Physical fitness has evolved over the last few decades. So, too, has the study of physical education. Classes in calisthenics and running have been replaced by sophisticated programs called exercise science. In many colleges and universities, exercise science studies are housed in kinesiology departments. More than just a study of exercise, kinesiology is a scientific field that encompasses physical movement, nutrition and human development. Graduates go on to work in careers as varied as the field itself.

University of Connecticut

Couple lifting weights

The kinesiology graduate program at the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education prepares its students for careers in a number of fields that include the corporate world, the government and research institutions. Students work closely with an adviser in their area of interest. UConn's graduate students are heavily involved in the school's Human Performance Laboratory, a research facility dedicated to the study of topics like children's fitness, cardiovascular function, weight loss and muscle physiology.

Penn State University

Physical therapist with patient

Penn State's graduate program in kinesiology offers its students advanced study in athletic training, sports medicine, biomechanics, exercise philosophy, the philosophy of sport, motor control, and the psychology of movement and sport. Through collaboration with departments like engineering, history and neuroscience, the department directs its activity for the purpose of creating outstanding scholars and researchers. The school boasts a state-of-the-art research facility that is generously funded by external sources.

The University of Maryland

Physical therapist and patient

Graduate students at the University of Maryland may specialize in cognitive motor neuroscience, exercise physiology or physical cultural studies. Supporting programs in research methods, experimental design, statistics, computer data acquisition and processing allow students to develop teaching and presenting skills. Both master's degree students and Ph.D. candidates are expected to perform professionally within any group and conduct research and departmental activities both close to home and internationally. Students also participate in professional organizations.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Smiling businesswoman talking to intern

The graduate program in kinesiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst prepares students for employment in the health and fitness field or to enter research careers after graduation. Students must choose to focus their studies on one of three specializations: motor systems, motor control or physiology. Graduation requirements for both master's degree candidates and doctoral students require either an independent research proposal or project be completed under the supervision of a mentoring faculty member.