The best online Exercise Science degree programs are a flexible way to boost the career of fitness and wellness professionals. Online exercise science degrees can open the door for you to enter one of the fastest-growing health and fitness industries in the world. According to Statista, health and fitness is an $87.23 billion industry worldwide; and, in the U.S., it’s a $35 billion revenue source.
Kinesiology covers a wide field of study. Kinesiology concentrates on movement, function, and performance. Exercise Science looks at the physical responses to those three elements. Students in this field will study anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and biochemistry.
While not particularly common, Best Health Degrees researched some of the online bachelor’s in exercise degree programs to help you with your decision. We looked at school information and condensed it to give you an idea of what the online program may offer.
All of these programs are accredited and eligible to accept federal student assistance. You should be certain to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).
Our Method: Ranking the 15 Best Online Exercise Science and Kinesiology Bachelor’s Programs
To rank the 15 Best Online Exercise Science and Kinesiology Bachelor’s Programs, 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. University of Kansas
If you’re looking to complete your degree, this is a good, online Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Exercise Science program.
The exercise science degree online program is a professional program and has a limited enrollment. You’ll need to complete a minimum of 120 credit hours for this degree completion program. If your ultimate goal is a career in therapeutic sports, fitness, coaching, medical school, Physical Therapy, or another health-related field, this degree is tailor-made. This curriculum features general education courses and studies in the areas of motor control, rehabilitative exercise, biomechanics, physiology and anatomy. The department also offers a study abroad experience.
You must be a transfer student to apply for admission for this degree and KU will accept up to 64 credit hours from a community or junior college. A University of Kansas admission application is required, and academic transcripts from all schools attended, ACT/SAT scores, and other documents may be required.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $10,092/per academic year
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks KU in the top 100 in several categories such as Top Public Schools, Best Colleges for Veterans, as well as Most Innovative Schools
2. American Military University
The American Military University, a member of the American Public University System, has an online AMU’s BS in Sports and Health Science. You can choose from four concentrations: Exercise Science, Fitness and Wellness Professional Studies, General Studies, or Coaching Studies.
Online courses begin each month and are 6-8 weeks in length for this 120 credit hours degree. The exercise science online degree program concentrates on exercise science, health and wellness, kinesiology, nutrition, exercise testing, and programming, as well as anatomy and physiology. General education studies are also part of the bachelor’s in exercise science requirements as well as a capstone project. Among the Exercise Science, program objectives are teaching “…advance fitness, readiness, and performance…”, management of sports injuries, concepts in nutrition and wellness, etc.
First-year students seeking admission, need to submit a free university application, possess a high school diploma or equivalent (i.e. GED), and provide additional documentation as requested. Transfer students may transfer up to 90 credit hours from other schools toward this degree. Active duty or veterans are offered special scholarship opportunities.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $7,360/academic year
Fast Fact: Niche includes AMU in its Best Value Colleges in America category
3. University of North Dakota
Prospective students enrolled in this online BS in Kinesiology degree never need to visit the UND’s Grand Forks, ND campus.
Fully accredited, this exercise science degree program will prepare you for a variety of careers in health and fitness, allied health, or education. You’ll study exercise physiology, biomechanics, adapted physical activity, epidemiology, and complete a capstone project. The 120 credit hour degree also calls for Essential Studies in disciplines in Communications, Fine Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, and others. The university also offers an accelerated BS/MS in Kinesiology program you can complete in 150 credit hours or in 4-5 years.
If you’re a first-time university student, you’ll need to meet specific admission requirements, such as a high school or GED, high school GPA, application, etc. UND has waived ACT/SAT test scores until Summer 2023. If you’re a transfer student, you’ll need a 2.0 GPA, submit an application, and provide academic transcripts from schools you’ve attended.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $356/per credit hour
Fast Fact: UND ranks in the top 100 of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
4. University of Louisiana Monroe
If you’re wanting an online degree that will prepare you for a career in cardiac rehabilitation, personal/athletic training, or pre-physical therapy, you may want to look at this BS in Kinesiology and exercise science concentration.
The curriculum covers a wide range of topics. You can choose classes from First Aid and Safety, Introduction to Kinesiology, Concepts of Wellness, Motor Learning and Motor Control, Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology and Biomechanics, Exercise in Health and Disease, Epidemiology, as well as a Practicum. This program was one of the first degree programs to earn accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)/Committee on Accreditation for Exercise Sciences (CoAES).
First-year students will need a 2.35 minimum GPA, academic transcript, and ACT/SAT scores for admission. You’ll also need to develop an admissions account ($20 fee). Transfer applicants follow much the same criteria and you can check your acceptable transfer credits.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $400/per credit hour
5. University of Louisiana Lafayette
Here’s a 100% online BS in Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Wellness that offers accelerated 8-week and 16-week courses.
