Overview of Kinesiology Degrees
The study of kinesiology uses an in-depth understanding of exercise and physiology to address health concerns. Due to the discipline’s applicability in countless health contexts, a Master’s in Kinesiology allows you to pursue all kinds of careers. These range from personalized medical work to crafting large-scale public health policy.
Suppose you come from an undergraduate background in Kinesiology or the Health Sciences. In that case, you know how the body can heal itself with proper exercise. A Master’s program can help you delve deeper into the science of activity, reaching a greater understanding of the links between exercise, nutrition, and health.
Keep reading to know the unique benefits, requirements, and learning outcomes of a Master’s in Kinesiology.
Why are Kinesiologists Important?
It’s well-known that exercise is crucial for humans to lead long and healthy lives. But despite this acknowledged fact, only 23% of Americans meet the recommended federal physical activity guidelines.
This may be because exercise is perceived as a confusing and complicated activity. People struggle to formulate a personal routine that shows results. Regular physical activity is especially perplexing for those with unique health conditions who can’t rely on general fitness advice.
Kinesiology professionals address this problem by guiding people through the intricate subject and finding their best results. They use an integrated understanding of biology, nutrition, and physiology to create treatment plants for clients and improve their mobility.
More specifically, Kinesiologists would do the following:
- Create and design rehabilitation programs for patients with chronic illness or healing from injury. These regimens can aid in regaining motor skills or mitigating physical pain.
- Improve the fitness outlook of clients by conducting routine fitness assessments, progress tracking, and activity monitoring.
- Work with dieticians, nutritionists, and physicians to optimize a client’s diet for their specific health and exercise demands.
- Conduct clinical research to create better treatments and innovate the discipline.
Some work with professional athletes to improve performance in their sports. Kinesiologists can work as athletic coaches or consultants, creating training programs that best suit their clients and monitoring their progress.
Others work for a more general fitness audience, reaching out to your average Joe to improve their health. In this side of the commercial industry, they may work as athletic coordinators to oversee entire sports programs for high schools, colleges, and community recreation facilities.
A Master’s in Kinesiology provides graduates with a higher-level understanding of human mechanics and bodily health. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in a related health field, further education allows students to study a specialty within Kinesiology deeply.
Kinesiologists with Master’s degrees enjoy more career-advancing opportunities. It’s been found that people with higher education are extended more leadership positions and high-skill roles within their industries.
And while it isn’t always a prerequisite to have a Master’s degree to pursue a Doctorate, having one makes you a more competitive candidate when applying for Ph.D. programs.
A Master’s in Kinesiology takes around two years to complete. However, most programs offer “full-time” or “part-time” student schedules, which can affect the length of your study.
Compared to the more ‘all-around’ nature of Bachelor’s degrees, your time spent in a Master’s program will be focused on your chosen specialty. At this point in your education, foundational English or basic science subjects should already be completed.
What You’ll Learn
As previously mentioned, a Master’s degree allows students to deep-dive into Kinesiology topics.
For example, while a Bachelor’s Degree will lay the groundwork for an understanding of Biomechanics, a postgraduate degree will take this further. Discussions on the “Biomechanics of Endurance” and “Biomechanics of Strength” become separate courses for in-depth study.
Additionally, the Master’s degree offers a larger-scale research task known as the dissertation, which involves more extensive research training. Thus, more specific research subjects are integrated into a student’s curriculum. Applicants should expect topics on statistical research techniques, research ethics, research methods in exercise sciences, and grant writing.
Field & Career Placement
Graduates with a Master’s in Kinesiology can enter many types of careers. Depending on individual preference, they can choose to start in any of the following fields:
- Sports Industry
Many Kinesiologists choose to work with amateur and professional sports teams, as they can provide knowledge on the human body that athletes need to advance their sports performance. Jobs in this field may range from working as conditioning consultants for individual clients to athletic managers for entire leagues.
- Clinical Practice
Kinesiology professionals also aid in recovering from a recent injury or battling a disease. Graduates create activity programs that can address specific health needs such as cardiovascular health, joint health, and flexibility.
Kinesiologists can also engage in medical research. Through studying the treatment of dozens of test subjects, researchers can innovate new forms of physical care and nutrition for the Kinesiology discipline.
It’s important to note that specific forms of education are required to work in this industry. For example, you may need to find specializations in Physical Therapy or look into a medical degree.
