Best Sports Medicine Degrees

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Students at the best sports medicine colleges study theory and practice, develop research skills, and take part in experiential learning activities to develop comprehensive knowledge. The best schools for sports medicine offer degrees that provide learners with fundamental understanding of the human body, human performance, and human movement.

Students interested in personal fitness, wellness, physical therapy, and sports medicine develop the skills needed to work with individuals and communities to improve overall health. A sports medicine degree trains future medical, sports, and science professions while simultaneously preparing students to continue on to advanced degrees. With numerous approaches to sports medicine, bachelor’s degrees in exercise science, kinesiology, and athletic training give students the opportunity to study aspects of sports medicine in classroom and practical settings. Programs that emphasize exercise and movement help learners understand how to prove human efficiency; athletic training degrees focus on working with athletes to prevent and treat injuries; nutrition, physical education, and biological science programs assess how the human body interacts with its surroundings and how to maximize wellness.

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Top 10 Best Sports Medicine Degrees

Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC
2 University of Illinois Champaign, IL
3 University of Georgia Athens, GA
4 University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
5 Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ
6 Texas Am University College Station, TX
7 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
8 Truman State University Kirksville, MO
9 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
10 Suny College Cortland Cortland, NY

What are the Best Undergraduate Degrees in Sports Medicine?

Best Undergraduate Degrees in Sports Medicine Badge

As we said, the field of sports medicine is broad and encompasses everything from exercise science and kinesiology to nutrition and athletic training. So, while some of these programs emphasize one facet of sports medicine over another, they all share one thing in common: they are the best undergraduate programs in the nation for those who want to work in athletics and healthcare.

To narrow down to such a comprehensive and definitive list, we started first with the academic reputation of each program in the nation and then examined student retention—a reflection of student satisfaction—affordability, and the early salaries of graduates. What we concluded with, after such extensive research, are those programs that are the best in the nation at training and educating future physical therapists, sports scientists, and athletic trainers. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

One quick thing to note about the schools below: the tuition price reflect residency rates. Please see the program website for more on non-residency rates, as well as scholarship and financial aid opportunities.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. University of North Carolina
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A member of the renowned University of North Carolina system, the Chapel Hill (UNC) campus is the flagship university and a major research hub. It is one of the oldest public universities in the country, having been founded in 1789. Around 30k students attend UNC and are enrolled in one of the 70 academic degree programs proffered through one of UNCs discrete colleges and schools.

    Features

    The Department of Exercise and Sport Science at UNC is founded on the belief that understanding human movement directly implicates the quality of life, for individuals and societies as a whole. Offering four full undergraduate BA degrees;in exercise science, athletic training, fitness professionalism, and sports administration;plus another handful of minors, UNC introduces its students to the intersection of health, sports, physical fitness, exercise, and wellness. In fact, UNC students are so thoroughly trained in all areas of sports science they have, post graduation, found rewarding careers in:

    Cardiac Rehabilitation Biomechanics Exercise Physiology Sports Medicine Recreational Therapist Strength and Conditioning Coaching And much more

    Notables

    With a strong commitment to sustainability, UNC requires all new projects meet LEED certifications; and for this reason among many others UNC is an award-winning green campus with high marks from the Sustainable Endowment Institute. UNC is, also, a highly ranked university;U.S. News World Reportranks it 30th among all national universities.

  2. University of Illinois
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The flagship school in the University of Illinois system and a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, the University of Illinois in UrbanaChampaign (UIUC) is a highly active research school. It is a land, sea, and space grant institution and home to nearly 50k combined undergraduate and graduate students. Organized into over a dozen colleges and schools, UIUC offers over 150 undergraduate degrees.

    Features

    Housed under the College of Applied Health Sciences, the BS in Kinesiology degree at UIUC was specifically designed for those who want to study, research, and understand human movement in all its dimensions and complexities. Students gain exhaustive knowledge of exercise stress and movement efficiency as well as the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of sports. Though primarily a science degree, the UIUC curriculum is steeped in a liberal arts model. Kinesiology core courses include:

    Social Science of Human Movement Bioscience of Human Movement Physical Activity Research Methods Motor Development and Control Sociology and Psychology of Physical Activity Bioenergetics of Movement Biomechanics of Movement

    Notables

    UIUC is nationally ranked byForbes(72nd),U.S. News World Report(44th),Washington Monthly(33rd), andARWU(23rd). Likewise, it boasts global rankings fromQS World University RankingsandTimes Higher Education.

