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Degree Programs in Kinesiology

A degree in kinesiology prepares you for a career as a fitness trainer or athletics administrator by teaching you about human movement and anatomy, among other things. Learn more about the field, the available programs, common course topics and career prospects.

What Is Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is the study of body movement. In a kinesiology degree program, you'll learn how the human body moves and how effective movement practices can increase human performance. Kinesiology is related to many other areas, including exercise science and physical therapy.

Field Focus Body movement, exercise science, physical therapy
Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, doctoral
Online Options Yes, but online programs may not offer the level of hands-on training available in an on-campus program
Common Courses Human anatomy and physiology, human movement, exercise
Career Opportunities Fitness trainer, athletic administrator, physical education teacher; occupational therapist or physical therapist are options with additional education requirements
Median Salary (2020)$40,510 (for fitness trainers and instructors)*
Job Outlook (2019-2029)15% growth (for all fitness trainers and instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degrees Can I Earn?

A range of degrees is available to you if you wish to study kinesiology. As an undergraduate, you could begin by earning an associate's degree, which generally takes around two years to complete. Classes from your associate's degree program may transfer to a 4-year program if you continue on to earn a bachelor's degree. After completing your undergraduate degree, you can further your education in graduate school, where you could earn a master's or doctoral degree.

If you are already working or otherwise have a busy schedule, you may be able to earn your kinesiology degree online. Keep in mind, however, that online programs don't typically offer as many hands-on learning opportunities as on-campus programs.

What Classes Might I Take?

Many of the classes in kinesiology degree programs cover basics of the human body and fitness. Examples include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Exercise
  • Human movement

Additionally, within your kinesiology program, you may be able to choose a specialty. Some of these areas include:

  • Exercise science
  • Physical education
  • Athletic training
  • Sport psychology

How Can My Degree Help Me?

Earning a degree in kinesiology can open up several career paths, depending on the level of degree you complete. If you have an associate's degree, you could work as a physical fitness trainer. With a bachelor's degree in kinesiology, you might be able to work as a physical education teacher. If you go on to earn a graduate degree, you might find jobs related to athletics, such as athletic administrator, or you may be able to teach kinesiology or perform independent research.

Some people with kinesiology degrees go on to study physical or occupational therapy. Another option is to move to a counseling program and focus on sports or exercise psychology. You also could seek business training and open your own business providing training to individuals or companies that want to improve their physical performance.