Sports Medicine Majors and Undergraduate Degree Programs

Oct 30, 2019

What Major is Sports Medicine?

Sports medicine is a major and field of its own, and both associate's and bachelor's degrees in sports medicine are available. 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 programs offer 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

An associate of science (A.S.) in sports medicine program typically focuses on the 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 of science (B.S.) in sports medicine program trains students to prevent and care for injuries among athletes. This program typically takes 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:

  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition
  • 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 positions. Those with a bachelor's degree are prepared for careers as athletic trainers and other sports medicine-related professions, though some careers require additional education. Popular career options include the following:

Job Title Fitness Trainer Athletic Trainer Physical Therapist
Job Duties lead individuals or groups in exercise prevent or treat injuries in athletes develop treatment plans to address athletic and other mobility issues; teach patients exercises to help with mobility and recovery from injury
Required Education high school diploma; often an associate's degree is required or preferred bachelor's degree Doctor of Physical Therapy degree
(3 year program after bachelor's degree)
Median Salary (2018)* $39,820 $47,510 $87,930
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 13% 19% 22%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Continuing Education

Graduates of an associate's in sports medicine program can pursue certification as personal trainers or fitness instructors, such as the National Fitness Certification. Students may also be able to transfer their coursework and take additional courses to earn a bachelor's degree in sports medicine. Bachelor's degree graduates may choose to pursue further training through a master's or professional degree in a related field, such as physical therapy or nutrition. Bachelor's degree programs may also prepare students for medical school, where they can pursue an advanced sports medicine career, such as a sports medicine physician.

Prospective students looking to study sports medicine in an undergraduate program can choose from an associate's or bachelor's degree program. Common courses cover topics from kinesiology to nutrition and prepare a student for entry-level careers or further education in the sports and fitness fields.

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