Why This Matters

  • OVER 25 DIFFERENT CAREER PATHS AVAILABLE

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

  • 6,300 NEW ATHLETIC TRAINER JOBS PREDICTED

    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.

  • DEMAND FOR PHYSICAL THERAPISTS TO RISE 22%

    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 24 Sports Medicine Degree Programs

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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 Payscale.com.

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.