Are you considering pursuing a degree in exercise science? With the increasing importance of health and wellness, it’s no surprise that exercise science has become a popular field of study. But with so many programs available, how can you choose the best one for your needs?
In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore the top exercise science programs across the country. From their curriculum to their facilities to their alumni success rates, we’ll give you everything you need to make an informed decision.
What is Exercise Science?
First things first: what exactly is exercise science? In short, it’s the study of human movement and physical activity. This can include everything from anatomy and physiology to biomechanics and psychology.
Exercise science is an interdisciplinary field that draws on knowledge from areas such as biology, chemistry, physics, and psychology. Students who study exercise science may go on to work in fields such as sports medicine, physical therapy, personal training, or research.
How We Chose the Best Exercise Science Programs
To create this guide, we compiled a list of all the regionally accredited universities in the United States that offer undergraduate degrees in exercise science or a related field (such as kinesiology or human performance). We then narrowed down that list based on criteria such as:
- Reputation: We looked at each program’s ranking on sites like U.S. News & World Report and Niche.
- Curriculum: We reviewed each program’s course offerings to determine whether they covered key areas such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and nutrition.
- Facilities: We considered each program’s lab equipment and resources.
- Faculty: We examined each program’s faculty credentials and experience.
- Alumni success: We researched each program’s graduates’ job placement rates and earnings potential.
Of course, every student has different needs when it comes to choosing a college or university. So while we’ve done our best to provide an objective evaluation of each program, we encourage you to do your own research and make a decision based on what matters most to you.
The Top Exercise Science Programs in the United States
Without further ado, here are our picks for the top exercise science programs in the country.
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the nation. Its Department of Kinesiology and Health Education offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health Promotion and Fitness or Athletic Training.
Students in the health promotion and fitness track take courses such as:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Exercise Physiology
- Health Promotion Strategies
The program also includes an internship component, which allows students to gain real-world experience working with clients in areas such as corporate wellness, community health promotion, and personal training.
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university located in Los Angeles. Its Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy offers a Bachelor of Science in Human Performance.
This interdisciplinary program combines coursework from areas such as kinesiology, biomechanics, psychology, and nutrition. Students can tailor their degree by choosing from several elective courses, such as:
- Sport Psychology
- Motor Learning
- Sports Medicine
- Environmental Physiology
In addition to its strong curriculum, USC’s exercise science program benefits from state-of-the-art facilities such as its Movement Performance Institute, which includes a motion capture system for analyzing human movement.
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a renowned public research university located in Ann Arbor. Its School of Kinesiology offers a Bachelor of Science in Movement Science.
This program focuses on understanding how humans move and how movement affects overall health. Students take courses such as:
- Statistics for Movement Science
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Exercise Physiology
- Motor Control and Learning
In addition to its rigorous coursework, Michigan’s exercise science program offers a number of research opportunities for students. The school houses several research centers, such as the Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory.
University of Florida
The University of Florida is a public research university located in Gainesville. Its Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology.
Students in this program take courses such as:
- Human Anatomy and Function
- Exercise Physiology
- Motor Learning and Control
- Nutrition for Health
The program also requires students to complete an internship or senior project, which allows them to gain practical experience working in their field of interest.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is a public research university located in central Illinois. Its Department of Kinesiology and Community Health offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with several concentrations, including Health and Wellness, Exercise Psychology, Pre-Medical Professions, and Fitness/Exercise.
Students in the health and wellness concentration take courses such as:
- Human Anatomy
- Foundations of Health Promotion
- Exercise Physiology I: Energy Metabolism and Work Performance
- Nutrition for Fitness and Sport
UIUC’s exercise science program benefits from its extensive network of research centers, including the Center on Health, Aging, and Disability; the Citizen Scientist Project; and the Sports Medicine Research Institute.
While these programs are our top picks, there are plenty more excellent exercise science programs across the country. Here are some honorable mentions:
Indiana University Bloomington
Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public Health offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with concentrations in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, and Fitness/Sport Management.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia’s Department of Kinesiology offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with concentrations in Exercise Physiology, Health Promotion, and Physical Education.
Arizona State University
Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion offers a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Wellness with concentrations in Exercise Science, Nutrition, or Wellness Coaching.
Choosing the best exercise science program for your needs can be a daunting task. But by considering factors such as curriculum, facilities, faculty credentials, and alumni success, you can make an informed decision that will set you up for success in this dynamic field. From the University of Texas at Austin to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (and beyond), there are plenty of excellent options out there for aspiring exercise scientists.
What are the top factors to consider when choosing the best exercise science program?
The top factors to consider when choosing the best exercise science program include accreditation, faculty expertise, research opportunities, curriculum flexibility, and student support services.
How can I determine if an exercise science program is accredited?
You can determine if an exercise science program is accredited by checking with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
Can I pursue a career in sports medicine with a degree in exercise science?
Yes, a degree in exercise science can prepare you for a career in sports medicine as it covers topics related to human anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, and injury prevention.
What kind of jobs can I get with a degree in exercise science?
With a degree in exercise science, you can pursue careers such as personal trainers, fitness instructors, strength and conditioning coaches, athletic trainers, and physical therapists.
Is it important for an exercise science program to have research opportunities?
Yes, research opportunities provide students with hands-on experience conducting experiments that contribute to innovative solutions in the field of health and fitness. It also enhances their critical thinking skills.
How crucial is it for an exercise science program to have experienced faculty members?
An experienced faculty member imparts not only theoretical knowledge but practical application too. Thus it plays a significant role in shaping your perspectives on this discipline. A good mentor will help raise your professional standards across all areas of this course.
Can I complete an exercise science program online?
Yes! Several reputable institutions offer online programs that cater even while working full-time or living far from the university. Online classes may have more flexibility, and you get access to resources like video lessons and online chat support system.
Will an exercise science program teach me how to create and manage fitness programs?
Yes! Many courses include practical experience creating workout programs, monitoring vital signs, evaluating clients’ progress, and suggesting lifestyle changes based on available data. These programs prepare students for the real-world setting of developing fitness plans aligned with clients’ objectives.
How can I find out if an exercise science program offers student support services?
You can find out by visiting the school’s website or talking to admissions representatives. Look for schools that offer academic counseling, mentorship programs, tutoring services, and job placement assistance.
Can I specialize in a particular area of exercise science?
Yes! You have several options to specialize in such as sports performance training, clinical rehabilitation studies, nutrition management, kinesiology studies or some other relevant fields. This will add value to your degree when you decide to focus more specifically on any one discipline of this field in practice.