The exercise science online degree program will prepare you for a career as a public health educator or community health advocate through a focus on environmental health, nutrition, theory, and application of kinesiology as a world health issue, marketing, and more. As with other undergraduate degrees, you’ll be expected to complete 120 credit hours for this degree. The University’s Enrollment Specialists can help you determine how many credits you’ll need to complete based on your existing college credits.
If you’ve never attended college or university, admission will require an application with $25 fee, ACT/SAT scores, high school transcripts (of GED test scores), for males 18 or older proof of Selective Service Registration, and more. Transfer students will follow much of the same admission process.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $380/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Forbes recognized UL-Lafayette as one of its America’s Best Value College
6. Tarleton State University
This Texas university has an online BS in Kinesiology which includes study in the Exercise and Allied Health Profession (EXSS) through the School of Kinesiology
If your plans are to enter the healthcare field, TSU’s Exercise and Sport Studies (EXSS) concentration may be the program for you. According to the suggested curriculum, you’ll study exercise physiology, biomechanics, exercise testing, prescription, and assessment, injury care and prevention, as well as electrocardiography. An internship in Exercise and Allied Health is required and certification in certain areas is available. General education courses are also part of this 120 credit hour program. The program offers two other concentrations in Coaching, Athletic Administration, & Recreation (CAAR) and Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE)
To be admitted, you’ll complete the online ApplyTexas (with a $50 fee) and provide academic transcripts. You’ll want to check the requirements for transfer students and be sure to participate in the online Transfer Information Sessions.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $8,276-$17,448/per year
Fast Fact: TSU ranks #31 in the Top Public Schools categories of U.S. News and World Report
7. East Central University
Located in Ada, Oklahoma, ECU awards an online, 124 credit hours, BS in Kinesiology you can complete in 2-4 years.
Courses are offered in 8-week sessions and all classes are online. You’ll need 44 hours in general education courses (English, history, etc.) and 23 hours of electives. Your major will require 57 credit hours and the curriculum offers strong academic studies in Introduction to Kinesiology, Applied Anatomy, Sports Nutrition, Biomechanics, Exercise Testing and Prescription, Psychology of Sports, Research and Evaluation of Kinesiology, and more. A faculty supervised practicum is required.
East Central University has a generous transfer program and students may transfer up to 94 credits from other postsecondary schools. You can use the Transfer Matrix tool to see what credits may transfer to ECU. First-time students’ admission standards include letters of recommendation, ACT/SAT scores, high school or college transcripts, and other documents. ECU also offers special admission standards for First-Generation Students (for students who are the first in their family to attend college.)
Estimated Tuition Cost: $32,736/program
Fast Fact: ECU was founded in 1909 and U.S. News and World Report considers it in the #50-#66 of its Top Public Schools
8. Concordia University St. Paul
This stand-alone online bachelor’s degree may be a good program for you if you’re looking to complete your degree. This BA in Exercise Science will prepare you for a career in coaching, personal trainer, health and wellness education, as well as rehabilitation services.
Including general education courses, this degree calls for a 120-credit hour curriculum. You’ll complete 32-44 credit hours in Functional Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, Applied Exercise Prescription, Sport Psychology, Applied Nutrition, Foundations of Exercise and Sports Sciences, and additional courses. You’ll also participate in an internship with the collaboration of your advisor to enhance your hands-on skills. This BA will prepare you to continue studies in areas such as exercise physiology, chiropractic, biomechanics, as well as other disciplines.
Along with academic transcripts and application, admission to this program you may be asked to submit an essay to supplement your admission application. If you’re a transfer student, CSP will cover the cost of your transcripts and conduct a free transfer credit evaluation. Talk with your Enrollment Counselor about CSP’s custom site for Federal Student Aid.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $420/per credit hour
Fast Fact: CSP ranks #56 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report
9. Ottawa University
If your ultimate career goals focus on physical therapy, biomechanics, occupational therapy, or any of the exercise science professions, you’ll want to review the Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science (BAES) program at this Kansas university.
Offered through Ottawa University’s School of Education, you’ll choose from one of three concentrations including Pre-allied Health. This concentration will acquaint you with studies in human anatomy and physiology, adaptive physical education, exercise physiology, nutrition, principles of psychology, as well as biology. The program also requires an internship. You’ll also study ethics, legal issues in recreation and sports, and psychopathology.
As with other schools, Ottawa University requires an application (with fee) and academic transcripts for admission. The school website encourages you to begin your admission steps by connecting with an Enrollment Advisor. Transfer students may transfer up to 80 credit hours toward this 124-hour degree.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $499/per credit hour
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report rates Ottawa University #49 in its Regional Colleges Midwest rankings
10. North Carolina Central University
You can earn a BS in Kinesiology with a Fitness and Wellness concentration from this Durham, NC school.
