Best Bachelors in Sports Medicine DegreeSports medicine is a huge field that includes many health professions and many aspects of body mechanics, nutrition, and training. While some sports medicine professionals work closely with amateur athletes, building a healthy training plan that will take the client to the next level of performance, others work with professional athletes who are trying to maximize their bodies and careers while staying safe and holistically healthy.

Which is to say, getting a degree in sports medicine gives you nearly endless opportunities after you walk across the graduation stage. Depending on your area of interest, you could specialize in the development and implementation of training plans, working directly with clients in a collaborative setting. Or maybe you’re fascinated by the raw data of what makes a body move and perform at peak levels; and so you’re seeking a spot in an elite research lab.

Any of these degrees from the schools below will help you achieve your goal.

Because there are so many approaches to sports medicine, we thought it would be helpful to provide a quick outline of the different degrees one can earn, and we’ve made sure to note throughout our list which schools offer which kinds of programs.

Exercise Science: Generally speaking, exercise science is a broad study of the body’s reaction to physical activity. This includes the biomechanical as well as the psychological response. Those with a BS in Exercise Science make, on average, over $47k annually.

Kinesiology: Even a bit broader than exercise science, kinesiology is the study of human movement, not just exercise, and includes multiple aspects of human health. Those with a BS in Kinesiology make, on average, over $43k annually in the early years of their career.

Athletic Training: Utilizing the same foundations found in kinesiology and exercise science programs, those who go into athletic training learn how to develop and implement health plans that are specific to their clients. They also make, on average, over $45k annually.

Ever thought about studying online? Many of our readers have, so we’ve also put together a list of the Best Online Sports Medicine Degrees. Check it out!

What are the Best Undergraduate Degrees in Sports Medicine?

As we said, the field of sports medicine is broad and encompasses everything from exercise science and kinesiology to nutrition and athletic training. So, while some of these programs emphasize one facet of sports medicine over another, they all share one thing in common: they are the best undergraduate programs in the nation for those who want to work in athletics and healthcare.

To narrow down to such a comprehensive and definitive list, we started first with the academic reputation of each program in the nation and then examined student retention—a reflection of student satisfaction—affordability, and the early salaries of graduates. What we concluded with, after such extensive research, are those programs that are the best in the nation at training and educating future physical therapists, sports scientists, and athletic trainers. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

One quick thing to note about the schools below: the tuition price reflect residency rates. Please see the program website for more on non-residency rates, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

1

University of North Carolina

College Choice Score: 100

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,019

Program Website

Overview

A member of the renowned University of North Carolina system, the Chapel Hill (UNC) campus is the flagship university and a major research hub. It is one of the oldest public universities in the country, having been founded in 1789. Around 30k students attend UNC and are enrolled in one of the 70 academic degree programs proffered through one of UNC’s discrete colleges and schools.

Features

The Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC is founded on the belief that understanding human movement directly implicates the quality of life, for individuals and societies as a whole. Offering four full undergraduate BA degrees—in exercise science, athletic training, fitness professionalism, and sports administration—plus another handful of minors, UNC introduces its students to the intersection of health, sports, physical fitness, exercise, and wellness. In fact, UNC students are so thoroughly trained in all areas of sports science they have, post graduation, found rewarding careers in:

  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Recreational Therapist
  • Strength and Conditioning Coaching
  • And much more

Notables

With a strong commitment to sustainability, UNC requires all new projects meet LEED certifications; and for this reason among many others UNC is an award-winning green campus with high marks from the Sustainable Endowment Institute. UNC is, also, a highly ranked university; U.S. News & World Report ranks it 30th among all national universities.

2

University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign

College Choice Score: 99.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $12,036

Program Website

Overview

The flagship school in the University of Illinois system and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, the University of Illinois in Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) is a highly active research school. It is a land, sea, and space grant institution and home to nearly 50k combined undergraduate and graduate students. Organized into over a dozen colleges and schools, UIUC offers over 150 undergraduate degrees.

Features

Housed under the College of Applied Health Sciences, the BS in Kinesiology degree at UIUC was specifically designed for those who want to study, research, and understand human movement in all its dimensions and complexities. Students gain exhaustive knowledge of exercise stress and movement efficiency as well as the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of sports. Though primarily a science degree, the UIUC curriculum is steeped in a liberal arts model. Kinesiology core courses include:

  • Social Science of Human Movement
  • Bioscience of Human Movement
  • Physical Activity Research Methods
  • Motor Development and Control
  • Sociology and Psychology of Physical Activity
  • Bioenergetics of Movement
  • Biomechanics of Movement

Notables

UIUC is nationally ranked by Forbes (72nd), U.S. News & World Report (44th), Washington Monthly (33rd), and ARWU (23rd). Likewise, it boasts global rankings from QS World University Rankings and Times Higher Education.

3

University of Georgia

College Choice Score: 91

Annual Tuition Cost: $11,818

Program Website

Overview

The University of Georgia (UGA) is located in Athens and is a prominent research university. It is a flagship school that has made huge research contributions, primarily in the fields of biomedical and health sciences. Additionally, UGA houses the renowned Georgia Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of National History, a state botanical garden, an observatory, and even a golf course (plus much more).

