10 Reasons to Get a Master’s Degree in Sports Sciences

10 Reasons to Get a Master’s Degree in Sports Sciences
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Katherine Gustafson profile
Katherine Gustafson June 12, 2019

Consider an MS in Sports Sciences your ticket to rub elbows with professional athletes (but that's not the only reason to pursue this degree).

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What Is Sports Science?

Sports and exercise build confidence, teamwork, responsibility, and leadership from a very young age. Studies show that phyiscally active youth score up to 40% higher on tests, are 15% more likely to attend college, and will probably earn 7-8% more than others as working adults.

Enthusiastic and well-trained professionals in sports science know how powerful sports and exercise can be whether those they’re coaching and teaching are elementary school students, Olympic athletes, or even patients in a therapy setting.

What Is a Master of Science in Sport Sciences?

A Master of Science in Sport Sciences degree provides all the tools that fitness and sports professionals need to help people perform better physically and recover from injury successfully — with most program curriculums including:

  • Exercise physiology and testing: Explores the physiological responses and adaptations to exercise and physical activity. Topics include energy metabolism, cardiorespiratory function, muscle physiology, and the assessment of physical fitness through various testing protocols to evaluate health and performance.
  • Biomechanics: Focuses on the application of mechanical principles to the understanding of human movement and athletic performance. This course covers the analysis of movement techniques, injury prevention strategies, and the enhancement of movement efficiency and performance through the study of forces and their effects on the body.
  • Nutrition: Examines the role of nutrition in sports and exercise performance. Topics include the principles of sports nutrition, dietary needs for athletes, the impact of nutrients on physical performance, hydration strategies, and the use of supplements and ergogenic aids in sports.
  • Psychology of sport and exercise: Investigates the psychological factors that influence individual and team performance in sports, as well as the psychological benefits of exercise. This includes motivation, anxiety, teamwork, leadership in sports settings, and strategies for mental health and well-being through physical activity.
  • Evidence-based prescriptions of exercise: Teaches the development of exercise programs based on scientific evidence. This course covers the principles of exercise prescription, adaptation to training, designing programs for various populations, and the use of exercise in disease prevention and rehabilitation.
  • Sports administration and leadership: Focuses on the management and leadership aspects of sports organizations. Topics include sports marketing, event management, financial management in sports, ethical considerations, and the development of leadership skills for managing sports teams and facilities effectively.

Some MS in Sports Sciences programs also require participation in clinical research and an internship in a sports science setting. As a result, an MS in Sports Sciences prepares graduates to design a career in a wide variety of directions and sports science jobs.

What Are the Benefits of an MS in Sports Sciences?

1. Thrive in a field you love. Chances are if you’re pursuing an MS in Sports Sciences, you have a love of sports, exercise, and fitness. This degree will help you learn valuable skills and open many doors. You’ll be able to craft a career in an area you’re passionate about, which will keep you energized and satisfied throughout your career.

2. Finish your degree remotely and quickly. Some universities present MS of Sports Science as online degrees which may be able to be completed in as little as nine months. Some programs are geared toward working professionals and can be done part-time. This is a great degree option for those already working in the field of sports, exercise, or fitness who want to develop their knowledge or move in a new direction. Programs typically require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and GPA score. You may also find that your desired program requires you to submit your college transcripts with letters of recommendation and a statement of your professional goals.

3. Enter a quickly growing field. The employment outlook in sports, exercise, and fitness jobs is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for athletic trainers, for example, is expected to grow 23 percent by 2026, which is more than three times the average for all U.S. occupations. Exercise physiologist jobs are also on the rise, with a 13 percent growth predicted by 2026. Graduates will find excellent job security in this dynamic field.

4. You can specialize. Some degree programs offer students the chance to focus on a particular side of the field of sports and exercise, such as administration or physiology. Even if you specialize in a concentration or pursue a particular learning track within your science program, you’ll walk away with a well-rounded education in sports and exercise.

5. Participate in research. Some MS in Sports Sciences programs give students access to state-of-the-art labs where they can gain hands-on experience assessing musculoskeletal functionality. They may also be able to participate in trials and studies that are advancing the field of sports science.