  3. University of Georgia
    Location

    Athens, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Georgia (UGA) is located in Athens and is a prominent research university. It is a flagship school that has made huge research contributions, primarily in the fields of biomedical and health sciences. Additionally, UGA houses the renowned Georgia Museum of Art, the Georgia Museum of National History, a state botanical garden, an observatory, and even a golf course (plus much more).

    Features

    UGAs Department of Kinesiology offers a unique opportunity for its undergraduates interested in sports medicine and exercise science: a BSEd in Exercise and Sport Science. This programs curriculum brings together a blend of research in the fields of physical activity, exercise science, and sports medicine. Furthermore, students gain hands-on experience through research opportunities, internship programming, and service-learning experiences. This degree fully prepares you to find a career in:

    Physical Therapy Occupational Therapy Sports Medicine Fitness and Wellness Coaching And more

    Notables

    With its array of research initiatives, opportunities, and facilities, its no surprise that UGA is ranked 56th in the nation among all universities (byU.S. News World Report).ARWU, Forbes,andWashington Monthlyalso rank UGA among the top 100 universities in the country.

  4. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Twin Cities affiliate in the greater University of Minnesota system is the oldest and largest campus, with around 50k undergraduate and graduate students. It is considered a Public Ivy, meaning it is a public university that is comparable in academic excellence to elite, private Ivy Leagues. Campus is comprised of nearly 20 colleges and schools, plus another half dozen research institutes and centers.

    Features

    UMs School of Kinesiology is nationally ranked and organized into both an undergraduate and graduate school. The former offers three BS degrees;in kinesiology, recreation administration, and sport management;plus a few minors as well. The BS in Kinesiology degree is founded around biological scuebce, social science, and physical properties of human movement and physical activity. Like many of the other programs, UMs trains students for a diverse range of vocational options after graduation, among them:

    Sport Sociology Physical Therapy Prevention and Rehabilitation Medicine Performance Training Exercise Testing And more

    Notables

    As a Public Ivy, the University of Minnesota is world renowned for its academic standards and achievements. Thus,Washington Monthlyranks it 53rd among all universities in the nation.U.S. News World Reportranks it 71st andARWUranks its 24th.

  5. Rutgers University
    Location

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rutgers is a public research university with multiple campuses located throughout New Jersey and it is one of the largest schools on our list with 70k combined undergraduate and graduate students. Known for its research in health science, linguistics, computer science, and engineering, among others, it is a leading member in the Big Ten Academic Alliance and the Universities Research Association.

    Features

    The exercise science major at Rutgers introduces students to the fundamentals of exercise physiology, sports medicine, biomechanics, and rehabilitation. Students will also collaborate closely with departmental faculty on academic advisement, research involvement, clinical work, and community service, making this a hands-on degree opportunity that balances theory with practicum. Students will also have access to the Exercise and Gastrointestinal Health lab, the Exercise Psychophysiology lab, and the Human Performance lab. Core courses for Rutgers exercise science major include:

    Functional Human Anatomy Foundations of Exercise Science and Sports Studies Psychology of Sport and Exercise Neuromechanical Kinesiology Nutrition for Sport and Exercise Administration in Exercise Science Internship And more

    Notables

    First founded in 1766 as Queens College, Rutgers is one of the oldest universities in the country and one of only nine colonial colleges founded before the American Revolution. It is ranked among the top 100 best universities in the country byARWU, U.S. News World Report, andWashington Monthly.

  6. Texas Am University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A massive research university located in College Station, Texas, Texas AM University (TAMU) has over 60k enrolled students and over 150 degree programs. Its campus is one of the largest in the nation, and it is the only land, sea, and space grant institution in the state. Thus, TAMU holds important relationships with national organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and more.

    Features

    TAMUs Department of Health and Kinesiology houses over a dozen undergraduate majors, including those in Applied Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology (which can be paired with an accelerated masters program), Basic Exercise Physiology, and Sports Conditioning. Depending on where your specific interests lay, you can concentrate on the clinical end of sports and exercise science, or you can pursue an interdisciplinary approach to sports medicine that blends applied health education with business, training, and other subjects. TAMU will prepare you to find a rewarding career or to attend graduate school in:

    Physical Therapy Nursing School Physician Assistant Occupational Therapy Exercise Physiology And more

    Notables

    TAMU is well-adorned in rankings and recognitions.U.S. News World Reportranks it 68th among all national universities and colleges whileKiplingers Personal Financecalls it one of the best-valued public universities in the country.

