Online Masters Degree in Kinesiology: Program Overview

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Kinesiology is the study of human movement, and degrees in the subject qualify individuals for work in various athletic and exercise related fields. Master's degree programs in kinesiology are available fully online or in hybrid formats that require some on-campus coursework, though neither option is very common. Many programs are designed for experienced coaches or physical education teachers, and a bachelor's degree is a typical requirement for admission.

A master's degree is not usually required for entry-level positions in this field. Some employers prefer to hire fitness trainers and aerobics instructors with professional certification, but certification is typically not legally required.

Master's Degree in Kinesiology

Online graduate-level kinesiology students learn about human movement and how it relates to sports injuries, conditioning, first-aid, nutrition and training. Some master's degree programs also offer specialty areas of coaching or physical education. Typical prerequisites include previous education, experience and employment in physical education, teaching or coaching. A letter of recommendation or reference, letter of intent, resume and interview with faculty may also be required for entry consideration.

Information and Requirements

These online programs consist of approximately 36 credit hours and can be completed in 14-24 months, depending on a part-time or full-time schedule. Some programs are entirely online, while others require some in-person coursework. Programs may offer a flexible schedule to allow teachers, coaches and trainers to continue working, while concentrating more intensely on their degree when they are off for the summer.

Students complete assignments and take exams through a school's web-based system. Communication between teachers and students may take place through e-mail, chat rooms and discussion boards.

Common Courses

Master's level coursework in kinesiology varies by school and concentration; however, some courses are common to all online programs. Sports-related administration, values, psychology, ethics and laws are common topics of study. Requirements may include research studies and comprehensive examinations throughout the program or a thesis before completion.

Sports Psychology

Theories and research in sports-related psychological principles are the concentration of this class. Topics include anxiety, self-confidence, motivation, socialization, behavior, leadership and team unity. Psychological theories in injury and rehabilitation are also explored.

Administration, Management and Organization of Sports Programs

In this class, students learn skills in budgeting, designing, legal issues, curriculum, organization and management of athletic programs. Both school and non-school related sports program administration are also covered.

Values, Laws and Ethics in Sports and Kinesiology

The impact of ethical issues, personal values and legal concepts that impact sports programs are the concentration of this class. Emphasis is placed on evaluating moral viewpoints, reasoning and actions to develop personal opinions based on kinesiology and health theory.

Research Methods

Students of this class learn to use kinesiology research methods to survey, analyze and evaluate effectiveness in physical education and athletic training. Using library resources and other data gathering tools, reporting and presentation of results are also topics of study.

Career Information

Graduates with a master's degree in kinesiology are qualified to work in a variety of careers involving health, fitness and exercise. While many individuals choose to expand on their athletic training or coaching career, others move into executive and management positions in athletic departments, rehabilitation departments, fitness centers, professional sports teams and destination resorts. Salaries are going to vary depending on title, responsibilities and employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment growth of 13% for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors is expected from 2018 to 2028 (

Continuing Education Information

Additional education in kinesiology is available in doctoral degree programs. Certification for athletic trainers is available from the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) and is required by most states. To obtain certification, individuals must complete an athletic educational program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), provide proof of current certification or enrollment in an approved course in emergency cardiac care and pass the certification exam.

Master's degree programs in kinesiology are highly interdisciplinary, combining advanced coursework in exercise science, psychology and sports administration. Although online programs are hard to find, those that exist are ideal for experienced coaches/trainers or P.E. teachers who want to advance their education while continuing to work in the field.

Expert Contributor: Kristyn Blandford Kristyn has a master's degree and 11+ years' experience in health-related fields, including administration, client services, and clinical supervision.

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