2019 Best Accredited Online Exercise Science Degrees

Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Degree Levels: Associate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, and Certificate
Avg Tuition: $19,855

There are 77 options for students interested in pursuing accredited online exercise science programs. These degrees are available at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Our list of the best online exercise science master's degrees highlights top schools, based on tuition costs and salaries of alumni reported by PayScale.

Students pursuing online exercise science programs should attend regionally or nationally accredited schools, because accreditation indicates that a school meets national educational standards. In addition to accreditation, students should look for programs with coursework in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and nutrition. These classes can be useful for graduates who go on to have careers as athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, employee fitness directors, or strength and conditioning coaches.

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Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Exercise Science Degrees (32)

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2019 Best Online Colleges Offering a Master's in Exercise Science

Exercise Science-Top Online Colleges-2019-Badge

These 11 schools offer the best online master's in exercise science based on affordable tuition and impressive median salaries. The George Washington University has a Master of Science in Strength and Conditioning with graduates earning a median salary of $117,227, making it a strong investment. Ranked second, The University of Texas at Tyler offers a Master of Science in Kinesiology for $13,374 annually.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 Annual Tuition $29,880 Median Salary $117,227
#2 #2 Annual Tuition $13,374 Median Salary $106,200
#3 #3 Annual Tuition $13,170 Median Salary $98,800
#4 #4 Annual Tuition $8,218 Median Salary $95,036
#5 #5 Annual Tuition $16,695 Median Salary $95,250
#6 #6 Annual Tuition $12,771 Median Salary $93,342
#7 #7 Annual Tuition $16,950 Median Salary $83,700
#8 #8 Annual Tuition $10,170 Median Salary $71,987
#9 #9 Annual Tuition $8,842 Median Salary $71,400
#10 #10 Annual Tuition $14,040 Median Salary $60,700
#11 #11 Annual Tuition $8,075 Median Salary $50,400
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.

Which Exercise Science Degree Level Is Best for Me?

Online exercise science degrees can be found at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Students enrolled in an associate degree program will spend two years taking general education courses as well as classes that cover such topics as anatomy and physiology. Once they complete their degrees, graduates may be able to find entry-level jobs in such places as hospitals, health clubs, and recreation centers. They may also be prepared to move on to a bachelor's program. At the bachelor's level, students will take more advanced courses in personal training, anatomy, strength and conditioning, and other subjects. Jobs available to bachelor's degree graduates may include personal trainer and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist. A bachelor's degree will take two to four years to complete, depending on how many college credits a student has when they begin their program.

Exercise science degrees are also available online at the graduate level. A master's degree helps to prepare individuals to become specialists in their field through classes that cover the topics of nutrition, biomechanics, and human performance. A master's degree will take around two years to complete, and students will need to have a bachelor's degree and background knowledge of physiology, biomechanics, and statistics in order to be admitted. Online doctoral programs in exercise science are an option for those who wish to have a career in sports psychology, research, or physical therapy. These types of programs may require some face-to-face class time due to the rigorous academic nature of the program. Students will need to complete a dissertation. In order to be admitted to a doctoral program, applicants will need either a master's or bachelor's degree in a related field.

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Online Associate Degrees in Exercise Science

An online associate degree program prepares individuals to transfer to a four-year degree school or for an entry-level job in health clubs, sport and recreation centers, and hospitals.

Program Requirements

Applicants must have a GED or high school diploma for admittance and will have to submit their official transcripts. A minimum GPA may be required and some schools may require SAT, ACT, or other test scores as part of the application process. Comprised of 60 credit hours, the program is usually completed within two years at a community college or vocational school.


Coursework for an online associate degree in exercise science includes general education courses such as English composition and humanities. In addition to distribution requirements, online exercise science associate degrees generally include coursework in a variety of the following fields: anatomy, physiology, physics, biology, community health, first aid, and nutrition.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Exercise Science

An online bachelor's in exercise science can be a good educational foundation for individuals hoping to work as personal trainers, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists, or strength and conditioning coaches. In addition, it can lay the groundwork for further education in a graduate degree program.

