Author: Brenda Rufener
Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
Readability: Grade 9
Read Time: 11 minutes, 28 seconds
Original Publication Date: December 2020
In this article, we profile the top 10 affordable online kinesiology programs of 2024.
Finding an affordable online kinesiology degree program takes time and research. Few quality programs exist. However, through careful research of reputable online sources, including the Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator, we located the top bachelor of kinesiology online programs. Our methodology is listed below.
Affordable Online Kinesiology Degree Methodology
We looked at 48 colleges listed by the NCES College Navigator with online bachelor’s in kinesiology programs. Closely related programs were also included. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria:
- Regional or national accreditation
- Full- or part-time online completion pathways
- Program and/or school rankings with U.S. News and World Report
- Undergraduate tuition/fees less than $37,000 per year
We then ranked the top 20 online kinesiology programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the most affordable online kinesiology degree programs.
#10 – University of the Cumberlands
Online Bachelor in Coaching
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,875
Are you seeking a kinesiology credential? You may find the online bachelor’s in coaching from the University of Cumberlands a sound option. This is due to its curriculum and online flexibility. Interested candidates with 0-11 credits must apply as freshmen. Applicants with 12+ credits should apply as transfer students. Core classes for this bachelor’s degree in kinesiology include:
- Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries
- Facilities Development and Management
- Functional Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Growth and Motor Development
For students on a budget, the program features affordable tuition. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accredits the university. It ranks #298 in national universities, according to U.S. News and World Report.
- High-quality education
- Lack of communication with online students
- Lack of diversity
#9 – University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Online Kinesiology Bachelor’s Degree
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $10,951; (out-of-state) $15,570
The University of North Dakota offers an online kinesiology credential. This online bachelor’s degree program has no residency or campus visitation requirements. Students can complete all requirements online. The University of North Dakota started correspondence courses by mail in 1911. It now offers more than 120 online degree programs. The bachelor’s degree in kinesiology program requires 120 credits. Core classes include:
- Adapted Physical Activity
- Biomechanics and Biomechanics Laboratory
- Exercise Testing and Prescription
- Motor Learning
Students can transfer credits from other programs or institutions. They need approval from admissions after an official transcript evaluation. U.S. News and World Report ranks UND #258 in national universities and #126 in top public universities.
- Accepts AP and dual credits
- A wide range of degree programs
- 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio
- TAs teach many of the classes
#8 – Portland State University
Online Bachelor’s in Applied Health and Fitness
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $10,806; (out-of-state) $29,706
Portland State University offers an online applied health and fitness bachelor’s degree. This undergraduate degree program explores the most current research in areas like:
- human movement
It includes 180 credits and is designed to be completed online. These features make it a perfect choice for busy individuals. Courses for the bachelor’s degree in kinesiology may include:
- Communicable Diseases and Chronic Health Problems
- Exercise Prescription and Training
- Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
- Research in Health and Fitness
Portland State University is ranked in eight U.S. News and World Report categories. This includes #284 in national universities and #50 in most innovative schools.
- Ethnically diverse student population
- No SAT/ACT requirements
- Only 50% of classes have fewer than 20 students
#7 – Franklin University
Online Bachelor’s in Exercise Science
Undergraduate Tuition: $9,577
Are you researching an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology major? You should know the program at Franklin Univ offers a similar degree in exercise science. This program offers a contemporary curriculum. This curriculum aligns with the American College of Sports Medicine’s best practices. Students can transfer up to 94 credits from another program or school. This allows them to finish their bachelor’s degree even faster. A bachelor’s in kinesiology or exercise science can lead to a rewarding career. These positions encompass several industries and occupations, including athletic trainers. Major course requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Applied Research Methods
- Exercise Testing and Prescription
- Intro to Sports and Exercise Physiology
- Principles of Strength Training and Conditioning
- 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio
- Programs are designed for adult learners
- Advisors are overbooked
- Faculty have received very mixed reviews
#6 – Eastern Oregon University
La Grande, Oregon
Online Bachelor in Health & Human Performance
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $10,041; (out-of-state) $23,226
Eastern Oregon University offers an online degree in kinesiology. The program is through the school’s health & human performance major. The wellness program focuses on the key concepts of body mechanics, physiology, and psychology. It is mainly concerned with how these relate to movement, exercise, health, and nutrition. Graduates are well prepared for a career in:
- Health Science
They are also qualified for graduate study in physical therapy. Featured courses for this degree in kinesiology include:
- Behavior Change Therapy
- Measurement and Evaluation in Physical Activity
- Motor Learning and Control
- Teaching Individual Lifetime Sports
Graduates of the online bachelor’s in kinesiology have various employment options. They have gone on to positions in fields including:
- Fitness Training
- Wellness Management
- Fitness Education
According to U.S. News, Eastern Oregon University ranks #88 in regional universities West.
