Masters in Kinesiology Programs
Kinesiology is the study of human physical activity and body movement. Masters in kinesiology programs explore advanced topics in human physical activity, particularly as movement, exercise, and sport apply to health promotion and disease prevention. Masters programs typically take 1 to 2 years to complete.
Kinesiology Masters programs aim to prepare students to help alleviate stress put on the human body to improve overall health.
Classes focus on how a healthy body functions as a whole and how to maintain it. Students will also analyze different ailments that athletes and others might experience from overworking their bodies. By combining these two areas of study, masters programs may help students gain an understanding of how healthy muscle upkeep could lead to better performance.
How to Earn a Masters in Kinesiology
- Earn a Bachelors in related field
- Earn 3.0 GPA or higher (recommended)
- Take the GRE or GMAT exam
- Complete 2 years full time in kinesiology graduate program
- Optional: earn your Doctor of Kinesiology
Masters of Kinesiology Curriculum
Masters of Kinesiology courses focus primarily on studying the motor abilities of people of different ages. For example, as part of your studies, you could practice techniques designed for children, adults, and geriatrics. Specific topics of study in Kinesiology Masters programs could include:
- Youth Fitness
- Athletic Training
- Motor Control
- Aerobic and Anaerobic Training
- Clinical Exercise Physiology
It’s important to note that classes may differ by school and depending on your program focus. Speak with a member of the department faculty or an admissions advisor for a complete course guide.
Courses are designed to advance the understanding of relationships among movement, exercise, and skills that occur in the contexts of development, learning, rehabilitation, and training.
Depending on the school, Masters of Kinesiology degrees may be found under a few different names. The three most common options include Kinesiology Masters Programs, Exercise Science Masters programs and Exercise Physiology Masters programs. While they have different titles, their core curriculum is often similar. Most Masters of Kindesiology programs require students to complete 36 to 42 credit hours. For longer programs, 30 credit hours are usually devoted to core curriculum. The remaining 12 credit hours might go towards pursuing a concentration. Available degree programs and concentrations may differ by school. For more information, speak with your intended school.
A Masters Degree in Kinesiology is often applied to roles in kinesiology or exercise science. However it might also be put towards a variety of fields in sports medicine, such as the following.
- Sports Psychology
- Sports Related Physical Therapy
We asked Alexandra Allred howa Masters in Kinesiology can advance your career in truly meaningful ways:
"A Masters in Kinesiology allowed me to develop a training fitness/functional movement program for those living with disability. For the more than 650 million worldwide living with disability yet receiving so little attention and information when it comes to better health, there is so much more to be done! Beyond coaching or teaching, kinesiology can revolutionize how we care for those with disability and change the world's perception of what is able-bodied."
~ Alexandra Allred, M.S., Tarleton State University Graduate
Masters in Kinesiology Areas of Emphasis
Some Masters in Kinesiology programs allow students to choose an area of emphasis. This could allow you to explore a particular interest and focus your degree. Available concentrations vary by school, but the following are a few of the most common options.
Exercise and Sports Psychology
The exercise and sports psychology concentration offers courses that study the psychological principles of exercise. In short, how human behavior and understanding could affect exercise outcomes. Classes in this concentration could include subjects such motivational exercise strategies and exercise prescription.
Geriatric Exercise Science
Geriatric exercise science concentrations focus on the physical necessities of older adults. Courses in this track focus on strategies to modify exercise techniques to accomodate the unique needs of the elderly. For instances, classes could explore the physical effects of aging and ways to use exercise to address chronic injuries.
The sports conditioning concentration highlights advanced training regimens for athletes. Students could study methods to better condition specific muscle groups necessary for different sports. Topics in this concentration could include muscular fitness development, speed and agility training, and metabolic conditioning.
Corrective Exercise and Rehabilitation
Corrective exercise and rehabilitation concentrations are designed to teach healthcare methods to address musculo-skeletal and movement dysfunctions. In short, courses instruct how to increase a person’s range of motion. Classes in this concentration could include human movement dysfunction, movement assessment and correction, and corrective exercise programming.
The adaptive sports concentrations work with providing support for athletes with physical disabilities. Much like the sports conditioning concentration, courses teach ways to help Paralympic athletes develop and train the necessary muscles for their sport. Classes might include para-athlete assessment and comprehensive adaptive sport & activity analysis.
Kinesiology Masters Programs & Exercise Physiology Certifications
Many Exercise Science Masters programs may list that their curriculum is based on the material of exercise physiology certification exams. This may be important to note as some states do require exercise physiologists to take these exams for licensure.i Through an integrated curriculum, students could prepare for these tests while simultaneously working towards their masters degree.
