesiology
Average time to complete: 3 years
A Ph.D. program in kinesiology prepares people for research and teaching in academia. Students will investigate questions about kinesiology while understanding more about the research methods that researchers use to answer those questions.
During the duration of their program, they will have in-depth discussions of athletic training and sports medicine, biomechanics, exercise physiology, motor control, and the psychology of physical activity. They will also learn more about the history and philosophy of sport (Penn State, 2021).
High-level positions: researcher, postsecondary instructor, research analyst
5. Certificate in Kinesiology
Average time to complete: 1 semester
If you wish to get a certificate in any aspect of kinesiology, such as coaching, fitness specialization or personal training, or athletic training, then it is possible (Mt. San Antonio College, 2021). These are designed for those who are not yet ready to get into an associate or bachelor’s program in kinesiology or for those who want to enhance their knowledge and skills for employment. Typically, these only take weeks or a couple of months but may last as long as a semester.
Entry-level jobs: athletic trainer aide, sports coach, personal trainer
Kinesiology Degree Requirements
To get into a postsecondary kinesiology program, there are certain requirements that you must present to the college or university you wish to enter. Most of these are general kinesiology degree prerequisites and should already be on hand. If not, you can easily contact the right offices to get the necessary documentation.
Proof of Graduation
Higher education institutions need high school graduate students to present proof that they have graduated. Typically, that would be a diploma from the secondary school they attended. If they enrolled in several schools over the years, then they should have transcripts from the previous schools as well.
Those who have previously graduated from another associate or bachelor’s degree program have to present the same proof.
You need to submit your transcript from your high school and previous colleges or universities for admission to a kinesiology program. The general acceptance GPA for higher education degrees is 2.0. If you do not meet the minimum grade, you may arrange to have additional coursework or be under probation to be accepted or to continue with your post-secondary education.
Since kinesiology is a science-heavy program, students must show aptitude in biology or related courses, particularly physics and chemistry. It will be to the benefit of the student as well if they have advanced high school courses in those subjects plus, English.
SAT or ACT score
The College Board has stopped offering SAT subject tests and SAT with essays. Therefore, students are no longer required to submit SAT scores.
On the other hand, ACT is still being offered. Each college or university may have differing score requirements for the ACT, so it is best to check with your selected institutions.
International students would have to show they have a good grasp of the English language for admission to any higher education institution. They can do this by taking the IELTS or TOEFL. Other schools may accept alternative aptitude tests, such as Cambridge English Langauge Assessment and Pearson Test of English-Academic.
Writing and Communication Skills
One of the essential kinesiology degree skills is the art of communicating with patients and possibly physicians. This is why practitioners need to be good at communicating—to make patients understand why they have to undergo treatment. At times, you may need to provide motivation to patients who are giving up to push them to continue. Kinesiology practice also calls for accurate record-keeping. Because of that, you have to be good at writing observations and progress reports.
Fitness and Health Knowledge
It may not be a hard skill, but to be a good kinesiologist, you need to have knowledge of health and fitness. This is something you will gain while you are in school, but trends change, and there could be new research after you graduate that could be helpful in your field. Thus, you have to keep up with scientific inquiries and check health trends because they may be helpful to patients. And in case those health trends are relevant to your patients, you can give them updated advice.
Research that can affect kinesiology practice is the use of kinesiology tapes. For example, the research of Andrýsková and Lee (2020) explored the use of kinesiology tape in sports. In their paper “The Guidelines for Application of Kinesiology Tape for Prevention and Treatment of Sports Injuries,” the authors noted the insufficient knowledge in the proper use of tapes, which makes it ineffective or can lead to undesired effects. To that end, the researchers’ study, published in Healthcare, offered additional insights into the use of kinesiology tapes, saying, “There is another particularly important and fundamental rule of kinesiology taping that is either unknown or not respected, application of tape for a maximum of 24 hours. Subjects should never wear kinesiology tapes for more than a day. There are several reasons for this time limitation. Skin troubles are the most frequent problems that arise due to excessive wearing of kinesiology tape.”
As a kinesiology practitioner, you should be aware of research such as this for the benefit of your patients.
