Students interested in the health care field have many degree options, two of which are nursing and kinesiology. Both degrees develop students’ critical thinking and communication skills and give them some theoretical knowledge of anatomy and medicine. However, a degree in nursing is mainly focused on developing students’ general clinical care expertise, while a degree in kinesiology focuses almost exclusively on exercise and sports-related science.
Nursing Career Prospects
Undergraduate students interested in pursuing nursing have the option of pursuing either a two- to three-year associate degree, or a four- or five-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. Both of these degrees prepare students for the registered nurse licensing exam that gives them permission to deliver primary care to patients as professional nurses. After graduation, students with nursing degrees can work in a wide range of health care organizations including hospitals, clinics and long-term and home care facilities.
Kinesiology Career Prospects
Unlike nursing, which is a more general degree, kinesiology is a degree that focuses on exercise science. Kinesiology programs are mainly bachelor’s degrees that expose students to a wide range of sporting facilities, including gyms, indoor walking tracks, therapeutic pools and free weights areas. Graduates of this program pursue careers as athletic trainers, physical education teachers and occupational therapists. Some graduates also become physicians and physical therapists. Many of these career tracks require additional schooling in graduate school, and a bachelor's degree in kinesiology serves as the foundation for further study.
An associate degree in nursing typically requires students to complete 60 to 70 credits of course work, while a bachelor's degree requires students to complete 120 to 140 credits of coursework. Both nursing degrees require students to take general education and prerequisite courses such as college writing, college algebra, human anatomy, human physiology and microbiology. Later on in their programs, students take a number of nursing courses that introduce them to nursing care and its expectations and prepare them for the licensing exam. The bachelor's degree in nursing has more upper-division nursing course requirements than the associate degree. Examples of nursing classes are nursing principles, mental health nursing, pharmacology, maternal nursing and health assessment.
Most kinesiology degrees require students to complete 120 credits of coursework. As with nursing, about a third of the coursework focuses on general education requirements such as college writing, human anatomy and physiology. Requirements vary greatly across programs, but many require courses such as basic and advanced human movement, basic and advanced human nutrition, prevention of athletic injuries and sports psychology. In addition to these major-related courses, many kinesiology programs also allow students to specialize in their area of interest, such as physical education teaching, pre-medicine, pre-physical therapy or pre-occupational therapy, and incorporate the prospective graduate school’s prerequisites into the kinesiology degree.