Best Kinesiology Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Kinesiology is the study of human movement and physical activity. Some of the top kinesiology schools in the country offer strong programs in exercise science, sports medicine, physical therapy, and health promotion. When researching the best kinesiology colleges, important factors to consider include academics, research opportunities, hands-on learning, career support services, and more.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 22%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $35,000 (in-state), $51,000 (out-of-state)


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the top public universities in the country. Its Department of Exercise and Sport Science offers exceptional programs in areas like athletic training, exercise physiology, and health promotion. Undergraduate students gain hands-on research and clinical experience at facilities like the Human Movement Science Lab.

University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Rating: 9.25/10

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Avg SAT Score: 1425

Tuition: $59,000


The University of Southern California provides world-class academics at its Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. Students work with expert faculty and have access to state-of-the-art labs and facilities. Unique offerings include the Joint Educational Project and opportunities to work directly with USC athletic teams.

University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, FL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 31%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $17,000 (in-state), $44,000 (out-of-state)


The University of Florida’s Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology is highly ranked nationwide. It excels in exercise physiology, biomechanics, sport performance training, and health aspects of physical activity. Undergraduates gain exceptional research and clinical experience both on campus and at affiliated medical centers.

Indiana University Bloomington

Location: Bloomington, IN

Rating: 8.75/10

Acceptance Rate: 80%

Avg SAT Score: 1270

Tuition: $21,000 (in-state), $45,000 (out-of-state)


Indiana University Bloomington’s School of Public Health offers stellar programs in kinesiology, exercise science, and related fields. It provides outstanding research opportunities through facilities like the Exercise Physiology Lab, Biomechanics Lab, and Human Performance Lab. Students also complete internships at sites like sports medicine clinics and professional training centers.

Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, OH

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Avg SAT Score: 1280

Tuition: $21,000 (in-state), $34,000 (out-of-state)


Ohio State University is home to one of the country’s top kinesiology programs. Its School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences offers exceptional teaching and research opportunities across disciplines like biomechanics, exercise science, motor behavior, and physical therapy. Undergraduates gain hands-on experience at facilities like the Musculoskeletal Lab and Human Performance Research Laboratory.

University of Pittsburgh

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Rating: 8.25/10

Acceptance Rate: 60%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $19,000 (in-state), $33,000 (out-of-state)


The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition provides premier programs in athletic training, health promotion, fitness and wellness, nutrition, and other areas. Undergraduate students work under expert faculty and benefit from the university’s partnerships with UPMC Sports Medicine and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Avg SAT Score: 1400

Tuition: $17,000 (in-state), $52,000 (out-of-state)


The University of Michigan provides exceptional kinesiology and movement science programs through its School of Kinesiology. Students benefit from cutting-edge facilities like the Michigan Integrative Musculoskeletal Health Core Lab and Motor Control Laboratory. Undergraduates also complete internships at sites like the university’s athletic campus.

Penn State University

Location: University Park, PA

Rating: 7.75/10

Acceptance Rate: 50%

Avg SAT Score: 1270

Tuition: $18,000 (in-state), $35,000 (out-of-state)


Penn State University offers premiere kinesiology and rehabilitation programs through its Department of Kinesiology and College of Health and Human Development. Students work with world-class faculty and complete internships at facilities like athletic training rooms, pro sports organizations, hospitals, and clinics. Unique opportunities include studying abroad at international elite sport institutes.

University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, TX

Rating: 7.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 32%

Avg SAT Score: 1310

Tuition: $17,000 (in-state), $42,000 (out-of-state)


The University of Texas at Austin provides exceptional programs in kinesiology and health education. Its Department of Kinesiology and Health Education offers stellar teaching and research opportunities across areas like biomechanics, motor control, exercise physiology, and more. Undergraduates also benefit from the university’s state-of-the-art athletic facilities and clinics.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does kinesiology focus on?

Kinesiology is an interdisciplinary field focused on the science of human movement and physical activity. Key areas of study include biomechanics, motor control, exercise physiology, sports psychology, rehabilitation, and health promotion. The core goal is to help people maximize health, physical performance, and well-being.

What jobs can you get with a kinesiology degree?

A kinesiology degree opens doors to various careers, including: athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, sports coach, fitness trainer, cardiac rehabilitation specialist, nutritionist, sports psychologist, chiropractor, researcher, and professor.

How much do kinesiologists make?

Salaries for kinesiologists vary by specific career path. On average, athletic trainers earn $46K, physical therapists $87K, occupational therapists $84K, exercise physiologists $49K, and postsecondary teachers $76K per year. Those working with pro teams or elite athletes may earn significantly higher incomes.

What classes do you take for kinesiology?

Common kinesiology courses include: anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, motor learning/control, exercise physiology, sports psychology, injury prevention, nutrition, rehabilitation, first aid/emergency care, athletic training, health promotion, and specialized courses like golf swing mechanics or youth conditioning principles.

Is kinesiology a good major?

Kinesiology is an excellent college major for students interested in health, sports, physical activity, and human movement science. It offers versatile career paths combined with roles that improve people’s lives daily. The hands-on curriculums, research opportunities, internships, and job prospects make kinesiology a worthwhile choice.

Is getting a PhD in kinesiology worth it?

A PhD in Kinesiology can certainly be worthwhile for those interested in advanced research or university faculty positions. That said, it requires 4+ extra years and is not necessary for many careers like physical therapist or athletic trainer. Aspiring clinicians can often get suitable jobs with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree instead.

How competitive is kinesiology?

Kinesiology programs at top schools are moderately to highly competitive. Applicants need to showcase academic excellence, motivation, hands-on experience, and unique talents/perspectives. GPA minimums often range from 3.0 to 3.5. Work or volunteer experience in related settings is also extremely helpful for one’s candidacy.

What is the hardest part of kinesiology?

Many students report that the intense science components make kinesiology quite challenging, especially classes like anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and neuroscience. Juggling highly demanding coursework with labs, clinical rotations, research projects, and internships also contributes to the major’s difficulty level at times.

Can you go to PT school with a kinesiology degree?

Yes, a kinesiology undergrad degree meets requirements to apply for physical therapy graduate programs. To be a strong candidate, students should maintain excellent grades in challenging kinesiology courses, secure hands-on clinical experience, build relationships with professors for recommendations, and study thoroughly for entrance exams like the GRE.

What minors go well with kinesiology?

Great minors to pair with a kinesiology major include: nutrition, public health, psychology, sports management, business, biology, chemistry, neuroscience, Spanish, computer science, and communications. Minors that align with one’s specialty interests or career goals are ideal complements.

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