Why get an affordable associate’s degree in exercise science and kinesiology? Whether you’re thinking about becoming an athletic trainer or a physical therapist, kinesiology gives you the basis for your understanding of the human body. Students in kinesiology study function, movement, and performance. Exercise Science studies the physical responses to movement and performance. Frequently, the two terms are used interchangeably.
But what can you do with an associate’s degree? With an associate’s in kinesiology and exercise science, you can start working at the entry level to develop your skills and experience, and build to a bachelor’s or master’s later. The low cost of an associate’s degree means you can start your career without the baggage of student loan debt.
Best Health Degrees researched the Most Affordable Associate degree programs to help you find the best program for you. We looked at school information and provide you program highlights in terms of cost, courses, length of the program, admission requirements, etc. For the purposes of this ranking, we’re reporting the requirements for first-time students.
The programs listed are accredited and accept federal student assistance. Many schools require you apply for federal aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as part of their admission process.
Our Method: Ranking the 10 Most Affordable Online Exercise Science and Kinesiology Associate’s Degrees
To rank the 10 Most Affordable Exercise Science and Kinesiology Associate’s Degrees, Best Degrees editors researched accredited, trusted programs of all kinds. From our initial pool, we ranked programs according to price, accreditation, reputation, and salary potential, using data from IPEDS and Niche, U.S. News and World Report, and other higher education rating publications.
1. South Texas College
If you’re going to pursue a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, you’ll want to take a look at the Associate of Arts in Kinesiology. The goal of this program is to prepare you for continuing your education.
The program’s recommended curriculum includes classes in Foundations of Kinesiology, Exercise Science, Anatomy and Physiology, Fitness and Exercise Testing, Theory of Exercising Program Design and Instruction, Practicum-Health and Physical Education, Sports Facility Management, First Aid, Foundations of Kinesiology, etc. You’ll also take general education elective classes in Language, Philosophy, and Culture, Creative Arts, Social and Behavioral Science, and more.
At an average net price of $1,825, this program is one of the most economical we found. General admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED test scores. If you don’t have either a diploma or GED, are over 18 years of age, you can take and submit results from the Texas Success Initiative Assessment placement exam and transcripts from any school you’ve attended. If you’re under 21 years old, you’ll be expected to provide proof of bacterial meningitis immunization.
Fast Fact: STC ranks #396/1572 in Niche’s Best Value Colleges in America
Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC)
2. College of the Sequoias
This two-year California college awards an Associate in Arts in Kinesiology for Transfer (AA-T) which will allow you to transfer to a four-year school in the California State University system.
As is typical in associate degree programs, you’ll take general education courses along with those in your major. Required core courses include Introduction to Kinesiology, Human Anatomy, and Human Physiology. The rest of the curriculum is comprised of program electives in general topics such as Dance, Fitness, Aquatics, Individual Sports, and Team Sports. Restrictive electives are also required and chosen from First Aid/AED/CPR, General Chemistry, General Physics, or Social Statistics. The degree calls for 60 credit hours for completion.
At an estimated cost of $2,264, this program will give you a head start in earning your baccalaureate degree and, more than likely, will save you money. To be eligible for admission, you need to be a high school graduate. You may also apply with GED or California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) scores. You’ll be asked to provide academic transcripts for any school you have attended.
Fast Fact: College of the Sequoias was founded in 1926
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
3. Glendale Community College
Here’s an Arizona college offering two Exercise Science degrees. You have the option of an Associate of Arts (AA) with an Exercise Science emphasis or an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Exercise Science: Health, Fitness and Sports Performance.
The AAS in Exercise Science is considered a Pre-Physical Therapy program and both the AAS and AA require 63-74.5 credit hours for completion. Core studies involve classes in Introduction to Exercise Physiology, Introduction to Exercise Science, Healthful Living, CPR/AED or Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers. The curriculum also includes several assessment and program design classes in Muscular Fitness, Cardiorespiratory, Weight Management, and more. Classes in nutrition, psychology, and an internship utilizing the practical applications of personal training and techniques.
You need a high school diploma or GED test scores to make application for admission and be over 18 years old. Glendale Community College is part of the Maricopa Community College system. You can expect this to cost an estimated $4,210 according to IPEDS.
Fast Fact: Considered #135/853 in Niche’s ranking of Best Community Colleges in America
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
4. Central New Mexico Community College
The main Central New Mexico Community College is located in Albuquerque, with other campuses in Montoya, Rio Rancho, and South Valley. The college provides an AAS in Exercise Science and Wellness awarded after 61 credit hours of core coursework and general education classes.
