The 20 best online master’s degrees in sports medicine are also the 20 best choices for those who love exercise and want to turn their passion into a career.
Working and training with professional athletes and movie stars are just two of the ways in which an online master’s degree in sports medicine could benefit you. Society has become increasingly aware that they need to exercise more and eat a healthier diet. This is where a degree in sports medicine can come in handy as you learn and eventually teach others the foundations of health and wellness.
Health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition are not going anywhere soon, so you can be sure that there is going to be a need for your services in the future. But, just because the demand is high, it doesn’t mean you should waste any time finding the perfect master’s program.
What is an Online Sports Medicine Master’s Degrees?
An online master's degree in sports medicine teaches you the foundations of health, nutrition, and exercise science. A general foundation for a degree in sports medicine will include courses in human anatomy and physiology, theories of strength and conditioning, exercise physiology, care and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, and kinesiology.
Studying human anatomy and physiology will allow you to understand how the body is put together and how it operates. Courses in theories of strength and conditioning give learners an understanding of which exercises target specific areas of the body and how to utilize these exercises to achieve the results your clients want.
Courses in exercise physiology instruct students on why certain body parts or muscles respond better to particular activities and movements, and a course in the care and prevention of musculoskeletal injuries teaches how to prevent and treat common injuries that occur during exercise.
To apply to an online master’s program in sports medicine, you will need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, transcripts, and letters of recommendation. You will also need to pay an application fee. Some schools require that their students submit their GRE scores, but other institutions waive this requirement.
Careers for Master’s of Sports Medicine Majors
Individuals who pursue, and complete, a master’s degree in sports medicine often choose a career as an athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, or fitness trainer and instructor.
If you decide to become an athletic trainer, you can expect to spend your days working with physicians to design and implement programs to prevent illness and injury among athletes. You will also design and implement rehabilitative programs for injured athletes.
Athletic trainers are required to attend a school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and pass a national board examination. Once you pass the board examination, you can apply for a state license to become an athletic trainer. The majority of athletic trainers have master's degrees, so it’s important to stay ahead of the competition.
Exercise physiologists have their patients perform fitness tests and then formulate an exercise treatment plan to improve chronic health conditions. The majority of exercise physiologists have a master’s degree. Fitness trainers and instructors motivate and coach individuals or groups in exercise activities. Many fitness trainers are not licensed and do not require any formal education.
Salary Potential for Sports Medicine Professionals
After completing an online master’s degree in sports medicine, you can expect to earn somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 per year. Exercise physiologists — one of the most common career paths for a master’s degree in sports medicine — can expect to bring home the most money, with an average annual income of $49,270.
Athletic trainers can expect to earn slightly less than exercise physiologists, with a yearly salary of $47,510. Fitness instructors and trainers make significantly less than exercise physiologists and athletic trainers, with an annual income of $39,820. All of these careers have a bright outlook with a higher-than-average expected growth rate of 11% between now and 2028.
Some certifications can be obtained that may increase the earning potential of these professions. Examples of certifications that may increase salary and earning potential include a Medical Exercise Program Director Certification.
What are the Best Online Master’s in Sports Medicine?
We know that you have educational goals that you’re itching to pursue, but you may not know where to start. The editors of CollegeRank utilize a unique ranking methodology based on the following three aspects:
40% Potential Salary After Graduation: Average mid-career salary of school alumni
30% Institutional Accreditation: Regional and National Accreditation for the 2019-2020 school year
30% Overall Degree Affordability: Average cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition per school
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The University of Louisiana at Monroe has the most successful collegiate water ski team in the history of the country, having won 28 National Collegiate Water Skiing Association championships. Louisiana Monroe began as the Ouachita Parish Junior College in 1931. The college was granted full university status in 1969 and adopted its current name in 1999.
Louisiana Monroe has an online Master of Science in Exercise Science degree program that can include a concentration in Sport Management. This concentration requires students to complete 36 credit hours of coursework. Students choose from core course options such as Sport Sociology and Sport Psychology, along with six hours of electives.