6. Help many types of people. An MS in Sports Sciences positions you to help the diverse range of people who take an active interest in their health and fitness. A recent Physical Activity Council report reveals that Americans of all ages are increasingly focusing on exercise, with 4.8 million more people participating in physical activity every week than compared to 2013. Those with training in sports sciences will be well positioned to tap into this increased interest, whether as a personal trainer, sports coach, exercise physiologist, and many other roles.

7. Work with top athletes. If you pursue a career as an athletic trainer or a coach, a sports science graduate degree can put you in a position to work with world-class athletes. You may be able to find roles in professional sports leagues or university athletic programs or create a career path in strength and conditioning training for elite athletes and teams.

8. Pivot to fitness. The U.S. health club industry is booming, with $87.2 billion in revenue and 174 million club members as of 2017. With an MS in Sports Sciences, you can take advantage of this growth, whether on the business or training side of the fitness industry. A specialization in sports administration, in particular, can give you insider knowledge for success in the fitness industry. BLS data indicates that athletic trainers at fitness and recreational sports centers make a median $45,970 a year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning more than $70,750. As previously mentioned, employment prospects for this role are growing fast, with a projected 23 percent growth by 2026.

9. Position your career for growth. If you prefer to work in education, an MS in Sports Science will provide a useful credential for becoming a physical education teacher. This career path offers the reward of teaching youth the value of physical fitness and athletics and can lead to other school-based opportunities such as coaching, training student-athletes, or serving as head of an athletic department. According to PayScale, the average psychical education teacher salary is $43,175 with the potential for an average of $2,800 in bonuses.

10. Branch out into new categories of health and wellness. An MS in Sports Science degree covers topics in physiology, kinesthesiology, rehabilitation, stress, nutrition, and exercise. You’ll be able to use your degree along a variety of career paths in wellness, including:

  • Sports Nutritionist: Specializes in advising athletes and fitness enthusiasts on nutritional practices and strategies to enhance performance, optimize recovery, and maintain overall health. They assess dietary needs, develop personalized nutrition plans, and provide guidance on hydration, supplements, and managing weight for peak athletic performance.
  • Physical Therapist (PT): Helps patients recover from injuries, surgeries, or chronic conditions, focusing on improving mobility, strength, and overall physical function through exercises, therapies, and treatments.
  • Occupational Therapist (OT): Assists individuals in overcoming physical, developmental, or emotional challenges that affect their daily living and working activities. OTs help patients develop, recover, or maintain the skills needed for daily living and work through therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).
  • Health Promotion Program Manager: Designs, implements, and oversees health promotion programs aimed at improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities. They work on initiatives related to disease prevention, lifestyle modification, and health education, often within organizations, health departments, or community settings.
  • Lifestyle Coach: Provides guidance and support to individuals seeking to improve their health and wellness through lifestyle changes. Lifestyle coaches help clients set and achieve goals related to nutrition, physical activity, stress management, and healthy habits, offering personalized strategies to overcome barriers to wellness.
  • Obesity Treatment Specialist: Focuses on the treatment and management of obesity through a multidisciplinary approach that includes nutrition, physical activity, behavior change, and, in some cases, medication or surgery. They work with patients to develop sustainable strategies for weight loss and maintenance to improve overall health outcomes.
  • Wellness Consultant: Works with organizations or individuals to develop and implement wellness strategies that promote health and prevent disease. Consultants assess wellness needs, design programs to enhance health and well-being, and evaluate the effectiveness of wellness initiatives. They may focus on areas such as stress management, ergonomics, fitness, nutrition, and mental health.

How Much Will You Earn?

According to BLS, the field exercise physiology boasts the largest percentage of its jobs within self-employment, with 53 percent of exercise physiologists working independently as self-employed healthcare practitioners. Degree holders here can expect a median $49,270 in salary, while those in the top 10 percent of earners pull in more than $78,818,

Those with a love of sports know the positive influence training and competition can have on peoples’ lives. Whether you choose a career in elementary physical education or one as a personal trainer for world-class athletes, an MS in Sport Sciences degree will give you the skills to help others reach their physical potential within a field that in terms of growth, is looking pretty fit too.

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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Categorized as: MedicineNursing & Healthcare