T Nation

Higher Ed for Trainers?


I'm already ACE, soon ACSM and NSCA, but in the future I want enough credibility to do articles and maybe conferences.

I am having a miserable time trying to find information on masters programs. Just from ONE source, I found the options of:
*Exercise Science
*Athletic Training
*Human Performance
*Exercise Physiology (just for people who want to be exercise physiologists?)

Not only that, I have no idea which schools are any good for this stuff - because each subject has its own rankings, if they have rankings at all!

I've talked to my supervisor about it, but I don't think I've gotten anywhere. Where can I find some information on starting a career in this area?

What is the most well-respected program to go into if you want to be a well-respected personal trainer (is it exercise science?)

Or are all of these just different names for the same thing? If so, what is the best univesity in America for this?

Really, REALLY appreciate help - don't want to go to school for a few years and realize I should be somewhere else!


I am in the middle of the same dilemma. I have ACE/ACSM and don't really know where to go from here. I've been taking college courses in different stuff for my own fun.


Is it some kind of industry secret - or is any degree considered respectable?

I always try to do the best of the best.


if this helps anyone, I graduated from Concordia University in Montreal, QC Canada. I have a BSc in Exercise Science and I specialized in Athletic Therapy (AT).

Concordia has a very reputable exsci program and they offer the possibility of a MSc as well in the same field.

Check it out at www.Concordia.ca



So how did you find out it was reputable? As an "insider," how is your degree (exsci) different from the others mentioned?



This article seems relevant.


I kind of ended there by default because it was near where I lived... However as it turns out the quality of courses and profs was most noticeable only after i had graduated. I realized I was head and shoulders above many people, who had a "certification" in health sciences and training in general. I knew more about athletic injuries and rehad than many physiotherapist, because for three years all we saw were athletic injuries... Where as a physio will study athletic injuries for only a semester or so.
I think that the knowledge you will gain from a program like execise science will be invaluable especially if you want to give conferences down the line.
Certifications like NPT, ACSM, CSCS etc... are all O.K but to be honnest a good degree from a reputable university is worth 10x as much. And you will know that you are that much better...
You just got to put into practice what you learn by training yourself and others when ever possible.




How appropriate, very to the point. It's amazing the amount of people who from a B to a M without any "in the trenches" experience other than the work they need to get their thesis done. Then they are considered experts in the field...



Thanks, both. It sounds like exsci might be an excellent option.

The article is good - but, to be clear, my intention has never been to skip any steps. I am training now, plan to train far into the future, and training is what I want to do. I certainly want to do other things in addition to it, but I understand that that is long term.

Also, just so you know, I don't just want to publish articles/ be at conferences for the sake of it. I have a specific population that I have a lot of experience with that have been neglected by the wider community. I feel that this is a dangerous disservice to them and I want to do something about it.

If you know where you want to be, as they say in the article, you have to take the steps. Getting a masters degree is my personal first step. I will continue to train in school and get experience throughout my life. So don't worry - I'm not just looking for bling.


I just graduated from the same program as KCB. I think the Athletic Therapy portion of the program is excellent, however I feel the exercise science portion needs some work.

I had to prove to my parents that the program was reputable before I could go. The main thing that sold them was that there a several individuals working in the NHL and CFL who are graduates of the program.

The main thing to be successful in this field isn't about the school on your diploma nor the dozens of letters after your name like it is in fields such as Law or Engineering. To be successful you have to continue working hard to gain knowledge after your degree, get results with your clients and market yourself well. I've found that nobody really cares where you got your degree from, just that you have a degree.

Having said that, it is advantageous to go into a program that focuses on the kind of field you want to be in. Such as, if you want to work in strength and power sports, don't enroll in a program that focuses on endurance sports or one that prepares you for graduate studies by placing you in a lab crunching numbers from a VO2 max test.


BTW - also definitely working at places before I even think about getting a masters. In fact, people usually don't understand why I plan 30 years in advance, but that's just my personality. Real world experience :slight_smile:


To be honest, I think this is the best article I've read in months... thanks conorh


Thanks, Chris L - and also about what you said about specializing.

