Why This Matters

  • DEMAND FOR PHYSICAL THERAPISTS IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE BY 18%

    Active individuals and athletes will continue to look to physical therapists to maintain their active lifestyles and treat mobility issues.

  • JOB OUTLOOK FOR EXERCISE PHYSIOLOGISTS IS HIGHER THAN NATIONAL AVERAGE

    As more healthcare professionals emphasize exercise and preventive care for patients, the demand for exercise physiologists is expected to grow by 11%.

  • MORE THAN 5,200 ATHLETIC TRAINERS ARE NEEDED BY 2029

    The increased awareness of sports-related injuries and an active older population will result in a 16% increase in jobs for athletic trainers.

Our Research

Our list covers undergraduate and graduate programs in sports medicine. Students study biology, human physiology, nutrition, exercise physiology, and neuroscience. The programs on our list prepare students for a multitude of jobs, including exercise physiologists, kinesiotherapists, and athletic trainers. Students can choose from in-person, online, and hybrid learning formats.

Sports medicine programs that uphold a high academic standard receive either national or regional accreditation. The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) is one of the leading accreditors for sports medicine programs. Schools on our list have been recognized by accrediting bodies such as the Commission on Sport Management Accreditation (COSMA) and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. Our top picks for the best Sports Medicine Degree program are affordable, respected, and flexible.(For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.)

  • 68 hours to write this article
  • 168 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 309 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Best Sports Medicine Degree Programs

Best Sports Medicine Degree Programs
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What You Should Know About This Degree

“Sports medicine” is a comprehensive term that includes athletic trainers, sports physicians, therapists, and others. When choosing a career in sports medicine, you should decide which occupation you’d like to pursue. Sports physicians are healthcare professionals specializing in physically active individuals and athletes. Sports physicians must hold a doctorate in either medicine or osteopathic medicine.

If you’re interested in a degree in sports medicine, you should also consider studying toward a degree in kinesiology. While sports medicine focuses on the treatment and prevention of athletic injuries, kinesiology specializes in the overall impact of physical health on society. Both kinesiology and sports medicine programs include coursework in physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, and sports and exercise psychology. Determine which job interests you to decide which program of study is right for you.

Certifications in sports medicine help graduates show their expertise in specific areas. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), and American Osteopathic Association (AOA) offer credentialing in sports medicine. Generally, they require passing a written or practical exam.

The job outlook for sports-related professionals is positive, with significant growth expected due to increased numbers of people remaining physically active later in life.

What’s Next?

Ask yourself these questions when researching sports medicine degree programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Undergraduate programs are open to students from many educational backgrounds, but you must hold a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s or doctorate. Students who wish to become sports medicine physicians should take undergraduate classes in chemistry, anatomy, and biology.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? Bachelor’s programs generally take four years of full-time study to complete. Master’s programs take an additional two years. The programs on our list require between 36 and 129 credits to graduate.

Every program has specific requirements and application deadlines, which you need to research. Visit the school website and check with the admissions department to determine which materials are required.

Scholarships, grants, and financial aid are available for undergraduate and graduate programs. Look into grants, scholarships, loans, and other potential funding opportunities to reduce the cost of your studies.