2022 Best Online Masters in Kinesiology Degrees

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If you are looking to pursue an in-demand career that focuses on the science of movement and the physical wellbeing of others, then you might consider earning a masters in kinesiology online degree.

Best Online Masters in Kinesiology Degrees

In a kinesiology masters program, you can further develop your understanding of health and fitness and prepare to apply this knowledge in a hands-on way with clients.

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This degree can also act as a solid foundation if you wish to pursue a health-related doctorate.

Online Masters in Kinesiology Programs

Online Masters in Kinesiology Programs

A Master of Science in Kinesiology can allow you to further develop your skills and understanding of health and fitness. You can also advance your skills in regards to the hands-on application of muscle development.

A masters in kinesiology allows you to combine a passion for the fitness industry with a compassionate career path in the healthcare industry. While you may choose to concentrate on a specific specialization for your masters in kinesiology, you will generally encounter some foundational courses. These can include topics like:

  • Research methods in kinesiology
  • Applied statistics in health
  • Advanced methods of strength and conditioning
  • Exercise and aging
  • Biomechanics of human movement

Online kinesiology masters programs can lead to careers in wellness, health, sports, and fitness, depending on your chosen degree specialization.

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You could find yourself working in a variety of industries where you can work one-on-one with clients. Kinesiologists often help others develop health and wellness plans, recover from accidents or injuries, or plan fitness strategies. Some kinesiology careers include:

  • Exercise trainer
  • Coach
  • Athletic trainer
  • Exercise physiologist
  • Group fitness instructor
  • Physical therapist

A number of kinesiology positions only require a bachelors degree. Earning a masters, though, can help you advance your expertise and earning potential in the field. A graduate degree can also help you become a more competitive candidate in this growing industry.

Physical therapists are required to hold a doctorate in physical therapy, but a masters in kinesiology can act as a stepping stone.

Common Specializations for Kinesiology Master’s Programs

Kinesiology Master's Programs

When researching kinesiology graduate programs, you may come across various specialization options that can focus your studies on a specific concentration area. Here are five kinesiology specializations you may encounter:

  • Exercise Physiology. You’ll study rehabilitation as well as individual and corporate wellness and fitness. This specialization focuses on exercise science and the relationships between health and wellness and external and internal factors, such as environment, stress, and more.
  • Sports Administration. If you’d like to pursue a career in the sports industry, you might consider a sports administration concentration. You can learn what it takes to work in administrative positions for secondary and postsecondary institutions as well as formal clubs.
  • Student-Athlete Development. This specialization is also applicable in the sports industry. You can learn how to work one-on-one with student athletes and help them strategize and build their health, wellness, and fitness plans.
  • Cognitive and Motor Neuroscience. Professionals in cognitive and motor neuroscience can work with clients from a young age through their entire development. This specialization can help you develop a clear understanding of the lifespan of motor skills.
  • Athletic Training. If you wish to pursue a career that focuses on athletic development and sports medicine, you might consider a degree specialization in athletic training. Athletic trainers can work alongside medical specialists and sports medicine teams to help plan and develop health and wellness plans for athletes.

If you choose to pursue a specialization, your career goals will often direct you to the specialty area that’s right for you.

Kinesiology Careers and Salaries

Kinesiology Careers and Salaries

Kinesiology professionals often find themselves working in roles where they are responsible for the assessment, treatment, and administrative duties associated with their patient.

They tend to develop health, wellness, and fitness plans, implementing the necessary changes to encourage the success of their clients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are a number of career paths that fall under the scope of kinesiology.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes $75,420
Athletic Trainers, Educational Services $54,140
Exercise Physiologists, Hospitals $50,390
Exercise Physiologists, Offices of Physicians $49,560
Athletic Trainers, Hospitals $49,030
Athletic Trainers, Fitness and Recreational Sports Centers $46,970
Athletic Trainers, Offices of Therapists and Audiologists $46,410
Exercise Physiologists, Offices of Therapists and Audiologists $46,030
Fitness Trainers and Instructors $40,510
Coaches and Scouts $36,330

Employment for healthcare occupations is expected to grow 16% over the next ten years, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

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Professionals with kinesiology roles can work in a variety of settings, such as a private office, an educational or sports facility, or a community center. Those who want to become physical therapists go on to earn their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).

Kinesiology Master’s Curriculum & Courses

Kinesiology Master's Curriculum

The courses you encounter during a masters in kinesiology online program are focused on health, wellness, fitness, and sports medicine.