- Online program flexibility
- Easy transfer process
- Lack of communication with online learners
#5 – Purdue University Global
Online Bachelor in Health and Wellness
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $10,134; (out-of-state) $14,445
Purdue Global University offers an online bachelor of science in health and wellness. It prepares graduates to explore the latest research and developments in wellness. Students can tailor the degree to their career interests and passions. This is done by focusing on a particular study area, such as health sciences or nutrition. Students can take part in an optional internship but can earn the degree even if they cannot complete it. Course effort requires 10-15 hours per week, with courses lasting ten weeks each. The wellness program also prepares for graduate studies in a related field.
- A wide range of degree program options
- Offers a Returning Student Relief Grant
- Purdue Global is a relatively new program so there isn’t much of a track record
- Graduation rate is well below average
#4 – Bellevue University
Bachelor’s in Health & Human Performance Program Online
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,970
Bellevue University’s has an online bachelor’s degree in health & human performance. It is an excellent alternative to an online bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. The program at Bellevue explores salient issues and concepts. This includes those in health, fitness, human performance, and nutrition. The program allows students to follow one of three tracks:
- Pre-professional Preparation
- Coaching for Athletic Trainers in Physical Education
All three tracks follow standards recommended by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Courses for this online bachelor’s in kinesiology include:
- Foundations of Health and Performance
- Kinesiology and Body Movement
- Nutrition for Health Movement
- Personal and Community Health
Bellevue ranks #119 in regional universities in the West by U.S. News.
- Among the fastest accelerated programs
- Excellent student resources
- Lack of communication between faculty/administration and students
- Some aspects of the online programming can be difficult to navigate
#3 – American Public University
Charles Town, West Virginia
Bachelor’s in Sports and Health Sciences Online
Undergraduate Tuition: $7,360
American Public University offers an online bachelor’s degree in sports and health sciences. It is an excellent program for those interested in a bachelor of kinesiology. The program focuses on health, wellness, and studying human performance and motion. In partnership with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, students can access test content. This includes exclusive content on:
- Certified Personal Trainer
- Performance Enhancement Specialist
- Corrective Exercise Specialist
- Group Fitness Instructor certification exams
The 120-credit program is delivered online. This makes it an excellent option for the busy professional or student. Students can transfer up to 90 credits from other programs or institutions.
- Online programs are easy to navigate
- Program flexibility
- Low graduation rate
- Issues in reviewing online student work
#2 – University of Houston
Bachelor’s in Fitness and Performance Online
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $9,699; (out-of-state) $21,891
The University of Houston Clear Lake offers an online fitness and performance program. Like a bachelor of kinesiology, it introduces the fundamental scientific aspects in areas like:
- Peak Performance
- Physical Fitness
Students can choose from several concentrations, including:
- Exercise Science
- Health Promotion
- Pre-Professional (multiple fields)
Students should check the website to see which admission requirements they must follow. Courses may include:
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Nutrition and Weight Management
- Principles of Physical Fitness
Graduates have worked as:
- Health Teachers
- Athletic Trainers
- Health Managers
- Strength and Fitness Coaches
These professionals work for various institutions, including the NBA, NFL, and collegiate.
- Kinesiology program is highly rated
- Diverse student population
- Lack of advisor support
- Transferring credits can be problematic
#1 – Fort Hays State University
Bachelor’s in Health & Performance Online
Undergraduate Tuition: (in-state) $5,430; (out-of-state) $15,870
Fort Hays State University offers a bachelor’s degree in health & performance. This option is an alternative to a traditional kinesiology program online. A bachelor’s in kinesiology focuses much of its study on human movement. Alternatively, the Fort Hays offering expands beyond kinesiology by developing analytical, communication, conceptual, and technical skills related to health and wellness. Featured courses include:
- Care and Prevention of Exercise and Sports Injuries
- Intro to Health and Performance
- Tests and Measurements in Human Health and Performance
Fort Hays State University ranks #112 in Midwest regional universities, #122 on social mobility, and #35 in top public schools, according to U.S. News.
- Offers credit for prior learning
- Small class sizes
- Program does not lead to a teaching credential or an exercise science degree
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do with an online kinesiology degree?
Post-grad options are similar to on-campus programs in the field. That is, an online kinesiology degree prepares students for a job in the fitness and athletic training industry. The most common pathways include fitness trainer or exercise physiologist.
Fitness trainers and managers work with individuals and clients to help them reach their fitness goals. They can be self-employed or work for a fitness organization. Fitness trainers often work with all age groups and skill levels. They spend their time developing individualized and group fitness plans. They also help clients engage in the exercises through teaching and demonstrating. In many instances, fitness trainers also perform administrative duties. These may include customer service and other business functions at the gym.
Specialized fitness trainers may be experts in a certain type of training. Examples include:
- Strength and conditioning
- Sports such as basketball or football
They may also work with specific populations, such as athletes or youth.