Admission to the program is based on a formula that combines undergraduate GPA with a student’s GRE scores. Students must score at or above 725 when their GPA is multiplied by their combined verbal and quantitative scores on the GRE. Students with scores between 685 and 724 may be admitted on “conditional status.” The program also offers Clinical Exercise Physiology and Applied Exercise Science concentrations.
The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley is one of the largest Hispanic-majority universities in the United States, with almost 90% of its students identifying as Hispanic. UTRGV owns 105 buildings in cities including Brownsville, Edinburg, McAllen, and Harlingten, TX.
UTRGV offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology program. In total, students complete 36 credit hours of coursework, which includes 12 hours of required core courses, 18-21 hours of electives, and 3-6 hours of capstone/thesis courses. Students taking the capstone option complete an extra elective course that thesis students do not take.
Sample core courses include Research Methods and Advanced Exercise Physiology. Elective options may include Sport and Society, Determinants and Perspectives of Health and Illness. Students may choose to complete an internship during the program; it calls for 120 hours of work in a public school setting.
The University of Texas, El Paso is home to the annual Sun Bowl football game, which is named after the school’s football stadium. UTEP graduates more Hispanic engineers with MS and Ph.D. degrees than any other university in the country. The school’s architecture includes influences from the nations of Bhutan and Tibet.
UTEP offers an online Master of Science program in Kinesiology. Students choose between concentrations in Exercise Science or Pedagogy of Physical Activities. Online courses offered by other UT system campuses can also be applied toward a UTEP degree. Each concentration option requires 36 credit hours of coursework.
Students take 15 hours of core coursework to begin the program, with classes such as Advanced Exercise Physiology, Motor Learning and Control, and Biomechanical Basis of Sport. Elective courses are related to the student’s area of concentration. Students also choose whether to pursue the program’s thesis or non-thesis option.
A sample of courses from the Pedagogy concentration includes Physical Activities - Young Children, Measurement Technology in Exercise Physiology, and Motor Learning and Control. Exercise Science students have elective options such as Coronary Intervention and Advanced Topics in Kinesiology.
The University of Northern Colorado began as a teaching school in 1889. The school has since grown to house more than 12,000 students enrolled in six schools and colleges. The school’s main campus is in Greeley, CO, but it also has extended campus locations in Loveland, Denver, and Colorado Springs.
UNC offers an online Master of Arts degree in Sport Coaching. The program is designed for students who already hold a full- or part-time coaching position. Students build expertise in areas such as communication, motivation, safety, and ethics and laws. This is a 30 credit hour program designed to be completed in 18 months.
Sample courses from the program include Sports Administration for Coaches, Training and Conditioning Principles, and Coaching with Technology. Students finish the program by completing an independent action research project that they design themselves. The GRE is not required for admission.
The program meets all requirements established by the National Association of Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). The program coordinator is Dr. Scott Douglas, a former professional athlete who won a bronze medal in wheelchair tennis doubles at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
North Dakota State University is a public university located in Fargo, ND. NDSU began as an agricultural college, but now offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate programs. NDSU is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $1.3 billion annually within North Dakota and the greater Fargo area.
North Dakota State offers an online Master of Science degree in Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences. Students can choose between a concentration in Exercise/Nutrition Science and Leadership in Physical Education in Sport. Each course required for the program is offered at least once in a two-year cycle, meaning most students complete the degree in roughly two years.
Most online students in the master’s program choose not to write a thesis or final paper, but instead complete a professional portfolio. Students complete a minimum of 30 credit hours. NDSU also offers programs leading to a Master of Science in Advanced Athletic Training and a Master of Athletics Training. A Ph.D. in Exercise Science and Nutrition is also available.
Every year, Southern Utah University hosts the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The tradition began in 1961, and by 2003 it had grown to include almost 250 different performances seen by nearly 150,000 spectators. SUU also hosts the annual Utah Summer Games, where more than 10,000 athletes engage in Olympics-style competitions.
