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Postgraduate exercise science: Study options explained

James Davis

Exercise science helps us improve the efficiency of our athletes and encourages healthy conduct. With a postgraduate program, you can gain the knowledge to contribute.

Budding or current exercise scientists can help people understand how best to improve their fitness and strength. With a postgraduate qualification, you can join or improve this field and learn the nuances of applied biomechanics, strength and conditioning, resistance training, monitoring performance and more. In this article, we’ll cover the postgraduate study options available in this field and their entry requirements.

Graduate certificates and diplomas

These are six month to one year full time programs or one and two years part time respectively. They allow undergraduates from relevant disciplines to deepen their knowledge in a particular aspect of the field. For instance, the Graduate Certificate of Exercise Science (Strength and Conditioning) from Edith Cowan University provides knowledge in the eponymous specialisation, featuring units in how to measure strength and conditioning using a computer paired with units in relevant physiology. This makes them a fairly efficient way of branching into specialised fields.

Entry is granted to those from cognate disciplines, particularly the same discipline. However, in ECU’s case this can mean a number of things. Eligible disciplines include, but are not limited to:

  • Human movement
  • Physical education
  • Exercise physiology
  • Kinesiology
  • Any discipline with a modicum of strength or conditioning experience

Of course, this can vary somewhat between programs. A program in exercise and cancer, like the one available from ACU, would have little need for experience in strength and conditioning, although it theoretically could. It’s therefore up to the applicant to check the specifics if their course of interest is similarly specific. Whatever the case, it’s possible to make an appeal to your institution’s course coordinator if you’re not sure of your undergraduate discipline’s relevance. You’re free to make your case as to why it’s relevant, which we recommend you do if exercise science is something you’re invested in.

Master’s degrees

These are generally two year programs full time, or roughly four years part. They generally prepare students to work in a clinical context, helping them become exercise physiologists. The Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology from Deakin University is an example of this. This provides units in a great variety of useful topics like exercise physiology for neurological and muscular disease, exercise physiology for metabolic disease, mental health and more. The important distinction between these courses and graduate certificates and diplomas is in more than just length. These provide a great deal of practical experiences, wherein students can employ their knowledge in a real-world context to a large extent. Unlike many other disciplines, which mix a research paper in with the coursework even within coursework programs, these can instead give students ample opportunity to gain real-world skills.

Entry is granted to those who hold bachelor’s degrees from cognate disciplines that are approved by Exercise and Sports Science Australia. Being eligible for registration with them is often a prerequisite for entry, but therein lies the important distinction. You don’t need to actually by registered until you’ve completed your master’s program and want to practice. So, if you see this requirement under the admissions process for a program of interest, fear not! It’s likely you’re already eligible for registration, provided you got your bachelor’s degree in health science from a university as opposed to your uncle’s garden shed!

Hopefully this brief article has given you some further insight into what your study options are at the postgraduate level. Basically, if you’ve got a bachelor’s degree in health science, you should be fine to enter these programs. However, if you don’t it’s still possible to make a case for a lot of cognate disciplines. After all, there’s a lot of cross-pollination between other sciences or health disciplines and exercise science. No matter where you go with your qualifications, we wish you well!