Graduate Kinesiology Programs & Exercise Science Programs
Kinesiology graduate programs could develop students’ ability to treat movement related health issues. Classes may first cover advanced topics in anatomy and physiology to illustrate how the human body handles stress, such as trauma from sports, aging, and more.
Then, students in exercise science graduate programs could practice diagnosing mock and actual patients. In these classes, you may have the opportunity to create fitness and rehabilitation plans to address people’s unique health issues.
Depending on your chosen degree level, you might also conduct kinesiology research and contribute new ideas to the field. So be sure to investigate PhD in Kinesiology or Exercise Science Masters programs with a thesis requirement if this interests you.
What Are Kinesiology Graduate Programs?
Graduate kinesiology schools may offer programs under a variety of names, such as exercise science graduate programs or exercise physiology graduate programs. While curriculum will vary, most explore ways to enhance a person’s general movement to reduce injuries and maintain their health. Coursework often expands upon exercise topics covered in related bachelors degree programs.
Kinesiology graduate programs also act as a foundation for other fields of exercise science. The study of human movement could feed into several types of therapy or conditioning methods. For example, kinesiology knowledge is fundamental in some of the following fields.
- Sports Psychology
- Sports Related Physical Therapy
We asked Dr. Samuel Hetz how kinesiology graduate programs gives you a number of ways to advance your career:
“Earning both an undergraduate and masters degree in kinesiology does not only prepare you for a number of careers, but is also an amazing stepping stone into other programs such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and medicine. I applied much of what I learned during my kinesiology programs during my medical school training, and continue to use my training on a daily basis as a physician and medical director at Concept Medical, an advanced cosmetic medicine and medical skin clinic in Ottawa, Canada.”
~Dr. Samuel Hetz MSc, MD, CCFP Click to Tweet
Graduate Kinesiology Programs Curriculum
Exercise science graduate programs aim to deepen a student’s understanding of human movement. As part of this, classes may explore things like stress-free muscle interactions, proper posture, and training techniques. These concepts then may be applied to helping specific populations, like children, adults, and aging patients.
In kinesiology graduate programs, you could have the chance to take some of the following courses.
- Youth Fitness
- Adult Fitness Programs
- Motor Learning
- Aerobic and Anaerobic Training
- Clinical Exercise Physiology
These are only a few examples. Curriculum may vary between degree programs and schools.
While similar courses may be offered at each degree level, their material may differ. For instance, an exercise science masters program may take a more in-depth look at biomechanic concepts that a certificate program. Speak with potential department faculty for more details.
Exercise Science Masters Programs
Masters programs in kinesiology encourage students to practically apply their exercise science abilities. This could mean conducting stress tests, performing motion captures, or creating mock fitness plans. Whereas a bachelors program may have provided necessary academic groundwork, a masters program is where that knowledge turns into action.
Exercise physiology masters programs are also an opportunity for students to study a particular aspect of the field. Instead of general topics, students could study some of its unique challenges. This could include working with aging patients, sports related trauma, or more.
As part of exercise physiology masters programs, you could choose to concentrate your studies in some of the following areas.
- Exercise and Sports Psychology
- Geriatric Exercise Science
- Sports Conditioning
- Corrective Exercise and Rehabilitation
- Adaptive Sports
Available concentrations may differ from school to school.
Masters of Kinesiology Program Requirements
Masters kinesiology programs may ask applicants to submit a 3.0 or higher GPA, in addition to GRE or GMAT scores. They may also require students to have previously earned a bachelors in a related field. This could allow classes to move directly to advanced exercise physiology topics without having to dedicate time to the basics.
To graduate, students may be tasked with completing 36 to 42 credit hours. Twelve of these credit hours are usually devoted solely to concentration specific courses. Given these requirements, students could earn a masters degree in kinesiology in 1 to 2 years, depending on enrollment. Program length however may vary by school.
Kinesiology Graduate Certificate Programs
Graduate certificate kinesiology programs tend to be highly focused on one part of exercise science. They’re intended to flesh out a previously earned bachelors degree in a related field. Graduate certificate coursework could expand upon your basic knowledge in a specific kinesiology concentration that you might not have encountered previously.
For example, the following are a few types of graduate certificates you could pursue.
- Sports Coaching
- Injury Management
- Fitness Instruction
Available graduate certificate programs differ by school.
Certificate programs are intended to be more accessible. This usually means that there are less admissions requirements. For example, certificate programs rarely require students to submit GRE scores or additional essays.
Graduate certificate programs are also shorter and usually designed to include 9 credit hours’ worth of classes. This means that students could earn an exercise science graduate certificate in less than a year, depending on enrollment.
Program lengths and admission requirements may vary, so contact schools directly for details.
PhD in Kinesiology Programs
Kinesiology doctoral programs are typically based on health promotion research. Students may have the chance to perform their own interdisciplinary experiments to test the effectiveness of fitness methods.
The research emphasis could also be clearly seen in the PhD program’s curriculum. In addition to general kinesiology course topics, you may be required to complete the following research classes.
- Analysis of Exercise and Wellness
- Correlation and Regression Statistics
- Research Methods
Students may also be responsible for researching and writing a dissertation.This project acts as the capstone to a PhD Kinesiology program.
Doctorate Admissions, Graduation, and Beyond
Doctoral kinesiology programs are often known for have rigorous admissions processes. As part of your application, you may be requested to submit the following.