There are two agencies that offer exercise physiology certification exams. Depending on your academic and professional goals, you may want to consider taking one of the following.
- The American Society of Exercise Physiologists offer the Exercises Physiologist Certified (EPC) certification. Students may be required to have already earned a bachelors degree to become certified.
- The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers the Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) exam for students who have earned a masters degree. To be eligible, students must also complete 400 to 600 clinical hours. This prerequisite could be completed as part of your Masters in Kinesiology program.i
Though they are separate exams, each typically covers similar material. The exams, and related coursework, could include some of the following topics.
- Exercise physiology training
- Cardiac rehabilitation
- Neuromuscular kinesiology
- Sports biomechanics
Exam material changes each year. Be aware that not every school designs their curriculum around these exams. For more information, speak with a representative from your intended school to see if they offer exam prep as part of their core curriculum.
Applying to Masters in Kinesiology Programs
Kinesiology Masters programs aim to assess applicants previous exercise science experience, as well as their educational background. Typically, Masters of Kinesiology programs ask prospective students to submit a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, in addition to GRE or GMAT scores. Also, schools may require students to have already earned an undergraduate degree in kinesiology. Doing this might allow masters courses to focus more heavily on advanced exercise science material instead of the basics.
Additionally, schools may ask applicants to write a letter of interest to submit along with their application. This letter or short essay might outline why a particular program could help you achieve your academic, kinesiology goals. This helps potential programs see if that have faculty members that support your specific interest or concentration. It could also help you find out if a school aligns with your passions prior to you accepting.
Who Accredits Kinesiology Masters Programs?
Kinesiology Masters programs are often accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES). This accrediting agency establishes standards and guidelines to help the public easily evaluated kinesiology and exercise science programs. Accreditation may help prospective students judge if programs provide a certain quality of education.
In addition, CoAES reviews each program it accredits to offer further recommendations for their curriculum. For example, they may suggest including new kinesiology topics or technology. This may help ensure that students have access to up to date course materials while pursuing their degrees.
Other Kinesiology Masters programs may be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor of the health sciences professions. Similar to the CoAES, they assess programs on an ongoing basis to assure that they meet the standards and guidelines of a profession. In 2015, there were about 50 exercise programs with CAAHEP accredition.i
Types of Kinesiology Masters Programs
Kinesiology Masters programs are offered in a few different ways to accommodate a variety of students' needs. Depending on your current lifestyle and learning preference, you could consider pursuing one of the following program types. Be advised that program formats may vary by school. Check with an admissions advisor for more information.
On-Campus Kinesiology Masters Programs
On campus Kinesiology Masters programs could offer a hands-on experience for students. Literally! Students could have the chance to test their exercise science abilities on working anatomy models. Or, in some cases, they might even work with volunteer patients. In these cases, students could see the real-life applications of their field of study. In addition, these practical experiences might be a great way to practice creating exercise training plans.
Students may also have the chance to work with new exercise science technology on campus. Schools may have labs designed especially for kinesiology students. There, you could practice with machines and computer programs that are used to help treat movement issues. Not only could this help you in the classroom, but the experience might be a great asset as you pursue your future career.
Online Masters in Kinesiology Programs
Online Masters of Kinesiology programs may be a great option for those who need greater flexibility. Much of the kinesiology curriculum could be transferred to the digital classroom. Students may be able to log into classes as their schedule allows. This might be especially beneficial to students who are currently working and are unable to meet during typical class times. In addition, the online classroom eliminates the need to commute, allowing students to attend programs anywhere in the world. This might be useful if you are interested in a specific concentration or area of focus.
Students might also be able to access other school resources online in addition to coursework. For instance, many school make their libraries and online databases available to their distance learners. Or, schools might be able to stream lectures or guest speakers. This way, online students might be able to tap directly into the campus experience wherever they have internet access.
It should be noted that some online Masters of Kinesiology programs may have in-person requirements. Schools may ask students to participate in short campus visits or participate in internships or practicums at a nearby facility. Every online program handles this component differently, so follow up with individual Masters in Kinesiology programs for details.
What Could You Do with a Masters in Kinesiology?
As kinesiology is the study of the body and movement, a Masters in Kinesiology degree could be useful in fitness, physical education and athletic training. For example, graduates of Kinesiology Masters programs might pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. These professionals develop fitness programs for patients to address things like chronic diseases or to enhance their overall body composition.
