Exercise Kinesiology Degree and Certificate Program Info

Prospective exercise kinesiology practitioners can complete a bachelor's or master's program in kinesiology with a focus in a specialized area. Students may also complete similar study through a certificate program in a related field.

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Essential Information

Since certificate programs in kinesiology are extremely rare, students pursuing education in this field would mostly likely need to complete a bachelor's or master's degree program. However, students can find certificate programs in related fields, such as sports nutrition or kinesiotherapy. Both degree levels offer areas of specialization, and some bachelor's program may include training toward a teacher certification.

Individuals applying to a bachelor's program submit high school transcripts or their equivalent, while those applying to a master's degree program must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. In most cases, the undergraduate degree can be in any major, but preference may be given to those with a related degree. Due to the physical nature of this field, applicants should be in reasonable good health prior to applying.

Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology

Bachelor's degree programs provide individuals with comprehensive understanding in the movement and physiology of the human body. Programs also include training in the psychology and sociocultural components of movement, exercise and sports. These programs often allow candidates to choose a concentration within the field, such as K-12 physical education, health fitness or kinesiotherapy.

Available in both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Art formats, these programs generally take four years to complete. In addition to a core kinesiology curriculum, degree candidates also enroll in a number of liberal arts or humanities electives. Below are some sample course titles:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • First aid fundamentals
  • Fitness tests and measurements
  • Human motor development
  • Athletic injuries

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Sport and Fitness Management
  • Sports Medicine

Master's Degree in Kinesiology

Master's programs are often multidisciplinary in nature and involve courses from a variety of fields. In addition to having a bachelor's degree to apply, candidates may need to submit graduate test scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay for admission to these programs. Once admitted, students can choose a concentration, such as sports medicine and injury studies or exercise physiology and nutrition.

A curriculum is then designed around the concentration in consultation with a graduate adviser. Programs are available in thesis or non-thesis tracks and can be completed in two years of full-time study. These programs generally employ a content-specific curriculum with few or no elective requirements outside the major. Exact courses vary depending on the chosen concentration. Below are some sample course titles:

  • Motor learning
  • Sports performance nutrition
  • Exercise physiology
  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Biomechanics of human movement

Popular Career Options

The exact career path open to graduates of kinesiology bachelor's degree programs will depend largely on the concentration or subspecialty of their studies. Some sample job titles include:

  • Athletic trainer
  • Fitness consultant
  • K-12 physical education teacher

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates of kinesiology degree programs may find themselves eligible for a wide array of positions, ranging from high school athletic administrator to sports trainer. Wage and salary information varies widely depending on the type of employment pursued. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors was $36,160 as of May 2015 ( The BLS reported that these jobs were predicted to experience an 8% growth from 2014-2024, which is as fast as the national average.

Continuing Education Information

Students may go on to complete a graduate certificate program in a related field, such as sports nutrition or kinesiotherapy. These certificate programs may allow sports exercise practitioners to offer additional specialized services to clients, customers or students.

For those who want to continue their education beyond the master's degree level, there are doctoral degree programs in kinesiology. These programs are designed to prepare individuals for research and scholarly careers in the sports exercise field. A Doctor of Philosophy in Human Performance and a Doctor of Philosophy in Exercise Physiology are two examples of doctoral degrees awarded by kinesiology departments.

Students with an intent to study exercise kinesiology and become fitness trainers and aerobics instructors may seek a bachelor's or master's degree in kinesiology, in addition to a doctoral degree or a graduate certificate in a similar field. These multidisciplinary degree programs allow students to choose an area of emphasis and teach them about human movement with courses covering the physiological and psychological aspects of this science.

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