Program Requirements

Offered online through colleges and universities, exercise science programs usually take between 36 and 48 months to complete, and require around 120 semester credit hours or 180 quarter credit hours, including an internship to gain practical experience. Applicants will need to have a GED or a high school diploma. Many schools have minimum GPA requirements for admission.


Online exercise science bachelor's degrees include courses in strength and conditioning, personal training, electrocardiography interpretation, and anatomy and physiology. By taking these classes, students can gain a working understanding of human physical activity through a nutritional, biomechanical, and physiological lens. Usually, there is a hands-on practical application portion of the program in the form of an internship or volunteer opportunity, which affords students the opportunity to apply theory in real-life situations.  

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Online Master's Degrees in Exercise Science

An online master's degree in exercise science is a great choice for individuals hoping to have careers as exercise or rehabilitation specialists of all varieties. They will obtain valuable knowledge of human performance, biomechanics, nutrition, and clinical physical activity among a diverse range of people.

Program Requirements

Admission requirements typically include a minimum 3.0 GPA, satisfactory GRE scores, a statement of purpose, and prerequisite coursework that includes statistics, physiology or exercise physiology, and biomechanics or physics. An online program, offered primarily through universities, takes an average of one to two years to complete the 40-50 semester credit hours.


Coursework for an online master's in exercise science typically includes advanced exercise physiology, exercise prescription & chronic illness, nutrition, biomechanics, and biogenetics, as well as a thesis course and a clinical internship. Degree concentrations are offered by multiple schools and include nutrition, fitness and health promotion, and human movement science, among others. Students in concentration tracks will take general exercise science classes as well as classes more specific to their chosen specialties.

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Online Doctoral Degrees in Exercise Science

Additional graduate work in the form of a doctorate is a good choice for individuals who hope to become a clinical research scientist or a professor. Many programs necessitate a hybrid online and face-to-face format due to lab requirements and frequent meetings with a designated advisor for dissertation work. Some online programs facilitate "intensive weeks" where students attend back-to-back classes a few select weeks out of the academic school year to complete the physical training portion of the degree in a shortened time frame. During this time, they can meet with advisors and network with peers and professionals alike. Applicants to doctoral programs need to hold either a bachelor's or a master's in a similar field from an accredited college or university, demonstrate a minimum GPA, provide letters of reference from employers or scholars to attest to work ethic and capability, and achieve a sufficient GRE or MAT score. Ranging from 66 to 72 credit hours, the program takes an average of 36-48 months to complete and includes completion of a dissertation.

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The Importance of an Accredited Online Exercise Science Degree

Many colleges, universities, and programs gain regional accreditation to demonstrate their quality. Third-party accrediting organizations evaluate programs based on a variety of agreed-upon standards. Additionally, students that attend an accredited school can easily transfer credits to another institution or graduate program. Employers may look favorably upon candidates from accredited programs due to the educational quality that accreditation indicates. 

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accredits programs in the health sciences field throughout the country. This ensures that programs meet rigorous professional and occupational standards. There are currently 44 exercise science programs that are accredited by the CAAHEP, but no fully online programs. Health sciences employers may look favorably upon applicants that attended a CAAHEP accredited program, and some jobs may require it. 

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Specific Training Requirements for Exercise Science

The American College of Sports Medicine provides certifications for exercise science professionals. Certifications include personal trainer, group exercise instructor, and exercise physiologist. Clinical certifications include clinical exercise physiologist and registered clinical exercise physiologist. All certifications require a combination of education, experience, and successful completion of an examination. Often, employers require individuals to be credentialed from this or another credentialing agency. 

Careers in Exercise Science

Depending on the level of education obtained, there are various types of careers available for someone who has an online degree in exercise science. With an associate degree, an individual can find jobs as a trainer, coach or PE teacher, though some additional certification may be required. At the bachelor's level, individuals may be prepared for entry or mid-level positions in fitness, including strength coaching, training, exercise physiologist in cardiac rehab, or clinical exercise specialist. Daily responsibilities include meeting with potential clients, creating treatment plans and exercise regimes for clients, and facilitating exercises.