Features

UGA’s Department of Kinesiology offers a unique opportunity for its undergraduates interested in sports medicine and exercise science: a BSEd in Exercise and Sport Science. This program’s curriculum brings together a blend of research in the fields of physical activity, exercise science, and sports medicine. Furthermore, students gain hands-on experience through research opportunities, internship programming, and service-learning experiences. This degree fully prepares you to find a career in:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sports Medicine
  • Fitness and Wellness Coaching
  • And more

Notables

With its array of research initiatives, opportunities, and facilities, it’s no surprise that UGA is ranked 56th in the nation among all universities (by U.S. News & World Report). ARWU, Forbes, and Washington Monthly also rank UGA among the top 100 universities in the country.

4

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

College Choice Score: 88.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $14,448

Program Website

Overview

The Twin Cities affiliate in the greater University of Minnesota system is the oldest and largest campus, with around 50k undergraduate and graduate students. It is considered a Public Ivy, meaning it is a public university that is comparable in academic excellence to elite, private Ivy Leagues. Campus is comprised of nearly 20 colleges and schools, plus another half dozen research institutes and centers.

Features

UM’s School of Kinesiology is nationally ranked and organized into both an undergraduate and graduate school. The former offers three BS degrees—in kinesiology, recreation administration, and sport management—plus a few minors as well. The BS in Kinesiology degree is founded around biological scuebce, social science, and physical properties of human movement and physical activity. Like many of the other programs, UM’s trains students for a diverse range of vocational options after graduation, among them:

  • Sport Sociology
  • Physical Therapy
  • Prevention and Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Performance Training
  • Exercise Testing
  • And more

Notables

As a Public Ivy, the University of Minnesota is world renowned for its academic standards and achievements. Thus, Washington Monthly ranks it 53rd among all universities in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 71st and ARWU ranks its 24th.

5

Rutgers University

College Choice Score: 88.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $11,619

Program Website

Overview

Rutgers is a public research university with multiple campuses located throughout New Jersey and it is one of the largest schools on our list with 70k combined undergraduate and graduate students. Known for its research in health science, linguistics, computer science, and engineering, among others, it is a leading member in the Big Ten Academic Alliance and the Universities Research Association.

Features

The exercise science major at Rutgers introduces students to the fundamentals of exercise physiology, sports medicine, biomechanics, and rehabilitation. Students will also collaborate closely with departmental faculty on academic advisement, research involvement, clinical work, and community service, making this a hands-on degree opportunity that balances theory with practicum. Students will also have access to the Exercise and Gastrointestinal Health lab, the Exercise Psychophysiology lab, and the Human Performance lab. Core courses for Rutgers’ exercise science major include:

  • Functional Human Anatomy
  • Foundations of Exercise Science and Sports Studies
  • Psychology of Sport and Exercise
  • Neuromechanical Kinesiology
  • Nutrition for Sport and Exercise
  • Administration in Exercise Science
  • Internship
  • And more

Notables

First founded in 1766 as Queen’s College, Rutgers is one of the oldest universities in the country and one of only nine colonial colleges founded before the American Revolution. It is ranked among the top 100 best universities in the country by ARWU, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly.

6

Texas A&M University

College Choice Score: 88

Annual Tuition Cost: $5,309

Program Website

Overview

A massive research university located in College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University (TAMU) has over 60k enrolled students and over 150 degree programs. Its campus is one of the largest in the nation, and it is the only land, sea, and space grant institution in the state. Thus, TAMU holds important relationships with national organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and more.

Features

TAMU’s Department of Health and Kinesiology houses over a dozen undergraduate majors, including those in Applied Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology (which can be paired with an accelerated masters program), Basic Exercise Physiology, and Sports Conditioning. Depending on where your specific interests lay, you can concentrate on the clinical end of sports and exercise science, or you can pursue an interdisciplinary approach to sports medicine that blends applied health education with business, training, and other subjects. TAMU will prepare you to find a rewarding career or to attend graduate school in:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Nursing School
  • Physician Assistant
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Exercise Physiology
  • And more

Notables

TAMU is well-adorned in rankings and recognitions. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 68th among all national universities and colleges while Kiplinger’s Personal Finance calls it one of the best-valued public universities in the country.

7

Michigan State University

College Choice Score: 87

Annual Tuition Cost: $14,516

Program Website

Overview

Located in the state’s capital, East Lansing, Michigan State University (MSU) was founded as an agricultural college and was an early innovator in the studies of communication science, hospitality business, packaging, and supply chain management. However, MSU now offers more than 200 degrees, in a range of subjects, through its 17 colleges and schools. Campus is also home to an art museum, botanical garden, planetarium, and dozens of research labs and institutes.

Features

At Michigan State students study the impact physical activity has on the health, society, and quality of individual lives and greater communities. As an MSU student you can expect to dive into the anatomical, biomechanical, psycho-social, physiological, and developmental facets of human motion and exercise. You will also be required to complete a senior-year internship. So, whether you want to work in sports medicine, fitness leadership, rehabilitation, or physical therapy, this renowned program at MSU can help you get there. Core courses include:

  • Psycho-Social Aspects of Physical Activity
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Cognitive and Motor Neuroscience
  • Athletic Administration
  • Health Promotion
  • Among others

Notables

MSU is ranked well by a number of sources, including U.S. News & World Report, which places it 82nd among all national universities and colleges. Likewise, U.S. News designates a number of the university’s departments as among the top 50 in the country, especially its health science departments.

8

Truman State University

College Choice Score: 87

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,352

Program Website

Overview

Truman State College is located in Kirksville, Missouri and is a public liberal arts school. As a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges it is a leader in providing interdisciplinary education with lots of opportunity for hands-on and international education experience. Around 6k students attend Truman State, enrolled in one of the nearly 50 undergraduate degree programs.

