Graduate Programs in Sports and Exercise Sciences

A bachelor's degree in sport and exercise science prepares students to apply and enroll in a variety of graduate programs. This Bachelor of Science degree brings together a scientific knowledge of the human body and an understanding of how physical fitness and lifestyle is essential not only to the professional athlete, but for any individuals wellbeing. While many students use their bachelor's degree to find work in the sport and healthcare fields, others continue to pursue higher education. This degree is a great stepping stone for many graduate programs and much depends upon the specialization a student chose during their undergraduate program.

The field of exercise science is very broad, ranging from the study of how organ systems work at the cellular level when a person is stricken with a disease, to improving the biomechanical efficiency of a person working on an assembly line. Some of the areas a student can specialize in during their first four years include, coaching, fitness training, occupational and physical therapy, physical activity and movement for children, recreation, and physical human performance. Upon graduation from an undergraduate program a student may choose from a multitude of advanced studies. These can include exercise physiology, cardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy, physician assistance, corporate fitness, research, health promotion, and human performance. We will cover a few of these graduate programs to give you a better understanding of some of them.

Different Graduate Program Options in Sports Science

Physical therapy is one of the top graduate programs that sport and exercise science majors continue in. Physical therapists are also referred to as physiotherapists. These healthcare workers help people recover strength, mobility and flexibility as well as limiting pain after they have suffered from an injury or disease. Physical therapists are concerned with identifying and maximizing quality of life and movement potential for their patients, as well as prevention, promotion, intervention, treatment, habilitation and rehabilitation. Ranked as one of the top "Best Jobs in America" by Money Magazine, physical therapy is also considered to be one of the most satisfying jobs in the healthcare field.

Occupational therapy is a field very similar to physical therapy. These occupational therapists (OTs) help patients who have disabling conditions to improve their ability to perform everyday task in their daily living and working environments. Occupational therapy is one of the fastest growing careers in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This job is expected to grow 34% by the year 2014.

A cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialist or exercise physiologist provides both immediate and long term guidance for the physical rehabilitation of patients who have had one or more cardiac or pulmonary-related incidents or diseases. These include incidents such as heart attack, heart surgery, emphysema or OCPD. These specialists administer and supervise exercise testing and training sessions.

Nutrition or dietetics is another graduate program field a sport and exercise scientist can continue in. Dieticians study how nutrients are taken in by the body and how foods are digested and metabolized in order to provide the necessary energy to fuel muscular activity. Dietitians are employed in a variety of settings, including hospitals, school systems, clinics and research.

One of the fastest growing disciplines at the graduate level is sport and exercise psychology. This field of study requires a student to obtain a large base of knowledge in both exercise science/kinesiology and psychology. Currently there are only a few universities that offer an undergraduate program in sport and exercise psychology. Often students must use an alternative method of double majoring in sport and exercise science and psychology. Opportunities are numerous in the field of sport and exercise psychology though.

Some other graduate fields a sport and exercise science major may pursue include exercise epidemiology, primary care sports medicine and research.

Students that use their sport and exercise major to pursue advanced studies in a graduate program have greater earning potential. The more specialized knowledge a graduate has the greater the income that can be earned.