Individuals with a graduate degree, either a master's or doctorate, may be eligible for teaching at a collegiate level or taking on senior roles in fitness and healthcare. Increasingly, hospitals are requiring exercise physiologists to hold a graduate degree. Additionally, professionals with a doctorate may advance to research positions or high-level administrative jobs in the fitness or wellness departments at hospitals. Day-to-day duties at this level range from academia tasks to program implementation and management. 


  • A.S. Degree in Exercise Science. Grossmont College. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.grossmont.edu/academics/programs-departments/es/as-degree-in-exercise-science.aspx.
  • Admission Requirements Master of Science in Exercise Science. Liberty University Online. Accessed August 1, 2016. http://www.liberty.edu/online/index.cfm?PID=32489.
  • Broadview’s Online B.S. In Exercise Science Leads To Great Careers. Broadview University. Accessed August 1, 2016. http://broadviewuniversity.edu/online/exercise-science-bachelors-degrees/.
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Development and Leadership - Sport, Fitness, and Wellness Management. University of the Rockies. Accessed August 3, 2016. http://degrees.rockies.edu/doctorate-org-development-leadership.php#Sport-Fitness-and-Wellness-Management.
  • DSL with a concentration in Healthcare Leadership. Regent University. Accessed August 3, 2016. http://learn.regent.edu/degree-programs/leadership/dsl-with-a-concentration-in-healthcare-leadership/.
  • Exercise Science - Concentration of Physical Education. University of Wisconsin- Superior. Accessed August 1, 2016. https://www.uwsuper.edu/admissions/majors-minors/physical-education---exercise-science_majorminor1749340.
  • Master of Science: Exercise Science and Health Program. California University of Pennsylvania. Accessed August 3, 2016. http://www.calu.edu/academics/online-programs/exercise-science/index.htm.
  • Sport and Exercise Science Prerequisite Courses for the Major Associate in Arts. Seminole State College of Florida. Accessed August 4, 2016. https://www.seminolestate.edu/healthcare/aa-degrees/sprt-fit.
  • Exercise Science. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Accessed August 22, 2016. https://www.caahep.org.
  • Careers in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. Stephen F Austin State University. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.sfasu.edu/kinesiology/documents/ACSMCareers.pdf.
  • A.S. Degree in Exercise Science. Grossmont College. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.grossmont.edu/academics/programs-departments/es/as-degree-in-exercise-science.aspx
  • Exercise Science. Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.caahep.org
  • Broadview’s Online B.S. In Exercise Science Leads To Great Careers. Broadview University. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://broadviewuniversity.edu/online/exercise-science-bachelors-degrees/
  • Master of Science: Exercise Science and Health Program. California University of Pennsylvania. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.calu.edu/academics/online-programs/exercise-science/index.htm
  • DSL with a concentration in Healthcare Leadership. Regent University. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://learn.regent.edu/degree-programs/leadership/dsl-with-a-concentration-in-healthcare-leadership/
  • Admission Requirements Master of Science in Exercise Science. Liberty University Online. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.liberty.edu/online/index.cfm?PID=32489
  • Sport and Exercise Science Prerequisite Courses for the Major Associate in Arts. Seminole State College of Florida. Accessed August 22, 2016. https://www.seminolestate.edu/healthcare/aadegrees/sprt-fit
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Development and Leadership - Sport, Fitness, and Wellness Management. University of the Rockies. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://degrees.rockies.edu/doctorate-org-development-leadership.php#Sport-Fitness-and-Wellness-Management
  • Exercise Science - Concentration of Physical Education. University of Wisconsin- Superior. Accessed August 22, 2016. https://www.uwsuper.edu/admissions/majors-minors/physical-education---exercise-science_majorminor1749340
  • Careers in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science. Stephen F Austin State University. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://www.sfasu.edu/kinesiology/documents/ACSMCareers.pdf
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