Features

Studying exercise science at Truman State University will open up many opportunities for you, during your time in college and after graduation. The degree requires you tackle one of the four provided areas of concentration; however, whichever route you take you will study human movement, develop research methodologies, and graduate ready for certification. The four concentrations you have to choose from are:

  • Pre-Medical Sciences: This focus covers pre-chiropractic studies, pre-physical therapy, pre-sports medicine, and pre-physical assistance
  • Applied and Pre-Athletic Training: This focus covers the biomechanics of movement, exercise physiology, personal training, and cardiac rehabilitation.
  • Sport and Recreation Management: Specifically for those seeking leadership positions after graduation, this focus covers the administration of wellness centers, outdoor recreation, YMCAs, and more
  • Physical Education and Health: This focus is for those who want to teach in the K-12 public school system

Notables

Truman State is considered to have one of the more selective admissions rates of the public schools in Missouri, which has led to some of its rankings placements and recognitions, from The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, the latter including it among the best Midwest regional universities.

9

University of Northern Iowa

College Choice Score: 85

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,456

Program Website

Overview

The 10k students of University of Northern Iowa (UNI) are enrolled in one of the 90 majors made available through the colleges of business administration, arts, sciences, education, humanities, and social science. UNI is located in Cedar Falls and is known for its liberal arts core program and for providing students with international education opportunities.

Features

At the University of Northern Iowa you can earn a BS in Movement Exercise Science (including the option to specialize in sports psychology) that will teach you everything from the fitness industry to conditioning programs, business wellness, lab and research methodology, and much more. You will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on training through the internship program. Other reasons to consider the University of Northern Iowa include:

  • Scholarship opportunities specifically allocated to exercise science students
  • Access to impressive facilities, labs, and recreation centers
  • Opportunities to participate in the Physical Education Club
  • An employment rate of 96 percent post graduation
  • Small class sizes of 25 students or less

Notables

In addition to its regional rankings from The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report, the University of Northern Iowa has earned a reputation for its small class sizes, its liberal arts focus, and for the close collaboration between students and faculty.

10

SUNY College–Cortland

College Choice Score: 85

Annual Tuition Cost: $3,335

Program Website

Overview

Part of the State University of New York system, SUNY Cortland is organized into three academic divisions: the department of arts and sciences, the education school, and the division of professional studies. Combined, these divisions offer the SUNY Cortland student body, around 7k undergraduates, 50 academic majors plus another few dozen minors in a variety of subjects.

Features

At SUNY Cortland you will get a broad education in exercise science. The undergraduate major provides a foundation in chemistry, physics, social science, and applied health, while also giving you the opportunity to work with faculty in research labs, participate in student-run clubs and organizations, gain practicum experience, work in the Center for Obesity Research and Education, and study abroad in England, Germany, or Australia. Graduates from SUNY Cortland have found careers in:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Chiropractic Medicine
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Exercise Science Research
  • Nutrition Consultation
  • Fitness Management
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • And more

Notables

Kiplinger’s consistently recognizes SUNY Cortland as one of the top 100 most affordable public colleges and universities in the country. On top of that, the university has been included, for many years in a row, on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

11

CUNY Queens College

College Choice Score: 83

Annual Tuition Cost: $6,530

Program Website

Overview

Part of the City University of New York System, Queens College is a mid-sized school with nearly 20k combined undergraduate and graduate students. Queens College provides a liberal arts education, offering around 80 academic undergraduate majors in an array of areas and subjects, and it is one of the leading schools participating in the CUNY Honors College.

Features

For those who want to blend their knowledge of sports medicine, kinesiology, and human movement with nutrition, Queens College is an ideal choice. This program introduces students to cardiovascular health and wellness, healthy dieting, and exercise science, training them for careers in either corporate or health industries. Whether you want to work with professional athletes or help senior citizens better manage their nutrition and physical activity, Queens College can help you get there through a curriculum comprised of course work on:

  • Exercise, Energy Balance, and Weight Control
  • Nutrition
  • Kinesiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Physiology of Muscular Activity
  • Nutrition for the Exercise Professional
  • Plus more

Notables

Queens College consistently makes rankings and round-ups for its low tuition costs. Washington Monthly placed it 2nd nationally for being the “Best Bang For Your Buck,” and The Princeton Review ranked it 8th nationally for being among “America’s Best Value Colleges.” Forbes and Newsweek have also praised Queens for its accessible, affordable price tag.

12

University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire

College Choice Score: 79.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $8,800

Program Website

Overview

The Eau Claire branch in the University of Wisconsin system is a public liberal arts school that offers bachelor and master’s degrees in diverse fields of study. Organized into four main colleges (of business, arts and sciences, education, and nursing), UW Eau Claire offers over 80 majors to its 10k students.

Features

The Kinesiology Department at UW Eau Claire is one of the more substantive ones on our ranking, with half a dozen majors and even more minors that explore the dynamics of sports medicine and human movement. Whichever major you choose and however you specialize, these programs give students a broad foundation in the concepts of human movement. Students study the ins and outs of daily movement to better understand how to provide holistic and sustainable health to communities. Majors include:

  • Athletic Training
  • Human Performance
  • Movement Studies
  • Physical Education Teaching
  • Sports Pedagogy
  • Adapted Physical Education
  • Plus a number of minors

Notables

With its liberal arts focus, UW Eau Claire is known for requiring its students to show strength and competency in mathematics, English, a foreign language, and foreign cultures, and they are required to take a set number of classes that engage issues of diversity. For this reason among many others, the university is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as being among the top five regional public institutions in the Midwest.

