Best Exercise Science Programs in the US: Exercise science is a branch of science that focuses on understanding how the body moves, encompassing human anatomy, physical therapy, nutrition, overall wellness, and all other topics associated with healthy bodily activity.
Pursuing a degree in exercise science could be a great approach to explore your enthusiasm for health and fitness in an academic setting and, of course, learn useful information in the process.
A degree in exercise science can lead to a variety of jobs, many of which are anticipated to have significant demand in the years to come.
By 2031, the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a roughly 20% increase in the demand for personal trainers and fitness instructors.
For example, employment growth for exercise physiologists is predicted to be just under 10%, which is still greater than the 5% national average.
Of course, obtaining a degree alone is not enough to launch a lucrative career in the exercise science sector; you must also carefully pick the university where you will further your education.
Narrowing down your list of universities to apply to can be difficult because there are thousands of institutions that offer programs in exercise science.
On the plus side, to help you relax throughout the selection process, we have put together the list of top universities where you may study exercise science.
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The Benefits of Studying Exercise Science
Three benefits of majoring in exercise science are as follows:
1. Job Security
You’ll land a job soon! Nearly everyone can use the information they learn in an exercise science degree at some time in their lives. There will always be people trying to get healthier and fitter, as well as teams trying to do better at what they do. Sports and fitness-related injuries are inevitable, and there will always be people working to recover from them. Consequently, there will always be a demand for experts with training in exercise science.
2. High Growth Rate
With a degree in exercise science, more and more professional options are opening up. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, careers in exercise science are expected to expand more quickly than the average for all occupations. Currently, students can pursue a career in one of the following fields with a basic degree in exercise science:
- occupational therapy
- chiropractic care
- exercise physiology
- sports psychology
- clinical rehabilitation
- sports coaching
- wellness coaching
- strength and conditioning coaching
- corporate fitness leading
- personal training
- athletic training
- geriatric fitness coordinating
- physical therapy
However, the majority of exercise science students who apply to graduate school are accepted. Some of these career paths do require further education.
3. It’s Thrilling.
An fascinating major is exercise science. A large portion of a degree in exercise science includes movement and practical work to foster a kinesthetic learning environment. The pupils really appreciate the stuff they are learning as a result of all this active participation. Positive and enjoyable work environments are created when teachers and students appreciate what they are doing.
Exercise science is the major for you if you’re seeking for an engaging, hands-on education that will prepare you for a successful future. There will be a job out there that is suitable for you, regardless of the path you choose to take your degree in exercise science.
Best Exercise Science Programs in the US
Here are 10 best exercise science programs in the US:
1. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, dubbed a “Public Ivy” due to its Ivy League-caliber academic offerings, is ranked #5 among all public universities in the United States by US News and World Report.
It should come as no surprise that UNC-Chapel Hill has some of the greatest exercise science programs in the nation given the university’s stellar reputation.
The university offers a BA with a major in fitness and sport science. The general studies track or either of the two emphases in sport administration or fitness professional are available to students in this program.
A strong option for students thinking about attending medical school following their undergraduate degree is the general exercise science major, which requires rigorous study of the physical and psychological elements of exercise.
The university offers a graduate-level MA program in exercise and sport science.
2. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
The Center for Exercise Science, which has many excellent programs, resources, and opportunities for students interested in a degree in this discipline, is located at the University of Florida.
The CES is a focal point for interdisciplinary research on human health and physical exercise and is a part of the College of Health and Human Performance. The college’s CES program offers several chances for students to gain practical experience in a lab setting.
The college provides a range of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree programs.
For undergraduate students, there are four alternative possibilities for BS degree major programs, two of which are very relevant for those interested in exercise science. These are the majors in health education and applied physiology and kinesiology.
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3. George Washington University (Washington, DC)
Exercise science is a major in the bachelor of science program of George Washington University, which is the biggest university in the District of Columbia.
The BS program, which is provided by the Milken Institute of Public Health, is intended to prepare students for rewarding employment in the domains of healthcare, sports medicine, the fitness sector, and other related fields.
Students pursuing a BS in exercise science at GWU have the option of specializing in one of several different areas of specialization or none at all.
Strength and conditioning, pre-physical therapy, and pre-medical professional are a few of the concentrations offered at the institution.
Beverly Westerman, the current vice chair of the GWU Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, oversees the BS in EXSC program. Westerman was admitted into the Hall of Fame of the District of Columbia Athletic Trainers Association in 2022.
4. Texas A&M University (College Station, TX)
Texas A&M University was the first public university in the state of Texas and was founded in 1876.
In the most recent US News and World Report rankings, it was ranked as the #26 public university overall, making it one of the biggest and most prestigious public colleges in the nation.
At Texas A&M, students who pursue a BS in kinesiology can select from a variety of focus options.
