How to Get a Master’s Degree in Health: Sports and Fitness

Take your passion for sports and fitness to a professional level with a master’s degree. From high school and college coaching to professional sports team management, sports psychology, medicine, and education, a range of master’s degrees in sports and fitness exist to challenge your knowledge and focus your career.

How to Earn a Master’s Degree in Sports and Fitness

Interested in a sports-related graduate degree? Research sports and fitness master’s degree programs before you commit. Before you begin applying to sports and fitness master’s degree programs, make sure the schools you’ve found are right for you.

From considering different types of master’s degrees to establishing a list of potential sports and fitness master’s degree programs to making first contact with the schools on your list, offers resources designed to take you step-by-step through the graduate school process. Use this guide to get started on your career makeover as you pursue a master’s degree in sports and fitness.

Step 1: Consider Different Types of Master’s Degrees

From theory-based master of arts degrees to specialized master of sports science programs, your options as a student begin with the type of degree you want to pursue. Take a look at the most popular degrees you can earn when you pursue a sports and fitness master’s degree:

  • Master of Arts (MA). This popular master’s degree examines the theory behind the sports and fitness topics studied. Psychology degrees specializing in sports and fitness will be likely to offer an MA degree.
  • Master of Science (MS). This sports and fitness degree may be more likely to examine research related to the topic. Degrees in sports medicine likely offer an MS degree upon completion.
  • Master of Education (MEd). This master’s degree deals with the sports and fitness side of education, preparing students for careers where coaching and education meet. Graduates may also go on to earn a PhD and teach at the college level.
  • Master of Sports Science (MSS). This professional degree is a rare option in your sports and fitness degree choices, but the degree type may grow more popular with time. Considered academically equivalent to the MA or MS, the MSS may offer more specialization options for students.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA). Look to this popular business degree for potential sports and fitness specializations. Sports management, professional sports coaching, and other specializations may be found in some MBA programs.

Beyond degree distinctions, you may choose to earn your sports and fitness degree in one of the following departments. Here are the most common departments where you can find sports and fitness degrees:

  • Sports & Fitness. A dedicated kinesiology or fitness department typically offers degrees in a range of sports categories, from coaching and management to medicine and health.
  • Business. The lucrative business side of sports encourages some business schools to offer targeted training. Look for MBA degrees in business schools with a specialization in sports management.
  • Psychology. Some psychology departments feature sports master’s degree specializations such as sports psychology or performance psychology.

The major and department you choose should ultimately reflect your career goals within sports and fitness. Consider the short-term and long-term goals you have for your career during this first step.

Step 2: Think About Your Sports & Fitness Master’s Degree Specialization

Once you’ve spent some time thinking about your career’s future, the departments in which you might earn your master’s degree, and the different types of the degree you might earn, think about potential specializations within the sports and fitness major. Think about the following specializations within sports and fitness master’s degrees:

  • Sports Coaching
  • Sports Fitness and Health
  • Sports Management
  • Sports Medicine
  • Sports Studies
  • Personal Training
  • Sports Education
  • Sports and Performance Psychology

Again, your interests help determine your specialization choice. Programs in health, psychology, business, and education can all be customized to sports and fitness. Build your degree program to fit your interests and suit your career future.

Step 3: Choose Between Campus-Based and Online Master’s Degrees

By this step, you should have a short list of departments, degrees, and specializations you’d be willing to consider in a sports and fitness master’s degree. You may have limited yourself to one category, or kept your options broad with a number of paths; either choice is fine during the research process. Now, it’s time to consider the advantages of campus-based and online master’s degree programs:

  • Online master’s degree in sports and fitness. If you travel or work full-time, an online degree offers flexibility and convenience. Earn a master’s degree online and log-on from anywhere in the world to interact with classmates and complete your studies. Students who work independently and are self-motivated often shine in online programs.
  • Campus-based master’s degree in sports and fitness. If you’re willing to live near campus and meet attendance requirements, a campus-based degree offers face-to-face interaction and hands-on training. Students who enjoy teamwork and group motivation often thrive in a campus environment.

Whether you choose an online master’s degree program or campus-based program depends on your learning style along with your life situation. If you’re considering online education, offers more information on specializations within sports and fitness online master’s degree programs.

Step 4: Create a List of Sports and Fitness Master’s Degree Programs

By this step, you should be ready to begin creating a list of colleges and universities that offer master’s degree programs in health in sports and fitness. Begin to create your long list of potential programs by consulting resources online. Use the following links to begin your search:

  • Browe’s list of programs offering online degrees in sports and fitness.
  • Browse the list of colleges and universities accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.
  • In addition to online degrees, offers a listing of campus-based master’s degree programs in sports and fitness.

