Types of Masters in Exercise Science Degree Programs

The article below discusses the field of exercise science and kinesiology, and why you would want to pursue a master’s degree in the field. This article will describe what exactly exercise science is, where you can work in this field, and the best universities to earn your master’s degree in exercise science. It also will offer alternative and related degrees in areas related to exercise science.

For professionals who are interested in a career path that involves exercise, fitness and athletics, a master’s degree in exercise science could fit the bill. Depending upon your interests, you may obtain a master’s in exercise science with a focus on physical education, sports injury management, orthotics, physical fitness and more.

As we note later on this page, there is burgeoning demand in this field at the youth and adolescent level. Athletic trainers and coaches now require more training and certifications than in the past as we are gaining more knowledge about athletic performance and injuries at a young age.

Master’s in Exercise Science Curriculum

The general curriculum for a master’s in this field will include these types of courses:

  • Research and statistical analysis
  • Exercise science
  • Kinesiology
  • Clinical testing for exercise
  • Chronic disease and physical activity
  • Exercise physiology
  • Theories about motor development
  • Cellular exercise physiology
  • Cardiac rehab
  • Energy metabolism
  • Pathophysiology

One of the popular career options for people who earn their master’s degree in exercise science is to become an athletic trainer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, finds that these professionals will experience a 20% increase in demand by 2024. It is expected that there will be more employment opportunities for athletic trainers and coaches, given that there is a stronger focus today on preventative medicine.

Sports Injuries Driving Demand

Another reason that there is more demand for athletic trainers is that we are becoming much more aware of the dangers of sports injuries at a young age. Recent research indicates that concussions can have long lasting and severe consequences for athletes of all ages, but this is especially concerning for children. Children’s brains are still under development and there is a higher risk for permanent, life-altering injuries.

Some states are now requiring all secondary schools to have athletic trainers on staff. Athletic trainers who are well versed in exercise science are usually the first ones to respond when there are injuries, so it is thought that demand in this field should rise.

There also are much more sophisticated treatments available to prevent injuries among the young, and this should drive more demand for athletic trainers. And, there should be a growing number of active middle aged and older people who may have a higher incidence of injury.

Another place where athletic trainers could be hired more is on military bases as there is a need to train and rehabilitate injured military members.

A related field is exercise physiology, where you develop fitness and exercise programs that help your patients to recover from various injuries and diseases. You also play an important role in helping the client to improve their heart function and flexibility. This profession also may be referred to as kinesiotherapy. The goal of this field is to boost overall patient health. This field is smaller than athletic trainer, but job demand should still top 10% by 2024.

Usually, the professional with a master’s degree in exercise science from a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) will have the best career prospects.

The Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer or BOC provides the standard certification exam for most states, and it the organization that licenses athletic trainers throughout the country. To maintain your certification, you have to adhere to the organization’s standards of practice, and also take continuing education classes.

If you think you want to pursue a career in exercise science, we recommend that you consider some of these related degrees below.

Master of Science in Exercise Science

This online master’s degree program from Liberty University will greatly broaden your grasp of wellness, health and human performance among all types of clients. You will improve your grasp of physiology, biomechanics, sports nutrition, statistics and research. This program allows you to specialize in one of four areas:

  • Clinical Exercise Science
  • Community Physical Activity
  • Human Performance
  • Nutrition

Graduates of this program become sports scientists, health care specialists, medical fitness specialists, athletic trainers and coaches, wellness coaches, and exercise physiologists. Each of these professions has its own pluses and minuses. You will certainly be able to determine which is the best for you after you have gone through a year or so of this program.

Your classwork will include the following:

  • Graded Exercise Testing and Electrocardiography
  • Exercise Prescription for Special Populations – Cardiac and Pulmonary Problems
  • Exercise Prescription for Chronic Health Conditions
  • Advanced Physiology and Pathology

Master of Science in Health Education

This online master’s program at Texas A & M University will provide you with an excellent knowledge of health education, and you also will develop skills and apply advanced research techniques that are most relevant to health education.

If you choose to do so, you can earn your Master of Science in Health Education with a certification as a teacher. This is what you would want to do if you want to enjoy an athletic career in education.

Your health education and related courses will include:

  • Health Research Methods
  • Applied Epidemiology
  • Organization and Administration of Health Programs
  • Health Program Planning
  • Health Program Evaluation
  • Health Methodology and Training
  • Behavioral Foundation in Health Education
  • Ethics

If you choose to obtain your teacher certification, you also will need to take:

  • Teaching and Schooling in Modern Society
  • Technology and Teaching in the 21st Century Learner
  • Introduction to Secondary School Teaching
  • Student Teaching Practicum

Master’s of Science in Kinesiology

A.T. Still University offers this MS degree in kinesiology for professionals who already are working in the health and fitness fields. This is a two year online degree that is made to teach you to become an expert clinical leader in exercise science and kinesiology.

You will learn the skills that you need to both lead your community and improve your athletic training practice. Students in the program obtain complete knowledge and proficiency in anatomy, physiology, behavior change, functional assessment and exercise program design.

This online degree program also is perfect of sports medicine professionals, as well as exercise and fitness professionals. It enhances their skills, abilities and knowledge so they can better maintain and design innovative exercise science programs. Your classes in this innovative kinesiology program include the following:

  • Motor Control
  • Exercise Science
  • Functional Biomechanics
  • Advanced Fitness Nutrition
  • Advanced Exercise Prescription
  • Current Topics in Human Movement Science
  • Measurement of Sports Fitness
  • Speed, Agility and Quickness
  • Muscular Fitness Development

The field of exercise science offers many ripe opportunities for expanding your career in a thriving career with plenty of job demand and potential in the future. The important thing to decide is whether you want focus your athletic training and exercise science career on working with adults or younger people. There are many possibilities in both groups of people; it just comes down to where you see yourself enjoying yourself the most.

Avatar photo
Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

More posts from Robert Sanchez