In 2016, exercise physiologists earned a median salary of $47,340. Additionally, the amount of available positions is projected to grow between 2014 and 2024 by 11%, which is faster than the national average.ii
While these positions may require a bachelors degree for entry-level roles, masters degrees are also common. This career may pull directly from masters curriculum. For example, courses like biology, anatomy, and clinical work could be useful.i
Additionally, some states do require exercise physiologists to earn licensure. To do this, you could take either the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) or American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) certification exams. State requirements vary. Be sure to speak with possible employers or your school’s career center for more information.
Continue Your Search for a Masters in Kinesiology Program
Using this information as a base, you might be ready to start your search for a Masters in Exercise Science program. To begin, browse the lists of programs on this page. Or, you could further refine this list by selecting your preferred program type from filter on the left.
To find out more about a specific program, click the request more information button. This provides you with a brief description about the Kinesiology Masters program. This could be a great way to find out about admissions deadlines, available courses, and more. Or start speaking with admissions advisors about your potential future application.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm
Liberty University Online
The Master of Science in Exercise Science — Human Performance prepares you to maximize the physical ability of athletes through focused training.
University of Western States
he University of Western States exercise and sports science (ESS) master’s degree program is regionally accredited and prepares graduates to provide expert education, guidance and services as leaders in sport, exercise and...
- Pomona, CAPomona, CA
California State Polytechnic University Pomona
The Master of Science in Kinesiology curriculum provides students with advanced knowledge and expertise in exercise physiology, fitness assessment, ex...
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
Northeastern Illinois University
The M.S. in Exercise Science program is to promote fitness and optimal health through teaching, research, and service.
- Harrisonburg, VAHarrisonburg, VA
James Madison University
The School of Kinesiology and Recreation Studies offers a 33-credit hour Master of Science degree with concentrations in clinical exercise physiology,...
- Ames, IAAmes, IA
Iowa State University
Our students are prepared as kinesiologists in a positive, supportive environment in which both biological and behavioral contributions to the study of physical activity are examined. Our students also develop strong teaching skills. Areas of emphasis i...
- Pittsburgh, PAPittsburgh, PA
University of Pittsburgh
The Exercise Physiology specialization focuses on the biodynamics of exercise, its role in the training and conditioning of sport participants, its benefits as a therapeutic agent in the prevention and rehabilitation of disease, and as an adjunct to hea...
- Chicago, ILChicago, IL
University of Illinois at Chicago
The Department of Movement Sciences at UIC offers the M.S. in Movement Sciences with specialization's in Applied Exercise Physiology, Exercise Biology, Motor Control and Learning, and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with an emphasis in Exercise Biology...
- Los Angeles, CALos Angeles, CA
University of Southern California
The graduate program for the M.S. in biokinesiology is open to physical therapists who have baccalaureate degrees or certificates in physical therapy and have clinical experience. The M.S. program also is open to college graduates with a strong interest...
- Los Angeles, CA
- Syracuse, NYSyracuse, NY
At the graduate level in Exercise Science, we provide an atmosphere that inspires inquiry, innovation, and involvement. We reach beyond traditional practices and encourage you to challenge issues you feel are important. Ultimately, we want to give you o...
- Provo, UTProvo, UT
Brigham Young University
This program provides students with advanced training in exercise physiology. Students are prepared to assume leadership roles in the broad field of professional exercise science (i.e., corporate fitness, personal training), to enter medical programs (i...
- Statesboro, GAStatesboro, GA
Georgia Southern University
Master's in Exercise Science for students interested in advanced and specialized study in the biophysical aspects of exercise.
- Grand Forks, NDGrand Forks, ND
University of North Dakota
The Department of Physical Education, Exercise Science, and Wellness offers the M.S. in Kinesiology.
- Muncie, INMuncie, IN
Ball State University
If you could choose the ideal college -- one that provided you powerful resources (world class faculty, facilities, technology, and academics) for personal learning (small classes, with extensive faculty interaction and contact) -- you would choose Ball...
- Muncie, IN
- Grahamstown, South AfricaGrahamstown, South Africa
- Indiana, PAIndiana, PA
Indiana University Of Pennsylvania
The Master of Science in Sport Science is designed to meet the needs of students from both teaching and non-teaching professions...
- Nottingham, United KingdomNottingham, United Kingdom
University of Nottingham
A one-year full-time or two-year part-time course leading to an M.Sc. or Diploma in Sports Medicine for health care professionals with a first degree.
- Northridge, CANorthridge, CA
California State University, Northridge
- Northampton, MANorthampton, MA
- Long Beach, CALong Beach, CA
California State University, Long Beach
- Nacogdoches, TXNacogdoches, TX
Stephen F Austin State University
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
- London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
London Metropolitan University
The MSc Sport and Exercise Science provides advanced study opportunities in the subject area, building on previous experience at first-degree level. The course is particularly designed for those who have to deal with sports science as part of their work...