- 3.0 or higher GPA
- Masters degree in related field
- Writing samples
- Research outline
Also, students may be asked to take part in an in-person interview with department faculty. Doctoral admissions are this intensive to help ensure programs align with student goals.
By outlining your research ambitions and speaking with faculty, the department could better choose an appropriate academic advisor. Also, this may help you gauge whether a program could support your educational goals.
PhD program length varies depending on how long it takes you to write your dissertation. Kinesiology schools usually dedicate 36 to 60 credit hours to core curriculum. Then, students could schedule up to 30 additional credit hours to research, write, and present their dissertation.
With this in mind, students might earn a PhD in Exercise Science in 3 to 5 years, depending on enrollment. Program length and admission requirements differ between schools. Speak with an advisor for more information.
Accredited Exercise Science Graduate Programs
One important consideration when choosing among graduate kinesiology programs might be accredition. Accredition may speak to the quality of the curriculum, facility and more.
In addition to regional accreditation, some schools may be accredited at the program level. The Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) commonly accredits kinesiology graduate programs.
CoAES creates standards to assess exercise science degree programs and potentially judge whether programs are keeping up with related technology and information. To do this, CoAES performs a two-step process.
First, schools are subject to a yearly document audit. Here, they submit course materials and syllabi for evaluation. Auditors then ensure that the kinesiology topics are current and not outdated.
Secondly, CoAES sends out a member to the physical campus. While there, they may sit in on classes or speak with department faculty. This may allow them to see how concepts are being implemented in the classroom. The goal of the process is to push programs to strive for innovative coursework.
Not all kinesiology programs are accredited. But, accredited coursework could benefit students looking to study the latest in exercise physiology. Contact programs directly or visit the CoAES site if this is of interest to you.
Popular Accredited Exercise Science Graduate Programs
Master of Science in Kinesiology
Master of Science in Exercise & Sports Science (ESS)
Health & Exercise Science
Kinesiology Program Formats
Depending on your schedule, a certain type of exercise science graduate program might be better suited for you. Please be aware that certain schools may not offer some of these program types. Speak with an admissions advisor from intended programs for more information.
On-Campus Kinesiology Graduate Programs
Graduate kinesiology schools offer a hands-on way to work with your exercise science curriculum. Besides general academics, courses may offer real-world scenarios for you to study. In some cases, volunteer patients may be brought into class to demonstrate movement issues.
Or, you could travel as a class to clinical facilities to see stress test demonstrations. You might even have the chance to design training or physical therapy plans for these same patients.
Additionally, campus based classes usually have students interacting with technology they may not have available at home. For example, students may have the chance to work with advanced motion capture, stress test, and rehabilitation software.
Work with this technology could help students familiarize themselves with what’s routinely used in the industry. Additionally, campus coursework may provide students the opportunity to practically apply new knowledge. A potentially important feature in such a hands on field.
Online Kinesiology Graduate Programs
Online kinesiology programs bring exercise physiology into the digital classroom. In many programs students may log into courses as their schedule allows. The flexible scheduling could be a great asset for students who are currently practicing kinesiologists.
Besides convenient class times, students may also cut down on their commute. This could save them valuable time outside of work and academics.
Plus, many online programs try to emulate their campus counterparts as much as possible. Some schools stream lectures or provide recorded ones to their online students. This might allow you to still take part in a traditional classroom experience.
Online kinesiology schools may also provide access to classroom forums and online databases and libraries. Using both tools could help enrich your studies or offer new insights to your research.
It is important to note that some online programs will have in person components. These may require a short campus visit or a placement at a nearby facility.
Programs may also offer a hybrid option which could combine online and on campus classes. Sometimes these campus classes occur in condensced winter or summer semesters. However every program is different so it’s best to contact preferred kinesiology programs directly for details.
Possible Kinesiology Career Paths
Many students who complete kinesiology graduate programs go on to pursue exercise physiologist careers. These positions might also be called kinesiotherapists. These professionals design physical activity programs to potentially enhance patient health.
Exercise physiologists may complete the following tasks.
- Treating Chronic Muscle Pain
- Performing Fitness & Stress Tests
- Measuring Vitals (Blood Pressure, Oxygen Use, etc.)i
Entry-level roles in this field typically require students to have earned a bachelors degree. But, many employers may ask for a masters degree or higher for more advanced roles. These degrees may demonstrate more in-depth knowledge of necessary topics in anatomy, biology, and clinical study.
Some exercise physiologist roles might also request that you complete a related internship. This experience could offer on-the-job training unavailable in the classroom. ii
While many states currently do not require EPs to become licensed to practice, some are beginning to. As of now, the American Society of Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) both offer certification exams. For more information about state license requirements, speak with your school’s career center.
Available roles in this field are currently projected to grow by 11% from 2014 to 2024. This rate is faster than the national average predicted job growth. Exercise physiologists earned a median annual salary of $47,340 in 2016.iii
Find Graduate Kinesiology Programs
Using this information as an outline, you might have a better idea of how to start searching for exercise science graduate programs. To continue, you have two options.
First, you could browse the program links on this page. Or, you could refine your search by choosing your preferred kinesiology degree level and program type using the menu bar.
And, while you’re there, you could also request more information. This could provide you with details like admissions deadlines, potential curriculum, and more. It might also be a great way to begin contact with a school’s admissions team.
So why wait – your graduate kinesiology degree could only be a click away!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm#tab-2 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm#tab-4 | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/exercise-physiologists.htm
Brigham Young University
University of Utah