Best Online Master’s in Sports Medicine Programs

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Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleMaster'sin Sports Medicine2017
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Earning your online master’s in sports medicine will open new doors of opportunity for career choices, salary increases, and personal satisfaction. A master’s in sports medicine provides you with the foundation necessary for pursuing careers in physical therapy, sports nutrition, and even other fields of medicine.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a growth rate of 34% in the field of physical therapy alone, a rate substantially higher than most other job fields in today’s market, and with starting salaries in the low $80,000’s, a career in sports medicine is especially lucrative.

WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Yes! Graduating from an online master’s in sports medicine program not only prepares you for work in professional fields such as physical and occupational therapy, but generally also leads to an increase in salary. A master’s degree certainly makes you more marketable within today’s sports medicine field.

DO I NEED PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE TO GET IN?

Generally, you will need only a bachelor’s degree to be admitted into a master’s program. Some programs may require that your bachelor’s degree to be in sports medicine or a related field, while others may not have this specific requirement. Each sports medicine master’s program will likely have its own set of requirements that students must meet prior to gaining admission.

CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER’S in SPORTS MEDICINE?

Yes! One of the best things about online degree programs is their flexibility. Online programs are designed for working professionals, and are specifically set up to allow you to continue with your day-to-day life while completing your coursework.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MASTER’S IN SPORTS MEDICINE ONLINE?

The advantages to earning your online master’s in sports medicine are numerous–from flexibility in scheduling to the ability stay with your current job while you work through the program. Online master’s programs allow for much more freedom in your path to completion, and are ideal for current working professionals looking to advance their careers without uprooting their lives.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost % Enrolled Online Location Description
1 United States Sports Academy 65.92 N/A 100% Daphne, AL

For more than 40 years, the United States Sports Academy has provided sport education to coaches, managers, administrators, and specialists interested in athletics and sports medicine. Established in 1972, USSA remains the only freestanding school of sport education in the United States. The master's of sports science is a 33-semester hour program that is offered entirely online. This online master's in sports medicine degree offers five major areas of study: sports coaching, sports health and fitness, sports management, sports studies, and recreation management. Any of these majors, except recreation management, can be combined for a dual major. The program also includes areas of emphasis, including NCAA compliance, olympism, personal training, sports psychology, and sports hospitality management. Students can choose from three tracks: thesis, non-thesis, or mentorship. A comprehensive exam is required for both the non-thesis and mentorship options. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 to be considered.

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2 University of Western States 62.92 N/A 24% Portland, OR

The master's of science in sports medicine from the University of Western States is an advanced degree specialized on chiropractic care. Students commonly include current chiropractic students and chiropractic physicians, though health care professionals are also encouraged to apply. The 38-credit program can be completed in less than two years, and coursework is delivered in a hybrid format. Though most classes are offered online, there is a required hands-on lab session taken over one weekend at the UWS Portland campus. Off-campus students can complete practicum hours at approved locations in their local area. Most candidates complete this online sports medicine degree in six or seven quarters. Students enrolled in the UWS doctor of chiropractic can pursue both programs concurrently, and the degrees will both conclude at the same time. Applicants must have a relevant bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5, and experience in a related field to be considered.

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3 University of Hawaii at Manoa 62.71 13% Honolulu, HI

The MS in athletic training program from the University of Hawaii at Manoa prepares students for careers as sports trainers in a variety of industries, including education, healthcare, and entertainment. This online sports medicine degree comes in two forms: a professional athletic training program that prepares graduates for BOC certification, and a post professional athletic training program for students who want to become scholars or leaders in athletic training. There are six programs and pathways under the kinesiology and rehabilitation science department at UH Manoa, and delivery of curriculum is mixed between online and evening classes. The master's in athletic training program offers evening sessions on campus in Honolulu. Applicants must submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of objectives for admissions review. They must also submit documentation of at least 200 hours of observation to be considered.

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4 Texas A & M University-Commerce 61.26 52% Commerce, TX

Texas A&M University-Commerce offers a MS degree in health, kinesiology, and sport studies that provides teachers and coaches with a variety of skills. The program offers four learning concentrations: athletic administration, health promotion, exercise science, and physical education pedagogy. All tracks are offered completely online except for exercise science, which requires hands-on training. These varied 30-hour sports medicine online degree programs are designed to work with students' busy schedules. The health promotion concentration was designed for working professionals in the wellness field, the physical education pedagogy track is intended for those looking to advance their careers while working as coaches or teachers, and the athletic administration track covers topics in ethics, finance, marketing, law and governance, and psychology. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered.