Exercise physiologists work in the sports medicine and health sciences fields. They develop physical therapy and exercise programs for patients recovering from medical conditions. These community health professionals perform a myriad of tasks. This includes:
- Administering fitness tests
- Analyzing the patient’s current and past medical history
- Developing exercise and fitness routines
They also work closely with physical therapists, doctors, and other medical staff.
What is the job outlook for individuals with an online kinesiology degree?
An investment in an online kinesiology degree is one with a profitable return. According to BLS forecasts, an excellent growth in the field through at least 2029. This includes exercise science jobs.
Fitness training jobs are expected to increase by 15% through 2029. That’s nearly quadruple the rate of growth compared to other occupations. Demand is expected to increase, too. Employers and insurance companies continue to incentivize individuals to join fitness organizations. This will increase the need for fitness trainers and instructors. Individuals with industry certifications and specialized knowledge should experience strong job prospects. Several factors will also drive demand. These include:
- Continuing emphasis on battling obesity in the public health arena
- Improving health and fitness in all age groups
Exercise physiologist positions are expected to increase by 11% through 2029. This growth rate far outpaces the 4% increase expected among all other occupations. Demand for exercise physiology professionals should rise. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations continue to emphasize improving patient health outcomes. Job openings will also increase as current exercise physiologists who are retiring. Fitness trainers and exercise physiologists in high-demand areas should see increased job opportunities.
How much money can I earn with an online kinesiology degree?
As with on-campus programs, the annual wages fluctuate depending on several factors. These factors include specific jobs, experience, industry, and location. We see the same narrative as we look at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual wage for a fitness trainer is $40,390. It varies greatly between the lowest 10%, who earn $21,110, and the highest 10%, who earn $75,400. The vast difference between the low and high end is due mainly to tracking wages between full- and part-time trainers. Many trainers work part-time, which drives down annual salary numbers. Pay across industries is fairly stable. Trainers working at fitness and recreational centers earn $42,700. This can be compared to educational services and government organizations, which pay an average of $38,000.
Exercise physiologists earn an average salary of $49,170 per year. This occupation pays a higher average wage than fitness trainers. This is due to the specialized nature of the exercise physiology occupation. The medical aspect of the job also requires these professionals to work with patients with medical conditions. The lowest 10% earn $34,990 compared to the highest 10% that earn $78,310. Government exercise physiologists earn $72,440. This is much higher than the average wages for exercise physiologists working in hospitals and physician offices. These professionals make $49,000 annually.
What are the admission requirements for online degree programs in kinesiology?
Admission requirements for online kinesiology programs vary in scope. It depends on the institution and program. Below, we take a look at admission commonalities among the majority of programs. We also tell candidates to check each institution’s website. Here, they will find specific admission requirements and standards.
Admission to any bachelor’s degree program requires the applicant to apply for admission to the institution. This is true for a traditional kinesiology degree or online option. A prospective student may apply as either a freshman or transfer student. Freshman applicants generally have between 0 and 12 college credits. They must possess a high school diploma or GED. Freshman applicants should submit proof of high school diploma or GED. Any other transcript that has college or secondary credits should also be included. Freshmen must also submit test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Transfer applicants do not need to submit high school transcripts. They can submit their college transcripts instead.
Once admitted to the institution, students apply to the program in kinesiology, which may have a list of course prerequisites. Most programs require a foundation in the sciences. This can be achieved through the successful completion of science courses. Examples include anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry. Plus, applicants should have a 2.5 cumulative GPA and a 3.0 GPA in specific course prerequisites. Some programs also require student essays and interviews with prospective students.
How long does it take to earn a kinesiology degree online?
The typical bachelor’s degree takes between 3-6 years to complete. The 3-year completion timeline is rare. However, there are programs structured for accelerated completion. Typically, an online kinesiology program is structured to be completed in four years. An undergraduate degree consists of 120 credits. These are split evenly among lower-division general education and upper-division courses focusing on kinesiology concepts. Lower-division requirements are nearly the same across all majors. This means they can be completed at virtually any postsecondary institution, including community colleges. These credits can then be transferred to the institution where the student plans on finishing the program.
According to Inside Higher Education, the average bachelor’s degree takes five years to complete. Tracking of online bachelor’s degrees suggests distance education bachelor’s takes longer. This includes online and hybrid offerings. Online students are older and often have other responsibilities, such as full-time employment and families. Thus, they often enroll part-time. This lengthens the time it takes to finish their program of study.
Online bachelor’s degrees take 4-6 years to complete, on average. Still, potential students should also be aware of the maximum timeframes institutions allow students to complete. Most schools allow ten years, including time spent not enrolled. This is an important consideration, given the circumstances of most online students.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
- National Center for Education Statistics: College Navigator
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- Online Bachelor”s in Sport Exercise Science
- Food Science Degrees
This concludes our list of top 20 affordable online kinesiology degree programs.