13

University of Minnesota–Duluth

College Choice Score: 79.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $12,016

Program Website

Overview

The Duluth campus in the greater University of Minnesota system is a public, sea-grant school with approximately 10k students enrolled in one of the dozens of academic areas. Among the many colleges and schools that make up UM Duluth, campus is also home to a School of Medicine, a four-year College of Pharmacy, and a renowned Music Hall, performing arts center, and planetarium.  

Features

The exercise science degree at UM Duluth gives students the option to specialize in either health fitness or sport science. However, all students will take the core courses listed below, through which they gain theoretical knowledge as well as practical experience in exercise movement, nutrition, and strength building. Students are also encouraged to participate in the research projects through the Exercise Physiology Lab, the Biomechanics Lab, and the Motor Learning and Vision lab.

  • Motor Learning and Development
  • Exercise Adherence
  • Human Biomechanics
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Performance Nutrition
  • Exercise Testing and Prescription
  • Principles of Strength and Conditioning Programs
  • And more, including a clinical

Notables

While Forbes ranks UM Duluth nationally, U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly both include it in their regional rankings. The school is also known for its beautiful campus, as it adheres strictly to a “1 Percent for Art,” rule, which means all buildings and facilities must include some public art in their infrastructure.

14

Towson University

College Choice Score: 78

Annual Tuition Cost: $6,692

Program Website

Overview

Towson University is located in Baltimore, Maryland and is a public university, a member of the University System of Maryland, and one of the largest public schools in the state. It was founded as a teachers school, originally, and it still produces more teachers than any other university in Maryland.

Features

Towson’s program is a blend of disciplines that covers biomechanics, exercise physiology, biochemistry, growth and development, nutrition, and exercise psychology. Students learn how to best utilize technology for fitness evaluation, how to lead individual and group exercise programs, how to educate and counsel clients on holistic health practices, and how to cultivate the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills necessary for work in clinical, corporate, commercial, or community health settings. In addition to the core set of courses, some of the unique elective opportunities you will have include:

  • Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries
  • Science of Sport Success
  • Psychology of Sport (and Sport Injury)
  • Stress Management, Tension Control, and Human Performance
  • Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • And many more

Notables

Ranked 8th among regional, public universities by U.S. News & World Report, Towson University has a strong academic reputation, especially for its education programs. Likewise, Forbes and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine include Towson among the top 100 best valued schools in nation.

15

Longwood University

College Choice Score: 77

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,620

Program Website

Overview

Located in Farmville, Virginia, Longwood University is a liberal arts school and one of the oldest public institutions in the state. Longwood is organized into three academic schools—the College of Business and Economics, the College of Education and Human Services, and the Cook-Cole College of Arts and Sciences—and it is a small school with an enrollment of around 5k undergraduates.

Features

Longwood University distinctively brings together important concepts and trending theories in the areas of physical, mental, and social wellness. Students learn how personal health impacts community health; they develop leadership skills that will help them guide others through holistic health planning; and they will become equipped in the areas of movement, performance and function through biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience. Graduates from Longwood University’s program have gone on to secure rewarding careers as:

  • Physical and Health Education Teachers
  • Clinical Exercise Physiologists
  • Health and Fitness Specialists
  • Strength and Conditioning Consultants

Notables

U.S. News & World Report ranks Longwood University in the top regional universities in the South, and The Princeton Review includes it among the “Best in the Southeast.” Longwood is also praised for its affordability, by Princeton, Money Magazine, and Forbes.

16

Lander University

College Choice Score: 75.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $10,700

Program Website

Overview

One of the smallest schools on our list with around 3k enrolled undergraduates, Lander University is a public university located in Greenwood, South Carolina. Originally founded as a Methodist women’s school, Lander is now coed and state-supported, offering over 60 areas of study in a diverse variety of subjects and disciplines.  

Features

Lander University gives you two great opportunities to explore exercise science and implement what you learn outside the classroom, through either a BS in Exercise Science or a BS in Physical Education with a focus on the science of movement. Both programs delve into sports medicine, though the former more so. Lander’s exercise science program is for students who want to work in public, private, or corporate industries, disseminating information and health practices that promote endurance, body composition, muscular strength, and flexibility. Reasons to study at Lander are plentiful:

  • All exercise science students become fully certified in CPR and first aid
  • The program is definitively hands-on: you’ll earn nearly 200 hours in experiential learning through internship work
  • The program fully readies you for a number of national certification exams
  • There are nearly a half dozen scholarships specifically allocated to exercise science students
  • And more

Notables

Due to its size and structure, Lander is known for having low student-to-faculty ratios of around 19:1 and class sizes that tend to fall under 25 students. Lander’s campus also has earned a reputation, being that it is the site of a few buildings recognized by the National Register of Historic places.

17

San Diego State University

College Choice Score: 75

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,460

Program Website

Overview

A major hub of research initiatives, as designated by the Carnegie Foundation, San Diego State University (SDSU) is a large, public university. It is part of the 23-member California State University system, has an enrollment of over 35k students, and is organized into dozens of discrete schools and colleges, offering degrees in nearly 200 areas of study.

