The Best Sports Medicine Degree Guide 2023

sport medicine master degree
kinesiologist helps a mixed race man doing exercises to strengthen his back muscles. treatment of back pain using kinesitherapy.

Wondering how to get a degree in sports medicine? well, this should be your first step to figuring out if you want a career working with professional athletes.

A sports medicine degree can be of benefit to anyone interested in working as a physician, athletic trainer or team doctor in an athletic setting. A bachelor’s degree in this field may lead to careers as an athletic trainer, physical therapist, physician’s assistant, or athletic director.

You can gain experience working in private practices, clinics, and hospitals under the guidance of a doctor. Some graduates become freelance entrepreneurs who provide sports medicine services such as massage therapy to athletes rehabilitating from injuries.

Nonetheless, to increase performance and avoid injuries, professional sportsmen and women require expert counsel and care. And with a degree in sports medicine, you can learn how to provide comprehensive medical care to individuals, sports teams, and professional athletes.

Say for instance, you want to become Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon, you have to be trained by professionals and this will require a lot of years of clinical and theory studies that includes diagnosing, treating, and preventing sport-related injuries or illnesses.

Just like any other professional course, a degree from an accredited school solidifies your claim; that you’re able to carry out your work in this field of study.

How long it will take to graduate from college and get a degree in sports medicine will differ.

A bachelor’s degree takes a long time to complete when compared to getting a master’s degree. As in most cases you will need a degree in another health related major before specializing in sport medicine.

However, the kind of degree you will need will determine the aspect you will want to specialize in.

Therefore in this guide, we will explain what a sport medicine is, and the types of degrees you can get to become a major player in this new industry, The careers associated with sports medicine.

We will also talk about how long it will take you to complete a program, and the colleges offering the best sports medicine degree near you. 

Content Summary

What is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention and treatment of athletic injuries. The goal is to help enhance athletic performance and teach sportsmen not only how to avoid injury, but also how to manage pre-existing conditions.

Here, a treatment team is made up of a variety of health experts, such as physicians and athletic trainers, who collaborate to guarantee that players perform at their peak.

The Sports Medicine degree program is designed for students who want to work as an Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Physician Assistant, or in Orthopedic Medicine – a field of medicine that focuses on the care of the skeletal system.

This academic major teaches students the fundamentals of the human body, sports performance, and basic injury care.

What Careers Are Associated With Sports Medicine?

As ealier stated; this course is broad, hence,there are different career options in sports medicine, following two distinct educational path namely: athletic trainer and sports medicine physician.

As an Athletic trainers you can be employed in all types of collegiate and professional athletic programs, as well as in certain high schools, hospitals, and other medical settings.

A sports trainer, can get work with people of all ages, from children athlete to older athletes, and you can also work with amateur or professional athletes.

Either way, you will most likely work under the supervision of a physician and follow out their plans to keep athletes healthy through injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, Sports medicine doctors are doctors that specialize in sporting injuries. They may also work in professional sporting programs or have their own business.

As a sports medicine physician, you will treat patients with sports-related injuries, assist in the development of safe procedures and rehabilitation plans, and may conduct surgeries or other health related procedures.

When deciding on a career in sports medicine, you should consider what specialty you want to pursue. For instance, a degree in medicine or osteopathic medicine is required for sports physicians.

Comparison of Sports Medicine Careers

Athletic trainerSports medicine physician
Degree RequiredBachelor’sM.D.
Licensure/CertificationState certification requiredState licensure required
Key ResponsibilitiesDiagnose and evaluate injuries, develop and oversee rehabilitation programs, maintain accurate records and apply simple preventive care devicesDiagnose and treat various athletic injuries, recommend and implement specialized treatment plans to help heal injuries, document patient progress and answer patient questions or concerns
Job Outlook (2020-2030)23%*3% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary$49,860 (2020)*$182,379 (2021)**
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics **

For more information on the career path of sport medicine career check out full guide on Sports Medicine Careers and Job Facts

READ ALSO: What is the Annual Sports Medicine Doctor Salary?|2023

Is this program open to me?

