A master's degree in exercise science offers you the requirements necessary for exercise physiologist positions, clinical research jobs, fitness training in a hospital setting and fitness program director position. Only a few of these programs existed before the 1980s, but most state universities now have some form of exercise physiology degree. If time is an issue, some colleges even offer online master's programs.
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Before applying for an exercise science master's degree program, make sure that you have the necessary undergraduate prerequisites. While these may differ according to the college or university, some prerequisites are standard. Statistics is essential for exercise scientists, because it allows you to interpret the significance of the results of research studies. Courses in chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry are other common requirements of master's degree applicants, as well as kinesiology, which the study of muscles and their movements. While acceptance is possible if you lack some of the prerequisite courses, admission departments warn that lacking prerequisites may make you a less competitive candidate. Colorado State University, for example, will let you make up the courses while you are in the program, but they will only count toward your grade point average, not your master's degree.
Colleges and universities use different names to identify their exercise science masters programs. Teacher's College in New York City calls their program "Applied Physiology and Nutrition." Long Island University, CUNY Brooklyn College, New York Medical College, SUNY College at Cortland and Syracuse University call their program a masters in "Kinesiology and Exercise Science and Barry University in Florida calls their program "Movement Science” The name of the program hints at the subject matter. The Teachers College program, with its emphasis on physiology and nutrition, may suit students who wish to work in weight loss clinics. The programs that combine exercise science with kinesiology may be best for working in post-rehabilitation or in fitness program management.
The course load in an exercise science masters program may include classes in motor learning, motor development and coordination, rehabilitation, sport psychology and performance enhancement. Most programs add classes pertinent to diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, as well as classes about risk management and exercise compliance.
While most exercise science masters programs take place on campus, some schools, such as the California University of Pennsylvania, offer online master's programs. The program administrators worked with the National Academy of Sports Medicine to develop a masters in Exercise Science and Health Promotion and a program in Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention. Instructors teach the program through streaming video, narrated PowerPoint presentations and online forums discussion groups and chat rooms.
Master's degree programs require a considerable time and financial investment. If you are only interested in becoming a personal trainer or group exercise instructor, there are certification programs and continuing education programs that offer extensive educational opportunities, and may be less expensive than a master's degree program.