Features

San Diego State University’s BS in Athletic Training program is markedly hands-on. As a SDSU student you will be required to fulfill a full two years of clinical experience under the direct supervision of a Certified Athletic Trainer. You’ll gain insights into the world of sports medicine while spending at least 20 hours a week at practices, games, rehabilitation service centers, workshops, surgical observations, and more, and you’ll graduate prepared to:

  • Complete and pass the national certification exam
  • Find work directly after graduation as a Certified Athletic Trainer
  • Continually build on what you know, in both a professional and academic sense
  • Attend graduate school to advance your practice and knowledge even further

Notables

San Diego State University is the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars in the state of California, second only to the illustrious UC Berkeley. Additionally, SDSU consistently falls in the top ten of those universities nationwide that are committed to ethnic and racial diversity on campus. Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, ARWU, Washington Monthly, and more, add to the accolades, including SDSU on their respective rankings.

18

Bemidji State University

College Choice Score: 73.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,630

Program Website

Overview

Located in the Minnesotan city of the same name, Bemidji State University (BSU) is a public, state university situated right on the scenic shorelines of Lake Bemidji. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and was originally founded to provide higher education to future teachers. While still maintaining a strong education department, BSU now offers a range of degree programs to its 6k students.

Features

With two distinct areas of concentration—in medical fitness or fitness leadership—the BS in Exercise Science degree at Bemidji State University gives students a solid foundation in anatomy, biomechanics, exercise physiology, sport psychology, and motor development. Students have hands-on training by working in the exercise physiology and biomechanics lab, and through a professional internship. Bemidji State University’s program ensures you find a successful career after graduation by preparing you for diverse vocational opportunities. In fact, graduates have gone on to work in:

  • Certified Exercise Consulting
  • Lifestyle Coaching
  • Personal Training or Fitness Instruction
  • Graduate School
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sports Medicine
  • And More

Notables

Bemidji State University is regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and Washington Monthly.

19

Bethel College

College Choice Score: 73.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $27,580

Program Website

Overview

For those looking for a Christian, liberal arts experience, Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana may be a great option. Affiliated with the evangelical Christian Missionary Church, Bethel is the smallest school on our list with around 1k enrolled undergraduates. Despite its size, Bethel College offers many academic programs through its three schools: the Division of Arts & Sciences, the Division of Humanities & Social Sciences, and the School of Nursing.

Features

Bethel offers a number of degree and learning opportunities in the areas of sports medicine and exercise science, among them degrees in kinesiology and exercise science. These degrees are also hands-on programs that encourage you to work in labs and connect professionally through internships. Furthermore, you will get trained on measuring body composition, muscular strength and endurance flexibility, and cardiovascular health while also taking courses on:

  • First Aid and CPR/AED
  • Applied Nutrition
  • Athletic Training
  • Psychosocial Dimension of Kinesiology
  • Motor Learning
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • And more

Notables

All Bethel students are required to take, as prerequisites, courses on the Old and New Testament, as well as those covering Christian theology. Likewise, the rest of the academic departments, regardless of majors offered, incorporate Christian values and theology into the curriculum.

20

Iowa State University

College Choice Score: 72.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,456

Program Website

Overview

Iowa’s flagship university and a site of high research activity, Iowa State University of Science and Technology is a land-grant and space-grant institution. It is part of the 62-member Association of American Universities, which is made up of leaders in advanced academic research.

Features

Iowa State also offers a number of opportunities for students who want to study human movement, sports science, and exercise, among them is the option to become a Certified Athletic Trainer. This program will teach you core concepts in prevention, assessment, treatment, and rehabilitation through classes that cover everything from drug education to human diseases. And you’ll graduate ready to tackle the Board of Certification Exam. Some of the amazing labs (and there are many!) you’ll have the opportunity to work in include:

  • Applied Motor Development lab
  • Exercise Clinic lab
  • Fitness-Wellness Teaching lab
  • Exercise Metabolism lab
  • Exercise Psychology lab
  • Physical Activity Epidemiology lab
  • And much, much more

Notables

Iowa State is one of only a few public universities to be honored with the designation an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University.” Indeed, it is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and ARWU and globally ranked by Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings.

21

University of Illinois–Chicago

College Choice Score: 72

Annual Tuition Cost: $10,584

Program Website

Overview

The Chicago affiliate of the University of Illinois (UIC) is a public, state-run, research university with over 30k students. Known for many of its academic programs and research endeavors, UIC holds a prominent place among medical schools. Running the largest medical school in the nation, UIC is a leader in health research and in graduating highly regarded physical therapists, exercise scientists, sports medicine doctors, nurses, and more.

Features

The options for studying human movement and sports medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago are plentiful. Whether you’re interested in disability and human development or kinesiology and nutrition, UIC has something for you. Their College of Applied Health Sciences students can pursue professional degrees that are a blend of coursework and practicums, or traditional BS degrees in kinesiology, rehabilitation services, or disability and human development, with even more areas for concentration. However you design your degree experience, you will be required to complete the following core:

  • Techniques and Principles of Resistance Training
  • Human Physiological Anatomy I and II
  • Exercise Psychology
  • Biomechanics
  • Aging and the Motor System
  • Motor Control and Learning
  • And more

Notables

Nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly, UIC is considered one of the top 100 best universities in the country. It is also among the top 100 most active research universities in the nation and is globally ranked (by ARWU, QS, Higher Times, and more).

22

Michigan Technological University

College Choice Score: 71.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $14,774

Program Website

Overview

Located in the Upper Peninsula’s city of Houghton, Michigan Technological University (MTU) specializes in science, technology, forestry, health, and business programs. However, MTU offers over 130 degrees in an array of fields. Relatively small in student size, with approximately 7k combined undergraduate and graduate students, MTU’s research activity is anything but small; it is the site of dynamic research development initiatives and programs.