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5 University of Northern Colorado 60.15 6% Greeley, CO

The University of Northern Colorado's master's of arts in sports and exercise science is designed for adult learners currently working in the field of athletic coaching. It is a general program that can be applied to all coaching endeavors across various sports. The curriculum includes 30 credits and generally takes 18 months to complete. This program emphasizes the science of exercise, sport pedagogy, training principles, and applied research. In lieu of a comprehensive exam or thesis, students will present a portfolio on effective coaching in their final semester. An online orientation is also provided. Graduates leave the MA with advanced expertise in all aspects of the science and are prepared for careers as teachers, coaches, or advocates. UNC's online master's in sports medicine degree is authorized in all U.S. states. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered.

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6 Concordia University-Chicago 59.65 19% River Forest, IL

The master's of science in human movement science from Concordia University-Chicago is an accelerated, 30-credit program that prepares students for work in coaching, research, workplace safety, and more. Students learn how to develop injury prevention programs, and how to help their patients improve functional capacity and correct faulty movement patterns. Coursework is taught in 10 eight-week sessions and students are accepted throughout the year. The program is organized in a cohort model with an average class size of 12–18 students. Like many of the best online master's in sports medicine programs, CUC's flexible courses are offered entirely online. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and a cumulative 2.85 GPA to be considered. For those who fall below these minimums, there is a provisional admissions process. For international students whose second language is English, a TOEFL score of at least 550 is also required.

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7 The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 58.27 25% Edinburg, TX

The master's of science in kinesiology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers a master's of science in kinesiology with a thesis or non-thesis track. Degree requirements for both programs include 12 core credit hours, 18-21 for electives, and a capstone requirement of a thesis or independent study, which adds three to six credits. The UTRGV sports medicine degree online program offers courses in a completely virtual environment via the University of Texas Online Consortium or UTOC. Students may take classes from any of the participating UT System schools as well. Online students receive the same instruction and follow the same course sequence as on-campus students. The program emphasizes contemporary concepts on physical activity and wellness throughout the curriculum. Students can complete the program in just three years. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be considered.

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8 University of Louisiana at Monroe 57.55 30% Monroe, LA

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an online master's degree in sports medicine with three areas of emphasis: applied exercise, sports management, and clinical exercise physiology. All three concentrations require 36 hours to complete and are offered entirely online through eULM. The master's of science in exercise science with a concentration of sport management is split between 30 hours of required core courses, three credits of electives, and an internship. Students in the sports management track develop their business acumen through courses in governance, ethics, finance, public relations, and more. Applicants must have a combined score of 725 or better, which is derived from multiplying a student's GPA and GRE scores together. Students whose score falls between 685 and 724 can still apply, but will be admitted on conditional status.

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9 The University of Texas at Tyler 52.98 61% Tyler, TX

The master's of science in kinesiology from the University of Texas at Tyler is a 36-credit program that prepares students for careers related to exercise. The program emphasizes the science behind the body and its movements, and is a good fit for clinicians who regularly work within the discipline, including physical therapists, athletic trainers, and wellness coaches. This online master's in sports medicine is taught in three formats: on-campus, distance learning, and hybrid. The curriculum includes courses on research design, biomechanics, motor learning, biometric methods, and more. Campus visits are not required for online students. Coursework is delivered asynchronously, and the program concludes with either a thesis or internship. Non-thesis students also take a comprehensive exam. Applicants must have a four-year degree, a GRE score in the 30th percentile, and meet the graduate school requirements for UTT to be considered.

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10 McNeese State University 50.94 46% Lake Charles, LA

The master's of science in health and human performance at McNeese State University is offered through the Burton College of Education. The program explores the health and human performance discipline, which relates to many aspects of health, wellness, and rehabilitation. The 33-credit sports medicine degree online program offers three concentrations: physiology, nutrition and wellness, and health promotion. The health promotion concentration is designed to help teachers and coaches learn the fundamentals of advocacy, health habits, physical fitness, and recreation. Candidates have six years to finish their degree. MSU is authorized to provide online learning to students in more than 30 states. Transfer students can apply credits for which they have earned a “B” grade or better. Prerequisite courses include exercise physiology and tests and measures. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree with a major or minor in health and human performance or a related field to be considered.

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11 Fresno Pacific University 50.55 26% Fresno, CA

The master's of arts in athletic training at Fresno Pacific University is designed specifically for those looking to become practitioners. The core courses for the 30-credit online sports medicine degree delve into the legal aspects, research methods, and values of kinesiology. The curriculum teaches students about core concepts like administration, therapeutic exercise, and pedagogy and prepares them to pursue athletic training careers in education, entrepreneurship, or the private sector. The program concludes with a comprehensive examination. Delivered fully online, this flexible MA in athletic training enables students to earn their degree while working full-time. The application process begins with a phone interview, wherein prospective candidates explain their academic history and career intents. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in athletic training or a related field with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to be considered.