  7. Michigan State University
    Location

    East Lansing, MI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the states capital, East Lansing, Michigan State University (MSU) was founded as an agricultural college and was an early innovator in the studies of communication science, hospitality business, packaging, and supply chain management. However, MSU now offers more than 200 degrees, in a range of subjects, through its 17 colleges and schools. Campus is also home to an art museum, botanical garden, planetarium, and dozens of research labs and institutes.

    Features

    At Michigan State students study the impact physical activity has on the health, society, and quality of individual lives and greater communities. As an MSU student you can expect to dive into the anatomical, biomechanical, psycho-social, physiological, and developmental facets of human motion and exercise. You will also be required to complete a senior-year internship. So, whether you want to work in sports medicine, fitness leadership, rehabilitation, or physical therapy, this renowned program at MSU can help you get there. Core courses include:

    Psycho-Social Aspects of Physical Activity Exercise Physiology Cognitive and Motor Neuroscience Athletic Administration Health Promotion Among others

    Notables

    MSU is ranked well by a number of sources, includingU.S. News World Report,which places it 82nd among all national universities and colleges. Likewise,U.S. Newsdesignates a number of the universitys departments as among the top 50 in the country, especially its health science departments.

  8. Truman State University
    Location

    Kirksville, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Truman State College is located in Kirksville, Missouri and is a public liberal arts school. As a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges it is a leader in providing interdisciplinary education with lots of opportunity for hands-on and international education experience. Around 6k students attend Truman State, enrolled in one of the nearly 50 undergraduate degree programs.

    Features

    Studying exercise science at Truman State University will open up many opportunities for you, during your time in college and after graduation. The degree requires you tackle one of the four provided areas of concentration; however, whichever route you take you will study human movement, develop research methodologies, and graduate ready for certification. The four concentrations you have to choose from are:

    Pre-Medical Sciences: This focus covers pre-chiropractic studies, pre-physical therapy, pre-sports medicine, and pre-physical assistance Applied and Pre-Athletic Training: This focus covers the biomechanics of movement, exercise physiology, personal training, and cardiac rehabilitation. Sport and Recreation Management: Specifically for those seeking leadership positions after graduation, this focus covers the administration of wellness centers, outdoor recreation, YMCAs, and more Physical Education and Health: This focus is for those who want to teach in the K-12 public school system

    Notables

    Truman State is considered to have one of the more selective admissions rates of the public schools in Missouri, which has led to some of its rankings placements and recognitions, fromThe Princeton ReviewandU.S. News World Report, the latter including it among the best Midwest regional universities.

  9. University of Northern Iowa
    Location

    Cedar Falls, IA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The 10k students of University of Northern Iowa (UNI) are enrolled in one of the 90 majors made available through the colleges of business administration, arts, sciences, education, humanities, and social science. UNI is located in Cedar Falls and is known for its liberal arts core program and for providing students with international education opportunities.

    Features

    At the University of Northern Iowa you can earn a BS in Movement Exercise Science (including the option to specialize in sports psychology) that will teach you everything from the fitness industry to conditioning programs, business wellness, lab and research methodology, and much more. You will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on training through the internship program. Other reasons to consider the University of Northern Iowa include:

    Scholarship opportunities specifically allocated to exercise science students Access to impressive facilities, labs, and recreation centers Opportunities to participate in the Physical Education Club An employment rate of 96 percent post graduation Small class sizes of 25 students or less

    Notables

    In addition to its regional rankings fromThe Princeton ReviewandU.S. News World Report, the University of Northern Iowa has earned a reputation for its small class sizes, its liberal arts focus, and for the close collaboration between students and faculty.

  10. Suny College Cortland
    Location

    Cortland, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Part of the State University of New York system, SUNY Cortland is organized into three academic divisions: the department of arts and sciences, the education school, and the division of professional studies. Combined, these divisions offer the SUNY Cortland student body, around 7k undergraduates, 50 academic majors plus another few dozen minors in a variety of subjects.

    Features

    At SUNY Cortland you will get a broad education in exercise science. The undergraduate major provides a foundation in chemistry, physics, social science, and applied health, while also giving you the opportunity to work with faculty in research labs, participate in student-run clubs and organizations, gain practicum experience, work in the Center for Obesity Research and Education, and study abroad in England, Germany, or Australia. Graduates from SUNY Cortland have found careers in:

    Physical Therapy Chiropractic Medicine Occupational Therapy Exercise Science Research Nutrition Consultation Fitness Management Cardiac Rehabilitation And more

    Notables

    Kiplingersconsistently recognizes SUNY Cortland as one of the top 100 most affordable public colleges and universities in the country. On top of that, the university has been included, for many years in a row, on the Presidents Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

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