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Graduate Programs - FItness/Health Industry


I was curious if anyone had any recommendations for master and/or PhD programs for someone who essentially wants to be a really qualified/educated personal trainer/program developer/nutritionist.

Basically, I want to be able to work with high-level athletes, developing diets and programs.

Being able to write scripts and do prolotherapy and the like would be a plus, but I think that’s an MD only in most states. I’m not opposed to doing an MD program.

Because I’ve been living in New Mexico I’ve been looking at the programs at their Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences department. I’ve heard good things about this department, but nothing is jumping out.

It seems like a lot of these programs are for PE teachers, or people who will be instructing PE teachers or developing a PE program for a school or other institution.

That’s not really what I’m interested in.

Is the best route still probably going MD, and then just getting a (worthless) PT certification? Or do we think there’s a value in something like a sports-med PhD?


Undergrad do bio/pre-med/pre-physical therapy. I would then pursue DPT programs at the graduate level. As a DPT you will have no trouble finding work anywhere while you build your fitness business, and you will not have the residency/terrible hours issues that Md’s face.

I’m in the same boat you are, looking to work with athletes and develop programs. I was thinking about Nutrition as well, but that might be later down the line, there’s a couple of pre-reqs I need to knock out before I even consider that masters program. There are a couple of schools that offer a masters in the Athletic Trainer area of expertise, but that is something I’ve yet to narrow down.

I’m almost done with my undergrad degree in the Fall in Exercise Science as well, but my school sucks at getting our major internships, and I’ve had no luck by myself. I’m at a loss and hope something catches my attention or I get lucky and someone will let me intern soon! If not, that nutrition master’s will definitely come in sooner than later.

What you need more than anything to work with athletes is experience working with them. Therefore you should pick a school that has a strong D1 sports programs that is open to interns joining their strength and conditioning staff.

When you’re looking at grad schools you need to narrow down what your focus of study will be and then identify professors who are doing work that you’d like to be involved in. When you’re in grad school you’re going to be doing the grunt work for the research that’s going on there so you better like it or life will suck.

Step 1: Look through the bios of the staff in the Ex Phys departments at PAC 10 or 12 or whatever it is now, Big 10, ACC, SEC, etc… schools and find several that are doing research in areas you are interested in.

Step 2: Contact those professors and be really specific about what you would like to research in grad school. Don’t just tell them you want the degree so you can train athletes.

Step 3: Contact strength and conditioning department at the school and talk to them about internships and possibly graduate assistant positions.

When you apply to a good research based grad school, it’s more like applying for a job than applying to get in to an undergrad program. Remember that and hone your interview skills.

The work you will do directly with athletes though is what will really give you the experience and education you need to design programs on your own. More importantly you will learn to be a good coach which is just as or more important than how good you are at program design. Good luck!

[quote]dcb wrote:

When you apply to a good research based grad school, it’s more like applying for a job than applying to get in to an undergrad program. Remember that and hone your interview skills.


In your experience, what are the top strength and conditioning PhD programs in the US? I’m just starting my search and it seems there’s no general database or list anywhere and I don’t exactly know others who have been there done that.

Get to know people doing what you want to do. If you are friendly and humble enough you will make it eventually. It’s a who you know world. Education is great but still not a requirement. As a coach to professional track and field athletes, word of mouth is the best bet. I sought out the most successful people, thinking there would be no chance in my getting to know them, eventually it paid off. I started as an intern for one of largest track management groups in the world. Met virtually every high level coach I could meet, and would spend a mimimum of contacting each of them once a month to keep me in their head. Eventually I assisted a small group which had some incredible talent (Medalists in world championships and Olympics that year).

I see many professional athletes in track and we get contacted by NFL agents often, never do they ask where your degree came from. If you know people, people like you, you will make it.

Good luck.