Best Kinesiology Schools

Last Updated on December 24, 2022

Kinesiology is the scientific study of human body movement. Kinesiology addresses Physiological, Anatomical, Biomechanical, and Neuropsychological Principles and Mechanisms of Movement. Applications of kinesiology to human health include biomechanics and orthopedics; strength and conditioning; sport psychology; motor control; skill acquisition and motor learning; methods of rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy; and sport and exercise physiology. Studies of human and animal motion include measures from motion tracking systems, electrophysiology of muscle and brain activity, various methods for monitoring physiological function, and other behavioral and cognitive research techniques.

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overview of Best Kinesiology Schools

Kinesiology studies the science of human movement, performance, and function by applying the fundamental sciences of Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Biomechanics, Biomathematics, Biostatistics, Physiology, Exercise Physiology, Anatomy, Neuroscience, and Nutritional science. A bachelor’s degree in kinesiology can provide strong preparation for graduate study in biomedical research, as well as in professional programs, such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Whereas the term “kinesiologist” is neither a licensed nor professional designation in the United States nor most countries (with the exception of Canada), individuals with training in this area can teach physical education, work as personal trainers and sport coaches, provide consulting services, conduct research and develop policies related to rehabilitation, human motor performance, ergonomics, and occupational health and safety. In North America, kinesiologists may study to earn a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, or Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Kinesiology or a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree, while in Australia or New Zealand, they are often conferred an Applied Science (Human Movement) degree (or higher). Many doctoral level faculty in North American kinesiology programs received their doctoral training in related disciplines, such as neuroscience, mechanical engineering, psychology, and physiology.

list of Best Kinesiology Schools

Using science and data we decided to determine which programs offer the best career opportunities for kinesiology Majors. Here are the set of the top colleges for kinesiology Majors in US for 2021:

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  2. College of William and Mary
  3. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  4. Rice University
  5. University of Virginia
  6. University of Florida
  7. University of Maryland – College Park
  8. University of Texas at Austin
  9. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  10. San Diego State University

If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.


LocationTypeHighest Degree LevelSize

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

1. University of North Carolina at Chapel HillLocation Location IconChapel Hill, NCAdmission Rate: 23%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $49,900Website

College of William and Mary

2. College of William and MaryLocation Location IconWilliamsburg, VAAdmission Rate: 37%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $47,400Website

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

3. University of Michigan – Ann ArborLocation Location IconAnn Arbor, MIAdmission Rate: 23%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $55,900Website

Rice University

4. Rice UniversityLocation Location IconHouston, TXAdmission Rate: 11%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $68,300Website

University of Virginia

5. University of VirginiaLocation Location IconCharlottesville, VAAdmission Rate: 26%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $56,800Website

University of Florida

6. University of FloridaLocation Location IconGainesville, FLAdmission Rate: 39%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $47,700Website

University of Maryland - College Park

7. University of Maryland – College ParkLocation Location IconCollege Park, MDAdmission Rate: 47%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $50,100Website

University of Texas at Austin

8. University of Texas at AustinLocation Location IconAustin, TXAdmission Rate: 39%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $52,200Website

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

9. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoLocation Location IconSan Luis Obispo, CAAdmission Rate: 30%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $54,700Website

San Diego State University

10. San Diego State UniversityLocation Location IconSan Diego, CAAdmission Rate: 35%Mean Earning Of Students 6 Years After Entry: $41,600Website

Physical Therapy Schools Ranked By Price

Best Physical Therapy Schools Ranked by Price

If you’re looking for an inexpensive physical therapy school, I suggest starting with your home state. Broadly speaking, state schools offer some of the lowest tuition rates to resident students. 

Not all states have inexpensive PT programs, though, so I made this list to showcase schools with below-average tuition rates for both in- and out-of-state students.

Remember, these rates reflect the minimum tuition cost and are subject to change. Plus, many universities charge additional fees anywhere from $1,000-20,000 on top of the total tuition. When selecting a program, make sure you account for PT-specific departmental fees.

10. Northern Arizona University

Best PT School Arizona

The first school on the list is Northern Arizona University, which comprises two campuses – Flagstaff and Phoenix. The application process is streamlined for both campuses, so you don’t need to worry about applying to both if you have no residential preference. Wherever you study, you’ll benefit from NAU’s award-winning physical therapy faculty – and their graduates’ 100% employment rate.

For 98 credit hours over 7 semesters, here’s what you’d pay:

ResidencyTuition/SemesterTotal Program Tuition
Arizona state$5,084$35,594

9. University of Iowa

university of Iowa DPT

The University of Iowa’s physical therapy program has been ranked 4th in US News & World Reports’ Best Grad Schools, tied with Northwestern and USC. (Though, if you want to hear what I honestly think about school rankings, read this article!) Those other two schools, while on-par with its program, can’t compete with UI’s affordability. Whether or not you hail from Iowa, you’ll get a bargain on top-notch DPT training in one of the largest university-owned teaching hospitals in the country.

For 124 credits over 8 semesters, here’s what you’d pay, including fees:

ResidencyTuition/YearTotal Program Tuition
Iowa State$17,304$43,260

8. University of Rhode Island

What began as an agricultural school on farm-owned property in 1892 is now a major, multi-site research university and one of the most beautiful coastal colleges nationwide. URI’s DPT program includes three years of standard training as well as a unique opportunity to practice therapy in an underserved country. To top it off, URI offers three affordable tuition rates, including a regional discount for New England residents.  

