Study Kinesiology: Majors, Bachelor's Degrees & Online Program Info

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What kind of job can you get with a bachelor's degree in kinesiology? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and kinesiology degree programs.
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Kinesiology Bachelor's Degrees: At a Glance

Obtaining a bachelor's degree in kinesiology can lead to a career in exercise, sports or recreation or prepare you for graduate study in physical therapy and related fields. Bachelor's degree programs typically emphasize training in the theories and applications of motor skills and physical activity.

Due to various career paths available to kinesiology graduates, occupational data varies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of athletic trainers and recreational therapists is expected to grow by 30% and 17%, respectively, from 2010 to 2020. Most applicants in these fields have a bachelor's degree, although master's degrees are also becoming more common. Additionally, some states may require athletic trainers and recreational therapists to be certified and/or licensed.

Who is this degree for? - People who want to begin careers in fitness, health services, athletics or recreational organizations
- Experienced professionals who want advance their careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary) - Recreational therapists ($43,000 - may vary with experience)*
- Athletic trainers ($45,000 - may vary with experience)*
Time to Completion Typically four years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Maintain GPA standards
- Complete coursework
- Participate in an internship, if applicable
Prerequisites - High school transcripts or GED
- ACT and/or SAT scores
- Immunization records
Online Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 mean figures).

Kinesiology Bachelor's Degrees

Students in a kinesiology bachelor's degree program study the underlying sciences that promote health through physical activity. Bachelor's degree programs typically focus on general education courses, core (required) coursework and electives. Internships may also be required. Degree formats may slightly vary with each school, but are generally award the Bachelor of Science in areas of kinesiology, kinesiological sciences or something similar.

This degree program is designed for students who want to pursue careers in fitness, athletics or related fields. Students who eventually plan to enter graduate programs in physical or occupational therapy are good candidates for kinesiology bachelor's degree programs.

Pros and Cons


  • A bachelor's degree is the most common academic credential in this field
  • Employment opportunities for athletic trainers are expected to be much stronger than the average occupational outlook*
  • Students who plan to continue their studies in graduate school will typically need a bachelor's degree in a relevant field


  • Depending on your state regulations, you may need to become certified and/or licensed
  • If you work with athletic teams or personal clients, you may need to work some evenings and weekends
  • You may need a higher degree to be eligible for some positions, particularly postsecondary athletic trainer positions, or to increase your advancement opportunities

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Courses and Requirements

Students can expect a kinesiology bachelor's degree program to include a variety of courses in anatomy and physical education. Common courses may include exercise physiology, nutrition, fitness management, motor behavior and human movement. Students can typically select a concentration to focus their studies in an area of particular interest to them.

In addition to coursework, students will likely obtain hands-on experience in fitness centers or laboratories. Some schools may also encourage or require students to complete a relevant internship.

Online Degree Options

Distance learning kinesiology bachelor's degree programs are available. Some schools may offer degree programs that available entirely online or in a hybrid format with both online and offline components (such as an internship, if required). Typically, admission and curriculum requirements are very similar to those of traditional on-campus programs. As a student in an online degree program, you will likely devote several hours to independent study each week.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Students should consider joining professional organizations in their field, such as the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). Eligibility requirements vary depending on the organization, but students may simply need to verify their enrollment in an accredited program to become a student member. Joining a professional organization can provide opportunities for professional growth through networking and continuing education. Additionally, membership can show potential employers your knowledge of industry standards.

You may also want to consider specializing in particular topic that interests you and tailoring your electives around this niche. For example, if you are interested in running your own business someday, you may want to pursue a business minor or electives in accounting, marketing or administration.

Alternate Degrees

Students who are interested in health topics may want to consider alternate degrees in wellness management, particularly health education. According to the BLS, the job outlook for is also positive for dieticians and nutritionists, with employment expected to grow by 20% from 2010 to 2020. Health educators will see a 37% increase during the same time period, but this career path may require additional education beyond a bachelor's degree. The BLS also suggests that mean annual salaries may be slightly higher for health educators and nutritionists at approximately $52,000 and $55,000, respectively.

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