Undergraduate programs are open to students from a variety of educational backgrounds, while master’s and Ph.D. programs require a bachelor’s degree. Students interested in becoming sports medicine physicians should pursue chemistry, anatomy, and biology as undergraduate courses.

Sport Medicine Degrees That You Can Enroll For

Becoming a sports medicine physician is a straightforward process but takes a long time or years to get a degree due to the intrinsic nature of the profession.

Undergraduate Degree Program Options

For a start, many institutions and colleges only offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in sports medicine. Because each degree qualifies you for more advanced certification in the industry, your professional goals will determine which level of study is best for you.

Associate’s programs typically take two years to complete and will qualify you to work as a fitness professional assistant or to complete the certification procedure to become a personal trainer. A 2-year curriculum can include an Associate of Science in Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology.

Nonetheless, a bachelor’s degree, such as a Bachelor of Sports Science, will qualify you for a variety of jobs and certifications in the industry, such as sports trainer, group fitness coach, or employee fitness director.

Graduate Degrees program Options

Master’s degree programs in sports medicine are also commonly offered, as are Ph.D. programs. A master’s degree allows you to obtain further certification in sports medicine and work in professions such as strength and conditioning coaching, biomechanics, or research. A Master of Science in Sports Medicine, which is typically a two-year degree, is a popular specialty. Typically, master’s degree programs conclude in a thesis or project relevant to sports medicine.

Furthermore, A Ph.D. in Human Movement Science and a Ph.D. in Education – Kinesiology with a sports medicine specialization are two examples of Ph.D. program names.

Students with a degree like human movement science would be prepared for jobs in research and clinical scholarship in sports medicine and related fields like exercise physiology and rehabilitation.

Meanwhile, an education-focused program has been created for students interested in academic jobs, such as sports medicine professorships.

Students can anticipate to finish a dissertation on an area of sports medicine research that interests them, such as a specific kind of injury or therapy technique, in all Ph.D. programs.

What Education do Sports Medicine Physicians have?

Degrees Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Courses Nutrition, exercise physiology, care of athletic injuries,
preventing and evaluating injuries, rehabilitation, therapeutic modalities
Training Clinical and lab work supervised by trainers and health professionals

Types of Courses You Are Expected To Take

Prior to beginning your sports medical studies, most programs need you to fulfill requirements in disciplines such as psychology and anatomy. Sports medicine programs often contain the following courses:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise physiology
  • Strength training and conditioning
  • Care of athletic injuries
  • Personal health and wellness
  • Therapeutic modalities
  • Basic fitness assessment
  • Injury prevention
  • Rehabilitation instruction
  • Injury evaluation

Below is a list of available degrees both at an undergraduate level and graduate level.

READ ALSO: How to Become Sport Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon in 2023

List of Associate Degree Sports Medicine Programs

#1. Associate of Science in Sports Medicine

  • Duration: Two Years
  • Coursework Credit: 60-68 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Community Colleges And Trade Schools.

The Associate of Science in Sports Medicine is a degree in sports medicine that does not take a lot of years to complete.

Classes commence with the fundamental academic subjects and proceed into the introductory, major-related courses. 

With an Associate of Science in Sports Medicine degree, students can use the 2+2 transfer pathway to earn a bachelor’s degree. 

Major courses in this Sports Medicine degree include;

  • Concepts in Health and Fitness
  • Foundations of Sports Medicine
  • Personal and Community Health
  • Rehabilitation Science Techniques
  • Introduction to General Chemistry
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology

#2. Associate of Applied Science in Fitness Management

  • Duration: 24 Months
  • Coursework Credit: 60-70 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Junior Colleges And Technical Schools. 

Because athletes need to keep fit, professionals who want to specialize in fitness and exercise can apply to colleges offering sport medicine degrees in fitness. 