One of these is the focus in exercise and sports science, which includes a thorough examination of physiology, nutrition, motor learning, and strength and conditioning.
For those who want to start working as clinical exercise physiologists, there is also a concentration in applied exercise physiology.
The school makes sure that all students who desire to study exercise science, regardless of their future career goals, can choose a curriculum that is well-suited to their interests by offering a variety of concentration options.
5. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
The University of Michigan is ranked as the #25 greatest university in the entire United States in the 2023 edition of US News and World Report’s annual list of school rankings.
It should therefore come as no surprise that the college boasts a top-notch department in exercise science.
The UMich School of Kinesiology offers a major in applied exercise science with a BS degree. The university’s significant undergraduate research options are available to students who choose to study in exercise science at UMich.
The School of Kinesiology offers numerous opportunities for student research due to its many cutting-edge labs, research centers, and areas of study. Examples of this include the Center for Race & Ethnicity in Sport and the Brain Behavior Lab.
6. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
The University of Miami offers exercise science students several exceptional opportunities to obtain practical experience diagnosing and treating athletic injuries thanks to its athletic teams playing in the NCAA’s Division I.
A bachelor of science in exercise physiology is offered at the University of Miami’s Department of Kinesiology and Sport Science.
For students who are very dedicated, there is even the Exercise Physiology Honors Program.
The fact that Miami University offers an accelerated master’s program is one of the benefits of their BS in exercise science. Students who concentrate in exercise science can accelerate their graduate degree by taking just one more year of graduate-level coursework.
The exercise physiology, strength & conditioning/fitness entrepreneurship program is one of two degree options available for the accelerated master’s program.
7. University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Excellent academic programs are available at the University of Pittsburgh in a variety of areas related to fitness, physical activity, and health.
In fact, Pitt is ranked as the country’s #11 best school for studying kinesiology in 2023 by Niche’s ranking of the top universities in the country.
Additionally, the university was regarded as the eighth-best college in Pennsylvania, and second among all public universities.
For students pursuing a bachelor of science at Pitt, Pitt’s exercise science options at the undergraduate level include an EXSC major.
Pitt offers top-notch graduate programs in each of the domains of bioengineering, prosthetics, and health equity, making it particularly well-suited to educating students in these areas.
8. Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY)
The Rochester Institute of Technology is well known for its wide variety of cooperative education programs and provides students with exceptional opportunity to obtain practical experience by collaborating with experts in their chosen fields.
More than 4,000 RIT students are matched with more than 2,000 different employers nationwide each year, giving them invaluable insight into the types of jobs they might like to pursue in the future.
For students interested in pursuing a BS degree in exercise science, RIT offers both a major and a minor in the subject.
A certificate program in exercise science is an alternative for people who don’t want to devote a full four years to their studies.
The curriculum, which is provided via the Wegmans School of Health and Nutrition, is created to give students all the abilities and information necessary to operate in entry-level roles in the fitness sector.
9. University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
The Institution of Iowa is the oldest university in its state and a public research university that was established in 1847. It is also the biggest university in Iowa, with more than 20,000 undergraduates.
The Health and Human Physiology Department, which is a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, provides a BS program in exercise science.
Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree might expedite their studies through a combined degree program, which is one benefit of the exercise science BS at Iowa.
A wonderful curriculum for those interested in working in sports medicine is the BS/MS in athletic training.
The program, which is provided in conjunction with the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, gives students the academic and practical preparation they need to be successful in the field.
10. The University of Nebraska (Omaha, NE)
Previously known as the Institution of Omaha, the University of Nebraska at Omaha is a public research university that consists of six member colleges.
One of these is the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, which houses a fantastic department of health and kinesiology.
There is a BS degree program with a kinesiology major for undergraduate students interested in exercise science. Omaha University places a strong emphasis on experiential learning, which is one of the distinctive features of receiving a kinesiology degree there.
All Omaha University kinesiology students have several opportunities to gain practical experience in a variety of sports medicine-related vocations.
The completion of an internship, which calls for at least 300 hours of work at a hospital, office, or other participating institution, is one of these options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worthwhile to major in exercise science?
With a degree in exercise science, more and more professional options are opening up. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, careers in exercise science are expected to expand more quickly than the average for all occupations.
Are kinesiology and exercise science the same thing?
Exercise science focuses primarily on the fundamentals of movement and performance, particularly during physical activity, while kinesiology generally applies to the ideas of human mobility in daily life.
What degree program is related to exercise science?
Exercise physiology, kinesiology, fitness & wellness, and movement science are related degrees for exercise science. Consider similar professions like physical therapy or athletic training as well.
How popular is exercise science today?
Through 2031, employment is anticipated to expand by 20%, faster than the average for all occupations. More knowledgeable coaches in the fields of nutrition, physical fitness, strength, and performance will be needed as youth, high school, college, and other amateur sports receive more attention.
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