Here’s how much 3 years of 112 credit hours will cost:

ResidencyTuition/YearTotal Program Tuition
Rhode Island state$14,096$42,288
New England$21,144$63,432

7. Wichita State University

wichita state dpt

URI isn’t the only school with regional tuition rates. Several states qualify for discounted tuition to Kansas’s Wichita State University, making its DPT program affordable to students across the Midwest. The astounding value you get from this Shocker school goes beyond its price point, however. 100% of DPT grads are employed within six months – likely due to the holistic, patient-centered approach they learned from WSU’s interprofessional education.

Here’s what their 3-year, 124-credit program costs:

ResidencyTuition/Credit HourTotal Program Tuition
Kansas state$308$38,189
Plains or Midwest$462$57,288

6. Arkansas State University

arkansas state DPT

Another school in the midwest worth your money is Arkansas State in Jonesboro. Although ASU boasts over 14,000 students across 11 academic colleges, you’d be one of just 30 students in the DPT program, working closely with internationally-recognized faculty and staff. Furthermore, ASU offers an international rate that is as affordable as out-of-state tuition; so whether you’re a continental neighbor or hail from farther abroad, you’ll feel at home at Arkansas State.

For 106 credits over 3 years, here’s what you’d pay:

ResidencyTuition/Credit HourTotal Program Tuition
Arkansas state$333$35,298
Out-of-state / international$666$70,596

5. University of Tennessee Chattanooga

chattanooga dpt

If you live in Tennessee, you can’t go wrong with UTC’s physical therapy program. Graduates demonstrate a 100% first-time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy exam and a resulting 100% employment rate within one year of graduation. (Honestly, these are the stats that matter – not school rankings.) Before graduating, you can opt to complete your clinical studies in one of hundreds of UTC-contracted facilities across the US – but considering the culture and beauty of Chattanooga, you just might choose to stay. This low-cost, high-value DPT experience is a steal no matter where you reside; the out-of-state tuition is among the lowest on this list, and neighboring residents of select Alabama and Georgia regions qualify for an additional discount.

Here’s the price breakdown for 120 credit hours over 8 semesters:

ResidencyTuition/SemesterTotal Program Tuition
Tennessee state$5,135$41,080
AL/GA regions$7,151$57,208

4. East Carolina University

East Carolina University DPT

Nearby North Carolinians should consider the DPT program at East Carolina University, where in-state tuition is just over 20k total – that’s crazy cheap! However, saving so much money on tuition won’t cheat you on career-preparedness: 100% of ECU grads pass the National Physical Therapy Exam and find employment within just six months of graduating. In addition to the DPT program, you just may fall in love with the setting: the coastal plain and tidewaters of the Carolinas. All in all, the DPT program at ECU is a prime contender for a quality education at – if you live in NC – an unbeatable price.

For 106 credits over 9 semesters, here’s how much you’d pay:

ResidencyTuition/SemesterTotal Program Tuition
North Carolina$2,374$21,366

3. University of Texas El Paso

Best Texas Physical Therapy School

Moving further south, you’ll find the temperature rising – but not the cost of a PT education. The following three Texas schools provide some of the lowest tuition rates in the country to residents down in the Lone Star State. Right on the border with Mexico, University of Texas El Paso offers a unique setting for your DPT among students and patients of diverse backgrounds. Other perks include access to an extensive simulation center, a broad emphasis on interprofessional education, and the opportunity to work in multi-lingual clinics. Taken together, the offerings at UTEP have equipped 100% of their DPT candidates to pass the National Physical Therapy exam and find employment within a year.

Here’s how much 3 years and 99 credits cost:

ResidencyTuition/YearTotal Program Tuition

2. Texas Women’s University

texas womens dpt

For more Texan tuition savings, take a look at the DPT program at TWU. Located in Denton, the now coeducational Texas Women’s University is an excellent choice for prospective DPTs of various demographics and strengths. Students interested in neurologic therapy can complete their clinical residency at TWU’s Institute of Health Sciences in nearby Dallas or further south in Houston, home of the nation’s largest medical center. With TWU, you’ll be getting a Texas-sized value at a bargain price, in-state or out-of-state.

Here’s how little you’d pay for 98 credits over 8 semesters:

ResidencyTuition/Credit HourTotal Program Tuition
Texas state$280$27,508

And Now – The Cheapest PT School 

1. U.S. Army-Baylor Program at Baylor University

baylor DPT army

The #1 cheapest Physical Therapy program is the Army-Baylor DPT at San Antonio’s Baylor University – and it’s actually free. How so? By enlisting in the army, you can earn a Doctorate of Physical Therapy without incurring a single dollar of tuition debt. (Note that Baylor has a separate DPT degree which would cost you over 100 grand.)

Baylor instituted the Army-Baylor program in 1971, after nearly 50 years of training physical therapists to aid injured US soldiers. Now a fully-accredited DPT, the Army-Baylor program offers you both the training and the 100% employment rate you’d get from other schools on this list without costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you can acquiesce to basic training and a few years of army enlistment, the Army-Baylor DPT is absolutely worth a look.

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