This course is a full-time practical course that skips most general education courses for a more defined career-oriented curriculum. 

With a focus on fitness instruction and fieldwork requirements at gyms or aerobics studios.

Also, this course is highly ideal for professionals who want to run personal training jobs. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Contemporary Health Issues
  • Personal Training Fundamentals
  • Group Exercise Training Theory
  • Application of Fitness Instruction
  • Strength and Conditioning Principles
  • Exercise Testing and Program Design

#3. Associate of Applied Science in Massage Therapy.

  • Duration: Two Years
  • Coursework Credit: 60-70 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Vocational Schools And Junior Colleges. 

Just like the name defines it, the Associate of Applied Science in Massage Therapy degree validates you to treat athletic injuries manually. 

In this degree program, students learn how to utilize body manipulation techniques for healing muscles and soft tissues. 

Also, it encompasses a lot of clinical practicum placements. 

And upon graduation, students who studied this way, are qualified for the National Board Certification in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) exam. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include

  • Basic Medical Terminology
  • Fundamentals of Sports Massage
  • Neuromuscular Therapy Principles
  • Eastern Massage Therapy Practices
  • Introduction to Alternative Medicine
  • Legal Aspects of Therapeutic Massage
sports medicine degree
sports medicine degree

List of Sport Medicine Bachelor Degree Programs

#4. Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology

  • Duration: Four Years
  • Coursework Credit: 120-128 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

A prospective sport medicine physician can enroll in the bachelor’s degree program in schools near them where they can study Kinesiology. 

Basically, the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology focuses on the biomechanics of body movements. 

Just like most university courses, the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology will require students to start with general core science courses and proceed to the anatomic functions of sports. 

With this sport medicine degree, students can also continue to get a master degree.

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Musculoskeletal Anatomy
  • Movement Biomechanics
  • Motor Control and Learning
  • Behavioral Basis of Kinesiology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Cardiopulmonary Renal Physiology

#5. Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

  • Duration: 48 Months
  • Coursework Credit: 120-semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

The Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science is a STEM-oriented sport medicine undergraduate bachelor’s degree. 

Because athletes need physical fitness exercises, some sports medicine physicians take on this short bachelor’s course accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for the Exercise Sciences (CoAES) to learn how to help athletes through exercises.

By design, this course focuses on study on how body movements correlate to human health and fitness thereby improving wellness with effective exercise regimens. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Theory of Athletic Injury
  • Neuroscience of Exercise
  • Human Form and Function
  • Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • Weight Control Management
  • Exercise Assessment and Prescription

#6. Bachelor of Science in Sport Management

  • Duration: Four Years
  • Coursework Credit: 120-128 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

Another bachelor degree sport medicine course that leads you to a master degree program is the Bachelor of Science in Sport Management.

Offered by leadership-focused colleges and universities, students can study either on-campus or online.

By design, the course focuses on in-depth management of medicine and business for wide-ranging job options. 

Basically, this program can pave the way for post-grad degrees or careers. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Athletic Administration
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Sport Facility Management
  • Introduction to Sport Marketing
  • Sport Communication and Media
  • Aspects of Coaching and Training.

#7. Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation.

  • Duration: Four Years
  • Coursework Credit: 120-semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

The Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation degree focuses on using recreational sports to heal patients’ injuries or help them cope with chronic conditions and disabilities. 

People who specialize in this field will learn ways of treating and boosting the physical function of their clients.

While enrolling in schools for this program, ensure the course is accredited by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA).

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Patient Assessment and Evaluation
  • Concepts and Issues in Rehabilitation
  • Inclusive Sports Recreation Services
  • Introduction to Therapeutic Recreation
  • Health Promotion in Leisure Education
  • Recreational Therapy Clinical Procedures

List of Sport Medicine Master Degree Programs

colleges offering sport medicine degrees
colleges offering sport medicine degrees

#8. Master of Athletic Training

  • Duration: Two Years
  • Coursework Credit: 50-70 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

The Master of Athletic Training is open to bachelor’s degree holders who want to advance their careers. 

