Best Colleges for Kinesiology and Exercise Science Programs

Illustration for Best Colleges for Kinesiology

Kinesiology is becoming increasingly relevant in our high-tech society as the study of motion of the human body has advanced. The best colleges for kinesiology and exercise science elevate our societal knowledge in human research, increasing health and longevity.  The kinesiology departments at the top colleges in the field may go by different names, such as exercise science and sports science, but the common thread is the study of the science of human motion, and the health, athletic and therapy applications of that science.

In many universities, the Sports Management program is located within the department of kinesiology as well, as a knowledge of the science in the field is important in managing organizations related to sports and therapy.

Economic Value of A Degree in Kinesiology

Kinesiology is a field with application in a number of disciplines, including health, teaching, fitness and sports. Because of that there are a wide range of career paths open to students who major in kinesiology, including:

  • Athletic Training
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy or Aides
  • Sport Team Coaching
  • Sport Team Scouting
  • Physical Education Teaching
  • College Recruiting
  • Health Care Professions (some requiring advanced degree, such as nursing)
  • Fitness Training
  • Fitness Consultants
  • Sports and fitness product testing, research and design.



Kinesiology Has a Low to Mid-Range Earning Potential for Recent Graduates

Students who major in kinesiology or exercise science as an undergraduate have a wide range of starting salaries. Typically they fall in the low to mid-range for college graduates. However, it is important to understand that many of these jobs are in healthcare fields, or teaching, which tend to have generally better job security and non-monetary benefits. In addition some of the possible career paths may be in relatively higher paying fields as well, that tend more toward the research and development side of the profession.

Because of the salary ranges available, our recommendation is to seek out some of the great public colleges in Kinesiology, which provide a noticeably lower tuition profile for in-state residents than the private college options. If you look at the list of the top 20 colleges, you will see that many of the best colleges in this field are such state universities.

20 Best Colleges for Kinesiology or Exercise Science Majors

This is our RealRank ranking of the best colleges for kinesiology and exercise / sports science. Each of the listed universities on the list include a link to its website. You can search around those websites to find out more about their academic  programs, and the fee/cost estimators, if they have one. (Independence Note: We do not earn any commissions from the links!)




RankCollegeCityStateLink
1Penn StateUniversity ParkPAVisit
2Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationTXVisit
3University of FloridaGainesvilleFLVisit
4University of MichiganAnn ArborMIVisit
5University of IllinoisChampaignILVisit
6Michigan State UniversityEast LansingMIVisit
7University of TexasAustinTXVisit
8University of GeorgiaAthensGAVisit
9Iowa State UniversityAmesIAVisit
10University of IowaIowa CityIAVisit
11Indiana UniversityBloomingtonINVisit
12University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesCAVisit
13University of UtahSalt Lake CityUTVisit
14University of MarylandCollege ParkMDVisit
15Florida State UniversityTallahasseeFLVisit
16University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV)Las VegasNVVisit
17University of South CarolinaColumbiaSCVisit
18University of TennesseeKnoxvilleTNVisit
19Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteINVisit
20Mississippi State UniversityStarkvilleMSVisit
20The Ohio State UniversityColumbusOhioVisit




There are a lot of colleges that just missed making the list this year, and offer great programs in these fields. Are there any you think should be added, or moved up (or down)? What is your experience at these universities?

Related College Profiles:
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