In 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzed the latest data on the relationship between education and salary potential. Their research indicates that professionals with a bachelor’s degree earn approximately $500 more weekly than their peers with only a high school diploma. Workers with a college degree also enjoy an unemployment rate 50% lower than high school graduates. Master’s and doctoral degrees lead to a higher salary and lower unemployment. 

Fast-growing careers for college graduates include exercise physiologist. These workers earn a median $50,280 salary , approximately $10,000 more than what the typical American makes. The BLS projects the need for these workers to grow 11% from 2019-2029, almost 300% faster than the median projected growth for all U.S. jobs.

Exercise physiologists who go on to graduate from a doctoral program work as a physical therapist. These professionals’ salaries exceed $90,000 annually . The BLS projects an 18% growth in the field in the next decade. This projection suggests graduates in the next few years should enter a strong job market with open positions nationwide.

Aspiring exercise physiologists and physical therapists start their professional journey by earning a top, low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology. Many public and private schools offer this degree either on campus or in a hybrid format.

Featured Programs


In our search for the best kinesiology bachelor’s degree programs, we began with an initial pool of 95 on-campus options. To narrow the selection, we applied an ROI filter, eliminating schools with an ROI ranking of over 700 according to Payscale.com. We then applied the rating and ranking methodology below, using tuition to break any ties.


  • Net Price Below $10,000: 4 points
  • Net Price Below $15,000: 3 points
  • Net Price Below $20,000: 2 points
  • Net Price Below $25,000: 1 point

Student to Faculty Ratio

  • Less than 20:1: 1 point
  • Less than 15: 1: 2 points
  • Less than 10: 1: 3 points

Return on Investment (ROI) According to Payscale.com

  • Top 500: 1 point
  • Top 300: 2 points
  • Top 150: 3 points

Affordable Bachelor’s in Kinesiology Programs

#1 — Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

  • Tuition : $4,021/semester in-state; $11,615/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

Iowa State’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology features five concentrations, including community/public health, exercise science, and physical activity and health promotion. All students take core courses in the fundamentals of human anatomy, principles of biology, and introduction to human nutrition. Learners further customize the curriculum by selecting an optional career track, such as optometry or physical therapy.

Students gain hands-on experience by working in Iowa State’s research and exercise labs. These requirements help learners hone the interpersonal skills necessary to work with clients in different clinical settings. Like other undergraduates, kinesiology majors may supplement their education with a study abroad or internship experience.

#2 — California State University-Long Beach

Long Beach, California

  • Tuition : $2,781/semester in-state; at least $4,589/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

In- and out-of-state degree-seekers select CSULB’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology for the university’s generous scholarship opportunities. The degree features five concentrations, including exercise science, fitness, and physical education – teacher education. Core coursework includes the biomechanics of human movement, exercise physiology, and the sociocultural dimensions of sport.

The kinesiology program partners with two British universities to offer undergraduates a unique study abroad experience. Learners work alongside their international peers in physical and exercise sciences courses. Degree-seekers may participate in this program in the fall or spring semester. Other educational enrichment opportunities include local internships.

#3 — California State University-Fullerton

Fullerton, California

  • Tuition : $2,781/semester in-state; at least $4,589/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

Cal State Fullerton’s rigorous top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology requires learners to maintain a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. The major’s disciplinary core includes courses in the principles of human movement, human motor control and learning, and the philosophy of human movement. The major offers eight concentrations, such as gerokinesiology and teacher education.

Cal State Fullerton prepares kinesiology students for a successful job hunt by requiring an academic advising session each semester. Other resources for learners include a detailed four-year plan for each concentration. These documents keep incoming freshman and transfer degree-seekers on track for graduation.

#4 — California State University-Northridge

Northridge, California

  • Tuition : $3,519/semester in-state; at least $6,291/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

CSUN’s undergraduate program in kinesiology offers five concentrations, including dance, exercise science, and physical education. Each prepares students to apply problem-solving skills in the workplace and help clients improve their health. All degree-seekers take courses in human physiology, introductory statistics, and biological principles.

CSUN’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology trains students for a career and admission to the university’s two master’s in kinesiology programs. Learners improve their resume by signing up for an internship course. Internship sites include on-campus physical training centers and local gyms. Participants develop an online portfolio, a valuable tool in the job application process.

#5 — University of Texas-Austin

Austin, Texas

  • Tuition : $4,035/semester in-state; $14,953/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

UT’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology requires a six-part core curriculum emphasizing global cultures and independent inquiry. These courses provide transferable skills graduates may use in any profession requiring a college degree. The major offers five concentrations with foundation courses in health education, the psychological basis of conditioning, and the historical and ethical issues in physical culture.

The 120-credit curriculum features significant academic flexibility, allowing students to pursue a second major or minor. The major also offers numerous electives in subjects that include sport law, revenue and budgeting in sport, and an internship in the Austin area.

#6 — University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

  • Tuition : $6,380/year in-state; at least $28,658 out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus or hybrid

Students choosing UF’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology earn 120 credits over eight semesters. The curriculum features very few required courses, allowing learners to custom-tailor their educational experience. Learners maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing, and graduation requirements include an internship in the final semester. Degree-seekers work with an advisor to select an appropriate internship site.

UF offers minors and certificates complementing the kinesiology curriculum, such as event management, health promotion, and sport management. Some of these options feature an entirely online curriculum. Learners who select this option earn their degree in a hybrid format.

#7 — University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

  • Tuition : $12,080/year in-state; $31,120/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

UGA’s kinesiology program confers a bachelor’s in exercise and sports science. The curriculum appeals to learners considering a career in medicine, occupational therapy, or strength conditioning. Core courses include exercise physiology, measurement, and biomechanics. Seniors select one of three capstone experiences: an internship, research project, or service-learning experience.

