Exercise Science Masters Degree
If you’re seeking a successful career in the sports industry and have interests in movement, fitness, and helping others, a master’s degree in exercise science is a career path worth exploring.
Even beyond the sports industry, a master’s degree in exercise science is an excellent foundation for success. As the world’s population ages and lifestyles become more sedentary, a host of professional opportunities have developed in the field of exercise science.
Recent health crises have increased people’s focus on leading healthy lives leading to a rapid growth in the industry. For those interested in a higher education degree in the field of physical education, a Master’s in exercise science offers the perfect avenue to further develop yourself professionally and personally in this expanding industry, while requiring less time and tuition than a PhD in the same field.
Combining principles of applied human physiology and how they affect health, wellness and athletic performance, a master’s degree in exercise science will equip graduates with the tools to professionally apply themselves in a variety of different career pathways within the sports industry and beyond.
Topics covered in an exercise science master’s program include but are not limited to: physiology, exercise prescription, nutrition, kinesiology, metabolism, sports psychology and biomechanics. Once a graduate, career opportunities include: athletic trainer, coach, exercise physiologist, teacher, physical therapist, personal trainer, sports nutritionist, massage therapist, or a handful of related professions. Most standard exercise science master’s degree programs–through applied learning outside of the classroom on internship, thesis, and capstone projects in the sports industry– help students gain real-world experience working beside professionals in a variety of positions.
Many schools offer exciting graduate courses in the fields, and there have never been as many quality programs both on campus and online. Expose yourself to the latest research developments in the field of exercise science, that affect contemporary professional standards and practices in this fast changing field. You will practice in advanced labs and mentored projects, the process of research in this field and how it correlates to other disciplines, including biology, chemistry and psychology.
Going beyond the general coursework of the undergraduate level, a master’s degree puts greater emphasis on personal research projects and allows you to explore areas of interest, while using that as a vehicle to teach you how to collect data and analyze with the most modern techniques in order to draw conclusions. In a highly competitive job market, a master’s degree can be the difference in getting the job you want.
Why should I pursue a master’s in exercise science?
- Specialization: Hone in on the areas that interest you to set yourself up for a career doing what you are interested in.
- Increase your knowledge: As an undergrad you had exposure to a broad range of topics and through your master’s you will advance your overall knowledge in the field to the next level
- Many online options: The global pandemic has ushered in a new age of distance learning, and a silver lining of this trend is that more and more degrees are being offered either partially of completely online. Years ago the commitment to earning a master’s degree through in-person programs was substantial. Nowadays, there is an immense variety of schools offering programs that feature a significant online component, making a master’s degree in exercise science more affordable and more convenient than ever.
- Cost-effective: Many schools offering online exercise science programs have substantially lower tuition costs than in-person programs, especially for out of state students, allowing you to save your education budget.
- Increase your career prospects: Graduates of the master’s in exercise science program will open up a wide range of career opportunities for themselves. Across the field, you can find graduates happily working in an array of jobs including professional sports teams and leagues, schools, fitness centers, hospitals, nursing homes, the military, etc.
- Train for certifications: Over the course of your program you will learn about and train to excel on important national and international fitness certification exams, including personal training, nutritionist, etc.
- You are your network: Reputation and word of mouth is important in this field and the classmates and professors in this course will give you an immediate network that will help you develop professionally and personally.
- Secure your future: Many studies show a projected growth in health and wellness fields, as traditional hospital based medical care becomes increasingly expensive, people are looking to alternatives leading to a rise in physical therapy, massage therapy, nutrition and personal trainers positions. Your master’s degree will give you the extra edge in a growing, but increasingly competitive market.
- Focus on health: As lives and economies adjust in the post-COVID world, people are looking for ways to become healthy and stay healthy in order to improve their immune system and prevent communicable and chronic disease.
- Helping yourself, while helping others: These days it is hard to find a job that is both rewarding personally and financially. However, in this field you will find many professional opportunities that allow you to help others, whether you are a coach who is teaching life lessons through soccer, or a physical therapist training someone to walk after an accident, you will be on the front lines, helping others while doing what you love and staying in shape yourself.
What is required to earn a master’s degree in exercise Science?
Though the introduction of online courses has made the completion of a graduate degree easier, entrance requirements vary considerably between programs. Many programs require a bachelor’s degree in a related field which will naturally include a foundation in biology, chemistry, physics, and health. Many–but not all–institutions also require GRE results of all applicants. Full transcripts and letters of recommendation can be expected at the time of application. Completing a master’s degree in exercise science may seem like a substantial time and monetary commitment with many factors to consider. The below guide is intended to help you prepare for what to expect during the process.
This is the most important part of the process as finding the right program for you can save you a lot of headaches down the road. Take the time to research as many schools as possible. Make a spreadsheet of characteristics for different programs, like cost, units, start date, standardized test requirements, etc., so that you can easily compare the different programs you are looking at and can whittle the choices down into a shortlist of the best candidate schools. If you can, try to contact some of the professors for schools you are interested in and see if these instructors can inspire you as a student.