Southern Utah has a Master of Science degree program in Sports Conditioning & Performance. Program applicants are expected to hold either a bachelor’s degree with a major or minor in physical education, exercise science, or sports medicine, or to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and be a licensed professional in exercise science or a related field.
This degree is delivered in a hybrid format that merges online education with in-person experiences. Students attend three intensive summer courses of clinical workshops on campus at SUU for 1-2 weeks. Students complete a total of 33 credit hours in the program.
Core courses include Foundations of Sport Conditioning and Designing Resistance Training Programs. All students complete 18 hours of core courses, 12 hours of electives, and a 3-credit thesis. In addition to the above-listed requirements, students may also qualify for admission if they have completed sufficient undergraduate coursework in exercise physiology and biomechanics.
George Washington University is one of only five schools with a Congressional Charter, meaning that it was founded by an Act of Congress. GW is one of the largest public universities in the country, with more than 27,000 students as of 2016. The school’s annual endowment exceeds $1.7 billion.
GW offers an online Master of Science in Exercise and Nutrition with an emphasis in Strength and Conditioning. This is a 36 credit hour program designed for students who have an interest in the improvement of human health through physical activity. There are no specific course or degree prerequisites for admission to the program.
Students must complete a suite of Exercise and Nutritional Science Program Core courses, Program Specific courses, and EXNS Strength and Condition Electives. In addition to the coursework, students complete eight hours of professional development training. This can take the form of public health lectures, seminars, or symposia related to the student’s field of study.
Louisiana State University was first known as the Louisiana State Seminary of Learning & Military Academy. It was founded in Pineville, LA and has been a public university since 1870. Today, it is home to a number of celebrated athletic programs, including national champion baseball and football programs.
LSU offers an online Masters in Kinesiology and Sport Management. This 36 credit hour program can be completed in just one year. Students begin the program with core courses, such as Financial Issues in Sports, Sport Law, and Economic Issues in Sports. Then, they move on to choose electives in both Sport Management and Restricted Research.
Program applicants must submit GRE scores and should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. The minimum GRE score for the program is 295. Students who do not wish to submit GRE/GMAT scores may also qualify for admission if they can demonstrate three years of successful work experience or one year of full-time employment at LSU.
The University of Southern Mississippi, often referred to as Southern Miss, is a dual campus university divided between Hattiesburg and Long Beach, MS. The school also owns the John C. Stennis Space Center and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. The school’s mascots and nicknames have changed over the years, but its school colors have always been black and gold.
The University of Southern Mississippi is home to an online Master of Science degree in Kinesiology (Physical Education). USM also offers a fully online Master of Science in Sport Coaching Education. Graduates of the kinesiology program have gone on to pursue careers in physical education teaching, fitness consulting, and program direction.
Students must complete at least 36 credit hours of coursework in the program, including core courses such as Program Design in Physical Education, Legal Aspects of Sport, and Sport Skill Analysis. Students must then select either the thesis or non-thesis track for degree completion.
New students are admitted into the program every semester, and the curriculum is structured so that students can complete the degree requirements after two years of part-time study. Applicants should have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their last 62 hours of undergraduate coursework. They must also have completed a prerequisite certification or submit GRE scores.
Fresno Pacific University is a Christian school founded by the Mennonite Brethren Churches as the Pacific Bible Institute in 1944. The school began offering a “Four Year Graduation Guarantee,” which led to FPU having one of the highest four-year graduation rates in California’s Central Valley.
Fresno Pacific University offers an online Master of Arts degree program in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Physical Education. The program allows students to enter the program in either the fall or spring semester and requires 36 units of coursework. Applicants must either hold a relevant bachelor’s degree or demonstrate sufficient academic/professional experience in a related field.
The coursework in the program is divided among nine hours of Master of Arts core courses, such as Legal Aspects of Kinesiology and Sport and Values in Kinesiology and Sport. The remaining 27 hours come from kinesiology courses, including Program Design in Physical Education and Assessment in Physical Education.