Current UGA students enter the university’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology program by passing chemistry and physics courses with at least a C grade, though the university does not invite all qualified degree-seekers into the program. A large percentage of graduates attain admission to a doctor of physical therapy program on their first try.

#8 — Michigan State University

East Lansing, Michigan

  • Tuition : $14,524/year in-state; $39,830/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : Hybrid

MSU students earning a low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology take courses in the healthy lifestyle, the biomechanics of physical activity, and sport and exercise physiology. The program features 12 elective credits wherein learners work with an academic advisor to develop a custom concentration.

MSU offers a suggested academic plan to ensure learners graduate within four years. Other resources include an internship guide detailing prerequisites and placement sites. During the internship, students take an online course to collaborate with peers and report updates to their professor. Online learning reduces degree-seekers’ commute times and allows them to focus on the internship experience.

#9 — University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

  • Tuition : $15,948-$17,948/year in-state; $52,266-$55,928/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

U-M’s School of Kinesiology features a bachelor’s in applied exercise science with two academic tracks. The management track prepares students for careers as wellness coordinators or marketing directors. The clinical track appeals to learners interested in doctorate in physical therapy programs. Courses in both tracks include applied anatomy and physiology, exercise prescription and testing, and physical activity across the lifespan.

All students in U-M’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology program complete at least 250 hours of internship and practicum experiences. Learners also benefit from small class sizes. Approximately 75% of graduates find full-time employment soon after graduation.

#10 — Western Washington University

Bellingham, Washington

  • Tuition : $6,705/year in-state; $23,463/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

Western’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology attracts students preparing for graduate school admissions. The 103-104-credit curriculum requires courses in biomechanics, functional anatomy, and motor control and learning. Learners personalize their education by selecting many electives, such as cultural anthropology and the elements of biochemistry.

Students gain hands-on experience during their senior year by completing two field experiences or an internship. The former involves working as an instructional or exercise and sport science research assistant. Learners remain in good academic standing by maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA and earning a C- grade or higher in all major courses.

#11 — Rice University

Houston, Texas

  • Tuition : $52,070/year
  • Delivery Format : On campus

Rice University offers two top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology programs. The 120-credit BA in health sciences features an interdisciplinary curriculum with coursework in epidemiology, the models of health behavior, and statistics for the health professional. The BA in sports medicine and exercise physiology requires the same number of credits and emphasizes biomechanics, motor learning, and research methods.

No matter which degree students choose, they benefit from over 30 electives in topics that include nutrition, medical terminology, and understanding cancer. Learners work with an advisor to select electives aligning with their education goals, such as admission to a doctor of physical therapy or MD program.

#12 — San Diego State University

San Diego, California

  • Tuition : $8,136/year in-state; $20,016/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

SDSU undergraduates studying kinesiology select from three emphasis areas, including exercise science generalist, fitness specialists, and pre-physical therapy. Learners prepare for entry into the major by passing introductory science and statistics courses with at least a C grade. The major curriculum requires coursework in the biomechanics of human movement, abnormal psychology, and a human physiology lab.

SDSU’s low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology includes an international experience requirement, which students satisfy by participating in an approved study abroad or international exchange program. Other options include taking one or more upper-division course in Asian studies, global security, or political science.

#13 — California State University-San Bernardino

San Bernardino, California

  • Tuition : $2,871/semester in-state; at least $5,247/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

CSUSB’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology offers three concentrations: allied health professions, exercise science, and physical education. Students in the allied health professions concentration must maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA. CSUSB requires a high minimum GPA because the concentration prepares learners for graduate school admissions. Most exercise science and physical education degree-seekers enter the workforce after graduation.

Current and transfer students must complete undergraduate prerequisites in chemistry, anatomy, and physics before applying to the program. The major curriculum for all concentrations includes coursework in the principles of human movement, motor learning, and exercise physiology.

#14 — Texas Woman’s University

Denton, Texas

  • Tuition : $6,789/semester in-state; $19,449/semester out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus and hybrid

TWU undergraduates majoring in kinesiology choose from five focus areas, including sport management, exercise science, and physical education. Students who select the latter take courses in sport and fitness management, motor learning and control, and the scientific foundations of human movement. Learners also complete an internship in disability sport.

TWU’s top low-cost bachelor’s in kinesiology program accepts women and men. Interested TWU undergraduates must pass prerequisites with at least a C and interview with the School of Health Promotion and Kinesiology. Ambitious degree-seekers enroll in the optional 4+1 BS and MBA in sport management program.

#15 — California State University-Chico

Chico, California

  • Tuition : $7,864/year in-state; $17,368/year out-of-state
  • Delivery Format : On campus

Chico State’s kinesiology students concentrate in either movement studies or physical education teacher education. Movement studies degree-seekers take courses in lifeguard training, dance, and human anatomy. The physical education concentration includes courses in outdoor education for teachers, the philosophy of teaching physical education, and youth fitness. Students in both concentrations complete foundational coursework in human anatomy and physiology.

Chico State undergraduates earning a top low-Cost bachelor’s in kinesiology learn more than just kinesiology fundamentals. University graduation requirements include an upper-division writing course in biomechanical analysis. This course conveys the skills degree-seekers need to excel in the professional world and graduate school.

About Bachelor’s in Kinesiology Degree Programs

Bachelor’s degree programs in kinesiology (i.e. the study of human movement) are ideal for students interested in working in the fitness and wellness fields. The baccalaureate credential in kinesiology is also a suitable degree for those individuals who plan to continue their studies in graduate programs in allied health or physical therapy.

These kinesiology bachelor’s programs are typically four-year plans of study that require a minimum of 120 credit hours of coursework. Students will have the opportunity to explore topics in human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, aging, strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, sport psychology, and more.

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