Earning a Master's in Sports Medicine Online

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Should I Pursue a Master's in Sports Medicine Online?

The sports medicine field explores the treatment of athletic injuries and the overall maintenance of health and physical fitness. Candidates for an online master's degree in sports medicine may have pursued an undergraduate degree in kinesiology, health science, or a related field. Regardless of a student's background, pursuing master's in sports medicine degrees requires hands-on learning with professional and recreational athletes in the prevention and care of injuries.

A master's degree in sports medicine prepares graduates to work in areas such as athletic training, strength and conditioning, and sports rehabilitation. Graduates fill a variety of roles in the workforce, including as athletic trainers, nutritionists, and specialized chiropractors.

An online master's in sports medicine program meets the needs of students who work full time and cannot commute to campus regularly. Earning a degree online allows busy students to attend online courses and complete coursework at any time . Some online programs require an in-person internship, which remains one of several program components to consider when determining the best online master's in sports medicine programs for you.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Sports Medicine Graduates

Master's in Sports Medicine Salary

While available athletic trainer positions in the United States exceed 25,000, employment levels vary by state. For example, employers in New Jersey hire almost twice as many athletic trainers as those in Connecticut. Typically, higher-demand states tend to offer higher salaries for athletic trainers. Exceptions do exist, though. For example, the District of Columbia hires fewer athletic trainers but pays a higher annual mean wage than states with much higher employment demands.

Average salary levels increase based on candidates' levels of experience. Salaries tend to jump once a trainer obtains 5-10 years of experience and continues to advance in the field.

Top Paying States for Athletic Trainers

State Employment Annual Mean Wage
District of Columbia 80 $67,190
New Jersey 630 $65,470
Connecticut 340 $56,810
Hawaii 190 $55,850
Rhode Island 80 $54,170
United States 25,010 $48,630

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pay by Experience Level for Sports Medicine Directors

  • Entry-Level (0-5 Years):
    $38,000
  • Mid-Career (5-10 Years):
    $41,000
  • Experienced (10-20 Years):
    $46,000
  • Late-Career (20+ Years):
    $52,000

Source: PayScale

Master's in Sports Medicine Careers

Career paths for those with an online master's in sports medicine will vary depending on your area of expertise. Master's in sports medicine graduates may choose to work with individuals or with teams as an athletic trainer. Alternatively, they may opt to work as nutritionists, dieticians, or an independent consultants.

Professionals in sports medicine often enjoy working with others in hands-on tasks, such as physical therapy, while others value a more independent role in research and developing best-fit nutrition and exercise programs that address specific conditions.

Athletic Trainer

Annual Median Salary: $46,630
Projected Growth Rate: 23%

Athletic trainers work hands-on with athletes of all ages and backgrounds. Under the direction of a licensed physician, they create programs to prevent injury, evaluate and treat injuries, and oversee rehabilitation programs for injured athletes. Athletic trainers also take care of administrative tasks, such as ensuring athletic programs comply with state and federal regulations.

Exercise Physiologist

Annual Median Salary: $49,090
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Exercise physiologists develop nutrition and exercise programs for individuals recovering from surgeries and severe illnesses. Following fitness and stress tests, they create plans based on a physiologist's assessment of a patient's health. Physiologists also work closely with a patient's primary physician to develop long-term health plans.

Occupational Therapist

Annual Median Salary: $83,200
Projected Growth Rate: 24%

Occupational therapists develop plans that help patients with disabilities, injuries, or chronic illnesses to better perform daily tasks and activities. For example, an occupational therapy plan might include daily joint exercises that help a person with chronic arthritis. Therapists may also provide recommendations for family members or employers on how to best support an individual in the home and workplace.

Recreational Therapist

Annual Median Salary: $47,680
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Recreational therapists implement and direct treatment programs for individuals with disabilities and injuries in a variety of environments, including nursing homes and recreation departments. These programs integrate a variety of activities, including theater, sports, and community events, to help improve an individual's physical and emotional well-being.

Nutritionist or Dietician

Annual Median Salary: $59,410
Projected Growth Rate: 15%

Using their expertise in food and nutrition, dieticians and nutritionists create eating and lifestyle plans that promote an individual's physical health and prevent disease or injury. Nutritionists may work as individual consultants or in a variety of settings, including hospitals, government, or nursing homes. Dieticians may also teach group classes on healthy eating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Sports Medicine Program?

While the specific curriculum will depend on your chosen school and program, online master's in sports medicine programs tend to offer a set of similar courses. We have provided an overview of the more common classes that you may find at the master's degree level, though exact course titles and content may vary across programs.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Sports Medicine

  1. Sports Nutrition: Coursework in sports nutrition covers the fundamentals of developing and maintaining a healthy mind and body for athletes and active individuals, with topics including nutrition and hydration. Students learn how to develop nutrition plans that optimize an individual's physical performance. This course provides personal and athletic trainers with the knowledge to create more holistic programs for clients.
  2. Human Anatomy A necessity for professionals entering any health or nutrition career, human anatomy provides a deep dive into the workings of the human body. Content includes detailed knowledge of the respiratory, muscular, and cardiovascular systems, as well how each system works together for optimal physical performance.
  3. Athletic Training: The athletic training course prepares students to become certified athletic trainers, with required field experiences in settings such as high schools and sports medicine clinics. Course topics may include sports psychology; injury evaluation; and preventative, emergency, and rehabilitative care. Students also learn how to handle stressful athletic situations.
  4. Exercise Physiology: Students enrolled in exercise physiology explore the processes of the human body during exercise, including the neuromuscular and cardiopulmonary systems. Coursework also emphasizes the application of physical therapy to address individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries. Occupational therapists frequently apply knowledge of exercise physiology in their daily practices.
  5. Sports Injury and Rehabilitation: Designed for athletic trainers and those working directly with active individuals, coursework in sports injury and rehabilitation focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and care of sports-related injuries. Students learn the importance of working with physicians to pinpoint the root causes of injuries and develop individualized rehabilitation plans.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Sports Medicine Prepares For

  • Certified Nutrition Specialist: A certified nutrition specialist requires a master's or other advanced degree from an accredited university, completion of a supervised internship, and a passing score on the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists exam. A CNS indicates a professional's high level of expertise aligned to quality standards approved by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
  • Certified Personal Trainer: A certification in personal training provides professionals with the qualification to develop rigorous exercise and fitness programs and work hands-on with a wide range of clients. The U.S. offers five leading training certification programs, with each featuring a slightly different focus. Most programs require that an individual possess at least a high school diploma and pass a certification exam.