2018 Top Online Schools for Exercise Science

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering exercise science degrees online.

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California Baptist University

Students interested in a degree in kinesiology can earn a bachelor or master's degree in the subject through California Baptist University's online programs. The Master of Science in Kinesiology is a 30-credit program that students can complete in as little as 12 months. The program is interdisciplinary, and students take courses in subjects such as the science of human movement, research methods, and advanced studies of fitness and wellness, which includes sport nutrition and fitness testing for special populations. The Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology requires students to earn 50 credits in the major, including movement anatomy, care and prevention of athletic injury, and measurement and evaluation in kinesiology.


Georgia Southern University

Experienced coaches and new coaches who wish to improve their skills and knowledge base can earn a Master of Science in Kinesiology with an emphasis in coaching education through an online program offered by Georgia Southern University. Online coursework covers topics such as athletic training, coaching effectiveness, coaching administration, and performance enhancement. To earn the degree, students must complete 12 courses for 36 credits. Students can complete the program in four semesters, taking two classes each semester, and taking advantage of the two summer sessions to complete four courses each summer for two summers. The curriculum offered by Georgia Southern follows National Coaching Standards for Level 5 Coaching Status.

CAG Score 93.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

20,459 Students


Concordia University-Saint Paul

Concordia St. Paul offers online bachelor and master's programs in exercise science. The Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science is a degree-completion program designed for adult learners who already have some college credits. The major requires students to earn 41 credits in exercise science classes, including coursework in human movement, exercise, and health psychology. Students must complete 128 credits, including general studies, to earn the degree. The Master of Science in Exercise Science requires 33 to 36 credits. Required courses cover topics such as statistical analysis, exercise physiology, the psychology of sports, clinical exercise assessment, and nutrition and metabolism. Candidates must complete a capstone project or thesis. Concordia's online classes follow a seven-week format.


University of Northern Colorado

The University of Northern Colorado offers an online Master of Arts in Sports Coaching that combines applied coaching with academic knowledge and the latest technology. Students can start the 30-credit program in any academic term. Courses cover topics such as sports psychology, injury prevention, principles of training and conditioning, teaching sports, and applied coaching research. Candidates must take part in a graduate internship in sport and exercise science. Students can take one course at a time,and in place of a thesis or exam, they are required to develop a portfolio showing how they have incorporated the theoretical aspects of successful coaching. Applicants to the program should have a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.


The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas Tyler offers an online program leading to a Master of Science in Kinesiology. The program is designed for students with a variety of career goals, including corporate health and wellness, coaching, personal trainers, athletic trainers, and physical therapists. The curriculum features 18 credits in required classes, 12 credits in electives, and a choice of a thesis or internship. Required classes cover topics such as motor learning, biomechanics, and exercise physiology. Students may select electives from the Department of Health and Kinesiology or seek permission to take courses offered by other departments. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree in a related field of study and a minimum 3.0 GPA.


University of Louisiana-Monroe

The University of Louisiana Monroe offers a completely online Master of Science in Exercise Science with a specialization in sport, fitness and recreation management. The program is designed for students who would like a career in sport management or a related field. Curriculum covers topics such as sport sociology, governance and ethics in sport, and research and statistical methods in exercise science. Classes in the sport management specialization include finance, law, and marketing of sport, fitness and recreation. The program requires 36 credits, and three credits may be earned through an internship. The program requires all candidates to take comprehensive exams. ULM allows students to begin the program in the spring or fall semester.


Texas A & M University-Commerce

Students who want to concentrate in athletic administration or health promotion can earn a Master of Science in Health, Kinesiology and Sport Studies in a completely online format through Texas A&M University Commerce. The athletics administration program is designed specifically for full-time teachers and coaches, who can complete the 30-credit program in a little over a year by taking nine credits in the spring and fall and six credits during the summer for two summers. The program uses a cohort format. The health promotion concentration is designed for professionals who work in the wellness industry and covers topics such as planning and implementing health promotion programs and health promotion for special populations. Thesis and non-thesis options are offered.


