An online master's in sports medicine opens numerous opportunities for students with a bachelor's in sports studies, athletic training, fitness, and related fields. Students interested in sports medicine and those who want to shift careers can earn an online degree at a convenient pace, while sports industry professionals gain knowledge to advance their careers.
The sports medicine field encompasses nutrition, physical therapy, and sports psychology. By pursuing an online master's in sports medicine, you prepare yourself to work in several lucrative positions. By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 28% growth in the physical therapy field and a 23% increase in athletic training.
What to Know About Online Master's in Sports Medicine Coursework
Degrees in sports medicine online provide you with comprehensive coursework on human performance, nutrition, exercise science, and the sports industry. When pursuing an online sports medicine degree, you learn scientific, practical, and health-focused information alongside managerial and leadership skills as you gain competency in wellness in various settings. Curriculum builds analytical and critical-thinking skills as you learn to assess, implement, and monitor performance in individuals of all ages and fitness levels.
Online master's in sports medicine degrees include 33-42 credit hours, with coursework students can complete on their own schedule. Part-time learners complete a sports medicine degree online in three years; full-time students earn a degree in about four semesters.
On-campus programs may include synchronous classwork done in sequence, but online degree plans usually include asynchronous coursework. You can arrange internship and field-experience opportunities and requirements within an online sports medicine master's degree at local facilities with your adviser or other instructors.
What Common Courses are Offered in a Master's in Sports Medicine Program?
Coursework for online master's in sports medicine degrees vary, but students complete classes that provide knowledge and skills applicable to the field. Through classes on human performance, sports science, and fitness, students examine theory and practice in collegiate, amateur, and professional sports. Students also learn to apply concepts to clinical and community settings while conducting and assessing research that can enhance the lives of clients and patients.
Biomechanics coursework incorporates anatomical information about the human body and kinetic elements of movement. Biomechanics classes examine how movement of all kinds impacts the body and how human bodies can improve movement to maximize performance and prevent injury. Biomechanics courses may include laboratory time, allowing students to work in hands-on environments with relevant and applicable tools and techniques.
Students in these classes assess anatomical and physiological aspects of the human body to better understand fitness, conditioning, and the overall practice of exercise. Coursework includes content on nutrition and ways to improve body function and overall performance. The skills gained in exercise physiology courses apply to individuals, groups, and teams.
Legal Aspects of Sport
These classes assess high school and collegiate regulations, laws that apply to professional athletics, government issues related to sport, or global aspects of sports law. Coursework includes exploration of ethics and morality as it relates to individuals and groups as athletes and as spectators and consumers. Students learn to analyze regulations, apply them in different contexts, and make decisions based on theory and practice in sport.
This coursework trains students to conduct qualitative and quantitative research using different tools and techniques. Students learn to apply qualitative and quantitative data using research methodologies and techniques to different scenarios, often to prepare for a thesis or research project conducted at the end of their sports medicine program.
Nutrition and Health
Classes on nutrition and health introduce students to how nutrients affect the human body, ways to optimize health through food, and how the metabolism functions related to exercise and human performance. Students learn about issues related to nutrition and health, to design healthy eating plans for athletes and non-athletes, and the role food and nutrition plays in human development.
What Exams or Projects Should I Expect?
Online master's degree in sports medicine programs include comprehensive exams, a research project, or an internship. Many programs allow students to synthesize degree information through written and oral exams but this can also occur with a research project. Capstone projects and thesis activities incorporate research methods with theory, practice, and experiential learning activities. You may need to produce a written work and give an oral presentation at the end of a capstone course or sequence of capstone courses.
You may have the option to complete an internship for academic credit in your online master's in sports medicine program. An internship provides real-world experience while preparing you for a future career in the field.
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How Can I Choose a Quality Online Master's in Sports Medicine Program?
Colleges and universities in the U.S. have national or regional accreditation. Schools undergo the voluntary accreditation process, subjecting themselves to the standards of the accrediting body. National accreditation indicates a school offers career-oriented, technical, and vocational programs while schools receive regional accreditation for more research-focused, academically rigorous degrees.
Programs and departments may also hold programmatic accreditation, given by a field-specific organization or association. Programmatic accreditation varies for sports medicine programs depending on emphasis. Athletic training programs, for example, may be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education. If a program does not have programmatic accreditation, it carries the accreditation of the institution through which it is offered. If a school does not hold accreditation, this potentially impacts financial aid opportunities, future career growth, and your overall degree quality.
Accrediting bodies are recognized and overseen by the Commission for Higher Education Accreditation and the Department of Education.
Career Opportunities With a Master's in Sports Medicine Degree
Individuals with online master's degrees in sports medicine can pursue several career paths. Learners who want to work with school-age, amateur, or professional athletes can pursue athletic training, sports nutrition, or sports psychology. Careers in clinical settings, including hospitals, private healthcare facilities, and individual practices, give students options to consult and help patients recover from injuries and medical events.
Community healthcare professionals can also use a master's in sports medicine to facilitate public initiatives for child, family, and geriatric health. Through fitness and nutrition plans, sports medicine students provide resources to individuals in need of informed wellness options.
Athletic trainers work with athletic teams, departments, and individual competitors to prevent and treat sports-related injuries. Athletic trainers evaluate injuries and provide immediate care while also developing long-term programs to aid in recovery. They record an athlete's progress and adjust treatment and physical therapy as needed. Athletic trainers travel with teams, work in cooperation with athletic directors and coaches, and monitor a treatment room or facility.