As you begin to compile your list of sports and fitness programs, keep in mind your basic requirements in terms of specialization, major, and learning method–whether you want to earn a master’s degree online or on-campus. The resources above should help you as you begin to create your longer list. Before you can begin to narrow down your potential schools, however, you need to ensure the quality of the programs on your list.

Step 5: Determine Sports and Fitness Master’s Degree School Accreditation

Confirm the quality of your sports and fitness degree by ensuring that each school on your list holds current accreditation. The accreditation process requires a third-party agency to review a school based on essential qualities like:

  • Faculty hiring practices
  • Academic standards
  • Financial practices

Even if the name of a school sounds familiar to you, it’s important to ensure that it holds current accreditation. You’ll find many benefits in attending an accredited school for your sports and fitness degree. Among them:

  • Schools and hiring managers recognize accredited credits and degree training
  • Students of accredited schools are eligible for federal aid, including grants and loans
  • Increased confidence that your sports and fitness degree is valued

Fortunately, it’s simple to determine the accreditation status of each program on your list. Simply search for each school using the U.S. Department of Education‘s database. Searches can be completed by school, location, or accrediting agency, helping to simplify the important process.

Step 6: Narrow Down Your of Sports and Fitness Master’s Degree Programs

Once you’ve determined the accreditation status of the schools on your list, you should have a long list of sports and fitness master’s degrees that suit your basic qualifications in terms of specialization, major, and more. At this point, you should begin to narrow down your list further. Consider the following categories for each school on your list:

  • Application. Each sports and fitness degree program comes with its own requirements. Get ready to provide transcript information, GRE or TOEFL scores, work experience listed in a resume, letters of recommendation, and other materials.
  • Location. Whether you would like to remain in the area after you graduate or you hope to work while you’re in school, consider the school’s location as if you were looking for a job. Seek out high school, college, and professional sports teams, community sports groups and more. The more work potential you find the area, the more success you may have in terms of internships, externships, and paid positions.
  • Cost. Think about the cost of your education. Whether you’re paying in-state or out-of-state tuition, tuition and fees can make your master’s degree an expensive endeavor. Think about the financial aid each school can offer. Consider scholarships, teaching stipends, and federal grants and loans.
  • Faculty. Think about professor profiles at each school on your list. Look for faculty bios and learn where faculty are presenting publishing and presenting papers. In the application process, go for a well-rounded approach, seeking out strong teams of professors with interesting research or work histories over of one individual with a lot to offer.
  • Perks. Think about the extras offered by each sports and fitness, business, or psychology department. You could be encouraged to complete a sports work-study job or internship, do interesting research in the community, or assist professors with research. Think about these perks once you only need to remove a few schools from your shorter list of options.

Your sports and fitness master’s degree should be personalized to your preferences and needs. This step of the research process takes time and effort as you consider each school, but your reward comes when you can confidently narrow down a long list of colleges down to a strong few. From there, begin the application process with only the strongest schools on your list.

Step 7: Apply for Sports and Fitness Master’s Degree Programs

You’ve done the bulk of the research, whittling your long list of potential schools down to a few that offer accredited, challenging programs that suit your career goals and fit your preferences. Now, it’s time to apply to these strong sports and fitness schools. Whether you plan to earn a master’s degree online or attend a campus-based school, you’ll need to apply. Keep the following in mind as you begin:

  • Requirements. Be prepared to provide everything from resumes and transcripts to letters of recommendation and test scores. Each sports and fitness program is different–requirements may vary from school to school.
  • Personalize. Focus and modify each application letter to the personality of each sports and fitness program on your list. This is particularly necessary if you’re applying to a range of departments–business and psychology, for example.
  • Deadlines. You’ve taken the time to research different schools. Don’t waste your hard work by missing important deadlines. Each sports and fitness department application comes with different deadlines, and keeping track of them is key to your success.

Take control of your search for the best sports and fitness master’s degree options. Learning about the range of options beforehand helps you save time and money on applications, plus you should be more likely to attend a sports and fitness program that truly matches your goals.


  • Accreditation Search U.S. Department of Education
  • M.Ed. in Sport Management Millersville University
  • Master of Arts in Sport Management University of San Francisco
  • Master of Science in Sports and Fitness Management Troy College of Health and Human Services
  • Sport Management Masters and MBA Dual Degree Program Barry University
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