Features

Michigan Tech has a sizable department in pre-health professions with several degrees that fully equip students for graduate and medical school. Among the degrees is a sports medicine program that trains students to serve both amateur and professional athletes and to work alongside physicians, chiropractors, nutritionists, psychologists, and more. If you’re not planning to attend graduate or medical school, Michigan Tech also offers a number of terminal degrees in fitness management, exercise science, kinesiology, plus an athletic training internship program. As a Michigan Tech student, regardless of degree program, you will graduate able to demonstrate:

  • A foundational knowledge of motor behavior, biomechanics, exercise physiology, and exercise psychology
  • A foundational knowledge in the biological, anatomical, and physiological sciences
  • Awareness of diversity issues and how different people move, make goals, and learn
  • An adept utilization of technology in human health and improvement

Notables

Called one of the “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review, MTU, as a whole, is regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Washington Monthly. Michigan Tech’s separate schools and colleges, however, also hold many of their own rankings, especially the engineering school, which is considered one of the ten best in the country.

23

Southern Illinois University

College Choice Score: 71.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $8,772

Program Website

Overview

The Edwardsville campus of Southern Illinois University (SIUE) is a public university known for its research initiatives that have been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and much more. It is thus classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having made notable research contributions across health, science, and tech fields.

Features

Offered through the School of Education, Health, and Human Behavior, SIUE’s exercise science program is one of only a few in the nation (among 5 percent of schools) to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education programs. This program combines theoretical coursework with hands-on experience to gives students a well-rounded education in exercise science, human movement, and kinesiology. This is a perfect program for those who want to find careers right after graduation, or go on to graduate school to pursue careers in physical therapy, sports medicine, or athletic training. SIUE’s coursework is comprised of classes on:

  • Exercise Physiology
  • Functional Anatomy
  • Exercise for Special Populations
  • Organization of Exercise Facilities
  • Biology of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease
  • Cardiac Pulmonary Rehab
  • And more

Notables

U.S. News & World Report has called SUIE one of the “Top 50 Midwest Universities” while also giving it a high regional ranking and a strong showing in the top public universities ranking. SUIE has also been praised for being one of the safest, one of the most LGBTQ friendly, and one of the most military friendly campuses in the nation.

24

Marshall University

College Choice Score: 70

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,778

Program Website

Overview

Located in Huntington, West Virginia, Marshall University is a public research university comprised of nearly 15k students. Organized into nine undergraduate colleges and schools that offer degrees across a variety of disciplines, Marshall is most known and regarded for its departments in medicine, forensic science, and business administration.

Features

Marshall University’s School of Kinesiology offers undergraduate degree programs in Athletic Training, Biomechanics, Exercise Science, and Sports Management and Marketing. Though, it’s important to note that the athletic training program is a combined undergraduate and masters degree that is organized into a 3 + 2 structure; meaning students take three years of traditional undergraduate training in human physiology, kinesiology, exercise science, and nutrition, and then two years of clinical requirements. So, in five years, you can graduate with both a BS and MS in Athletic Training. Graduates have gone on to work for:

  • Human and athletic performance centers
  • College sports teams
  • Fitness and wellness centers
  • Hospital fitness and rehab centers
  • University and industry research labs
  • Weight control programs
  • And more

Notables

Marshall boasts an active, involved student body, with over 230 designated student-run, student-led organizations. Marshall students also participate in high numbers in the renowned study abroad program, which consists of 250 sites in 50 countries. 

25

College at Brockport–SUNY

College Choice Score: 69.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $16,320

Program Website

Overview

Located in the New York city of the same name and part of the State University of New York system, the College of Brockport (also known as SUNY Brockport) is a liberal arts school. With around 8k combined undergraduate and graduate students, plus 40 undergraduate degree programs, SUNY Brockport is one the smaller side. However, it offers majors in a range of subjects, from recreation and leisure studies to health science, pre-med, and exercise science.

Features

Like many of the other programs on our list, the College at Brockport offers a number of degree opportunities in sports medicine, kinesiology, and exercise science. All housed under the Department of Kinesiology, Sports Studies, and Physical Education, these programs introduce students to all facets of human movement, from the psychological to the physiological. However, Marshall’s programs are uniquely multidisciplinary, featuring a liberal arts curriculum that gives students a broad base of insight into human movement. Marshall also has dozens of unique elective opportunities that can help you specialize, among them:

  • Women in Sports
  • Philosophy of Sport, Play, and Exercise
  • Obesity in Society
  • The Modern Olympic Games
  • Ethics of Sports Contests
  • Theories of Play
  • Sport Spectating in the United States
  • And more

Notables

Brockport is one of SUNY’s most selective schools, which is reflected by its solid rankings and by its renowned academic and extracurricular programming. For example, SUNY Brockport has one of the nation’s largest and most involved study abroad programs.

26

California State University–San Marcos

College Choice Score: 68.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $5,742

Program Website

Overview

The San Marcos affiliate in the renowned California State University system is one of twenty-three schools, this one located just north of San Diego County. Relatively new, Cal State San Marcos was founded in the late 1980s but has now grown into a mid-sized public institution with over 60 academic areas of study. Its 12k students are enrolled in one of the four colleges, including the College of Education, Health, and Human Services.

