Master’s Degrees in Sports Science

Note: This post is part four of a series of posts where I cover graduate school options for dietitians or RD2B’s (dietitian to be), and specifically pertinent to sports dietitians. For parts one, two, and three on sports nutrition graduate programs, exercise science programs specializing in nutrition, and online nutrition programs, click the links attached.


Masters Degree in Sports Science

In the US, sports science programs that typically blend nutrition sciences, exercise physiology, rehabilitation sciences, sport psychology, and sports management have begun to emerge. While this is relatively new to the United States, the top universities abroad have had sports science graduate programs for many years. For this reason, renowned sports scientists from international programs tend to work with the top sports teams.

What is a Sports Scientist?

A sports scientist plays an integral role in sports by utilizing scientific analysis and data to maximize performance and minimize injury. These professionals may collect data such as metrics to help coaches make informed decisions about workload management or practice methodology. They could conduct biomechanics analysis to assist physical therapists and athletes in working together to adjust movement to prevent the likelihood of injury. Sports scientists may devise evidence-based testing methods to assess the effectiveness of strength and conditioning, nutrition, or sport-specific training programs. And they may be involved with sport governing associations to determine safety protocols for sports and athletes. The options are truly endless! This field is exploding in growth right now and there is a growing need for trained and qualified people to fill these roles.

The study of sports science not only utilizes the traditional subjects of physiology, nutrition, and human anatomy, but combines that with an understanding of the mechanisms of injury, motor behavior and development, rehabilitation sciences, and research methods. Sports science graduates also need to have excellent interpersonal and communication skills to gain athletes’ and coaches’ trust and to be able to explain high-end data at the sport-specific level. If working analytically to improve the outcome of a sports event sounds interesting to you, this may be the right path for you.

What are the benefits of a degree in sports science?

You don’t have to want to be a sports scientist to get a master’s degree in sports science! A sports science degree is attractive to employers because it shows that the individual has an in-depth understanding of the human body related to sports performance and has gained practical experience with athletes and teams. This degree will provide graduates with transferable skills that can benefit dietitians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, sports analysts, sports psychologists, and more.

Someone with a bachelor’s degree in a related field and career goals of working with elite athletes may benefit from learning more about the various disciplines involved in sports science. Additionally, as many of these programs are taught at sport-related institutions, the opportunities to work with athletes provided during the coursework can be invaluable to someone who desires to work in athletics.

I think if this option had been available when I was looking at graduate school, it is the option I would have gone with. It works for anyone who wants an understanding of multiple disciplines and how they relate and work together. I interact with multiple disciplines every day. While I would never claim to know all that they do, it is conducive to have an understanding of how their discipline overlaps with mine so we can synergistically work to benefit our athletes.


The following schools offer sport science degrees at the graduate level or the advanced degree level (research degree, PhD, DP). Please note this list is not exhaustive. In my research some programs said “sports science” but did not offer interdisciplinary courses or applied and analytical courses and thus I would categorize them as exercise science, not sports science.

US-Based Sports Science Graduate Degrees

University of Alabama at Huntsville – Huntsville, AL
MS, Kinesiology – Sport Science

American Military University – Washington, DC
MS, Sports and Health Sciences
*This program is offered 100% online.

Calvin University.- Grand Rapids, MI
Exercise Science – Performance and Sport Science Concentration

The Citadel – Charleston, SC
Health, Exercise, and Sport Science

University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH
PhD, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Cumberland University – Lebanon, TN
MSES, Master of Sport and Exercise Science

East Carolina University – Greenville, NC
MS, Exercise and Sport Science
PhD, Bioenergetics and Exercise Science

Eastern Illinois University – Charleston, IL
MS, Kinesiology and Sport Studies – Exercise Science Concentration

East Tennessee State University – Johnson City, TN
MS, Sport Science and Coach Education 
PhD in Sport Physiology & Performance with concentrations in Sport Performance and Sport Physiology

Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
MS, Sports Sciences

George Mason University – Fairfax, VA
MS, Exercise, Fitness and Health Promotion with Wellness Practitioner or Advanced Practitioner concentrations

University of Houston – Clear Lake – Houston, TX
MS, Exercise and Health Sciences – Sport Science Concentration

Indiana State University – Terre Haute, IN
MA or MS, Physical Education w/Exercise Science Specialization
*Can complete American College of Sports Medicine Health Fitness Specialist or Exercise Specialist Exams upon completion of program.

Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
PhD, Human Performance Major, Emphasis: Exercise Physiology (Minor in Nutrition Science available)

Ithaca College – Ithaca, NY
MS, Exercise and Sport Sciences, Human Performance

Lasell University – Newton, MA
MS, Applied Sports Science Analytics 

Lebanon Valley College – Annville, PA
MS, Sport Performance

Life University – Marietta, GA
MS, Sport Health Science – Specialty tracks in Exercise and Sport Science, Nutrition and Sport Science, or Sport Coaching
Dietetic Internship w/ Graduate Degree Option (MS in Sport Health Science)

Logan University – Chesterfield, MO
MS, Sports Science & Rehabilitation 
*Can be completed 100% online.

Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, FL
MS, Sports Science

Ohio University – Athens, OH
MS, Exercise Physiology: Human Performance Track

University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
MS, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences – Sport Science
PhD, Rehabilitation Sciences

University of South Carolina Upstate – Spartanburg, SC
MS, Exercise Science and Sport Science

University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA
MS, Biokinesiology with emphasis in Sports Science

Sacred Heat University – Fairfield, CT
MS, Exercise and Sport Science

Southern Connecticut State University – New Haven, CT
MS, Exercise Science – Human Performance

Texas A&M – College Station, TX
MS/MS, Kinesiology and Nutrition 
Sport Science Fellowship

Wayne State University
MS, Exercise and Sport Science

West Chester University – West Chester, PA
MS, Exercise and Sport Science

Western Colorado University – Gunnison, CO
MS, Exercise & Sport Science: High Altitude Exercise Physiology
A truly unique program studying exercise in extreme environments!

Winona State University – Winona, MN
MS, Performance Analytics (PAMS)

University of Wyoming – Laramie, WY
MS, Exercise and Sport Science and Health Promotion

International Universities with Graduate Degree in Sport Science

This is just a sampling of the many non-US programs and a few of the best international uni for sport science. I am working on a full international nutrition program list.

University of Canterbury – Christchurch, New Zealand
MSS, Sport Science

Deakin University – Melbourne, Australia
MS, Applied Sport Science
*Can be completed online.

Loughborough University –
MSc, Applied Sport Performance Analysis
MSc, Musculoskeletal Sport Science and Health

Norwegian School of Sport Sciences – Oslo, Norway
Master’s and PhD
This course is offered in Swedish but it is on the list in case you speak Swedish. They have a Sport Management courses and a program in English as well.

University of Queensland – Brisbane, Australia
MPhil, Sport Science
This is a program where the student tailors their research and study to satisfy their interests. Students can work on a variety of topics and have the option to complete an exercise science degree.

What’s Next?

This post is part four of a series of posts where I cover graduate school options for sports dietitians. Some upcoming topics include graduate programs in sport science and graduate assistantships in sports nutrition. Past posts cover sports nutrition graduate programs, exercise science programs specializing in nutrition, and online nutrition master’s degrees.

I created this series of blog posts because because it is what I wish I had when looking at grad schools. In other words, it has been a labor of love. For that reason, if you found this post helpful, please support me by sharing the link to this post with classmates, colleagues, and friends, by joining my email list, or by checking out my RD2RD store.

I will do my best to keep this post updated but as I previously stated, this field is growing rapidly. Therefore, if you see a program missing, please get in touch with me at hillary@sportsnutritionally.com so I can add it.

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