How to Get a Degree in Sports Medicine

by Melinda Gaines

Sports medicine is a field that deals with anatomical science as it relates to fitness and exercise, which is why sports medicine is also referred to as exercise science. Those with a degree in sports medicine have a wide variety of career options and can work in settings ranging from their own business to the office of a professional sports team. Obtaining a degree in sports medicine is much like earning any other type of degree, but it does come with a few special considerations.

Decide what you want to do with a degree in sports medicine--this can affect the type of degree program you'll need to enter. Career options include being a trainer for a college or professional sports team, a personal trainer, a research scientist who specializes in sports medicine, a sports nutritionist or a sports physical therapist. Each type of career requires a different sports-medicine degree.

Determine which level sports-medicine degree you need to obtain for your chosen career: associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctorate. The type of sports medicine degree you want can affect where you can attend school. For example, it is likely that there are bachelor sports-medicine programs in your area, but sports medicine programs offering doctoral degrees are less common, and you may need to relocate for school. For personal trainers, an associate's degree is sufficient, though it's not usually necessary. If you want to become an athletic trainer, a bachelor's degree will suffice. However, those who want to be sports nutritionists may need to earn a graduate degree, depending on state requirements. If you want to pursue a career as a physician who works with athletes, you will need to obtain a medical doctorate (MD).

Choose whether you'd like to attend an online or traditional program. There are many schools that offer students the chance to earn an accredited, legitimate degree in sports medicine online. The difference between studying online or in a traditional classroom is convenience and whether you can effectively learn in an online setting.

Make a list of sports-medicine programs you're interested in and evaluate their accreditation. If entering an associate's or bachelor's degree program, look for one that is accredited by The American College of Sports Medicine Accreditation Program or The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. Graduate-level sports degrees should ideally be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Enroll in your school and program of choice, and take the required courses to earn your sports-medicine degree. If you plan to enter a master's or doctoral sports-medicine program, you will have a better chance of being admitted if you have a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) grade-point average upon graduating with your bachelor's degree.

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