Features

Cal State San Marcos students who pursue a BS in Kinesiology then have three opportunities to specialize, in Applied Exercise Science, Pre-Physical Therapy, or in Health Science. Applied Exercise Science students engage in the broadest kinesiology curriculum, studying everything from biomechanics to sport nutrition and cardiac rehabilitation. Pre-Physical Therapy students take classes in physics and chemistry as well as orthopedic rehab, personal training, and more, ready upon graduation to attend advanced schooling to become physical therapists. And for those interested in public health and community fitness, the health science concentration prepares students to work in wellness coaching, health education, and research. However, all graduates from Cal State San Marcos are able to:

  • Demonstrate a fundamental understanding of anatomy, health advancement, the mechanics and control of movement, and the physiological response to exercise
  • Use foundational kinesiology theory to confront real-world problems
  • Economically but extensively evaluate the performance of health, fitness, and movement
  • Assess research data and apply it to a course of action

Notables

Cal State San Marcos is home to dozens of unique cultural centers, research facilities, academic organizations, and honor societies, among them a pre-health society, which serves students who are specifically interested in health fields, such as exercise science and kinesiology.

27

University of South Florida

College Choice Score: 68.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $6,410

Program Website

Overview

Located in Tampa, the University of South Florida (USF) is a member of the State University System of Florida. It is one of the largest universities in the state with nearly 50k undergraduate and graduate students, over 200 academic programs, its fourteen colleges and schools, and its research expenditures. In fact, USF is designated a top-tier research university by the Carnegie Foundation and is known for its contributions in the areas of public health, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and biomedical science.

Features

Offered through the College of Education, the BS in Exercise Science program at USF is a rigorous degree program that requires students to attend summer sessions. However, on the flip side, you will have a close cohort who proceeds through the program alongside you. Together you will conduct research, even publishing your findings. You will also work with the community, community agencies and organizations, and individuals to promote healthy living and nutrition. Finally, some of the unique research centers and labs you will have the opportunity to work in include:

  • Performance & Physique Enhancement lab
  • Exercise Science Research lab
  • Health and Exercise Science lab
  • Heat Stress lab

Notables

The University of South Florida is well-ranked by ARWU, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. Similarly, many of USF’s individual degree programs and departments are well-ranked, and the university is part of the top 10 universities worldwide in the number of US patents granted.

28

Winona State University

College Choice Score: 68

Annual Tuition Cost: $7,377

Program Website

Overview

Winona State University (WSU) is a public university in Minnesota and the oldest member in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. It offers over 80 academic programs, in a diverse range of academic disciplines and subjects, to its 10k students.

Features

Like some of the other schools on our list, Winona State also offers students several ways to study human movement, sports science, and athletic training, through various BS degree programs, in Exercise Science, Movement Science, Athletic Training, Public Health, and Clinical Science. The exercise science program, for example, shows students how to design and implement health programs that fit to their clients’ specific needs. Distinctively, students in this program can become certified through the American College of Sports Medicine. Other opportunities for students include:

  • Coaching students at the Integrated Wellness Complex
  • Working with the local community through the Winona Health’s Community Care Network
  • Connecting with area businesses, high schools, and hospitals in developing and implementing wellness plans
  • Studying abroad in Ireland, London, or Thailand
  • Earning scholarships that are specifically allocated to health students
  • And more

Notables

Winona State is known for its small student-to-faculty ratio of 21:1 and its equally small class sizes that average below 25 students per class. Further, as a school that is explicitly committed to community service and global betterment, its student population consists of those who have come from over fifty countries worldwide to study at WSU (in addition to those coming from most states around the country).

29

CUNY Brooklyn College

College Choice Score: 67.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $6,530

Program Website

Overview

The senior college in the City University of New York system, Brooklyn College was founded in the early 20th century as a school for teachers. Today it offers dozens of degrees through its five schools of business, education, humanities and social science, natural and behavioral sciences, and visual, media, and performing arts. About 17k combined undergraduate and graduate students attend Brooklyn College.

Features

While studying the fundamentals of exercise science at Brooklyn College you will have the opportunity to specialize in one of two ways, through the Fitness Professional Track or the Pre-Health Professions Track. The former is for those who want to enter a career in exercise training, fitness consultation, and sports science upon graduation, while the latter is for those who want to advance into more schooling to become physical therapists, occupational therapists, or physicians’ assistants. Both tracks, however, are steeped in the same kinesiology core, with classes on:

  • Personal Fitness
  • First Aid and Safety
  • Methods of Evaluation in Kinesiology
  • Digital Technology in Kinesiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Applied Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • And more

Notables

Regionally ranked by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review, Brooklyn College also has strong marks for its affordability, diversity, sustainability, and campus beauty.

30

University of Idaho

College Choice Score: 64.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $19,748

Program Website

Overview

The oldest public institution in Idaho, the University of Idaho is located in Moscow and it is the state’s flagship, land-grant, and primary research school. UI offers nearly 150 academic degrees across all levels of education, including specialists’ degrees and certifications.

Features

Offered through the Department of Movement Sciences, the University of Idaho’s BS in Exercise Science degree gives students a holistic understanding of the intersections of exercise, health, wellness, nutrition, and movement. Students learn how healthy living affects human behaviors in psychological, social, and personal ways. Additionally, students gain a hands-on learning experience through service programs, practicums, internships, and by participating in study abroad field experiences. Graduates from the University of Idaho have gone on to become:

  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Personal Trainers
  • Physician Assistants
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Health Educators
  • Fitness Specialists
  • Biomechanics
  • Among others

Notables

With some of the highest research expenditures in Idaho (averaging upwards of $100 million), UI also has some of the highest graduation rates of any other public school in the state. It is nationally ranked by Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Payscale, The Princeton Review, and Washington Monthly.

