Exercise Science Degrees
How do I decide between exercise science and sports medicine?
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in their publication "Careers in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science", exercise science is the study of movement and how people adapt to maintain functionality. Sports medicine is defined by the ACSM as the medical field focused on the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of athletic injuries. So where sports medicine is a focused career that addresses the needs of athletes, exercise science is a much broader discipline that looks at the principles of exercise and fitness holistically as it relates to a healthy population.
Many colleges that offer degrees in exercise science also offer degrees in sports medicine. Core instruction in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology and exercise principles are shared between the two fields and students may find that the two departments combine these classes.
What is the coursework like in an exercise science degree program?
Course offerings in the field of exercise science can vary greatly from one learning institution to another, but nearly all students will find that their educations include instruction in the basic principles of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, nutrition and injury prevention.
Students in bachelor's programs will find their instruction more comprehensive than those in associate's programs, and a single semester seminar class for an associate's degree candidate may be presented as a more thorough class split into two semesters for the
Can I build on my degree in exercise science?
Exercise science degrees are available at all levels: associate's, bachelor's and master's. This means that students can complete shorter degree programs and begin working in the field, while continuing to go to school to advance their educations and create more professional opportunities. For instance, graduates with associate's degrees in exercise science can seek employment as health or fitness instructors. Then, while maintaining employment in the field and gaining valuable practical experience, they can pursue bachelor's or master's degrees in pursuit of their long-term exercise science career goals.
There are many advanced degrees that someone with an associate or bachelor's degree in exercise science can pursue. In addition to master's level studies in the field of exercise science itself, a graduate would be an excellent candidate to get a master's degree in physical or occupational therapy. Graduates from exercise science programs may choose to pair their bachelor's degrees with other bachelor level degrees, such as dietetics, to become sports or exercise nutritionists.
Is there any fieldwork involved?
Because the principles of exercise science only exist to be applied to real people, at least one internship is required at nearly all programs. The American Medical Association recognizes the field of exercise science as a provider of allied health care services, and includes an internship in their education program guidelines. The internship can be in a variety of settings including sports medicine centers, rehabilitation units or athletic departments. All departments have coordinators designated to assist with field placement for internships and ensure that the setting meets the clinical requirements and that the student will attain the necessary number of contact hours.
Can I get my exercise science degree online?
In response to the growing demand for quality educations from students that are far from traditional colleges, or who are trying to work an education into lives that are already busy with jobs, many colleges and universities are offering more and more courses online. Many exercise science schools are now offering some or all of their course selections online. These programs typically include web-based lectures and online homework assignments and tests. While an internship will still be required in an online program, a program will often have a coordinator available to assist students with finding local opportunities to fulfill this requirement.