I'm not thinking of doing high-performance athletics as much as I hope to take the ordinary person and make them extraordinarily healthy. Health is my chief concern. I'd like to work with people to prevent "aging" of the body, obesity, and other health-related (but non-clinical) conditions. Given that, which of the areas that I mentioned (ex, kinesiology, exsci, etc) do you think would work and how do I find programs that would work for them?


I just graduated from IUP with a BS in Exercise Science and am going on for a masters at Ball State in Biomechanics. In my opinion, the faculty you study with makes far more difference than the university name or the degree itself.

As a for instance, my degree says that I took a couple classes in exercise phys, one in human phys, one in biomechanics, etc. but I only really learned something valuable in the classes where the faculty had experience and really cared about the students. Especially coming at it as an adult and a professional already, I'd advise you look around on graduate program sites (even though you'll be studying as an undergrad) and calling program coordinators to see where faculty's interests lie.

A couple very well respected schools are Ball State, Kent State, UConn, Penn State, and the University of West Virginia. There's more out there, but those are a couple keynotes.

What special population are you referring to, btw?



I start my Grad degreee in Exercise Physiology at OU this August. I don't know if any of you have heard of Dr. Kraemer, used to be at Penn State, but know I think he is at Baylor. I looked at Colorado State and Washington State. CSU is a really good school for cardiac rehab. Washington state prepares you for the ACSM-Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist exam. Penn State has atmospheric chambers that are good for measuring heat released from the body during exercise and food consumption. You should also look at the staff that works there because you be mentored by a staff member. Obviously, you want to pick a staff member who has the same interests as you.


Awesome - thanks for the names! That will be really helpful.

And actually, I'm looking to do a masters - I'm graduating from undergrad this month.

So I'm hearing exercise physiology and science a lot from you guys - any indicators of whether those are better than kinesiology/biomechanics or whatever? Are exercise physiology and science that different?


The names of programs can be very confusing. Even I'm not totally sure what some people are refering to when they use the various terms. Some common names you will see are. Kinesiology (KIN), Exercise Science (EXCI), Physical Education (PE), Human Kinetics (HKIN).....

Many programs will have sub divisions within their programs called 'streams'. I've seen EXCI programs with a KIN stream and KIN programs with a EXCI stream. Every program has a core curriculum which every student within the program has to complete along with electives specific to their stream or specialization. So basicly what you need to do is investigate the program and find out what they cover in each of the streams as well what the core curriculum covers.

As for your area of interest there are many programs that will fit this description. The program or stream may be called something like KIN or Health and Fitness... among other names. A program with the name EXCI will likely be heavy on science. Which isn't necessarily bad if you don't mind taking physics, math, chemistry etc... Just don't go only by the name of the program. Research the program. Get detailed course descriptions, course outlines. If the school doesn't have it on the website, email them and ask them if they can send it to you.

As for how to find schools. Start with the geographic area you are interested in living in while at school. If thats home, the other side of the country away from your parents or where the weather is warm, the beer is cheap and the girls are loose... Find out the schools that are in the area and see if they first even have an exercise related program, then investigate the program if they do.

Hope all this helps


I did a semester of a Bach in Human Movement and dropped it quick smart as is was not applicable to work in the field at all.

It was a waste of my time and I can see how someone could complete the whole 4 years and have never deadlifted or squatted.

Qualifications are good but very expensive and if you're not going to use them directly to make money, experience is a better teacher. You can write articles based on what you know now, you don't need a degree or masters to do that.

Don't forget physiotherapy however, that's the direction I'm moving in.


[quote]dynosar13 wrote:
I start my Grad degreee in Exercise Physiology at OU this August. I don't know if any of you have heard of Dr. Kraemer, used to be at Penn State, but know I think he is at Baylor.[/ quote]

Dr. Kraemer is at UCONN; he was one of the member of my thesis committee. It's the #1 ranked Kinesiology Graduate Program in the US right now.



Oh, and a few other good graduate schools...

  1. Texas
  2. Memphis
  3. Eastern Carolina
  4. Springfield
  5. UMASS