Median Salary: $46,630 per year
Currently Employed: 27,800
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 23%
Fitness professionals design, lead, and consult on fitness programs and classes. Fitness instructors teach aerobics classes, work as personal trainers, and provide general wellness and health information to individuals and groups. They watch clients perform exercises to ensure proper form and performance, provide motivation, and perform first-aid if necessary. They also offer tips and alternatives based on clients' fitness level and overall health. Fitness professionals may work independently or with a gym or fitness facility.
Median Salary: $39,210 per year
Currently Employed: 299,200
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 10%
Dieticians and nutritionists work with clients to assess, plan, and maintain healthy lifestyles and eating practices. These professionals evaluate their clients' overall needs while factoring in research, data, and techniques for a healthy lifestyle. They keep records on their patients' and clients' success. Dieticians and nutritionists may work in a clinical or community setting. They also work with companies, organizations, and facilities to design meals, consult on food offerings, and oversee food preparation.
Median Salary: $59,410 per year
Currently Employed: 68,000
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 15%
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Physical therapists care for patients after injury, surgery, medical treatment, or some similar incident. They assess mobility and recovery, developing physical therapy plans to give patients and clients a path toward increase function. Physical therapists may provide hands-on care, working directly in a treatment room, or they may supervise patient treatment at a facility. They maintain records, track progress, and adjust physical therapy treatments as needed. Physical therapists also communicate with patients' and clients' families about the recovery process and how to cope with lifestyle changes.
Median Salary: $86,850 per year
Currently Employed: 239,800
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 28%
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Exercise physiologists help individuals and clients with chronic illnesses develop fitness and wellness plans. Exercise physiologists work directly with physicians who prescribe programs based on patient needs and goals. Exercise physiologists consult physician notes and assess patient needs through examinations, including stress, cardiovascular, blood pressure, and lung efficiency tests. They also work with clients and patients on body composition, flexibility, and overall fitness as they implement exercise regimens.
Median Salary: $49,090 per year
Currently Employed: 15,100
Expected Job Growth in next 10 years: 13%
Source: BLS, 2018
What's the Expected Job Growth for Sports Medicine Careers?
Sports medicine careers boast a higher-than-average projected job growth. Athletic trainers and physical trainers in particular are projected to experience much higher growth. Overall, health diagnostic practitioners, trainers, and other related healthcare fields will see a projected 18% growth, adding 2.4 million jobs from 2016-2026.
Professional Organizations for Careers in Sports Medicine
Professional organizations for sports medicine professionals offer students and practitioners the chance to network with like-minded individuals while building communities, accessing resources, and exploring career opportunities. Organizations and associations provide members with policy and education materials, job listings, and the latest field updates. They often hold annual conferences and offer continuing education content.
American Medical Society for Sports Medicine
AMSSM fosters relationships among sports medicine professionals, providing access to research, education, and advocacy initiatives for members and other sports physicians. The group offers conferences, collaboration opportunities, awards, and a comprehensive array of resources.
American College of Sports Medicine
ACSM unites students, educators, and professionals in the field of sports medicine to promote physical activity, research, and community. With more than 50,000 members in sports medicine and exercise science fields, the ACSM practices advocacy, provides certifications, and offers several publications to members.
National Athletic Trainers Association
Founded in 1950, NATA unites athletic trainers from around the world in their mission to build the field of unique healthcare professionals. NATA members can access continuing education opportunities, job resources, and participate in more than 22 committees and special interest groups.
American Physical Therapy Association
APTA focuses on building a community of physical therapy professionals to improve society's overall health. Through patient and practice guidelines, advocacy information, publications, and education opportunities, the APTA provides leadership and networks for physical therapists and the public.
American Sports Medicine Institute
ASMI works to improve understanding, treatment, and prevention of sports-related injuries through research and education. ASMI provides medical information, a library of research, conference and collaboration opportunities, and fellowships to students and practitioners in the sports medicine field.
How to Pay for a Master's in Sports Medicine Degree
When you apply to an online master's in sports medicine program, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You should also check with your prospective universities, departments, and programs for scholarships and grants that apply directly to your degree. Professional organizations, private agencies and companies, and community scholarship programs can also offer funding assistance.
FAFSA assesses your eligibility for federal and state loans, grants, and scholarships based on your financial background and need. When you apply to graduate school, you should complete a FAFSA to ensure you are considered for all available funding. The FAFSA also assesses your eligibility for federal and state work study, allowing you to work in a position related to your degree through a subsidized salary.
APTA offers minority scholarships to students in their final year of an accredited physical therapy or a physical therapy assistant program. Nominees must be U.S. citizens and a member of a specified minority group, in good academic standing, and demonstrate contributions to their communities. Applicants submit an essay, three references, and official transcript for consideration.
This scholarship provides $1,500 in funding for undergraduate or graduate students who demonstrate achievement, professionalism, and leadership in health, fitness, and sport. Applicants can enroll in a variety of fitness-related fields of study. For consideration, applicants must be U.S. citizens, enrolled full time, provide documentation of community and school involvement, and submit transcripts.
Provided through nurse.org, this scholarship offers funding to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a nursing or medical field of study. Recipients receive $1,000. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a 3.0 GPA or higher, and submit an essay detailing their career goals related to nursing and medicine.
PHNCF, an organization founded in 2005 to increase healthcare services in regions of the eastern U.S., offers several scholarships to students pursuing degrees in healthcare-related fields. Healthcare students, professionals, and family members of PHN workers can apply for funding between $2,000-$5,000.