Kinesiology degree guide (with alternatives and courses)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Kinesiology is the study of how the body functions in terms of physical movement. Professionals who practice kinesiology learn how to identify issues with the body and may help their clients to improve their health, fitness and well-being. If you're interested in kinesiology, learning about some study and training options is going to be useful. In this article, we explain what kinesiology degrees are, discuss alternative degrees to consider and some other training options.

What is a kinesiology degree?

A kinesiology degree is a programme of university-based study which teaches you how the human body physically moves and methods for identifying various issues. There are no dedicated kinesiology degrees in the UK, so it's often going to be necessary to find a different course which covers most of the same content. If you want a dedicated Bachelor's Degree in Kinesiology, you're typically only going to find these abroad. Some courses and topics which you might encounter in a degree in kinesiology abroad include the following:

  • anatomy and physiology

  • movement anatomy

  • foundations of kinesiology

  • motor development

  • exercise physiology

  • athletic injury prevention and care

  • contemporary health problems

  • safety and first aid

  • research methods

Related: Types of degrees and how they can influence your career

Degree in kinesiology alternatives

If you want to study kinesiology or a similar subject, you have two categories of options. The first is to find a degree in a closely-related field, with examples including sports science, physical therapy or nutrition and fitness. Alternatively, you could look for specialised kinesiology training, but this isn't going to be at the degree level. You might even want to start with a degree programme in something like physical therapy and then take a specialised kinesiology training course.

Here are some examples of alternatives to a degree in kinesiology that you can pursue:

Physiotherapy

There are Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Physiotherapy, which cover many of the same topics as kinesiology. The field of physiotherapy concerns the treatment of physical injuries, illnesses and disabilities. A physiotherapist can therefore help a patient recover from these issues or help them avoid physical problems in future. It involves direct care of the patient and covers many types of pain and injury. Physiotherapists can help relieve or treat back pain, neck pain, sports injuries and movement issues from nerve problems, rehabilitate patients after heart attacks and assist with breathing issues from causes like cystic fibrosis.

A degree in physiotherapy can include specialised modules in physiotherapy practice which cover long-term conditions and acute problems, in addition to emergency care. Other areas of study include rehabilitative care, identification and evaluation of patient issues, the requirements of special populations and research methods. Like a degree in kinesiology, physiotherapy involves learning about anatomy and how the human body moves. A Master's Degree in Physiotherapy can allow students to specialise in areas like the rehabilitation of complex issues, pain management and injection therapy.

Related: Q&A: how much do physiotherapists earn and what do they do?

Sport and exercise science

A sport and exercise science degree involves learning about complementary fields, including physiology and biomechanics. The primary focus of this field is the function of the human body in the context of exercise, so it can be a good choice for those who want to work with athletes. Many sport and exercise science degrees also cover the psychology of athletes and how behaviours can impact athletic performance. A degree like this can lead to a career as a coach, personal trainer and related roles.

Some modules which you might encounter in such a degree include biomechanics, functional anatomy, human physiology, human biochemistry, exercise physiology, motor control, exercise medicine, nutrition and metabolism, sport psychology and research methods. For those who want more advanced knowledge of this field, there are also Master's Degrees in Sport and Exercise Science which allow for more specialisation. In some universities, the name of this degree is sports science.

Related: 20 jobs in sports science (with salaries and duties)

Nutrition and fitness

Another alternative to kinesiology is to pursue a degree in nutrition and fitness. The exact name of this type of degree can often vary from one university to another. Other degree names which you might encounter include:

  • nutrition (exercise and health)

  • fitness, nutrition and health

  • sport and exercise nutrition

  • nutrition, exercise and health

  • nutrition and exercise sciences

  • nutrition and health

  • exercise, health and nutrition

  • physical activity, nutrition and health

There may also be other variations, but these degree programmes typically cover closely-related topics and have similar modules. Like degrees in sport and exercise science, nutrition and fitness degrees can be a good choice for those who want to pursue a career in coaching and fitness training, with an emphasis on learning about optimal nutrition for exercise. Modules in this degree may include physiology, human anatomy, human metabolism, nutrition, exercise epidemiology, nutritional science, exercise physiology, sports psychology, contemporary health issues and research methods.

Related: What are nutrition degrees? (Career options and salaries)

Kinesiology training courses

If you don't want to pursue a full degree or already have one in a related subject, then a dedicated kinesiology training course could be a good way to acquire the expertise you want. Training providers include Health Kinesiology UK and The Academy of Systematic Kinesiology (TASK). Here are some of the courses or training programmes you might pursue with these organisations:

Systematic Kinesiology Foundation Course (TASK)

This is a basic course from TASK for those who have no background in kinesiology or related fields. It's an introduction to the field and therefore open to anyone, regardless of their education or background. The organisation takes two groups of students every year for this course. For the six-month period of the course, students have two sessions per month, either over a weekend or on two Wednesdays. The course is in-person and covers six levels for a total of 84 hours of in-class training. Those who successfully complete the course receive a foundation certificate.

Related: 9 of the best online course platforms (with descriptions)

Systematic Kinesiology Practitioner Course (TASK)

The second level from TASK is the organisation's practitioner course. This course allows those who complete it to practise as kinesiologists and is open to those who have completed the foundation course. Additional requirements include completion of a basic first aid course and a Level 3 Qualification in Anatomy and Physiology, although it's possible to do these after the practitioner course but prior to certification. There are 17 modules in total over a period of nine months, which the organisation runs once a year. The course includes supervised clinic practice, which is also part of the requirements for completion.

There's a final exam and written case studies which are also necessary for completion. Those who have completed these and acquired the required other qualifications receive the TASK Systematic Kinesiology Certificate. This allows holders of it to add Cert. TASK after their names.

Related: Everything you need to know about how to become a therapist

Systematic Kinesiology Diploma Course (TASK)

For those who have already passed the practitioner course, there's the diploma course for further training. Those who take the diploma course are already qualified kinesiologists and it takes six months to complete. Upon completing a final exam, written case studies and practical work, students of this course receive the Advanced Systematic Kinesiology Diploma and can add Dip. TASK after their names. This course covers advanced training and techniques for specific or rare cases.

Related: What is a diploma? (With types and career opportunities)

Health Kinesiology training

Health Kinesiology UK offers training and professional qualification. There are ten levels for these courses, split into two categories. These categories are normal courses and those for qualified practitioners, with the latter including levels six and above. Each class within Health Kinesiology's courses takes 30 hours to complete over four days, in addition to 15 hours of theory and 15 hours of assessed practice which students pursue in their own time.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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