31

University of Wyoming

College Choice Score: 64

Annual Tuition Cost: $3,870

Program Website

Overview

The University of Wyoming (UW) is located in Laramie and is a land-grant institution organized into seven colleges and schools. Its nearly 15k students are enrolled in one of the 50 degree, certificate, or specialization programs. UW is also home to several well-known museums—such as the art, geological, insect, and the anthropology museums—as well as, of course, its NCAA Division 1 athletic program.

Features

The Kinesiology and Health Promotion degree at UW is offered through the College of Health Sciences and introduces students to clinical exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, behavior science, business management, and much more, making this one of the more multidisciplinary programs on our ranking. Similarly, students who graduate from the UW program are rewarded with a breadth of career options, from physician assisting to optometry. So, for those looking for a broad approach to sports medicine, from a university renowned for its athletics, UW is a great choice. The core curriculum for kinesiology majors is made up of classes on:

  • Principles of Nutrition
  • Personal Health
  • Human Anatomy
  • Human Systems Physiology
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Plus a number of internship opportunities

Notables

The University of Wyoming is nationally ranked by ARWU, Forbes, The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. In addition to its holistic ranking, several of the university’s departments are also well recognized, including the earth science, education, biological science, and clinical psychology departments.

32

College of Idaho

College Choice Score: 63.3

Annual Tuition Cost: $28,000

Program Website

Overview

A liberal arts school based in Caldwell, the College of Idaho is a notably small school with around 1k undergraduates. Despite the size, the College of Idaho is known for its degrees in health, the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. Offering around 25 academic areas of study, the College of Idaho is the state’s oldest liberal arts college.

Features

College of Idaho students can major in either Exercise Physiology, Human Performance, or Health Science, and they can pair their degree with a minor in one of dozens of specializations, from health promotion to coaching, human performance, and much more. Students learn the ins and outs of physiology and kinesiology as well as human anatomy, lifespan development, and sport participation. Additionally, this program gives students a fundamental understanding of the historical, psychological, and sociological aspects of physical activity through a curriculum that covers:

  • Research Methods in Kinesiology
  • Exercise Metabolism
  • Applied Nutrition
  • Cardiopulmonary Physiology
  • Environmental Human Physiology
  • Sports Science
  • And more

Notables

In addition to its reputation for graduating a number of Rhodes Scholars, the College of Idaho is well-known for its distinctive PEAK curriculum, which allows students to earn a full degree plus three minors in a typical four-year program structure.

33

University of Texas–Arlington

College Choice Score: 62.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $9,952

Program Website

Overview

A public research university and part of the renowned University of Texas System, the Arlington (UT Arlington) campus is one of the largest schools in Texas. It is known as an active research university and is, in fact, one of the fastest growing research institutions in the country. Approximately 40k undergraduate and graduate students attend UT Arlington and are enrolled in one of the 11 schools and colleges.

Features

At the University of Texas at Arlington students studying Athletic Training are prepared not only through an exhaustive curriculum and through faculty mentorship, but because most students graduate with real connections and relationships with leaders in the industry. Also, the school also goes to great lengths to provide a holistic learning environment, providing a number of student services, as well as a number of competitive scholarships. Athletic training classes include:

  • Applied Kinesiology
  • Biomechanics of Human Movement
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Lower and Upper Extremity Evaluation
  • Organization and Administration
  • Therapeutic Modalities
  • Pathology and Pharmacology
  • And more

Notables

The University of Texas at Arlington is a large, public research university that has received accolades from Forbes, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report for its academic and research contributions.

34

Appalachian State University

College Choice Score: 62.6

Annual Tuition Cost: $3,795

Program Website

Overview

Originally founded as a teacher’s college, Appalachian State University now offers nearly 200 undergraduate majors and provides affordable education to its 20k undergraduate and graduate students. It is part of the renowned University of North Carolina system and is located in Boone, NC.

Features

At Appalachian State University, you can earn a BS in Athletic Training, Exercise Science, or Public Health. Each program prepares students for diverse career options, in hospitals, clinics, recreation and wellness centers, universities, and more. ASU students engage in clinicals, practicums, and internships, and they graduate prepared for advanced schooling in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or chiropractic science. Most ASU students go on to find rewarding careers as:

  • Dietitians
  • Fitness Instructors
  • Health Coaches
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Exercise Physiologists
  • And more

Notables

Appalachian State University is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as being among the top 10 Southern Universities. It has also been lauded by TIME, The Princeton Review, Consumers Digest, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.  

35

Winston-Salem State University

College Choice Score: 61

Annual Tuition Cost: $3,335

Program Website

Overview

An affiliate institution in the University of North Carolina system, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is a public research school and part of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a nonprofit that supports historically black colleges and universities and its students. It is a small school with around 7k undergraduates and 40 academic majors.

Features

Winston-Salem State University’s BS in Exercise Science degree teaches students how to design, develop, and implement physical activity programs that are at once safe, effective, and holistic. Students take a range of classes in aerobic systems, muscular and skeletal systems, cardiorespiratory health, and chronic disease, among others. With a curriculum balanced between theory and practicum, students can also pair the degree in exercise science with a minor in sports medicine, one of the only minors like it on our ranking. Classes comprising the minor include:

  • Introduction to Sports Medicine
  • Sports Medicine and Taping Clinical Lab
  • Nutrition
  • Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries
  • Rehabilitation of Injuries
  • Sport Psychology
  • Practicum and Clinical Experiences in Sports Medicine

Notables

With regional rankings from U.S. News & World Report and considered one of the top public schools in the nation, Winston-Salem State University is known for its academic standards as well as its wide-ranging student involvements, from study abroad programming to its 100 student-led organizations and clubs.

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