Exercise Science Master's Degree

A Master of Science program in exercise science provides you with the knowledge and tools necessary to evaluate, plan and implement fitness programs for clients. Check the prerequisites for enrolling, and find out if online learning options are available. Explore the typical coursework and get info about job options. Find out how you can earn certification. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Educational Background Do I Need to Pursue This Master's Degree in Exercise Science?

Most master's degree programs in exercise science require college level coursework in basic anatomy and physiology, kinesiology and exercise physiology; some programs require a bachelor's degree in exercise science or physiology. Other college science and social science coursework, like biology and exercise culture, might also be helpful. You may have to submit your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores when applying to some programs.

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in exercise science or physiology, college-level prerequisite courses, GRE scores
Specialization Options Muscular strength and conditioning, clinical rehabilitation
Common Courses Exercise physiology, public health topics, cardiovascular exercise physiology, sports performance, cardiac rehabilitation
Online Availability Online programs are available using streaming video, online chat and e-mail
Certification Certification exams are offered by various fitness certification organizations
Work Settings Physical therapist's office, cardiac rehabilitation center, athletic training room, chiropractor's office, hospital rehabilitation clinic
Median Salary (2018) $49,270 (for all exercise physiologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for all exercise physiologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

Many exercise science master's degree programs offer different specializations. For example, if you're interested in working with healthy individuals to improve their cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, endurance and flexibility, you might enroll in a program that offers a muscular strength and conditioning specialization. Another option is a clinical rehabilitation program track, which will teach you exercise rehabilitation for those with chronic health conditions such as lung disease, heart conditions or arthritis.

No matter the track, you'll take coursework in public health topics, research methods, biostatistics, exercise physiology, nutrition, fitness evaluation, sports and motivation psychology, health promotion and program administration. In a muscular strength and conditioning track you'll study topics such as resistance training, cardiovascular exercise physiology, biomechanics and sports performance. A clinical rehabilitation-oriented program will offer additional coursework in clinical exercise testing, cardiac rehabilitation, the use of electrocardiograms, clinical exercise physiology and exercise for chronic diseases.

Most clinical rehabilitation specializations require a clinical internship in a physician's office or rehabilitation center as well as an original research thesis. Muscular strength and conditioning tracks often require an internship in a health club, athletic trainer's facility, physical therapist's office or chiropractor's office. You may also have to take written or oral examinations before graduation.

Is This Degree Available in an Online Format?

You can study for this degree in an online master's degree program, a good option for working fitness professional including fitness instructors, personal trainers or health educators. In an online program you'll take coursework similar to traditional, campus-based programs, taking classes online via methods like streaming video or PowerPoint presentations. You'll interact with instructors and classmates via email, online chat or social networking. As with traditional programs, you may have to submit GRE scores to apply and take written examinations or write a thesis before graduation.

Will This Degree Program Help Me Become Certified in the Field?

Many exercise science master's degree programs will prepare you to take national certification examinations from various fitness certification organizations. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine offers a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist credential. Only exercise scientists with M.S. degrees and clinical exercise physiology experience are eligible to sit for the exam (www.acsm.org). The American Society of Exercise Physiologists (www.asep.org) offers a board certifying examination for exercise physiologists with a degree in exercise science or physiology and clinical exercise physiology work experience.

What Can I Do With this Degree?

An M.S. in exercise science gives you the background necessary to work as part of a team in clinical or public health settings, helping healthy people or those with chronic disease to improve their fitness levels and live a healthier life. You might work in a physician's office, athletic training room, physical therapist's or chiropractor's office, health club, hospital rehabilitation clinic or cardiac rehabilitation center.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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