Masters Degree in Sport-Exercise with Career Information

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

A master's degree in sport exercise examines exertion in the human body related to sports and other activities. Programs may offer students to pursue an area of concentration based on their specific interests in the field. Studies typically last for two years and can include clinical experiences. Applicants to these programs must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. A bachelor's degree in sports exercise is generally not required, but some students possess undergraduate degrees in kinesiology or physical education. If students lack related undergraduate coursework, they may need to take prerequisite courses to catch up.

Master of Arts in Sport and Exercise Psychology

Sport and exercise psychology helps athletes improve their performance and psychological well-being by examining their thought processes and attitudes. Most master's degree programs are divided into two separate concentrations: sport and exercise. The sport discipline covers performance enhancement, while the exercise aspect covers exercise and health psychology. The coursework for a master's degree program in sport and exercise psychology teaches students about normal and abnormal psychology and how it relates to sports. Examples of coursework include:

  • Motor development
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Behavior modification
  • Counseling procedures

Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Science

A master's degree program in exercise and sports science prepares students for careers in rehabilitation, exercise physiology and motor control. Students learn through hands-on training in laboratory sessions and clinical settings. Most schools offer a variety of concentrations, including sports medicine, exercise physiology and sports management. The high-level courses included in a master's degree program require strong research abilities. Students partake in clinical research either through a thesis or non-thesis option. Courses within a master's degree program include:

  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise physiology
  • Children in sports
  • Psychology of sports
  • Behavioral & psychological aspects of exercise

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree program in sport and exercise psychology can obtain jobs in private practice, athletic departments, education and coaching. Examples of available careers include:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Coach
  • Athletic department director
  • Exercise or health instructor

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS,, employment is expected to increase 11% for coaches and scouts, and 19% for athletic trainers between 2018-2028. This growth is partly due to an increase in individuals participating in sports and being aware of sports-related injuries, which will require more coaches and athletic trainers. For exercise physiologists, jobs are expected to grow by 10% during this time. As reported by the BLS, the median annual salary was $34,840 for coaches and scouts, $48,440 for athletic trainers and $49,170 for exercise physiologists in 2019. Also per the BLS, job opportunities for fitness trainers are expected to increase 13% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the national average. The BLS listed the median annual salary for fitness trainers as $40,390 in 2019.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates may apply for provisional status as certified consultants through the American Board of Professional Psychology, Individuals can also contact the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM),, to become registered clinical exercise physiologists. They must complete at least 600 hours or clinical hours if they do not have certification as an exercise specialist. Graduates of a master's degree program in exercise and sports science can further their education by pursuing a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology.

Students interested in sport-exercise can choose from a Master of Arts in Sport and Exercise Psychology or a Master of Science in Exercise and Sports Science. Each program has a different focus and allows for different concentrations, but students of either program will be prepared for further education, certification, and/or a career in the field of sport and exercise.

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