This course is full-time practical with a high level of intensity and 1,500 supervised clinical hours. 

Also, this course is required for all athletic trainers who are going for the masters for the Board of Certification exam. 

Having this master’s degree will license athletic trainers to treat sports injuries and restore players to health. 

Before you apply for this program, ensure the school that offers it has the course accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Pharmacology in Athletic Training
  • Introduction to Orthopedic Evaluation
  • Injury Classification and Management
  • Acute Trauma Management Practices
  • Emergency Medical Response Principles
  • Fundamentals of Sports Injury Prevention

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#9. Master of Science in Sports Psychology

  • Duration: 18-28 Months
  • Coursework Credit: 36-semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Graduate Schools. 

Another degree program a sports physician can enroll in colleges offering sport medicine degrees is the Master of Science in Sports Psychology.

In two years, students who enroll in this program will focus on studying the brain and mental health.

Basically, they will learn and decipher wags to help athletes overcome mental challenges, such as stress and hyperactivity.

Also, this course comes with one or more internships.

At the end of the program, students will run a capstone project for the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Mental Skills Training Techniques
  • Psychology of Exercise and Health
  • Current Issues in Sports Psychology
  • Performance Enhancement in Sports
  • Introduction to Counseling Theories
  • Methodology of Psychological Research

#10. Master of Science in Sports Nutrition

  • Duration: 12 Months
  • Coursework Credit: 30-48 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

Following the report made by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), all sport medicine nutritionists must have a master’s degree related to diet planning. 

Students will learn how diet affects athletic performance and how to develop food regimens and supplements to improve athletes’ physical conditioning.

This master’s degree will lead you to take the Board Certified Specialized Sports Dietetics Exam.

Also, students have to complete a 1,200-hour Dietetic Internship. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Fluid and Electrolyte Balance
  • Energy Production and Nutrients
  • Sports Supplements and Vitamins
  • Advanced Nutritional Assessment
  • Nutrition for Weight Management
  • Nutritional Aspects of Eating Disorders

#11. Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

  • Duration: 2.5 to 4 Years
  • Coursework Credit: 75-120 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

With a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies program, physicians train on how to assist doctors

Also, students learn how to build patient care skills under supervision during clinical rotations called clerkships. 

Before enrolling in this program, ensure it is accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for Physician Assistants (ARC-PA). 

Possessing this degree opens you up to writing the PANCE licensing exam. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Principles of Orthopedic Medicine
  • Pathophysiology and Pharmacology
  • Aging and Rehabilitation Medicine
  • Patient Interviewing and Evaluation
  • Clinical Lab and Diagnostic Methods
  • Cross-Cultural Clinical Competencies

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List of Sport Medicine Doctoral Degree Programs

#12. Doctor of Physical Therapy

  • Duration: Four To Five Years
  • Coursework Credit: 120-140 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

To become a Doctor of Physical Therapy, students have to study for 4 or 5 additional years with a focus on musculoskeletal ailments. 

By doing so, they learn how to develop exercise programs for athletes and non-athletes to recover from injuries. 

Also, they are involved in managing pain holistically with rehabilitative movement.

Some schools offer accelerated 3+3 Doctor of Physical Therapy programs to admit undergraduates as juniors. Physical therapists.

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Integrative Pain Management
  • Cardiopulmonary Assessment
  • Orthotic and Prosthetic Devices
  • Evidence-Based Clinical Practice
  • Adult Neurorehabilitation Theories
  • Musculoskeletal System Physiology

#13. Doctor of Medicine

  • Duration: Seven Years
  • Coursework Credit: Advanced semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities. 

This is a big career in sports medicine. 

