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Earning a master's in sports medicine can help graduates pursue careers in various fields, including athletics, physical therapy, and life sciences. These programs prepare students to assist athletes and physically active people in their training, treatment, and recovery. As our understanding of the long-term health impact of sports and sports injuries grows, so too does the demand for sports medicine professionals.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 16% job growth for athletic trainers between 2019 and 2029, which is much higher than the average growth rate of 4% across all occupations. During the same period, the BLS projects fast growth for other sports and exercise positions as well, including physical therapists (18%), exercise physiologists (11%), and dietitians and nutritionists (8%).
For more information, check out our master's in sports medicine program guide.
What Are the Best Online Master's in Sports Medicine Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:
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|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|
- How We Rank Schools
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2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Sports Medicine Programs
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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?
Some programs may feature internships, whereas others offer extensive clinical work to satisfy the practical requirements of the degree.
Many sports medicine programs are part of a doctoral medicine degree, taking the form of a fellowship program or medical specialization. Nevertheless, students can still find standalone master's in sports medicine programs, along with programs in related disciplines like rehabilitation, exercise, and sports science. These programs typically require between 30-60 credits and take about two years to finish.
While many of these programs overlap in content and career opportunities, prospective students should verify their program offers the training they need for their ideal career. Kinesiology programs, for example, focus on the science of movement, whereas exercise science emphasizes the bodily response to movement. Sports medicine may combine these disciplines to support athletes' optimal performance and recovery.
Most sports medicine programs award an MS degree. Students study the theory behind exercise and physical training, and explore treatment and therapy methods. Students also observe athletes, run tests, and analyze test results in labs. They often work with state-of-the-art exercise and rehabilitation equipment and diagnostic tools.
Some programs may feature internships, whereas others offer extensive clinical work to satisfy the practical requirements of the degree. Concentrations play an important role in sports science and medicine programs and can greatly influence a graduate's career path. Some available concentrations may include athletic training, exercise physiology, and strength and conditioning.
Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Sports Medicine Programs
Applicants usually need a bachelor's degree for admission to an online master's in sports medicine. Some programs may require a degree in a specific discipline, such as biomechanics, kinesiology, or health science. Applicants may need to meet a minimum GPA cutoff as well.
Additional requirements might include professional recommendations, a statement of purpose, and GRE scores. Check out our Graduate Admissions Guide for more information.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Sports Medicine Program?
The courses that students may encounter in an online master's in sports medicine program will vary depending on their program choice and specialization. However, many programs will likely contain some of the following core courses.
- Applied Anatomy
In this course, students gain a better understanding of how the body works and how the organ systems operate. Learners look at developmental changes and physical differences across age groups. They also learn how to use multiple testing and diagnostic tools and techniques.
- Sports Nutrition
Students in this course learn about the latest nutritional research and examine how nutrition can help athletes maintain peak physical performance. Learners also study how body types and specific sports require differences in diets and nutrition.
- Exercise Physiology
Exercise physiology courses examine how different exercises and environments impact the physiological processes within the body. Students learn to use various assessment methods and tools to identify and understand irregular bodily responses to certain activities.
- Exercise Science Techniques
Students in exercise science techniques courses learn to use measuring equipment and lab technologies. Degree-seekers learn how to run safe and effective tests and draw meaningful conclusions from the data collected.
Kinesiology courses teach students about human movement and mechanics. Degree-seekers learn how to measure cardiovascular and neuromuscular functions and perform clinical assessments. Some courses may also cover the biomechanical applications of contemporary kinesiology research and studies.
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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Sports Medicine Degree?
Graduates with a master's in sports medicine can enter many promising fields. According to the BLS, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, and recreational therapists all earn higher median annual wages than the median annual salary for all occupations.
Sports medicine programs can lead to careers in athletics, exercise science, and healthcare. Sports medicine professionals should continue to remain in demand as general interest in healthy living and preventative care grows along with an increased awareness of sports injuries.
See where an online master's in sports medicine can take you. Learn more about sports medicine careers.
- Athletic Trainer
Athletic trainers work with athletes of different ages to help optimize performance while preventing injuries. They may also help diagnose injuries and suggest treatment plans to help athletes heal effectively.
- Exercise Physiologist
Exercise physiologists develop physical routines and rehabilitation programs for patients to improve their overall health. These professionals may run physical tests to evaluate patients or monitor how a patient responds to specific actions.
- Dietitian or Nutritionist
Dietitians and nutritionists develop healthy eating strategies for clients based on their unique needs and circumstances. These professionals may advise individual clients on managing a disease or they may design a meal plan for patients and residents within a facility.
- Recreational Therapist
Recreational therapists provide therapeutic treatment for patients that includes various physical activities. Therapists design treatment plans and help patients execute and adjust their treatment plan over time.
- High School Teacher
Sports medicine training can also prepare you to become a high school physical education teacher, although these professionals usually also need a teaching license. Physical education teachers encourage students to live active and healthy lives by introducing them to different sports and activities.
Sports Medicine Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Sports Medicine Programs
- Is a master's in sports medicine worth it?
A master's in sports medicine provides advanced training in a discipline that can take graduates in many different directions. Many of the careers available to graduates offer strong career growth outlooks and high salaries. For those interested in working with athletes, this discipline would be a good choice.
- What can I do with a master's in sports medicine?
With a master's in sports medicine, graduates can pursue careers in athletic training and physiology. They may also qualify for positions as a physical therapist or nutritionist. Some students may continue their training into a doctoral program, seeking careers as researchers or postsecondary teachers.
- How much money can I make with a master's in sports medicine?
Salary potential for graduates with a master's in sports medicine depends on numerous factors. Athletic trainers made a median annual salary of $48,440 in 2019, but the top 10% of earners make more than $73,470 per year. Physical therapists made a median annual salary of $89,440 in 2019, according to the BLS.
- What are the highest paying jobs with a master's in sports medicine?
Dietitians and nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2019, which exceeds the median annual salary for all occupations by more than $20,000. Physical therapists earn even higher salaries, with professionals in this occupation earning a median annual salary of $89,440 in 2019, according to the BLS.