Offered online, this degree will prepare you for a career in allied health in prevention and rehabilitation. The degree requires 120-credit hours and the curriculum has general education coursework as well as studies in Kinesiology and Recreation Administration, fitness and wellness management, and electives. Among the kinesiology courses, you’ll study are Exercise Physiology, Nutrition, Group Exercise Leadership, Physical Activity for Aging, and more. This curriculum is designed to prepare you to sit for several certification exams.
This program is currently admitting only first-time students. You’ll begin the admission process by creating an online account. You’ll submit your high school transcript demonstrating classes in English, math, social studies, science, and a foreign language. ACT/SAT scores are required for admission during the 2021-22 academic year.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $184-$584/per credit hour
Fast Fact: NCCU is ranked by U.S. News and World Report at #11 in Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as #21 Top Public Schools, and #42 in Best Value Schools
11. California University of Pennsylvania
Not to be confused as a school in the state of California, this California, Pennsylvania university awards an online BS in Exercise Science degree completely online, which can be finished in three years.
The curriculum offers studies in anatomy and physiology, sports nutrition, sports ethics, kinesiology, exercise physiology, fitness and wellness for aging, wellness and fitness issues, as well as others. General education and electives are also part of the program. The classes are designed to qualify you to sit for certification by Certified Personal Trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and Certified Speed Coach from the National Association of Speed and Explosion (NASE).
Admission standards for first-year students request an application, academic transcripts, optional ACT/SAT scores, personal essay, and letters of recommendation. Transfer students have similar requirements for admission.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $322-328/per credit hour
Fast Fact: This is one of only 30 wellness and fitness programs recognized by the NASM
12. Concordia University-Chicago
Here’s another Concordia University offering an online BS in Kinesiology that focuses on preventing illness and promoting health.
The curriculum requires 128 credit hours (includes general education and elective classes) and offers a wide range of accelerated kinesiology studies. You’ll take classes in Health and Fitness Assessment, Physiological Basis of Exercise, Health Risk Appraisal, and Applied Kinesiology. The program is 100% online, asynchronous, and online students can complete it in as few as 12-18 months. Classes are five weeks in length.
General undergraduate admission to Concordia University Chicago requires a minimum 2.0 GPA, submission of a free application and academic transcripts.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $415/per credit hour
Fast Fact: This university ranks #31 in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs and best online colleges for exercise science.
13. Franklin University
This Ohio school awards a BS in Exercise Science with a curriculum that aligns with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) standards for testing and prescription.
You’ll cover topics in exercise physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, wellness, exercise testing and prescription, exercise program design, nutrition, and more. You can also participate in a field experience to give you hands-on practice in a health and wellness facility such as a fitness center, healthcare facility, and other agencies. Upon completion of the degree, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to analyze patients and clients physiologic needs, and test body composition, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle strength.
First-time students’ admission requires a free application and submission of academic transcripts and other documentation as requested. Transfer students can determine which courses Franklin University accepts through My Transfer Credit.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $398/per credit hour
Fast Fact: Founded in 1902, Franklin University is one of the largest private Ohio universities
14. Abilene Christian University
The BS in Health and Human Performance offered online by Abilene Christian University takes a holistic approach to the discipline of exercise science.
This program will prepare you for entry-level positions in wellness and health or to advance to a graduate, professional degree in a variety of areas. The curriculum features studies in kinesiology, strength and conditioning, nutrition, exercise for special populations, biomechanics, as well as exercise physiology and more. As a holistic program, you’ll also take courses in psychology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, and elementary statistics. A capstone project is included in the studies.
The admission requirements for this degree are a bit different from other programs. You must be out of high school for a minimum of four hours (or a graduate from a school with an articulation agreement with ACU). You’ll complete an online application and a $50 non-refundable fee and submit all academic transcripts. Applicants do not have to submit ACT or SAT scores.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $395/per credit hour
Fast Fact: U.S. News and World Report ranks ACU #211 in its national ranking of Best Online Bachelor’s Programs
15. Bryan University
Here’s an accelerated BS in Professional Fitness Training and Exercise Science from Bryan University offered online (or campus) and designed in cooperation with professionals in the health and fitness industry and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
You’ll cover topics in personal training, anatomy, physical fitness screening, and testing, professional ethics, cardiovascular programming, nutrition, behavior, weight management, and a capstone project. Other subjects provided are exercise prescription (specifically for cardiorespiratory, flexibility, and resistance training) as well as specific topics in training special populations (aging adults, disabilities, and chronic disease. Your curriculum will focus on practical applications of skills, behavioral changes, and business operations. On completion of the program, students can sit for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification.
