Sports medicine is the branch of healthcare specializing in the treatment and prevention of athletic injuries. Students can prepare for entry-level employment through an Associate of Science or Bachelor of Science degree program. Enrollees take courses, such as kinesiology and sports nutrition. They also learn how to assess injuries and provide therapy for rehabilitation purposes. Both levels of study offer clinical training in professional settings, and some include online courses.
A high school diploma or GED certificate is the minimum requirement for admission to these programs. Students may need to complete general education courses, such as anatomy and physiology prior to admission. Graduates of bachelor's programs may go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in sports medicine or a related field.
Associate of Science in Sports Medicine
The Associate of Science (A.S.) in Sports Medicine program typically focuses on the sports, health, prevention, exercise and physiological aspects of sports science and medicine. Students gain introductory training in fitness, lifestyle and health assessment, as well as targeted exercise activities. Completion of an externship in the field is typically a requirement for this program. Coursework generally takes two years to complete and covers topics such as the following:
- Weight management
- Kinesiology lab
- Sports psychology
- Sports law and administration
- Introduction to sports medicine
- Prevention and care of athletic injury
Bachelor of Science in Sports Medicine
A bachelor's program in sports medicine trains students to prevent and care for injuries among athletes. This program typically takes 3-4 years to complete, and offers concentrations in areas such as exercise science, health sciences, and rehabilitative science. The health sciences concentration offers preparation for graduate programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, exercise science, medicine or physician assistant. Students take lecture-based courses and get the opportunity to receive hands-on training in professional establishments. Some programs may offer internships during the summer months. Common courses offered include:
- Clinical practicum
- Therapeutic exercise
- Injury medical assessment
Popular Career Options
Students who have completed a sports medicine associate's degree program are typically trained for assistant or entry-level leadership positions. Those with a bachelor's degree are prepared for careers as athletic trainers and other sports medicine-related professions (some may require additional education). Popular career options include:
- Intramural sports official
- Sports camp group leader
- Athletic training assistant
- Exercise physiologist
- Sports lawyer
- Fitness director
- Sport nutritionist
- Physical therapist
Graduates of an A.S. in sports medicine program typically pursue certification as personal trainers or fitness instructors, such as the National Fitness Certification. Students may also be able to transfer their coursework to a baccalaureate sports medicine program. Bachelor's degree graduates may choose to pursue further training through a medical school or master's degree in the field. Programs may also prepare students for careers in advanced sports medicine, such as a medical practitioner.
Prospective students looking to study a sports medicine undergraduate program can choose from an associate's or bachelor's degree level program. Common courses cover everything from kinesiology to nutrition and prepare a student for a career in the sports and fitness industries.