Last Updated: August 10, 2018, 12:32 pm

Majors applicable for athletes seeking next level


For student athletes, majoring in their sport may seem easier than majoring in biology or art if they want to become professional athletes some day. 

While a professional sports degree is unheard of, Dixie State University offers programs and degrees that may catch a student athlete’s attention: exercise science, population health, and recreation and sports management.

Susan Hart, associate professor of physical education and health and human performance department chair, said these degrees are a great basis, especially exercise science, for students who aren’t athletes as well and want to continue on to medical school, physical therapy school or graduate school.

According to, the exercise science degree focuses on maintaining and improving physical health and athletic performance. Classes offered with this degree include anatomy, sport and performance psychology, and nutrition for sport and exercise. 

“[The exercise science] degree has really exploded over the last couple of semesters,” Hart said. “Some of these students may have to take a couple of classes beyond the degree to qualify for the different programs depending on where they want to go, but the exercise science (degree) gives them a really good basis for that.”

Sutherland Wyatt, a senior from Paradise, California, is majoring in exercise science because of his fascination for the human body and how it moves. He said he is planning on using this degree in a physical therapy setting to help older adults and develop exercise programs for them.

“I love to exercise myself and being able to apply what I learn into my own daily life is a nice bonus as well,” Wyatt said.

Some of the skills Wyatt has learned while majoring in exercise science include knowing what proper posture is, what a quality exercise program looks like, and how to conduct research in a sports setting. 

The population health degree offered at DSU focuses on aspects like recreation, tourism and sport services. Some classes offered with this degree include recreation and sport leadership, financial management and resort management. On the other hand, recreation and sport management focuses on the same aspects as the other degrees, but Hart said it’s a good match if someone wants to go into any sport management or coaching positions.

Hart said these majors are applicable for athletes who may want to “go pro” someday because in these degrees, athletes are learning about health-related activities like strength and conditioning. But she said these degrees are a good back up plan if going pro doesn’t happen.

“Athletes may plan to go pro, but you never know what’s going to happen,” Hart said. “Such a small percentage of people make it in the professional leagues.” 

While Hart said at least half of the health and human performance degree occupants are student athletes, these degrees aren’t of interest to all athletes like Michael Sanders, quarterback for DSU’s football team and a senior applied sociology major from Phoenix. 

Sanders said majoring in applied sociology has helped him in understanding how people interact, especially in football.

“I am happy majoring in applied sociology because of the extent of how much time I’m involved with football; sometimes it’s nice to be able to go to school and learn about something other than football,” Sanders said. 

If you are interested in majoring in one of health and human performance degrees, visit