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12 Southern Utah University 50.38 26% Cedar City, UT

Southern Utah University offers a sports medicine degree online with an innovative approach to teaching the theory and practice of sports conditioning and performance. Designed for working sports fitness professionals like strength coaches or physical trainers, this master's degree will teach students how to create safe and effective exercise programs. The majority of the 33-credit master's of science in sports conditioning and performance curriculum is delivered online, but students are required to attend three clinical workshops on campus in Cedar City for one to two weeks in the summer. Students can transfer up to 12 credit hours, and all coursework must be completed within six years. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a major in physical education, exercise science, or sports medicine and must have current GRE or MAT scores to be considered.

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13 The University of Texas of the Permian Basin 48.71 74% Odessa, TX

The master's of science in kinesiology from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin takes a comprehensive look at diverse groups of people and how each requires a different approach to exercise, conditioning, or rehabilitation. This 36 credit online master's degree in sports medicine tackles subjects like historical development, facilities, research method, and scientific principle. The program has no practicum requirement and course delivery is completely online. A thesis or research project serves as the capstone experience, and the final exam is an oral defense. The program must be completed within eight years, though most students finish well before the deadline. As part of the University of Texas Online Consortium, students are afforded the flexibility of taking courses from any of the participating universities. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in kinesiology or a related area to be considered.

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14 Sul Ross State University 32.76 49% Alpine, TX

The master's of science in human performance program at Sul Ross State University prepares students for careers in clinical evaluation, fitness assessment, and exercise prescription. Sports medicine online degree programs like this one teach students to become advocates for proper exercise and nutrition, and experts who can provide guidance in these specialized areas are in high demand. This 33-credit program can be completed in one academic year thanks to Sul Ross State's accelerated eight-week terms, which are only five weeks long in the summer. However, students are free to move through the program at their own pace and are given six years to earn their degree. All students must take and pass a comprehensive exam after completing the first 24 credit hours before moving on to the advanced practicum/internship requirement. Any transfer credits must be submitted for review when a student's degree plan is being prepared.

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15 Texas A & M University-Kingsville 32.60 37% Kingsville, TX

Texas A&M University-Kingsville's MS in kinesiology prepares students for careers as master teachers, exercise professionals, and administrators in their chosen field. Many students use this master's program as a springboard to doctoral studies. There are three tracks to choose from: course only, research project, and thesis. Fully online students must follow the course-only track. This MS program can be taken as a generalist degree or as one of two concentrations: sports administration/kinesiology pedagogy or health/exercise science. Like many online master's in sports medicine programs, Texas A&M offers an accelerated version for those who want to quickly enter the workforce. Students who take on a full courseload four semesters in a row -- fall, spring, summer, fall -- can finish in just over a year. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in kinesiology or related field, and have taken prerequisite coursework including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and exercise testing to be considered.

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When it comes to online master’s in sports medicine programs, details will likely vary depending on the school and the program you choose. So, it’s important to look carefully at all the requirements and details of each program you are interested in when looking for the best sports medicine master’s degree.

CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER’S DEGREE IN SPORTS MEDICINE

The best sports medicine master’s degree programs offer a wide range of interesting and engaging courses that effectively prepare students for careers in the field. While courses may differ by school, sample curricula have been listed below.

  • Applied Anatomy for Sports Medicine: Through lectures and hands-on cadaver dissection experiences, students learn extensively about orthopedic anatomy. These skills may help prepare students for careers in athletic training, and for future doctoral studies in orthopedics.
  • Physiology of Exercise: Students learn about the various bodily systems involved in exercise, including pulmonary, cardiovascular, endocrine, neuromuscular, and renal. Through learning about these systems, students will be able to understand how to optimize exercise processes for physical health, and avoiding injury. This course prepares students with skills needed in fields such as athletic training and physical therapy.
  • Biomechanics of Sports Medicine: This course emphasizes biomechanical theories, while teaching students about major orthopedic injuries and how to best diagnose, prevent, and treat these injuries.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER’S IN SPORTS MEDICINE?

There are a number of factors that impact how long it will take you to complete an online master’s in sports medicine. For example, entering a cohort-based program may require more time to completion, as you will be working alongside a group of fellow students that begin the program at the same time as you. On the other hand, an individually-paced program might allow for more flexibility to complete coursework on a timeline of your own design.

Generally, earning a master’s in sports medicine requires that students complete 38 to 45 credit hours. Working on a full time basis, these credit hours could be completed in just two years. Working on a part-time basis may lengthen this time, as well as whether or not your chosen program is delivered synchronously or is self-paced.

CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER’S IN SPORTS MEDICINE PREPARES FOR

  • Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics: This certification is for those wishing to practice as a certified dietitian and/or nutritionist within the context of a sports medicine setting. This license requires an exam, but other requirements may differ at the state level.
  • Certified Athletic Trainer: This certification is awarded by the National Athletic Trainers Association. By taking and passing an exam administered by the NATA, those with this certification can then practice as professional athletic trainers alongside supervising physicians.

In addition to all of the other important factors that go into choosing the best program for you, you will also want to consider what kind of accreditation by which each program is backed. Schools are often regionally accredited, which is generally more prestigious, but some may also be nationally accredited. Regional accreditations include the Higher Learning Commission, which accredits schools in 19 north central states that meet its specific criteria. When it comes to programs in sports medicine, you might also want to look for a few program-specific accrediting agencies. For example, the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) provides accreditation for programs with concentrations in athletic training.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is a government agency that handles school-related policies throughout the United States. This federal agency is also responsible for providing aid and assistance to students and you will submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to them each year you are in school in order to receive financial aid. The ED and Council for Higher Education Accreditation both provide a comprehensive lists of accredited post-secondary schools on their websites for you to check.

JOB PLACEMENT

When deciding on the best sports medicine master’s degree program for you, consider the fact that having a master’s degree can raise your salary potential in the field, particularly depending on the area in which you specialize. Entry-level careers, such as those you might obtain with a bachelor’s degree, will earn you significantly less per year than the careers you can pursue with a master’s degree. See the table below for examples of how a master’s level education can improve your salary in these specific fields.

Sports Medicine Speciality Median Salary for Entry Level (Bachelor’s or less) Median Salary for Mid-Level (Master’s Degree)
Athletic Training $38,835 $42,595
Dietitian $49,190 $54,622
Nutritionist $41,427 $49,991

Source: PayScale

MASTER’S IN SPORTS MEDICINE SALARY

Although earning a master’s degree in sports medicine will earn you a higher salary just about anywhere, there are a few places in the United States that pay higher than average in this field. Nation-wide, athletic trainers earn an average salary of about $46,000. However, some states offer average salaries far higher than the national average. See below for a list of five such states.

State Average Salary for Athletic Trainer
District of Columbia $67,500
New Jersey $59,180
Connecticut $57,140
Nevada $57,110
Texas $53,620

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

MASTER’S IN SPORTS MEDICINE CAREERS

Earning a master’s degree in sports medicine prepares you for a wide variety of exciting and interesting careers and, with growth projected at a rapid pace in the coming years, the fields of sports medicine and management continue to boom. Those with the dedication, strong worth ethic, and patience that jobs in these fields often require are increasingly likely to find a great number of opportunities upon graduation.

Athletic Trainer

These trainers work closely with athletes to prevent, diagnose, and treat bone and muscle injuries. Some may work in fitness centers, at universities, or in hospitals.

Median Annual Salary $45,630

Projected Growth Rate 21%

Dietitian

Dietitians and nutritionists focus on helping clients and patients manage their health through proper diet and nutrition. These professionals help clients set and achieve health or weight-related goals through properly managing and planning a diet.

Median Annual Salary $58,920

Projected Growth Rate 16%

Exercise Physiologist

Unlike general personal trainers, exercise physiologists use their knowledge and expertise about the body and its systems to create exercise regiments meant to help patients recover from physical trauma or injury. While mostly self-employed, some also work in hospital settings.

Median Annual Salary $47,340

Projected Growth Rate 11%

Occupational Therapist

These therapists work with patients recovering from illness and/or injury. The goal is to help patients regain necessary movement, flexibility, and functionality to be able to carry out daily activities.

Median Annual Salary $81,910

Projected Growth Rate 27%

Physical Therapist

Physical therapists often work in hospital or rehabilitation settings, as they work with patients to help recover from injury and manage pain. (Note that this occupation requires additional certification.)

Median Annual Salary $85,400

Projected Growth Rate 34%

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Professional organizations are an integral part of pursuing a higher degree. Throughout your program, you can utilize the resources these organizations provide to network, learn about internship opportunities, and simply broaden your knowledge of the field. Upon graduation, these organizations can help you land a good job, offer conferences and professional development events, and keep you connected with other professionals in your field. See the list below for a few examples of prominent professional organizations in the field of sports medicine.

While an online master’s degree is typically cheaper than one earned at a brick-and-mortar school, many students still need financial help to ease the costs of tuition. Fortunately, many online schools offer financial aid to online students. All online students should start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who apply for aid must be enrolled in an online bachelor’s program accredited by a federally recognized accreditation agency. Students in sports medicine programs might also consider applying for program-specific scholarship through major organizations in the field. Paid internships are also a great way to fund your master’s in sports rehabilitation.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.