Among the classes offered are Concepts of Health and Wellness, Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology, CPR, First Aid and Safety, Structural Kinesiology, Human Nutrition, Exercise Kinesiology, Fitness and Exercise Testing, Group Exercise Leadership, Prevention and Care Exercise Injury, and Stress Management along with others. The department offers a wide variety of electives for this major. You’ll also participate in an Internship with this curriculum. General Education classes include English, math, humanities, etc.
First year students are expected to provide either high school transcripts, ACT/SAT, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), or Accuplacer scores. You’ll need to complete an admission application which will set up your school account. Estimated cost for this two-year program is $4,424.
Fast Fact: Central New Mexico Community College is the largest community college in NM
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
5. Bronx Community College
You can earn an AS in Exercise Science from Bronx Community College in two years.
The curriculum covers major topics in Exercise Science such as Introduction to Exercise Science and Kinesiology, Critical Issues in Health, Behavioral Aspects of Physical Activity, Stress Management, Human Nutrition, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Dynamics of Human Motivation, and others. General education courses include English, math, human anatomy and physiology, and life and physical sciences. You may also take classes in the Flexible Core offerings of World Cultures and Global Issues, Individual and Society, etc. This degree is designed to allow for easy transfer to any school in the City University of New York (CUNY) or any other four-year university.
You’ll start the admission process by completing an online application and submitting the processing fee as well as academic high school transcripts or GED scores. You also need to provide proof of immunizations for Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Meningitis. Our research shows the estimated cost to be around $4,44, putting it in the middle of our affordability ranking.
Fast Fact: Established in 1957, BCCC is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system
Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
6. College of San Mateo
This Kinesiology Associate in Arts Degree for Transfer (AA-T) may be just the program you need if you’re looking to continue your education to earn a baccalaureate degree in Exercise Science and Kinesiology.
The curriculum at the College of San Mateo will address the general education studies most four-year schools require. You’ll study English, Critical Thinking, Life Science, Arts, Humanities, etc. Preparatory to your undergraduate major, you’ll take classes in Human Anatomy, Introductory Physiology, Introduction to Kinesiology, First Aid/Adult and Pediatric CPR, Introduction to Life Sciences, as well as General Physics. The AA-T program also provides studies in Aquatics, Dance, Fitness, Individual and Team Sports.
The admission process at San Mateo is straightforward and is in six phases. First, you’ll complete an application, orientation, complete an educational assessment, meet with a counselor, register for classes and pay fees, and set up your San Mateo email account. At $4,639, this degree is less than you’d pay for your first and second year in an undergraduate program.
Fast Fact: The College of San Mateo is ranked by Niche as #138/853 as a Best Community College in America
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
7. Houston Community College
The AA in Kinesiology and Exercise degree at Houston Community College will prepare you for entry level teach people now to improve and maintain healthy lifestyles. This program will also prepare you to continue your education at a four-year university or college.
The curriculum has courses in psychology, history, math, English, humanities, and others. Kinesiology and Exercise studies include Foundations of Kinesiology, Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Concepts of Physical Fitness, Anatomy and Physiology, Personal and Community Health, Drug Use and Abuse, and others. A total of 60 credit hours are required for the degree. With an estimated IPEDS cost of $4,686, you’ll find this is an affordable associate program.
To begin the admission process, you’ll complete an online application. HCC offers five admission categories and you’ll be required to choose the one most appropriate for you. As part of the application process, you’ll want to apply for Federal Student Aid and submit verification of meningitis vaccination, and Texas Success Initiative (TSI), and other information as requested.
Fast Fact: HCC was established in 1971
Accreditation: HCC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges(SACSCOC) and was founded in 1971
8. Skyline College
Located in San Bruno, CA, Skyline College awards an Associate in Arts in Kinesiology for Transfer degree (AA-T) degree in 60 credit hours. This may be an excellent program if you plan to further your education at a California State University but may not be the best if you plan on attending another school not in the CSU system.
You’ll take general education courses in one of two options: California State University General Education-Breadth pattern (CSU GE Breadth) or Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) pattern. The Kinesiology core curriculum for this degree offers classes in Human Physiology, Human Anatomy, and Introduction to Kinesiology. Additionally, you’ll choose electives from Combatives, Dance, Fitness, Individual Sports and Team Sports. Other electives involve studies in Chemistry for Health Sciences or General Chemistry, Elementary Probability and Statistics, and General Physics.