Georgia Southern University offers more than 140 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Its Statesboro campus houses the Center for Wildlife Education, which cares for the school’s bald eagle mascot, along with a wide array of other birds, reptiles, and other wildlife.
Georgia Southern offers an online Master of Science program in Kinesiology, with a concentration in Coaching Education. The program consists of 12 courses (36 credit hours) and is designed to be completed in 14 months. This includes attendance during two summer semesters and one semester each in the fall and spring.
This is a cohort program that begins each summer, the only term for which new students are admitted. Applicants are expected to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. The program follows the National Coaching Standards for Level 5 Coaching Status (high school, college, and elite coaches).
The University of Texas at Tyler was founded in 1971. Today, UT Tyler has more than 80 on-campus student organizations, and its athletic teams were recently given approval to transition to NCAA Division II status. The main campus is centered around Harvey Lake, which is said to give the campus the look and feel of a public park.
UT Tyler offers students an online Master of Science in Kinesiology program. The program can be completed fully online, or through a mixture of in-person and online coursework. The curriculum is divided among 18 hours of required core courses, 12 hours of electives, and two hours of thesis or internship credits (for a program total of 36 credit hours).
Core courses include Motor Learning, Exercise Physiology I & II, and Biometric Methods (Statistics). Students complete these courses and electives before finishing the program with either a comprehensive exam or thesis project. Students may also substitute thesis hours with an internship in a kinesiology-related field.
The University of Texas at Permian Basin was born partly because of an oil boom in the area surrounding Odessa, TX. The school has a number of noteworthy student publications, including The Sandstorm, an annual magazine that includes poems, short stories, and essays submitted by students.
Permian Basin’s Master of Science in Kinesiology program requires 36 credit hours of coursework, which are divided among core courses (12 hours), interest area courses (9 hours), elective courses, and a final project/thesis. Interest areas available in the program include Exercise Science; Psychology of Exercise and Sport; and Teaching, Coaching, and Administration.
A sample course of study might include core courses such as Statistics, Research Methods, and Advanced Sport Psychology. Students may also take courses in the U.S. Health System and Applied Biomechanics as a part of their area of interest coursework. Non-thesis students complete 33 credit hours, while thesis students complete just 30.
Concordia University, Chicago was originally a teachers’ seminary school. Its original founders were Saxon German immigrants, who created the school to serve as a Lutheran seminary. CUC is now a member of the Concordia University System, which is a grouping of schools affiliated with the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.
Concordia offers an online master’s degree in Applied Exercise Science. Students can choose one or multiple concentration areas in the program, including Fitness and Health Promotion, Human Movement Science, Sports Nutrition, Sport Performance Training, and Strength and Conditioning.
Courses are all delivered in 8-week formats. Each program requires 18 hours of core courses and 12 hours of concentration courses. The required core includes introductory kinesiology courses, exercise and sport nutrition, and a final capstone course. This culminating experience may include independent research or professional field experience, among other opportunities.
Students who wish to complete multiple concentrations complete 12 additional hours of concentration-specific coursework. Most concentrations include four courses of three hours each. Example courses from the Fitness & Health Promotion concentration are Program Design in Fitness, Health Promotion, and Business Development and Entrepreneurship in Health Promotion.
Southern Arkansas University was known as the Third District Agricultural School, when it was founded in 1909. It became a full university in 1976, just after adding the Southwest Technical Institute (which is now the Southern Arkansas University Tech). The school holds an annual Bed Race competition, where students decorate twin-sized beds (supported by bicycle tires) and race them on campus.
Southern Arkansas offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology program, with an emphasis in coaching. This is a 33 credit hour program designed to be completed in about two years. Students take two courses per semester, including the summer term. Admission to the program is based on the student’s undergraduate degree/GPA, GRE or MAT scores, and coaching experience.