Being in a kinesiology-related occupation may have you being on your feet most of the time. As such, you yourself have to be physically fit to keep up with the demands of your work. You will be working with patients who require your assistance in standing up or doing certain exercises, too, so it is best to be in good shape.
What to Look for in a Kinesiology Program
No kinesiology program is designed the same way. They could have different specializations or tracks or they could approach the matter differently from what you are looking for. That makes it important for you to be inquisitive to ensure you will be satisfied with the learning you will get from a program.
There are institutions that offer four specializations for kinesiology, such as the San José State University (2018). It has exercise and fitness specialization, rehabilitation science, inclusive physical activity in communities, and sport management and culture. Others like The University of Texas at Austin (2021) have six: coaching, disability studies in movement science, medical fitness and rehabilitation, strength conditioning coaching, community health and wellness, and health fitness instruction.
Accreditation is the measurement of the academic quality of a program. You can be sure that you will have the best instruction from an accredited program. There are several bodies that perform accreditation on kinesiology offerings by post-secondary schools. Some of these are the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education, the Committee on Accreditation for Exercise Sciences, and The Energy Kinesiology Association. These organizations have a presence online and you can check their lists of accredited programs and institutions.
A low student-to-faculty ratio means that students can have more engagements with their instructors. It also means they do not have fierce competition from other students for their professors’ attention when they have questions or require guidance for their papers and projects. These days, the acceptable student:teacher ratio in postsecondary institutions is 17:1 or lower. If it is higher than 20:1, then it may be a red flag as you will have a harder time getting academic advice from your professor (Grove, 2019).
Financial Aid Options
Colleges and universities offer scholarships and grants to deserving students who meet their criteria of eligibility. You will have plenty of competition for these so it is best to see what these are and what their requirements are as early as possible. In this way, you have a higher chance of being seen and chosen. You can also take out federal student loans or have a work-study employment arrangement. Schools and departments under which kinesiology programs are housed could have scholarships specifically for students in their department, too. These could be offered by alumni or donor organizations so you should check them as well.
Majors Related to Kinesiology
Laying Down the Foundations for a Kinesiology Career
There are numerous paths you can take when you become a kinesiology major. As mentioned above, you can choose from four to six areas of specialization. And if you are fortunate, you can carve your own study path, too, and take courses in different concentrations.
A career in kinesiology can be lucrative, depending on your focus. The occupations that earn the most are physical therapists, chiropractors, and occupational therapists. Others take home an annual pay of $60,000 or below. It can be an exacting job, too, as you will be dealing with patients who may be depressed because of their disability, injury, or ailment.
But you can become a researcher in kinesiology, too, if that is your cup of tea. This program can also help you prepare to become a doctor, in case you want to pursue a medical career. As well, you can explore trends in higher education to help you make a decision for your future.
- American Kinesiology Association. (2021). Careers in kinesiology. Retrieved from AKA.
- Andrýsková, A., & Lee, J. (2020). The guidelines for application of kinesiology tape for prevention and treatment of sports injuries. Retrieved from Healthcare, 8(2), 144.
- BLS. (2021, April 9). Athletic trainers. Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- BLS. (2021, April 9). Exercise physiologists. Retrieved from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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- College of Public Health and Human Sciences. (2021, April 6). Kinesiology master’s degree program. Retrieved from Oregon State University.
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- McCarthy, N. (2017, May 3). Infographic: The college majors that don’t pay off. Retrieved from Statista.
- Mt. San Antonio College. (2021). Certificate programs. Retrieved from Mt. San Antonio College.
- Saddleback College. (2020, June 9). Kinesiology. Retrieved from Saddleback College.
- San Bernardino Valley College. (2021). Kinesiology associate of arts transfer degree. Retrieved from San Bernardino Valley College.
- San José State University. (2018, August 1). Department of kinesiology. Retrieved from San José State University.
- UCF. (2019, May 14). Kinesiology (BS) – Exercise and sport physiology degree. Retrieved from University of Central Florida.
- University of Texas at Austin. (2021, April 26). Kinesiology and health specializations. Retrieved from University of Texas at Austin.