The admission/enrollment process is clearcut, requiring an application (and fee), application for student federal aid, orientation attendance, an educational assessment (for English and math purposes), and a meeting with a counselor. You’ll want to be prepared to submit other documents as requested. IPEDS reports the cost of attendance at Skyline College at a reasonable $4,372.
Fast Fact: Skyline College, established in 1969, is part of the San Mateo County Community College District
Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
9. Clovis Community College
With its campus in Fresno, CA, Clovis Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Kinesiology which will prepare you to transfer your studies to a California State University.
The curriculum calls for general education courses in areas such as math, humanities, English, history, etc. and Human Anatomy, Introduction to Physical Education, and Human Physiology considered core courses for the major. Other classes involve physical education studies in team and/or individual sports, dance, strength, and others. You’ll also choose two elective courses from Human Biology, Elementary Statistics, General Physics, First Aid/Safety, or General Chemistry. The IPEDS estimated cost of attendance at Clovis Community College is $4,961.
To make application at CCC, you’ll first complete the CCCApply online form, complete the online orientation session as well as the Assessment for Course Placement. Documents will also be requested such as academic transcripts.
Fast Fact: Established in 2007
Accreditation: CCC is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges ( ACCJC)
10. Lincoln Land Community College
As you may guess from this school’s name, Lincoln Land Community College is located in Springfield, IL. LLCC offers an Exercise and Sports Science associate degree.
The curriculum was designed with the idea that students will transfer to a four-year university. General education classes are required in English, humanities or fine arts, math, as well as physical and social science topics. Classes in Exercise Science are chosen from subjects in Physical Conditioning, Strength Training, Bowling, Basketball, Jogging, and others will complete the 60 credit hours required for graduation. The cost of attendance for LLCC is estimated at $5,258 by IPEDS.
You’ll start with the online admission application and has no fee. Academic transcripts, ACT/SAT scores, and other documents may be requested to complete your application.
Fast Fact: LLCC is ranked #78/853 in Niche’s Best Community Colleges in America
Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
How Do I Save Money on an Associate’s in Exercise Science and Kinesiology?
No doubt, college can be expensive, but there are ways to help make it more affordable and accessible. The College Board reported that, in-district, two-year community colleges tuition is $3,770 on average.
Several years ago, U.S. states began to recognize the importance of education in terms of strengthening their workforce and improving the overall lives of its citizens. As of 2020, Forbes published that 17 states offer tuition free community colleges. You’ll want to explore if your state is one of the 17 and how to qualify for this extraordinary benefit.
Some individual schools offer free tuition programs. For instance, students at Berea College, located in Kentucky, pay no tuition. Every student receives Berea College’s Tuition Promise Scholarship. Also, in exchange for tuition, students work at least 10 hours a week on campus to apply toward books, room and board, etc. You’ll want to explore to see if any of the community colleges in your area offer such benefits.
Finally, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to see if you qualify for grants and low-interest loans. These federal programs will offset many costs associated with college. Community colleges may also offer need based scholarships (and will want the FAFSA on file).
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of college cost savings, hopefully, it will give you option ideas.
How Much Can I Make with an Associate’s in Exercise Science and Kinesiology?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides information on the job market for Exercise Science and Kinesiology. The field has excellent potential with an estimated 11% job growth projection between 2019-2029, much faster than average.
According to the BLS, Fitness Trainers and Instructors with a high school or Associate degree earn , on average, $40,510 per year. PayScale reports the average salary for an Associate of Science in Exercise Science at $49,143 annually. The Indeed jobs site publishes average salary ranges from $36,224-$37,863 per year and Glassdoor posts salary ranges from $13K-$374K yearly.
Salaries for bachelor’s prepared Exercise Physiologists range from $46,030-$75,740 (BLS). Athletic Trainers are able to earn $46,410-$54,140, Coaches and Scouts can earn $31,450-$47,020, and Massage Therapists salaries range from $30,720-$55,300 (job outlook for this field is a rapid 21%).
Is Kinesiology and Exercise Science a Good Career Choice?
Short answer? Yes. If you’re interested in sharing your love for physical activity with others or want to help people restore physical abilities following an accident or injury, Exercise Science and Kinesiology may be the perfect career for you. An Associate’s degree will help you begin to develop the skills for a satisfying career.
If you’re interested in the advancing in the profession, you’ll want to consider continuing your education with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Those degrees will increase your job options and allow you to earn more in salary. The career outlook for this field appears very good. As stated above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports this field having an 11% ten-year job growth projection which is faster than average.