If you’re interested in applying for admission, the school will provide additional information.
Estimated Tuition Cost: $11,755/per academic year
Fast Fact: Bryan University is ranked in the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs category by U.S. News and World Report
Why Should I Get My Kinesiology and Exercise Science Degree Online?
Maybe the better question would be, “why wouldn’t you get your Kinesiology and Exercise degree online?”
Distance learning programs have been around since the 1800s when correspondence courses were popular in the more rural areas of the United States. Fast forward to the 21st century and the U.S. Postal Service has been replaced by the Internet. During the COVID pandemic, we saw schools shift gears and provide students with online classes so their educational pursuits weren’t interrupted.
Colleges and universities provide accredited, full undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees online. These programs are equal to the on-campus degree programs, taught by the same faculty and offering the same curriculum.
How are Online Programs Different from Traditional Ones?
Usually, online degree programs are more intensive and shorter in duration. There are no on campus residency requirements. Online coursework and classes are frequently offered in relatively short 5-8 weeks in length. However, some may be longer, depending on the subject and degree and you have more direct contact with professors and other students.
Cost savings are another aspect of an online degree. The majority of online programs charge tuition and fees at in-state resident rates. This same tuition rate may allow you to earn a degree from a school normally outside of your budget and out of state.
Finally, online programs allow you to have a balanced work-home life while you study to earn your degree.
What Do You Learn in an Online Program?
Exercise science degrees can be a master’s degree or undergraduate degrees. A bachelor of science exercise science curriculum includes major courses and classes in:
- sports science
- human movement
- personal health
- health psychology
- applied exercise science
- sports psychology
- stress management
- fitness management
- athletic performance
- health and fitness goals
- physical performance and conditioning programs
- human performance lab
- research methods
- sports nutrition
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is the quality control of educational institutions and programs. Schools that earn accreditation have demonstrated specific standards in faculty, coursework, student services, and other benchmarks. Peers, educators, and school administrators from other schools periodically conduct accreditation surveys.
What is Regional Accreditation?
Colleges and universities typically hold regional accreditation from a Department of Education-approved agency, such as the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), and Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The schools listed on this ranking all hold, at least, regional accreditation.
Regional accreditation is for schools and covers both on-campus and online programs. You should earn a degree from a regionally accredited college or university in addition to the school accreditation, the program you attend should also have accreditation. Regionally accredited schools with online exercise science programs should also have program accreditation. So be sure you enroll in an accredited online exercise science degree program.
Are There Accredited Exercise Science Programs Online?
Yes. There are accreditation organizations that approve Kinesiology/Exercise Science specific studies, such as The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) provide professional credentials in the field.
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is a well-respected organization that accredits programs in exercise science, physical education, and kinesiology.
The National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) accredits coaching education programs. There are three levels of NCACE accreditation: Level 1, Level 3, and Level 5. The Level 5 accreditation is usually granted to master’s degrees and coaching programs focused on advanced training for elite athletes.
The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) is the national accrediting body for becoming a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC).
The Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) accredits bachelor’s and master’s level sports management education programs.
Where Can You Work with a Degree in Exercise Science?
Fitness professionals work in many sectors including:
- Fitness and recreational sports facilities
- Wellness centers
- Community Centers
- Military facilities
- Elementary, middle, and high schools
- University Athletics Departments
- Corporate wellness
- State and local governments
- Hospitals and clinics
- Senior care facilities
What Jobs Can You Do With Exercise Science Degrees?
Careers and opportunities in Kinesiology are plentiful. U.S. News and World Report identified several professions in which a Kinesiology degree is beneficial. For instance, an undergraduate degree in the field is a terrific stepping stone to graduate studies and a career in physical and/or occupational therapy, exercise physiologist, and kinesiology.
- Personal trainers
- Exercise physiologist
- Strength and Conditioning Coach
- Fitness and wellness center manager
- Wellness director
- Health and wellness coordinator
- Fitness instructor or trainer
- Health educator or community health worker
- Wellness program manager
- Recreation coordinator
- Fitness Trainers
What is the Job Outlook for Kinesiology and Exercise Science?
There are numerous career options in this discipline. Professions in Kinesiology and Exercise Science are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics credits this field with an estimated 13% job growth projection between 2020-2030, which is much faster than average. Americans spent over $35 billion on health and fitness last year (Statista).
Exercise Science is typically not a clinical degree but offers several career options for you once you complete your undergraduate degree. Exercise science graduates can find a job as a coach or scout, fitness instructor, personal trainer, community health and fitness director, or gym manager. Whether it’s Exercise Science or Kinesiology, this is a solid career choice.