- Bachelor of Sports Science (BSS)
- Associate of Science (AS)
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
- Diplomas and certificates
- 4 years for bachelor's degree
- 2 years for associate's degree
- 12 - 52 weeks for certificate
- Bachelor's degree - direct entry; entry after 1 or 2 years of certificate or college study
- Associate degree - direct entry
- Diploma and certificate - direct entry
Areas of Study
- General sport sciences, health and fitness studies
- Specialization areas include sport management, sport administration, athletic training, personal training, physical education, sports medicine, kinesiology, exercise physiology, coaching, youth fitness training, senior fitness training, sports conditioning, nutrition, biomechanics, recreation, leisure studies, physical therapy, adventure sports leadership, community and public health.
- Practicum/ industry internship
- Opportunity to work with professional athletes and sports teams
- Access to specialized labs and facilities
Whether it's in sports education, administration, training or coaching, degrees and professional certifications are increasingly necessary for a successful career in sports-related industries. As a result, there is a wide variety of options: there are over 300 sport sciences and physical education programs at universities and colleges across the United States, as well as approximately 250 sport management programs. This field includes academic degree programs at universities, 4-year colleges, community colleges, specialty sports universities and training institutes as well as certifications through non-academic professional organizations.
There are many names to these programs and departments, so be sure to look around. Some examples are Department of Exercise and Sport Science in a university's College of Health; School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies within a College of Education and Human Development; Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation within a College of Education; Department of Exercise Science within a College of Applied Science and Technology; and Sport Management may be offered within a College of Business.
Some possible 4-year undergraduate degree credentials include the Bachelor of Sports Science (BSS) degree with specializations in sports coaching, sports management and sports studies; Bachelor of Science (BS) with majors in sport management, athletic training, exercise science, exercise physiology and kinesiology; and a Bachelor of Arts with majors in kinesiology or athletic training (non-teacher certification).
Within these degrees there are a wide variety of specialization options. For example, within kinesiology you can major in dance, exercise science, physical or health education teacher education, fitness studies or athletic training. Within a degree in exercise science or leisure studies you can pursue concentrations in general recreation, therapeutic recreation, or cardiac rehabilitation. And within an athletic training degree you can major in recreation, sport management, and tourism. Honors and minor options in a variety of related areas are also available so you can tailor your degree to your specific interests and career goals.
At the community college level, 2-year associate's degrees such as the Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) are available in a range of fields such as exercise and sport science, sport management, physical education, adventure sports leadership, and physical fitness. Universities may have associate's-to-bachelor's articulation agreements with certain community colleges, which allows college graduates to transfer their earned credits toward a bachelor's degree. Many of the bachelor's programs can also lead into master's and doctorate degrees.
So what do you study in these programs? Exercise physiology, for instance, covers human physiology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, kinesiology and biomechanics. Graduates often go on from their bachelor's into medical or dental school, physical therapy, nursing, pharmacy or nutrition. Athletic trainers' bachelor's degrees may cover subjects such as premedical sciences, kinesiology, exercise physiology, biology, exercise science and physical education. All certified or licensed athletic trainers must have a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution in order to work as athletic trainers. Students can then pursue national certification from the National Association of Athletic Trainers (NATA) Board of Certification.
You also need certification in order to become a personal trainer or Certified Fitness Trainer (CFT). However, these certifications can be obtained through a less academic route, such as personal training home study courses offered by professional associations. These non-academic educational options also offer several other kinds of health fitness certifications, such as health/ fitness instructor, exercise specialist and registered clinical exercise physiologist.
Academic diplomas and certificates are shorter credentials in specific areas of study, such as the Certificate in Sports Nutrition (CSN), which prepares students for the American College of Sports Medicine Health/Fitness Instructors Exam. There are also specialized certificates and diplomas in areas like coaching and sports management for sports professionals and people with extensive experience in sports.
While there are lots of options for obtaining a credential in sport sciences and physical education, learning generally incorporates a blend of scientific and professional content plus practical clinical education or a field work component. Study abroad and other kinds of travel opportunities may also be available.