What can you do with the new master’s degrees in exercise and sports science?

sara mathovWritten by Sara Mathov, DC, DACBR, ATC

UWS is launching four new programs under the umbrella of exercise and sports science. One of the questions I have heard a lot is “what can a person do with a master’s degree in one of the new concentrations?”

It is a question that is easy to answer because, honestly, the possibilities are endless!

First of all, what are the new concentrations and when do the programs start?
They will all begin this fall, with an official start date of October 6, 2014. The new programs being offered are: Sports Performance and Coaching Science (MS), Fitness and Wellness Management (MS), Sports and Athletic Administration (MA), and Sports and Athletic Counseling (MS).

swimWhat is sports performance and coaching science?
This track focuses on enhancing an athlete’s performance and how to coach them to help them obtain their goals. People often automatically think of a coach when they hear this program. While coaches will certainly benefit from the coursework, it reaches beyond that vision of the team coach on the sidelines. Anyone that works closely with athletes, whether helping train them, keep them healthy, or both, knows that improving performance and gaining a competitive edge is nearly always on the forefront of an athlete’s mind.

The coursework and topics covered in this program will build on knowledge previously obtained through a bachelor’s degree program with a focus on how to effectively and safely help an athlete gain the competitive edge they so desire. Whether you are a personal trainer, athletic trainer, strength coach, or team coach, this program will provide a complete, science-based understanding of athlete performance. Activities in this program include, but are not limited to discussing coaching pedagogy, evaluating the psychological aspects of athletes, examining sports nutrition and the use of ergogenic aids. This program also has a unique option to include supervised professional field experience as an elective.

fitnessWhat is fitness and wellness management?
This track has a very broad application which spans human resources personnel, life and health coach, personal trainer or manager of a fitness center. As the idea of achieving overall improved wellness has become main stream, many corporations and workplaces are developing wellness plans for their employees. Often, this task is handed to HR or to a committee that may not have the expertise needed to develop such a plan.

By obtaining a master’s degree in fitness and wellness management, you now have the tools and knowledge to make these recommendations. Career options are wide ranging and include everything from a wellness professional in the corporate world to serving as a personal trainer or health coach to individuals. Topics included in this track include an investigation of health from birth through the aging process, the epidemiology of wellness and health promotion, various techniques of wellness promotion, applied health behavior theory, and much more.

bikingWhat about athletic administration, is that just athletic directors?
No, getting a master’s degree in sport and athletic administration gives you the business knowledge that is necessary for a variety of careers within the world of sports. People with this degree could get a job as an event manager, facilities planner, marketing director for a team or athletic program, sports agent, team manager, or anything else you can think of that combines sports and business.

Subjects covered in this program range from legal issues in sports to marketing and finance to communications in sports. At the completion of this program, you will have comprehensive business knowledge of the sports world.

counselingHow does athletic counseling differ from any other kind of counseling?
As discussed in the sports performance section, a competitive athlete is constantly striving to be better. This causes a toll on the psyche and mental well-being of anyone. An athletic counselor has the training to understand techniques of performance enhancement, why it is important for an athlete, and how psychology plays a major part in a training regime. It’s not just about physical health and stamina.

People that are interested in this program may already have a clinical counseling background and wish to place a focus on athletes or may work with athletes on a regular basis and want to have a better understanding of how to help them mentally. There has also been interest among high school guidance counselors with a desire to better reach the athletic population. The subject matters in this track include principles of counseling, mental training in sports, sports psychology, and psychopathology. Graduates of this degree program will be well equipped to assess an athlete’s mental health and help them achieve desired performance goals.

statsIt sounds like there really are a lot of career options with a master’s degree in exercise and sports science. What is a good starting point for someone considering this field?
The first step is to have a good idea of what you actually want to do. A general statement of “I want to work with athletes” or “I want to be involved in sports” has so many possibilities it can be hard to figure out which path to take.

Focusing your interest to a more specific topic, such as sports performance or marketing, will help you make that decision. It is also good to note that each program has common “core” courses that cover aspects of each track and everyone starts with these courses. Even if you’re not sure which concentration you want, you can start with the core and see which topics you enjoy the most before choosing your given track.

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