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.
What are the best sports medicine programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Florida Atlantic University||Boca Raton, FL|
|2||Liberty University||Lynchburg, VA|
|3||Sam Houston State University||Huntsville, TX|
|4||The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley||Edinburg, TX|
|5||Concordia University Chicago||River Forest, IL|
|6||Logan University||Chesterfield, MO|
|7||California Baptist University||Riverside, CA|
|8||University of Louisiana at Monroe||Monroe, LA|
|9||University of Wyoming||Laramie, WY|
|10||Concordia University-Saint Paul||Saint Paul, MN|
Choosing a Program
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.
2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Sports Medicine Programs
Florida Atlantic University
|Boca Raton, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
FAU enrolls more than 30,000 students across six Florida campuses and an online division. Students may choose from more than 170 programs, including about online 50 offerings.
FAU's 36-credit MS in exercise science and health promotion can be completed online and includes classes like health education, the epidemiological basis of health, and the evolution of health promotion. Students can complete a master's thesis as an elective course.
FAU admits students into this program in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants must submit transcripts from undergraduate coursework and meet minimum GPA and GRE score requirements. FAU delivers most online coursework asynchronously.
|Lynchburg, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
An evangelical institution, Liberty enrolls more than 100,000 students on campus and online. A provider of distance education since the mid-1980s, Liberty now offers more than 450 online programs across 15 schools and colleges.
Liberty's online master's in exercise science and wellness offers specializations in fitness and performance and nutrition and wellness. The 33-credit curriculum includes coursework in advanced strength development, public health and physical activity, and nutrition and chronic disease.
This online master's program takes 18 months to complete. Each course lasts eight weeks. Liberty offers multiple start dates per year. The program accepts up to 16 transfer credits.
Sam Houston State University
|Huntsville, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 52%||
SHSU enrolls more than 21,000 students online and at Texas campuses in Huntsville and the Woodlands. Students may choose from more than 150 programs across eight academic colleges.
SHSU's online master of science in kinesiology features an emphasis in sport and human performance. Students complete 30-36 credits, choosing a coursework track, a practicum track, or a thesis track. Students must attend campus for 1-2 days per semester to complete lab work.
SHSU admits students into this program in the fall, spring, and summer. Distance learners all pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a major or minor in kinesiology or a related field.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
|Edinburg, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 46%||
Opened in 2013, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley operates multiple campuses throughout the region, as well as a comprehensive online division. Students may choose from more than 120 programs, including more than 25 online and hybrid options.
UTRGV's online MS in kinesiology offers both thesis and non-thesis tracks. Students complete 36 credits of classes, including required and elective courses in topics like advanced exercise physiology, history and philosophy of kinesiology, and research methods. Elective options include an internship and a health seminar.
Applicants must hold a bachelor's in kinesiology or a related major from a regionally accredited institution and a GPA of at least 3.0. UTRGV supports students by providing an online graduate orientation, online workshops, and financial aid advising.
Concordia University Chicago
|River Forest, IL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Founded as a Christian university under the auspices of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, CUC offers more than 100 programs, most of which are available online. CUC enrolls more than 5,000 students at its Illinois campus and online.
CUC's 30-credit MS in applied exercise science features a sports performance training concentration. Coursework covers areas like kinesiology and exercise and sport nutrition. Students also complete a practicum, a special topics seminar, and a capstone experience. They can take all of their classes online.
Each class in this program lasts eight weeks, and faculty deliver all coursework asynchronously. Students who take two courses per eight-week term can graduate within one year.
|Chesterfield, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: N/A||
Focusing on chiropractic and health science programs, Logan enrolls more than 1,600 students at its Missouri campus and online. Students may pick from seven bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, choosing to study in person or online.
Logan's online MS in sports science and rehabilitation requires 37-39 credits of core and elective courses. Core courses cover topics like research methods in healthcare, exercise/cardiorespiratory physiology, and nutrition and physical performance. The program culminates in a clinical internship.
Logan offers online coursework through three 15-week terms each academic year. Students may enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. Graduates qualify to sit for several sports medicine certification exams.
California Baptist University
|Riverside, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
One of the state's top Christian schools, CBU serves more than 11,000 students and employs a 100% Christian faculty and staff. The university also offers more than 40 online programs.
CBU's 30-credit master of science in kinesiology can be completed online and includes courses in sports nutrition, advanced exercise physiology, and applied knowledge in kinesiology. However, there is no thesis requirement. Most students earn their degree in 12 months. Each course lasts eight weeks.
Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a personal statement. Students must also pass a prerequisite course in exercise physiology before enrolling. All participants pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
University of Louisiana at Monroe
|Monroe, LA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Founded in 1931, ULM currently educates almost 10,000 students each year. The university offers degrees in dozens of fields and oversees more than 35 online programs, including an MS in exercise science.
Distance learners can complete a concentration in sport management. The 36-credit curriculum of this program includes required courses in nutrition and wellness, sport sociology, and sports medicine. Students may opt to complete an internship as one of two required graduate elective courses.
Students in this program enroll throughout the year, taking courses in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. ULM charges all distance students in this program the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
University of Wyoming
|Laramie, WY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
UW operates a physical campus in Laramie and an online division, enrolling more than 12,000 students from around the world. The university offers more than 40 online programs.
UW's MS in kinesiology and health includes an emphasis in physical education teaching that can be completed by distance learners. Students take 36 credits of general education, major, and elective coursework, exploring topics like investigations in kinesiology and health and research methods in physical education. The program culminates in a final written paper.
Students must take at least one elective course outside of the department of kinesiology and health. UW supports distance learners by providing tutoring, advising, and career counseling. Applicants need a bachelor's degree in kinesiology or a related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also submit GRE scores.
Concordia University-Saint Paul
|Saint Paul, MN||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
CSP — a Christian liberal arts school — offers a variety of career-focused degrees through its online division. Options include an online master's in exercise science, which prepares graduates to work in many roles, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, and sports nutritionists.
The program comprises 33 credits and includes required classes that cover topics like nutrition and metabolism, research methods, and mechanisms of skilled neuromuscular behavior. Students also have the opportunity to participate in an international study abroad experience. The program ends in a master's capstone, and classes last seven weeks.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 3.0. They should also submit a 400-1,000-word personal statement describing their employment history and why they think earning a graduate degree will help them accomplish their personal and professional goals.
What Can I Expect from an Online Master's in Sports Medicine Program?
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.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Sports Medicine Programs
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.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Sports Medicine Graduates
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)|
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|
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%
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 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.
Financing Your Online Master's in Sports Medicine Program
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.
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