- Health & Wellness Industry
Suppose you’re all about promoting the benefits of activity on a larger scale. In that case, you’d find a place in the health and wellness industry. In this profession, you’d be making corporate programs that encourage behavioral changes for the better health of employees. Kinesiologists provide diet advice, recreational activities, or other sporting activities.
What is a Kinesiologist?
Overview of Available Licensing
As of this writing, there is no general license given to Kinesiology professionals in the United States. However, some professions require specific certifications before they can practice.
You may also want to become a Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP), a certification the American College of Sports Medicine offers to Master’s degree holders. These professionals work specifically with individuals who experience disease or are otherwise physically limited by a medical condition. Compared to Certified Exercise Physiologists (EP-C), CEPs collaborate closely with healthcare professionals.
Due to the lack of general Kinesiology licenses, graduates can join Kinesiology associations to grow their professional network and increase their credibility. Here is a list of recognized Kinesiology associations and organizations for related professions:
- American Kinesiology Association (AKA)
- National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE)
- Clinical Exercise Physiology Association
- American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
Many industries have been discussed thus far, but what specific positions can Kinesiologists have in these fields? Here are some typical jobs in popular sectors that can be obtained with a Master’s in Kinesiology:
Sports Industry. Professional athletes always try to exceed their current abilities for a competitive advantage. Since this can be a physical risk, Kinesiologists help their clients by developing exercise routines that are both safe and highly optimized for performance.
- Sports Medicine Specialist
- Athletic Trainer
- Sport Psychologist for Performance Enhancement
- Sports Management
Clinical Careers. Pursuing medical practice as a Kinesiologist can be very fulfilling and financially competitive. In this field, graduates help patients through physical rehabilitation, aiming to improve their overall mobility. Sample professions include:
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist
- Respiration Therapist
- Physician Assistant
Fitness & Wellness Industry. This industry might be best for you if you want to take a more commercial route. In contrast to the first two fields, clients of the Fitness and Wellness industry have more common health needs. In most instances, a Kinesiologist would advise communities and individual clients on exercise and diet.
- Health & Wellness Director
- Exercise Physiologist
- Recreational Sports Coordinator
Benefits of an Online Degree in Kinesiology
While taking a Master’s in Kinesiology in a traditional face-to-face setting can be excellent for many, it’s worth considering joining an online program instead.
Online class provides the best options for flexibility in cost and time, which allows students to continue their education while attending to other responsibilities. This is especially important for postgraduate students, as they are at the age where they gain more duties.
You can look for universities that offer an Online Master’s in Kinesiology, such as:
- Louisiana State University
- Michigan State University
- Texas Woman’s University
- California State University Bakersfield
Here are just some of the advantages that come with earning your degree online:
- International Networking
Since online programs can be offered to anyone in the world, students are more likely to establish worldwide connections. Meeting international students will be more common, and they can become contact points if you want to practice abroad.
Additionally, the global nature of online programs allows programs to scour the entire world for the top teachers in the industry, creating a first-class professional network for their students to tap into.
- Increased Flexibility
Most Master’s students are around 30 years old when individuals receive more financial and familial responsibilities. An online program is best for these busy students since most lessons are self-paced, making balancing schooling, jobs, and household duties much more doable.
Since less money is spent on physical resources required for classrooms, the basic tuition fees of online courses are usually cheaper than traditional programs.
Additionally, since students can take their classes from their existing homes, additional costs are not spent on transportation, relocation, or food.
- Better Learning Outcomes
It’s become apparent that the traditional schooling format of rigid schedules for lectures and tests doesn’t always suit a student’s learning style.
For example, people learn at very different speeds. In conventional learning, students would be forced to catch up, comprising their absorption of topics. In contrast, they can accomplish lessons at their preferred speed online.
Graduate Kinesiology Programs
Length of Programs
While variable in length, a Master’s program takes 2 years to accomplish on average. Since many universities acknowledge the desire for Master’s students to keep working, they offer both “full-time” and “part-time” learning schedules.
Full-time Master in Kinesiology students would generally attend more classes in a semester and dedicate most of their daily time to their studies. As a result, many can finish their programs in 1-2 years.
In contrast, part-time students split their time between school responsibilities, a job, and their family. As these students take fewer classes at a time, they typically obtain their Master’s Degree in 2-3 years.
Since Kinesiology specialization may differ based on your chosen program, the subjects in each curriculum may vary. Additionally, most programs will assume you have bases covered and offer more advanced courses. However, you might expect some of the following notable classes:
- Neuromuscular Control of Human Movement: This subject connects knowledge in neurology with human motion and performance. Students discuss the nerves that serve specific muscles and bones to create movement.
- Exercise Prescription for Disease: This course teaches students the appropriate exercise recommendations for specific diseases and ailments. This includes activity intervention plans for diabetes, cancer, AIDS, and arthritis.
- Biomechanics of Endurance Performance: After the basics of biomechanics are established in an undergraduate degree, the topic will be explored for specific activities. In this subject, the biomechanical factors of activities like biking, running, or swimming are examined.
- Theories of Disease Prevention: Healthy habits are crucial in preventing metabolic diseases. This course discusses the long-term relationship between disease and one’s food decisions, activity rates, and other lifestyle choices.
- Research Techniques in Kinesiology & Exercise: Master’s programs typically culminate in an extensive independent research task. In these research classes, students are introduced to methodologies most relevant to analysis in the health, exercise, and nutrition sciences.
If you’re aiming for practice in Physical or Occupational Therapy, inquire with your school about accredited classes for those disciplines. Having enough class credit in those topics is crucial for licensure.
Standard Entrance Requirements to Enroll
Recommended Bachelor’s Degree
Coming from any allied health undergraduate degree that covers the foundations of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physiology, Biomechanics, and Motor Control will give you an advantage in learning the advanced Kinesiology coursework.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Kinesiology, Sports Science, Exercise Science, or Health Sciences are recommended Bachelor programs for applicants of a Kinesiology Master’s program.
Application Process / Timeline / Cost
It’s recommended to start mapping out your application plan 18 months before your first day of classes.
Unlike Bachelor’s Degrees, applications for many Master’s Programs occur on a rolling basis. This means applications are reviewed as they come in rather than all at once after a deadline.
However, you will need to submit your application at certain times if you want to start at a specific semester. For example, if you’re hoping to start Grad School by next fall, you should submit your application sometime in December or January. Most Master’s degrees require an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Thus, it’s best to determine if you want a postgraduate degree while taking your Bachelor’s to get the appropriate grade. Candidates with lower GPAs are typically asked to take additional entrance exams or can be admitted as probationary students who undergo routine evaluations from professors.
Applicants will have to present all their Bachelor’s Degree transcripts. If you’re coming from a non-Kinesiology undergrad degree, ensure you have the correct class credits to be eligible for your Master’s program.
Additionally, candidates are asked to submit 2-3 letters of recommendation from superiors that can provide testimony on their graduate-level work. As such, it’s best to get letters from college professors or work managers.
Occasionally, admissions officers will ask for an academic writing sample from your undergraduate classes. Examples include your thesis or other research reports.
An essay is usually required for admission into a Master’s program. The contents of the personal statement detail your interest in the degree or your work goals upon graduation. Some programs will give a more specific prompt to answer, but it is best to read the provided directions.
For Master’s programs in more clinical careers, work experience is sometimes a must. However, for most Kinesiology programs, it’s not required.
If you have relevant work experience, it’s helpful to submit a CV.
Some institutions require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and it’s best to inquire with your school of choice to determine its necessity. Depending on the program, you may have to submit either General GRE scores or the results from specific GRE subject tests.
If your chosen institution requires these scores, taking the tests as early as possible is recommended. This allows applicants to take a repeat test if they are unsatisfied with their original score before submission.
Career Outlook for Kinesiology Students
BLS Data (Field Growth + Salaries)
Graduates with a Master’s in Kinesiology make a median salary of $63,021 a year, and your location of practice can influence this number.
The number of jobs in the field is expected to increase by 9% in the next decade, a much faster rate than other industries on average.
Potential Career Paths/Job Titles
A Master’s in Kinesiology gives graduates a multitude of career paths to choose from, including:
- Prosthetist – designs prosthetic devices for patients. To create the optimal prosthetic, kinesiologists must be familiar with anatomy and their client’s physical activity habits.
- Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist – works with patients with chronic heart diseases or who are recently recovering from a heart attack. Kinesiologists monitor heart health and create exercise plans aimed at improving cardiovascular outlooks.
- Occupational Therapist – helps people regain mobility needed for everyday activities such as writing, putting on clothes, and holding utensils.
- Research Scientist – records data regarding a patient’s treatment and their corresponding recovery. By investigating new forms of therapy, kinesiology researchers can create better care standards across the medical field.
- Sports Manager – supervises the business facets of sports, including marketing and team management. This is an excellent option if you specialize in Sports Administration in your Kinesiology degree.
If any of these careers or subjects piqued your interest, and if promoting health through exercise is important to you, continuing your education with a degree in Kinesiology may be the right choice.