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Why This Matters


    A degree in sports medicine prepares graduates for a variety of different jobs in athletics, education, healthcare, exercise science, physiology, therapy, and more.


    One of the fastest-growing jobs in sports medicine is athletic trainer. Besides working with athletes, they increasingly work with middle-aged and elderly populations who are staying active later in life.


    Although individuals need a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) to practice as a physical therapist, a degree in sports medicine or exercise science provides a strong foundation for this career.

Our Research

To compile this list, we looked at all levels of degrees from associate to doctorate in sports medicine and related fields like exercise science, kinesiology, and athletic training. Your current level of education and career goals will guide the exact type of degree program you are seeking.

We only included programs offered by regionally accredited schools, as these institutions meet high standards for quality education. Many programs are also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

Our picks for best sports medicine degrees are offered online, on-campus, or in hybrid or blended formats, so you can select the delivery format that works best for you.

Once we narrowed our list, we evaluated each program on the basis of cost, course strength, flexibility, faculty, and reputation. We gave each program an Intelligent Score based on a scale of 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best degrees in sports medicine are a good value, highly regarded, and flexible.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 83 hours to write this article
  • 85 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 348 education programs we compared

The Top 25 Online Sports Medicine Degree Programs

Best Online Sports Medicine Degree Programs
Intelligent Pick
Ashland University
Coaching Emphasis
Southern Utah University
Best Faculty
Eastern Oregon University
Best Scholarships
University of Louisiana Monroe
Best in the Northwest
University of Western States
Best in the South
Georgia Southern University
Best Health Sciences School
Logan University
Best Student Organizations
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Best Bachelor's Degree
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
High-Earning Alumni
Concordia University, St. Paul
Best Doctorate Degree
University of Virginia
Best in the Midwest
University of Northern Iowa
Best For-Profit University
American Military University
Best for Small Class Sizes
Concordia University Chicago
Best in the West
California Baptist University Online
Best Research University
University of Florida
Best in the Southeast
Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC-Chapel Hill
Best Liberal Arts School
SUNY Brockport
Best Research-Focused Program
University of Georgia
State-of-the-Art Facilities
The Ohio State University
Best for Athletic Training
A.T. Still University
High Job Placement Rate
University of Southern Mississippi
Best Associate Degree
The State University of New York
Best Hands-On Experience
The University of Texas at Austin
Best Concentration Options
The University of Texas at Tyler

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Although having a degree in sports medicine can increase your employability and earning potential, there are some health and fitness jobs that only require a high school diploma and certification. For example, fitness trainers can qualify for professional certifications through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) by completing a training program. At this stage, think about your career goals, and what will be the best route to achieving them.

For other jobs, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum required education level. An advanced degree can open up new career opportunities, or prepare you for further study in areas like physical therapy. However, the pay difference for those with a bachelor’s versus those with a master’s is negligible, according to

Credentials and licensure requirements exist for several sports medicine-related jobs. For example, in most states, athletic trainers must have a state-issued license, and certification through the Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer. The licensure and certification processes usually involve paying fees, passing examinations, and meeting recertification requirements.

Sports medicine is an allied health profession. A degree in this field will not prepare you to work as a medical doctor, although some individuals may go on to attend medical school. Rather, you will study topics like anatomy, kinesiology, nutrition, physiology, and wellness through the lens of sports and exercise.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Sports Medicine programs:

  • What are my program completion options? Many schools offer students the option to complete the program on an accelerated, full-time, or part-time basis. This is true of both in-person and online programs, and usually affects how many classes you take per term. If you have specific needs for the length of the program, look for programs that offer this flexibility.
  • What are the thesis requirements? For students pursuing a Master of Science in sports medicine, you may have the option of doing a thesis or non-thesis track. A thesis is a scholarly paper focused on an area of research in the student’s major. Completing a thesis may or may not impact the length of time you are in the program, and is usually a good idea if you are considering doctoral study.

You should also review the application requirements and deadlines for programs to which you plan on applying. Preparing your application materials well ahead of the due date will help your admissions process go smoothly.

Also consider how you will finance your degree. Research institutional and private scholarships, assistantships, work-study opportunities, and financial aid.

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