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The Overlooked Opportunities of a Degree in Exercise and Nutrition

May 15, 2017

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Exercise science and nutrition are among the hottest career fields for college graduates looking to break into the professional sports arena. Degree programs in these areas have grown exponentially, yet the number of jobs available in professional sports, or even minor league sports, continues to shrink. Dr. Nauris Tamulevicius, associate professor of health sciences and human performance at the University of Tampa, asks, “How many strength and conditioning coaches are needed in the NFL each year?”

What many graduates are realizing is that job opportunities do exist—but they are often found in places students had not previously considered when dreaming about being on the sidelines. “There are many opportunities in the fields of health, fitness and recreation, public health, disease prevention, and clinical exercise physiology, such as cardiac rehab,” says Dr. Tamulevicius.

According to the World Health Organization, noncommunicable diseases are one of the top health threats facing this country. These include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases, often stemming from problems with overweight and obesity.

Obesity is linked to malnutrition and a lack of physical activity. The World Health Organization recognizes low physical activity levels as one of the 10 leading risk factors for global mortality. According to the National Institutes of Health, two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, which is a significant cost to the nation’s health and economy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that medical costs related to obesity add up to more than $147 billion each year.

This growing problem, combined with increased public awareness, is leading to an explosion of possibilities for college graduates with training in exercise science and nutrition to help combat the epidemic and create realistic solutions. Research has shown that physical activity and proper nutrition are the greatest preventers of obesity and noncommunicable diseases. Specialists in these areas are uniquely poised to fill a growing need for health educators, corporate wellness trainers, program planners, clinical advisers and more.

At the University of Tampa, faculty and staff are exploring ways to educate students on new opportunities for career advancement. Dr. Ronda Sturgill, program director of UT’s Master’s of Science in Exercise and Nutrition Science program, explains, “Our program is focused on equipping students with the skills, knowledge and abilities needed by strength and conditioning coaches, exercise physiologists, nutritionists and beyond. Our goal is to expand the entire field, not just for those looking to work in professional sports.”

UT’s program offers students a hands-on, practical degree designed with the goal of optimizing athletic performance and human health through science. Students have the chance to work with renowned faculty, conduct real-world research, and intern with some of the top companies and agencies in the field. The degree can be completed in as little as one calendar year and can also serve as preparation for students wishing to pursue doctoral studies.

To learn more about the University of Tampa and the Master’s of Science in Exercise and Nutrition Science program, visit or contact Emilie Gravett, associate director of graduate admissions, at (813) 257-3069 or


World Health Organization. 2014. Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014. Geneva: World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. 2014. Noncommunicable Diseases Country Profiles 2014. Geneva: World Health Organization.

National Instutute of Health. 2012. Overweight and obesity statistics.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Adult obesity facts.

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