When completing your graduate degree, your advisor plays an important role, so it is important to get as much information about who your professors and advisors will be, prior to choosing your program so that you know what you are getting into. Once you have your short list figured out, complete the application. Since many schools require letters of reference, it is a good idea to plant these seeds early during the end of your undergraduate experience and ask for letters of recommendation while your rapport remains strong well ahead of when they are needed. If any of your preferred schools require GRE results, schedule the test and begin preparation as soon as possible.
Schools have different graduation requirements, so you need to research what it takes to graduate prior to committing to the program so that you know what you are getting into. Some school’s offer programs that are more project based, while others have options that rely more on coursework, or practice labs. The number and type of units is also an important consideration. Many programs offer a multidisciplinary approach and require specific units from different fields to graduate so you can want to pick the program that emphasizes the subjects that you are interested in developing.
The cost of master’s of exercise science can vary widely ($7,000 – $40,000+ per year) so calculating all fees, tuition and living expenses ahead of time is important for you to figure out what you are getting into financially. Most schools have discounted tuition for in-state and domestic students, so if the program you are looking at seems too expensive, try options closer to home. The average tuition in the US is one of the most expensive in the world, so international programs in English are increasingly popular. You also need to consider the cost of living expenses while completing your degree. Since most degrees require a substantial time commitment each week, you have to consider the fact that there is less time for part work, while you are completing your degree.
Master’s of exercise science concentrations
Nutrition: Nutrition is a rapidly evolving discipline as scientific understanding of the human metabolism and biochemistry has advanced immensely over the past 2 years. The traditional model of the food pyramid is a thing of the past as custom diets, probiotics, immunotherapy and consciousness of chemical additives in food have created a major rethink of what is nutritious in the modern age.
Sports Psychology: The interdisciplinary approach of exercise science and psychology has become so important in recent years that we no longer think twice when a famous athlete consults his or her sports psychologist before an upcoming match. This is also a growing field in the treatment of psychological disorders through sport. Symptoms of anxiety, ADD and depression can be treated through applied sports psychology.
Rehabilitation Science: Physical therapy has always been a mainstay of medical treatment, and is becoming more important as the medical industry evolves to find more outpatient and affordable treatments for ailments. Additionally, using exercise science in the treatment of chemical and psychological addiction. Using regular exercise intervals has been shown to be a potent tool to treat a variety of addictive behaviors and there is much more to learn about the potential for Exercise Science in rehab protocols.
Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention: The traditional image of the personal trainer at the gym is gone, today’s personal trainers have to be experts in physiology and up to speed with the latest advances in exercise science. Programs with a concentration in performance enhancement often incorporate the use of data analytics and continues to be one of the faster growing parts of the exercise science field.
Your network is your future
One significant advantage of studying a campus-based master’s program is the personal relationships and professional network that you will develop during your degree program. Each and every connection and impression that you make is significant, as they can lead to employment opportunities in the near future and also for the foreseeable future. As your fellow graduates establish their careers, their networks grow and some of them might well become hiring managers themselves. There are always other ways to build such a network, but there is no question that personal relationships can be very important for your professional network.
Hybrid programs offer flexibility
If you are already a working professional, a big advantage of choosing a program with an online learning component is that you have a great deal of flexibility. Some students actually like studying online because it suits their learning style better — lectures are delivered via recording which can be re-watched, sped up, or slowed down to suit each individual’s needs.
Most schools that offer online master’s programs grant the same degree to both types of degree offerings. So there is effectively no difference in the final diploma that students receive. A master’s degree in exercise science might also be more cost-effective than a traditional master’s program on campus. However, the benefits of experiential learning and networking opportunities found in traditional settings are significant. When comparing degree programs, be sure to ask detailed questions about how each university accounts for these aspects.
Career outlook for exercise science
While some exercise science bachelor’s degree graduates choose to enter the workforce upon graduation – seeking positions as personal trainers, fitness coaches, athletic or recreation directors, or massage therapists – many others choose to immediately find a master’s degree in exercise science quickly since it will be a requirement to reach their preferred careers goals in the sports industry and beyond. Still others use their degree in exercise science as a foundation from which they can begin medical school, opening a whole different world of possibilities for achieving some very lofty career goals at the very top of the field.
Career paths related to exercise science are growing so fast because health care and general well-being are becoming a more significant part of our lives all the time. In the sports industry in particular, strength and training regiments, nutritional advice, and advanced data analytics have evolved so much in recent years that they hardly resemble what they were a generation ago.
For all of these reasons, the need for master’s graduates in exercise science has never been greater. Between the projected growth of the sports industry and a public that is more interested in health and wellness than ever before, the timing is great to further your education and career. Be sure to visit our Exercise Science Career Page for more information about careers in the industry.
Comprehensive List of Master’s in Exercise Science Programs
Below, we have compiled a list of every university in the US currently offering a master’s degree in exercise science. We hope that this information will serve you well as you search for the program that best suits your needs.