A bachelor's in sports medicine or a related field represents the minimum degree you need to work in most sports medicine careers. After earning your bachelor's degree, you can continue your education in a master's program or look for entry-level positions. As some master's programs require applicants to possess relevant professional experience, you may need to work for a few years before applying to graduate school.
Sports medicine master's programs go into greater detail than bachelor's programs. They often include extensive, hands-on requirements and academic research that results in a thesis. Master's programs frequently fall into one of two categories: career preparation or doctorate preparation. The former stresses practical knowledge and skills, while the latter emphasizes academic research skills. Due to the specialized nature of master's programs, these often prepare students for specific sports medicine careers.
A doctorate is the terminal sports medicine degree. Many professionals earn this degree to learn about sports medicine best practices and advance into senior management positions. Doctoral programs tend to emphasize academic research, which prepares students for sports medicine careers in academia or at government agencies.
Professionals who already possess terminal degrees in other fields may earn a second doctorate to modify or focus their career paths. For instance, surgeons may earn a doctorate in sports medicine to exclusively treat professional athletes. These medical specialists often earn higher salaries than physicians without a specialization. Full-time students typically earn a doctoral degree in sports medicine in 4-6 years, depending on their graduation requirements.