Types of Masters in Kinesiology Degrees

For people who are interested in devoting their career to physical exercise and fitness and to reduce incidents of diseases in our society, getting a master’s degree in kinesiology could be a smart choice.

Kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of body movement, and many people who obtain this type of master’s degree become an exercise physiologist. Exercise physiologists come up with exercise and fitness programs that help patients to get over chronic diseases and injuries. They also help patients to improve their body composition, heart function and flexibility.

A professional with a master’s in kinesiology who works in this field will typically do some or all of the following:

  • Analyze the medical history of the patient to determine what the best exercise regimen is.
  • Do stress and fitness tests with advanced medical equipment to determine the patient’s level of fitness
  • Measure use of oxygen, heat beat, blood pressure and other vital patient indicators
  • Come up with new exercise programs to ensure that patient is healthy
  • Supervise tests to ensure that the patient is safe

As of 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that the job growth for exercise physiologists overall will increase by 11%, which is faster than average.


Another possible occupation you can consider with a master’s degree in kinesiology is that of kinesiotherapist. A kinesiotherapist uses various rehabilitative exercises, physical education and reconditioning to provide treatment to patients who have difficulties with movement. This interesting field first emerged after World War II as a new way of exercise therapy to treat service people’s injuries so that they could get back on active duty.

Today, a kinesiotherapist can work in many different types of health care facilities, the most often one being a nursing home or long term care center. Most kinesiotherapists work under the supervision of a doctor, and the health care team for the patient or resident usually includes a nurse, social worker and dietician.

The typical roles of the kinesiotherapist are the following:

  • Assessment: The professional’s first job is to figure out what training and exercises could help the patient. Thus, she must first evaluate the patient’s physical skills and level of activity. The assessment will let the kinesiotherapist to determine how much help the patient needs for daily tasks, such as eating, walking and getting in/out of bed.
  • Treatment: The treatment plan is based upon what is learned during the assessment. The typical kinesiotherapist will based the plan on the physical and psychological aspects of physical exercise, and also focus on physical education and reconditioning.
  • Other common duties: Many in this profession also have administrative duties that include documenting patient visits, ordering exercise equipment and supplies for helping with the tasks of daily living.

Licensing and Certification

Most states do not require an exercise physiologist or a kinesiotherapist to be registered. There are some states that have pending legislation as of 2015.

Still, there are organizations that offer certification in this field which you can use to demonstrate your skills and qualifications:

Curriculum Overview for Master’s in Kinesiology

A master of science in kinesiology typically will include a number of thesis and non-thesis options, depending upon the program and what your career goals are. The typical master of science program will involve advanced study of physiology and biomechanics, which will prepare you for a career in either personal or corporate fitness assessment and training.

Generally, the curriculum for this degree is directed toward students who have previous experience or education in movement science, occupational therapy or physical therapy.

Depending upon the online master’s program you choose, you may take these type of classes:

  • Evidence-based Practice in Kinesiology and Nutrition
  • Human Bioenergetics
  • Advanced Exercise Programming and Assessment
  • Special Topics in Kinesiology
  • Evidence-based Practice in Kinesiology and Nutrition
  • Movement Neuroscience
  • Biomechanics of Normal and Abnormal Movement
  • Psychology of Motor Control and Learning
  • Instrumentation for Motor Control Research

Online Master of Science in Kinesiology Degree Program

University of Texas-Tyler

For exercise and fitness professionals who want to earn their master’s in kinesiology, one online program that worthy of strong consideration is the University of Texas-Tyler. This program offers you a two year Master of Science in Kinesiology that will ready you for many types of careers in exercise:

  • Coaching
  • Exercise physiology
  • Corporate wellness and health
  • Personal training
  • Wellness coaching
  • Athletic trainers
  • Physical therapists

This curriculum consists of 36 total hours which can be done entirely online, face to face or both in class and online. There are 18 core credit hours, 12 hours of electives and six hours of thesis and/or internship. Electives can be chosen from the Department of Health and Kinesiology, but if you decide to choose electives in another department, you must get approval from your academic advisor.

Your required courses include the following:

  • Research Design
  • Biometric Methods (Statistics)
  • Motor Learning
  • Exercise Physiology I (Skeletal Muscle & Metabolism)
  • Exercise Physiology II (Cardiorespiratory)
  • Biomechanics

California Baptist University

California Baptist University has a Master of Science in Kinesiology that integrates the exciting science of human movement, relevant research methods, and the most advanced studies of wellness and fitness. All candidates in this two or three year online master’s program will provide you with the skills and training to address obesity and sedentary lifestyles that are such a problem in America today. You also will develop skills to improve your knowledge and understanding of exercise and sports performance.

This program is designed for a full time working adult, and it provides academic rigor with the ability to study physical health and movement fully online. Your curriculum will feature courses in the following specialties:

  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise and fitness education
  • Exercise physiology
  • Physical endurance testing
  • Exercise and sport psychology

One you have finished your entire program of online classes, you will need to do your culminating experience, which could be an exam, thesis or a graduate project. This will allow the student to fully apply and demonstrate their learned skills in a highly professional and scholarly way.

Professionals who complete this program will become an innovative and effective exercise physiology leader who is able to affect change in strength and conditioning, physical education, coaching, preventing obesity, exercise science and athletic performance.

Your required classes include:

  • Ethics and Leadership in Kinesiology
  • Advanced Exercise Physiology
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Legal Aspects of Kinesiology
  • Advanced Study of Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Exercise and Fitness Education
  • Research Methods
  • Applied Knowledge in Kinesiology

All students who complete this Master of Science in Kinesiology will be able to do all of the following:

  • Present information related to exercise science and kinesiology effectively both orally and in writing
  • Apply advanced scientific methods in the fields of biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise testing and prescription
  • Conduct, interpret and evaluate vital data that is related to kinesiology
  • Examine and implement advanced kinesiology skills that boost performance and nutrition.


As you are thinking about a master’s degree in this field, you should be sure that you are considering the importance of accreditation. When you see that a program has earned accreditation from a respected accreditation organization, you know that the program is of high quality.

One of the accreditation bodies to look for is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or CAAHEP. Another to look for is the American Kinesiotherapy Association or AKTA.

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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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