Kinesiology Degree Program Information

Undergraduate and graduate degrees are available in kinesiology, which is the study of movement in the human body. Get information on essential program requirements, typical course topics, and post-graduation opportunities.

Essential Information

Kinesiology degree programs are designed to prepare graduates for a variety of careers. Students interested in this discipline can pursue bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees. Bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or GED and offer concentrations such as exercise science, physical education and fitness management. Master's programs expect a bachelor's degree in kinesiology or a related field, and Ph.D. programs mandate a bachelor's degree and sometimes a master's degree. Some programs require the completion of certain coursework for admission, particularly in graduate level programs if the applicant hasn't completed a degree related to kinesiology.

Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology

Several private and public colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in kinesiology, and usually take 4 to 5 years to complete. Those enrolled study how physical movements can encourage health and reduce injury or illness, as well as how to identify injuries and create fitness or rehabilitation plans. In addition to classroom lectures, students may participate in hands-on learning as interns. Some common class topics include:

  • Emergency response care
  • Motor skills development
  • Nutrition
  • Human anatomy
  • Weight training
  • Athletic injuries

Master's Degree in Kinesiology

Schools generally offer this 2-year degree as a thesis and non-thesis option. Students participate in more specialized and advanced coursework in the theory and application of body movement. All types of physical activity are examined, including movement related to daily life, fitness, sports and work.

Laboratory training, teaching assistantships and internships may also be included in the curriculum. Some common classes include:

  • Advanced nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Qualitative motion analysis
  • Advanced teaching methods
  • Advanced exercise physiology
  • Aging physiology

Doctoral Degree in Kinesiology

This degree program prepares individuals to become university-level teachers or researchers within a specialized field of kinesiology, and typically takes 4 years to complete. Students participate in classroom instruction relevant to their specialty, and perform research in laboratories or other settings. They also learn more advanced research methodologies and present a dissertation at the program's end. Subjects may include:

  • Energy metabolism
  • Kinesiology research
  • Motion Analysis
  • Research and professional ethics
  • Grant writing
  • Pedagogy basics

Popular Career Options

Students with bachelor's degrees in kinesiology may work in a variety of occupations and settings. Master's and doctorate degree holders may advance in those careers or pursue postsecondary education and research positions. Some entry-level career choices include:

  • Sports manager
  • Coach
  • Athletic trainer
  • Physical education teacher

Employment Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for athletic trainers is expected to rise 21% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also stated that the majority of states require these professionals to obtain licensing or certification before they can begin working. Once employed, athletic trainers earn a mean annual salary of $46,940, as indicated by BLS data in 2015.

The BLS also reported that postsecondary teaching positions are expected to increase 13% from 2014 to 2024 ( Part-time and non-tenured positions are more easily attained than the more coveted tenured positions. Several factors influence postsecondary teachers' salaries, including location, school and subject. Those teaching kinesiology and other fitness studies earned an annual mean income of $66,090 in May 2015, reported the BLS.

For those who are interested in kinesiology, there are bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees available which can open up the way for a variety of career options.

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