Some jobs such as team physician, internist, sports psychiatrist etc will require you to have an MD degree.

Such studies will require you to undergo clinical residencies and fellowships based on your sports medicine specialty.

To apply, you must have a High MCAT Score and a bachelor’s degree.

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Clinical and Community Medicine
  • Mechanisms of Health and Disease
  • Cancer Prevention and Survivorship
  • Professional Physician-Patient Relations
  • Medical Gross Anatomy and Embryology

#14. Doctor of Chiropractic

  • Duration: 3.5 to 5 years
  • Coursework Credit: 90-120 semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities.

The Doctor of Chiropractic is taught how to relieve injury pain using homeopathic strategies to adjust a misaligned spine or achy joints for recovery without drugs. 

Students undergo advanced lectures, hands-on labs, and applied for field internships. 

Major courses in this Sport Medicine degree include;

  • Spine and Extremities Anatomy
  • Introduction to Palpation Skills
  • Radiation Physics and Technology
  • Fundamentals of Natural Medicine
  • Manipulation of the Thoracic Spine
  • Neuromusculoskeletal Examination

#15. Ph.D. in Sports Medicine

  • Duration: Two Years
  • Coursework Credit: Not Specified semester credits
  • School Offering Program: Senior Colleges And Universities.

The Ph.D. in Sports Medicine trains researchers for academia to investigate topics like brain concussions and performance-enhancing drugs. 

Other sport medicine degrees and colleges offering them include;

  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine  
  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) 
  • Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) 

What is the Job Outlook For Sports Medicine Doctors?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),  physicians and surgeons can expect an employment growth of 4% from 2019 to 2029.

We hope this article was able to answer your questions on colleges where you can study sports medicine and how long or the number of years it will take you to get a sports medicine degree.

Also, we believe that the list of sports medicine bachelor’s and master’s degree programs near you will help you find the best fit for your career.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Is A Sports Medicine Degree?

How many years you get to spend to acquire a sports medicine degree will depend on the career path you choose. But on average, it takes 14 years to get a sports medicine degree.

Bachelor’s degrees typically require four years of full-time study. Master’s programs are two years longer. 

This includes bachelors all through residency and fellowship programs.

What Are The Requirements To Get A Sports Medicine Degree?

Like all medical career requirements, students’ application requirements are a little extra for sports medicine applications.
They Include;
A bachelor’s degree and a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, Sports medicine primary specialization degree,Proof of completed residency programs.

Do I Need A Degree To Practice Sports Medicine?

Yes! students who want to focus on sports medicine must have a degree to validate their educational stance and professional ability to carry out a given task.

Basically, a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine will not be enough because students will have to go to med school, residency programs, and fellowship, and some have to get a master’s degree. 

Either way, you will need a degree to practice sports medicine in any city in the world.

Is sports medicine in high demand?

According to the demand for Sports Medicine Physicians is expected to go up, with an expected 72,500 new jobs filled by 2029. This represents an annual increase of 2.15 percent over the next few years. For more information this check out our guide on Sports Medicine Careers: Salary and Job Facts

Does Sports Medicine Require Certifications?

Yes, most of the colleges offering sport medicine degrees will go on to give successful candidates certifications. 

Some programs will require a basic certificate or advanced degree. 

For instance, some programs will require you to get certified by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM)

What is the Average Salary of Sports Medicine Doctors?

On average sports medicine, doctors earn about $244,678 per year.
However, based on specializations and level of experience, the exact salary may differ.

Basically, your salary varies depending on your employer, your geographic location, and your experience in the field.


At this point, I am confident you are well equipt with information that will help you navigate your journey to getting a degree in sports medicine. It is very important to note that; Your education will blend classroom instruction with clinical and laboratory practice at each level.

In general, you will obtain field experience by working with your school’s athletic teams at campus sporting facilities. While finishing your program, you will acquire firsthand knowledge from athletic trainers, physicians, and other experts as an intern.

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