Printable fact sheet

Program overview

Majors: Kinesiology (Exercise Science Concentration), Physical Education Teaching

Kinesiology is the study of human movement and physical activity. The study of kinesiology employs an interdisciplinary focus that includes anatomy, physiology, psychology, nutrition, history, education, athletic training and more.

The Department of Kinesiology supports separate degree programs in exercise science and physical education teaching, as well as courses that lead to Iowa Department of Education coaching endorsements and authorizations.  

Exercise science concentration

The exercise science concentration is designed to provide students with a solid academic foundation in the psychological and physiological principles of human physical performance. This is a flexible, science-based curriculum that helps prepare students for careers in the health and fitness industry, or for graduate studies in health fields including medicine and physical therapy.

Our students are also prepared for graduate study in exercise science, sport and exercise psychology, occupational therapy, athletic training, nutrition, cardiac rehabilitation, and chiropractic medicine. Our new exercise science laboratory provides an excellent venue for faculty-student research, offering students valuable practical experience.

Physical education teaching

Those majoring in physical education teaching may apply for teaching licensure at the elementary and/or secondary level. Physical education teacher preparation majors complete courses in methodology, motor learning, anatomy, adapted physical education, and field experiences prior to student teaching.  

Coaching endorsement or authorization

Completion of KIN 205 (Coaching Endorsement or Authorization) and KIN 237 (Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries) satisfy requirements for Iowa Department of Education coaching authorization and endorsement. A coaching endorsement is granted to those who complete these two courses, are majors in elementary or secondary education, and who receive an Iowa teaching license. A coaching authorization is available to those who do not hold an Iowa teaching license. Both the authorization and endorsement qualify an individual to serve as a head coach, assistant, or volunteer coach in any sport offered in Iowa public schools.

Learning goals

Students who are majoring in Kinesiology at Cornell are expected to:

  • Be able to access and utilize information and ideas from inter-related academic disciplines for the study of motor, cognitive, and affective aspects of human physical activity.

  • Appreciate the role that a lifetime of physical activity plays in contributing to personal health and wellness and self-awareness.

  • Understand physiological concepts related to structure and functioning of the human body during physical activity.

  • Appreciate the various forms of physical activity as dynamic cultural and psycho-social phenomena.

  • Be able to apply basic principles and procedures for safe and healthy physical activity and the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries.

  • Understand principles of leadership and management as they apply to physical activity settings.


Cornell’s One Course At A Time curriculum offers students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves full-time in exciting and varied internships and research projects to supplement their coursework. At the end of their college career, our majors are prepared to pursue a broad array of graduate programs and career options.

Undergraduate research

We encourage our students to engage in undergraduate research projects, both on campus and at other institutions, as a way to prepare for graduate studies. Recent students have taken advantage of our exercise science lab to conduct research on the effects of sleep deprivation on physiology and psychology, as well as the physiological response of wrestlers and non-wrestlers to high-temperature training environments.

Each year, Cornell students present the results of their research at the Cornell Student Symposium. See examples of recent kinesiology research abstracts.

Careers and graduate study

Currently, students of kinesiology are presented with a wide range of options for study leading to specialized graduate study, careers, and service to people of all ages in a variety of academic and professional settings.

Kinesiology majors may enroll in graduate schools to pursue degrees in medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, athletic training, chiropractic medicine, sports psychology, nutrition, and education. Others choose to become teachers and coaches, or work in fitness/wellness programs in hospitals, private businesses and corporations.