Your courses will vary depending on the specialization you wish to pursue, but here are some course you may come across in your program:

  • Research Methods in Kinesiology: You’ll learn how to properly analyze data from a kinesiological perspective, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed research methods.
  • Applied Statistics in Health: This course helps you look at scientific statistics and data related to healthcare and helps you formulate hypothetical solutions to concerns.
  • Advanced Methods of Strength and Conditioning: This course covers the application of training methods to aid in the health and wellness goals of clients and athletes, in particular.
  • Exercise and Aging: You’ll look at the relationship between physical wellness and healthier aging, and you’ll work with real-life case studies to develop proper hypotheses to aging issues.
  • Biomechanics of Human Movement: This biology course looks at the scientific movement of the body, including how muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones all move together.
  • Sports Management: You’ll learn the management skills and knowledge required for leadership positions in the sports industry, including financing, marketing, and ethics.
  • Legal Issues in Sports and Athletics: This course introduces you to the laws and legislations related to the sports industry, such as contracts, unfair competitions, and labor law.
  • Athletic Administration and Coaching: You’ll learn how to plan and develop a program, project, or event related to the sporting industry.
  • Leadership in Sports and Athletics: Often including an internship, this course prepares students to be future leaders in the sports industry through leadership development.
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology: You’ll learn about the psychological factors that influence sports performance.

Some programs also include a capstone project that involves you interning and writing a focused case study of your findings.

How to Become a Kinesiologist

How to Become a Kinesiologist

If the thought of working in health, wellness, fitness, or sports medicine appeals to you, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to become a kinesiologist.

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or a related field is the minimum educational requirement for many kinesiology roles.
  • Consider a master’s degree. A master’s in kinesiology can help you qualify for more advanced positions in the field. In a grad program, you also have the opportunity to focus on a specialization within kinesiology. This can help make you a more competitive candidate in the workforce.
  • Get your state licensure. Depending on the kinesiology role, some states require certification or licensure in order for a professional to practice legally.
  • Gain work experience. You can typically gain experience through paid or unpaid internships, volunteer work, and on-the-job training and supervision.
  • Consider additional certification. To advance your qualifications and present yourself as an even more competitive candidate, you may wish to pursue professional certifications in the field. Different kinesiology roles and specialties may offer different certification opportunities.

This path may differ for you or your state, so it’s beneficial to research your state’s requirements for kinesiologists.

MS in Kinesiology Admissions Requirements

MS in Kinesiology Admissions

While admission requirements can differ from program to program, here are a few you may encounter when looking to pursue an MS in Kinesiology:

  • GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
  • Bachelors degree in kinesiology or a related field
  • Applicable work or volunteer experience
  • Letter of reference

Some schools also ask you to write a statement of intent with your application.

Accreditation

MS in Kinesiology Accreditation

Regional accreditation is essential, especially if you are looking to pursue licensure or any certifications. With the responsibilities that come with kinesiology-related careers, it’s strategic to ensure your degree has been obtained from a high quality institution.

Attending an accredited school can also be a precondition for some forms of financial aid. The US Department of Education’s website has resources that can help you determine whether the school you’re interested holds accreditation by a credible accrediting agency.

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There are a number of fraudulent online programs, so the US Department of Education is a reliable source to help you ensure the accreditation status of your school and program.

Kinesiology Licensure and Certifications

Kinesiology Licensure and Certifications

Licensure and certification not only vary by state but also vary by specialization. Depending on the kinesiology career you wish to enter, you may be required to pursue additional certification.

 Here are some examples of kinesiology certifications:

  • Certified Personal Trainer
  • Certified Exercise Physiologist
  • Certified Weight Management Specialist
  • Registered Kinesiotherapist
  • Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Some kinesiology positions may also require state-specific licensure for personal practice, depending on the state.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

MS in Kinesiology financial aid

If you are looking to pursue a masters in kinesiology, there may be different types of financial aid available to you if you qualify. Financial aid options can include scholarships, grants, educational loans, state aid, federal aid, or employment aid.

If you’re currently working in a sports medicine or fitness role, you can ask your employer if there are any grant or tuition reimbursement opportunities that can help fund your education. You can start your financial assistance journey by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Can You Teach with a Masters in Kinesiology?

Masters in Kinesiology

A masters in kinesiology could be a sufficient foundation for becoming a physical education teacher for grades K-12. Most states require teaching licensure prior to working as an educator in science or kinesiology, but there are many private institutions that do not.

There are also opportunities for masters-level professionals to teach at community colleges. A doctorate is often required to teach at postsecondary universities. In addition, some professionals become coaches or private athletic trainers, which is a type of teaching role within the fitness and sports industry.

What Can You Do with a Masters in Kinesiology?

A masters in kinesiology could lead to a variety of different roles in the health and wellness, fitness, and sports medicine industry.

Masters in Kinesiology careers

Some professionals study kinesiology in order to become athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, or sports coaches. Other kinesiology roles include fitness instructor, kinesiotherapist, and personal trainer. Some students go on to earn a doctorate in physical therapy to fulfill the educational requirements for that position.

A number of kinesiologist positions only require a bachelors degree, but a masters can help you advance your qualifications, earning potential, and responsibilities in the field.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Kinesiology Master’s Degree?

