Sports Physiology Degree Programs and Courses

Sports physiologists use science and research to measure how athletes can improve their performance. Learn about degree programs, what courses are included, online options and potential careers. Schools offering Kinesiology & Sport Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need To Know

Programs related to sports physiology can prepare you for a career as an exercise physiologist or athletic trainer. Both of these careers are expected to see job opportunities grow in the coming years. However, education beyond a bachelor's degree may be required.

Schools University of Louisville, University of North Carolina, University of Florida, University of Miami
Median Salary (2017)* $49,090 (exercise physiologists)
$46,630 (athletic trainers)
Career Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% increase for exercise physiologists; 23% increase for athletic trainers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is a Sports Physiology Degree?

Sports physiology is a subject concerned with improving the performance of athletes through testing, conditioning and rehabilitative techniques. As a sports physiologist, you'll work to help athletes prevent sports-related injuries, increase endurance and rehabilitate after an injury. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available in sports physiology, and these degrees are also sometimes referred to as applied physiology or exercise physiology. In certain instances, exercise physiology can be a concentration of a degree in exercise science, health and human performance or kinesiology.

Because many careers related to sports physiology require a graduate degree, bachelor's degree programs are often designed as preparation for graduate school. Master's degree programs in sports physiology can prepare you for entering a doctoral program or for professional certification, such as the exercise technologist or exercise specialist certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine. If you are interested in entering a research-based career in coach education or the science of exercise, you can complete a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program.

What Undergraduate Courses Will I Take?

In a bachelor's degree program in sports physiology, you'll complete a rigorous curriculum in science and math. Math courses cover algebra, analytic geometry and calculus. Science classes consist of lecture and laboratory work and include anatomy, nutrition, kinesiology, physics, life sciences chemistry, neuromuscular exercise prescription and sports psychology. You'll also complete a clinical practicum.

What About Graduate Courses?

Exercise physiology master's degree programs include courses in sports sciences statistics, physiological principles of exercise, sports physiology and cardiovascular evaluation. The curriculum will cover clinical assessment of how the human body responds to exercise.

If you enroll in a doctoral program in sports physiology, you'll research how athletes can improve their performance by investigating physiological and psychological variables. Courses may include biomechanics, metabolism, respiratory conditioning and advanced nutrition. A dissertation is typically required. These courses might also be included in a graduate degree program:

  • Instrumentation in exercise and sport science
  • Biometry and biomedical computing
  • Advanced sport nutrition and ergogenic aids
  • Research design for sport science

What Online Programs Are There?

You can find online bachelor's degree programs closely related to sports physiology. These online degree programs in applied physiology and exercise science require that you have completed an associate's degree program and prerequisite courses before enrolling. Coursework is similar to topics studied in exercise physiology degree programs. You can also find hybrid master's degree programs in kinesiology, as well as fully online programs that are synchronized with on-campus programs. Online Ph.D. programs are not currently available.

What Careers Might I Be Prepared For?

An undergraduate degree in sports and exercise physiology can prepare you for a career as a personal trainer, coach, physical therapy assistant or fitness educator. A bachelor's degree in sports physiology can also be preparation for graduate study in exercise or sports physiology, medicine or physical therapy. With a graduate degree in sports physiology, you could work as an exercise physiologist in many settings. For example, you could work in a hospital developing exercise programs for heart patients. With a doctoral degree, you may also find work as a clinical instructor or professor at the collegiate level.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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