Sample courses offered in the program include Sport Administration, Psychology of Athletic Coaching, Advanced Exercise Physiology, and Methods of Research in Kinesiology. Class sizes in the program are set to a maximum of 20 students, to ensure that the quality of online instruction is maintained.
Texas A&M University, Commerce is the fourth-oldest state university in Texas. The school’s campus includes a recreation center that houses hiking trails, a rock-climbing wall, and an 18-hole disc golf course. A statue outside the student center commemorates Sam Rayburn, an alumnus who was the longest-tenured Speaker of the House in U.S. history.
Texas A&M, Commerce offers an online Master of Science in Health, Kinesiology, & Sport Studies. There are also concentrations available through the program in Athletic Administration, Health Promotion, Exercise Science, and Physical Education Pedagogy. The program is specifically designed for full-time teachers and coaches.
This 30 credit hour program is delivered fully online. Students generally take nine hours in the fall and spring terms, and six hours during summer terms. Courses are scheduled so that students have the potential to graduate within just one year, though they are offered flexibility in how quickly they wish to complete the degree.
Courses in the curriculum include core courses such as Statistical Procedures, Critiquing and Conducting Research, and Global Health Issues. Some concentrations allow students to complete an internship as a part of the concentration credits. Students may also take courses such as Finance & Economics in Sport, from the Athletic Administration track.
Indiana Wesleyan University is a private Christian university specifically affiliated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. It is the largest private university in the state of Indiana, with almost 14,000 students. Its global campus delivers onsite and online learning programs to more than 8,000 adult learners.
Indiana Wesleyan offers an online Master of Science in Athletic Training program. This is a 33 credit hour, post-professional degree designed for students who have completed an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training. Indiana Wesleyan’s program includes a “Christ-centered learning culture” designed to promote professional behaviors and values in trainers.
Students generally begin the program during the July summer term, which includes a 2-week onsite experience. Students begin with courses such as Epidemiology in Athletic Training and Nutritional and Pharmacological Aspects of Sport Performance. Students generally take two courses per term and finish the program with an Athletic Training Seminar course.
Sul Ross State University is a public university located in Alpine, TX. The university has a number of branch campuses, which are referred to collectively as Rio Grande College. Sul Ross became a full university in 1969. The current student population includes around 2,000 students at the main Alpine campus and another 1,000 at the Rio Grande College campuses.
Sul Ross State offer students an online Master of Science in Health and Human Performance. Courses in the program are designed to provide quality learning through a mixture of lectures, discussions, practical experiences, and internships. The HHP program has open enrollment available in the fall, spring, and summer semesters.
Sample courses from the program include options such as: Advanced Human Nutrition, Group Dynamics, Health and Human Behavior, and Issues in Sports Law. Applicants to the program are expected to have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and either a GRE score above 850 or a GMAT score of 400.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa is the flagship campus of the University of Hawaii system. Thirteen percent of students at the university identify as native or part-native Hawaiian. UH Manoa offers more than 50 distance learning programs. The university is also home to the Waikiki Aquarium, the third-oldest public aquarium in the United States.
UH Manoa offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science: Rehabilitation Counselor Education Program. Students take between 48 and 60 credit hours of coursework, which generally requires around 36 months to complete. Program coursework includes Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan, Research and Evaluation in Rehabilitation, and Case Management. The program also includes an internship in rehabilitation counseling, which is completed over three semesters of work in a student’s own community. The program does not lead to a teaching license.
Students are not required to submit GRE scores to apply to the program.
Houston Baptist University is a private university located in Sharpstown, TX. HBU has a Cultural Arts Center that is home to three museums: the Dunham Bible Museum, the Museum of American Architecture and Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Southern History. The university is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Houston Baptist offers an online Master of Science program in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Management. This is a 35 credit hour degree program that includes 11 courses. The degree plan begins with Legal Issues in Sport, Ethical Issues in Sport Management, and Event and Facility Management.
Students can choose one of two options for their final six credits and may opt to pursue an internship in sport management. They also have the option of completing an original thesis. Students in the program have a maximum of five years to complete the requirements for the degree.