A 36 credit hour masters program with no thesis requirement can often completed in 1 year with full-time, year-round enrollment. A thesis or internship requirement will typically add some additional time to completion, as will attending only part-time.

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Any additional licensure or certification requirements may also add to your completion time. Some certifications are optional, while others are required for particular career roles.

What’s the Difference Between a Kinesiologist vs. Chiropractor?

While both a kinesiologist and chiropractor look at and work with movement and mechanics of the body, there are a few key differences between the two.

Kinesiologist Chiropractor
  • Focuses on muscles, ligaments, and tendons
  • Looks at long-term care for a patient
  • Does not use force to make a correction in the human body
  • Focuses mostly on neuro-skeletal needs
  • Generally focuses on instant solutions
  • Provides physical adjustments to spine and joints to ease pain and correct body’s alignment

A degree in kinesiology will not necessarily lead to a position in chiropractic work, and vice versa.

What’s the Difference Between Kinesiology vs. Physical Therapy?

While there is some overlap between the work of a kinesiologist and a physical therapist, there are key distinctions between the two.

Kinesiology Physical Therapy
  • Utilizes exercise principles to develop strength, mobility, or endurance
  • Uses long-term planning for movement strategies and strengthening techniques
  • Does not generally use medical equipment
  • Utilizes exercise techniques to solve mobility or strength issues
  • Sometimes uses medical tools or equipment

Licensed physical therapists are required to hold a doctorate, while a bachelors is the common educational requirement for most kinesiologist roles.

Is a Masters Degree in Kinesiology Worth It?

Masters Degree in Kinesiology

Yes, a masters degree in kinesiology is worth it for many professionals. A masters degree in kinesiology can build upon your foundational knowledge and help you develop specialized expertise in the field. A masters may help you qualify for more upper level positions as well.

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A graduate degree may also help you become a more competitive candidate in the kinesiology industry, which is seeing above average job growth and demand. Employment for exercise physiologists is expected to grow 13%, and athletic trainers are expected to experience 23% job growth over the next ten years (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Universities Offering Online Masters in Kinesiology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

A.T. Still University

AT Still University

A.T Still University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology. Students may choose between five different tracks or complete a dual track. The program can typically be completed in two years. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher and submit a resume, an essay, and official transcripts.

A.T. Still University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University

California Baptist University offers a Master’s in Kinesiology. Students must complete 30 credit hours related to the major to graduate.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.75 or higher for unconditional acceptance, though those with at least a 2.5 GPA may still be considered. Applicants must submit official transcripts when applying.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific University

Fresno Pacific University offers a Master of Arts with an emphasis in Physical Education. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.75 and submit a statement of intent, a letter of recommendation, and official transcripts.

Fresno Pacific University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport and Human Performance. The online program requires students to complete 36 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher from a bachelor’s program. Applicants must submit 2 letters of recommendation when applying.

Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University

Southern Arkansas University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Coaching. Students must complete 33 credit hours to graduate. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and experience with coaching. Applicants must submit GRE or MAT test scores when applying.

Southern Arkansas University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman's University

Texas Woman’s University offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher may apply online. When applying, they need to submit GRE test scores, two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and a current resume.

Texas Woman’s University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Central Missouri

University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology. To graduate, students must complete 33 credit hours and either an internship or a thesis. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.75 or higher. Those who do not meet the GPA requirement must submit a statement of intent and two references.

The University of Central Missouri is accredited at the national level by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of South Dakota

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota offers an online program for a Master of Arts in Kinesiology and Sport Management.

The program requires 30 credit hours to graduate. Students may choose between the thesis track and the non-thesis track. Applicants must submit an online application with official transcripts, a letter of recommendation, and admissions test scores.

The University of South Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Texas – Tyler

University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas—Tyler offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and need to submit 3 letters of recommendation and GRE test scores.

The University of Texas at Tyler is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming offers a Master of Science with an emphasis in Physical Education and Teacher Education. The online program requires students to complete the non-thesis track. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit official transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation, and GRE test scores.

The University of Wyoming is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Masters in Kinesiology Online

Masters in Kinesiology Online

If you want to advance your training and qualifications in health, wellness, fitness, or sports medicine, then you might consider earning your masters in kinesiology online.

Online programming allows you the flexibility to structure your studies around your personal obligations.  The convenience of an online kinesiology degree program can also enable you to pursue your degree while gaining work experience in the same field.

You can start exploring accredited universities today to find the kinesiology program and specialization that best aligns with your career goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
WRITTEN BY
Claudia Amendola Alzraa
Claudia has a Master's in Library and Information Studies, a Bachelor's in Education, and a Bachelor's with Honors in English and Philosophy. With a history working in Special Education, Claudia is an advocate for diversified and equitable education, and student success initiatives.