Last Updated on September 14, 2021
Kinesiology Master’s Degree Programs 2021
An ancient discipline that is taking off in our modern world as our society becomes more health conscious, a master’s degree in kinesiology will take you to exciting places in your career.
Broadly speaking, kinesiology is the scientific study of the body’s physiological and bio-mechanical movement. Think about it as machine performance of the body, examined through 3 major foci – mechanics, anatomy and physiology. Clinical applications of kinesiology are found in health science fields, orthopedics, genetics, rehabilitation (including physical and occupational therapy), biomechanics, strength, conditioning and sports psychology. Kinesiological study incorporates a variety of tools to study movement including motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of brain and muscle tissue, behavioral and cognitive studies and methods for analyzing physiological function.
Kinesiology has been around since ancient times, the name itself comes from the Greek “kinesis” or “to move”, and its modern incarnation began to take shape at the end of the 19th century. These days, kinesiology is a multidisciplinary approach, combining principles from anatomy, physics and biology and synthesizing them into a unique and practical approach that has become a crucial component of professional sports and personal health and fitness. Products of millions of years of evolution, the human body is a marvel of mechanics with seemingly limitless possibilities for movement and adaptability in a changing physical environment. We take our balance and movement for granted, but every motion of the body is a result of a complex and coordinated procedure of muscles leveraged on a skeletal frame following physiological principles and physical limitations.
Exercises designed to adapt In clinical practice, Kinesiology focuses on the following objectives: A key principle in Kinesiology is adaptation through exercises that are designed to be simple and target specific movement disorders that a patient might be experiencing. This process relies on the neuroplasticity of the brain combined with the ability of the musculoskeletal system to adapt.
Over time, these therapeutic exercises increase bio-mechanical and neuromotor skills. These exercises can be tailored to athletic, normal, and clinical levels depending on the physical condition. Exercises can focus on aerobic, anaerobic, power, body mass, and flexibility, all with the goal of rehabilitating or maintaining health and overall fitness. In addition to physical benefits, these exercises can help with chronic diseases, depression and improving the immune system. The field of Kinesiology generates a large volume of research and data. To get a sense of what it’s all about, check out the American Kinesiology Association’s list of Kinesiology Journals.
The Objectives of Kinesiology Include:
Relaxation: In our increasingly chaotic and stressful lives stress and anxiety related disorders are more and more prevalent and can have physical as well as psychological symptoms. A focus on meditative techniques can decrease reliance on medication and decrease recovery time.
Correcting posture and alignment. For most people, sitting at a desk and typing on the computer has replaced our formerly active lives, leading to poor posture, joint problems and asymmetry in the spine.
Increasing joint mobility: Rehabilitation after accidents and surgery can involve many months to years of working to improve joint mobility. Damaged areas will often calcify with scar tissue that needs to be worked and manipulated over time through movement to allow for the scar tissue to slowly dissipate.
Increasing muscle strength: Physical therapy is often prescribed post-surgery or after an accident to increase and rebuild muscle mass. Often these exercises start with simple iterative and isolated movements, that are expanded into more complex movement processes as a patient recovers.
Increasing endurance: Through repetitive and longer lasting exercises, muscle and respiratory endurance can be increased.
Balance and coordination: Head injuries, broken bones, or surgery can all lead to loss of coordination which can be reestablished through repeated therapy.
Balance has to essentially be “re-learned” and the coordinated micro-movement of muscles to maintain stability has to be re-established.
Sensory re-education: Often as a result of disease, head or spine injuries, loss of sensation can be re-established over time through physical therapy. Rehabilitation of this type focuses on identifying existing sensory pathways and then expanding them over time through electrolysis and focused movement by the patient.
Why Earn a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology?
While “kinesiologist” is not a licensed professional designation, graduates of kinesiology have a wide array of career paths available to choose from, in hospitals, physical therapy centers, sports organizations, schools and occupational health and safety.
Kinesiologists can combine a love of helping others and being a guide to a healthier life, with science and engineering, into one fulfilling job. For those passionate about sports, kinesiology will help prepare you for a successful future in the industry, potentially working directly with athletes to help them perfect techniques, increase strength and endurance, and recover quickly from injuries.
Ask any professionals who have worked in any position for an extended period of time, and they will have something to say about two things which are totally unrelated to how much money you make – the importance of work/life balance, and finding work that you enjoy doing. Just as important as earning a high enough wage to support yourself and your loved ones understanding what type of life you are able to enjoy while not working. There is always more money to be made out there, but at a certain point earning extra money is simply not worth the sacrifice that it costs you in time and health.
When people talk about work/life balance, they are referring to the ability within one’s career to set boundaries to protect your quality of life outside of work – things like enjoying weekends and holidays with family, working for an employer with a reputable mission and vision, and enjoying good benefits Finding a career which allows for a positive work life balance AND allows you do you what you enjoy each day is an even more rare combination, yet a career in kinesiology has the potential to be just this for young people who are passionate about sports, health, and wellness.