University of Western States

The University of the Western States has a master's program in exercise and sports science (ESS) that is offered completely online. Students may choose whether to pursue a Master of Science or Master of Arts in ESS. To earn the M.S., students must complete 54 credits, while M.A. candidates must complete 46 credits. UWS uses the quarter system, with courses running for 11 weeks, and students decide how many courses they want to take each quarter. Students who take two courses per quarter can earn the M.A. in six quarters and the M.S. in seven quarters. Concentration tracks include fitness and wellness management, or sports performance and coaching science.


Concordia University-Chicago

Students enrolled in the online Master of Science in Applied Exercise Science program offered by Concordia University Chicago can choose from four concentrations. The fitness and health promotion concentration prepares students to become Certified Personal Trainers. The human movement science concentration is for students who want to become corrective exercise specialists. The sports performance and training program is for coaches and athletic trainers, and the sports nutrition concentration prepares students to design and implement nutrition and exercise programs. All the coursework is available online, with no campus visits required. Courses last for eight weeks, and students must complete 10 courses to earn the degree. Cohorts are formed to enter the program at three times each year.


The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

The University of Texas Permian Basin offers an online program leading to a Master of Science in Kinesiology as part of the UT Online Consortium, which allows students to take online courses offered by several universities within the system, although they must be accepted into a specific university's program. To earn the degree, students must complete 36 credits, including a capstone project or thesis. Applicants to the program must have an undergraduate degree in kinesiology or a related subject with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in upper division coursework. There is no practicum requirement for the degree. The program is designed to meet the needs of physical education teachers, coaches, and other professionals.

CAG Score 94.4

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,077 Students


Southern Utah University

Southern Utah University has a long tradition as a "coaching factory," and its online Master of Science in Sport Conditioning and Performance enables students to take part in that tradition from a distance. The online degree is designed for coaches, athletic trainers, personal trainers, physical therapists and other fitness professionals. Students can complete most coursework online, but they will be required to be at the SUU campus for one to two weeks one summer to complete intensive clinical workshops. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a closely related field or have a bachelor's degree and be a certified or licensed fitness professional. Students must earn 18 credits in required courses, 12 credits in electives, and must complete a thesis.


Missouri Baptist University

Missouri Baptist University offers an online Master of Science in Fitness Management that combines classes in exercise science with business and management classes to qualify students for jobs in the growing fitness industry. Courses include principles of human performance, chronic disease and obesity, sport finance, sport facility management, and sport psychology. As a capstone project, students enrolled in the program put their knowledge and skills to work during an internship at a fitness club, rehabilitation facility or coaching assignment. The program is open to recent graduates with exercise science degrees as well as professionals who work as athletic or personal trainers, wellness counselors, physical education teachers and others. Students may take classes full time or part time.


United States Sports Academy

The United States Sports Academy offers a fully online program leading to a Master of Sports Science. Students earning the 33-credit degree have the choice of majoring in sports coaching, sports health and fitness, sports management, sports studies, or recreation management. Students may also pursue a double major, which requires 42 to 45 credits. In addition to majors, students can select an area of emphasis, such as NCAA compliance, Olympism, sports psychology, or sports hospitality management. Students may choose a thesis option, mentorship option or non-thesis option. Students who do not write a thesis must sit a comprehensive exam. The Sports Academy is a member of the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education.

Evaluating Online Exercise Science Degrees

Exercise science is – quite simply – a hands-on discipline, and it can be hard to find strong, accredited undergraduate programs that are 100% online. However, you may be able to enroll in online degrees in related disciplines (e.g. coaching) or hybrid programs that arrange local practicums and internships. Some schools also offer online degree completion programs to students who already have an associate’s degree or college credits.

You’ll have an easier time finding online programs in exercise science at the graduate level. That’s because schools know that you’ve been through training in your bachelor’s degree. Whatever level of program you’re looking at, check if it has:

  • Regional accreditation
  • Programs that arrange real-world internships and practicums in your local area
  • Solid “brick and mortar” reputation (e.g. top school rankings, strong research centers, and distinguished alumni)
  • The same faculty who teach on-campus courses teaching online
  • Dedicated distance learning support services
  • Career centers with job placement figures

Avoid schools with low completion and high student loan default rates.


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