Kinesiology Career Outlook
As the population of the United States continues to age, the healthcare industry gets larger every year. Likewise, the field of kinesiology continues to grow, and the demand for kinesiology professionals continues to increase each year. As holistic medicine continues to become more mainstream, those with a background in kinesiology are viewed as professionals who can help patients with a wide variety of ailments, helping people live more balanced and healthy lives.
Graduates with a master’s degree in kinesiology have the expertise to help a huge cross section of the American public with a holistic approach that can often prove very effective in a short amount of time. When balance is achieved within the body, it can cure chronic issues without surgery or medication leading to longer, healthier lives.
Kinesiology is a common path for individuals pursuing a career in kinesiotherapy, massage therapy, occupational or physical therapy, and a wide variety of medical professions related to sports and rehabilitation. A graduate degree in kinesiology is sure to set you apart from the pack as you seek top-tier career opportunities at some of the most desirable institutions and organizations in the field. For more information about careers in kinesiology, be sure to visit our Careers in Kinesiology page, and here are some examples of careers available to kinesiologists:
Personal Trainer / Health Consultant
You can find kinesiologists working as health consultants, training people on how to live a healthy lifestyle that focuses on prevention of injuries and chronic disease. Many yoga instructors, massage therapists, dieticians, and chiropractors have a background in kinesiology, giving them bio engineering knowledge necessary to become professional experts.
Few jobs can be more rewarding than work as a clinical physical therapist. Anyone who has had a significant injury requiring rehabilitation, knows the importance of these professional therapists, who literally get people back on their feet. As physical therapists, a kinesiotherapist works with people who have disabling conditions, and through patient and consistent, targeted exercises, improves their condition. Physical therapists can work in professional clinics, sports organizations, sports centers, fitness facilities, at schools and homes and can also work as physio or occupational therapists.
Ergonomics is an industry that people often do not think about, despite being impacted and affected by it daily. Think of your extra comfortable office chair, or the feel of the steering wheel of your favorite sports car, to your electric toothbrush. The field of ergonomics is filled with kinesiologists, constantly improving the shape, fit and feel of the world around us.
Health and Safety
Optimizing the health and safety of a company’s customers and employees, is a major responsibility of management in today’s world. The rapid technological development has created a whole host of new scenarios and environmental hazards that humans now have to navigate and kinesiologists are on the front line, ensuring the industrial processes, public spaces, corporate cubicles are as safe as can be and required by law.
Disability Case Management
For more acute injuries and disabilities, kinesiologists are defining a new role in the field of disability management. In this role, a kinesiologist works with an injured patient, their family and caregivers to plan their future. This includes how to remodel a home for easy use of amenities, how to schedule physical therapy and exercise regimes, use of appropriate mobility aids, etc. Transition into a change in lifestyle as a result of a traumatic injury can be difficult for a family and a Disability manager helps all parties navigate into the best environment for rehab that is possible.
These days health education has been revolutionized by changes in technology and have changed our understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle. Sacred cows of the traditional health education, such as the “food pyramid” and “appropriate” sport for girls and boys, have been transformed by modern understanding of the incredible complexity of nutrition and bioengineering, that a kinesiologists will understand. There are also careers available in the field of community health as governments look to save on downstream treatment of chronic health issues by upstream education for at risk groups and communities.
Kinesiologists and kinesiotherapists can be found working as athletic trainers in professional sports organizations, fitness centers, large corporations and schools. They will often work in conjunction with physicians , to help athletes prevent injuries, diagnose injuries, apply treatment and help with rehab and recovery.
Athletic Coach and Player Scout
Organized youth sports is a huge industry and a staple of everyone’s childhood. Kinesiologists often work in this field as professional coaches and trainers for private, amatuer and professional teams. Coaches play a vital role teaching skills and training players to master their sport. Coaches often get involved with the player scouting side of professional sports teams and are responsible for identifying and developing promising youth sports talents.
Kinesiologists can readily find work as physical education teachers in schools and fitness centers. Physical education teachers are responsible for delivering health and sports related curriculum to students, often at the elementary, middle and high school level.
An expanding field that is opening up to kinesiologists is Outdoor Education. Increasingly elementary and highschool directors, administrators and parents are realizing the importance of getting students out of the classroom and participating in outdoor education. Whether in nature camps or traveling experiential educations programs, kinesiologists are finding increasing opportunities in this expansion area of alternative education.
Complete List of Universities offering a Master’s in Kinesiology
Below we have compiled a comprehensive list to kinesiology programs currently being offered in the US. We hope this list and the other resources on this website will serve to make your search easier: