Career orientation and employability with the study program “Master of Science Sports – Exercise and Human Performance”
(Preliminary version - developed with the assistance of the Career Service of the WWU Muenster, summer 2018)
Goal of the study program
The Master of Science “Sports, Exercise and Human Performance” represents a specialized range of studies, characterized by a strong research focus. The predominant goal is the empowerment for university or non-university research-focused scope of work. Graduates are able to make evidence-based decisions, generate new ideas, conduct diagnostics, and plan and evaluate training programs. On top of this the abilities for research-related professional fields (Research management or sport associations) are imparted.
The multidisciplinary study program (sports biology/training science, sports psychology, sports medicine, biomechanics) enables the students to individually develop their profile: specialisation in one of those scientific branches as well as the choice in which to perform scientific deepening in the form of research projects and the master thesis. Simultaneously the master degree creates the prerequisite for a postdoctoral occupation in the department of sports science or other related fields, whereby students with excellent achievements get the opportunity offered to complete a Fast-Track-Program.
The master study program is a postgraduate study program for students with a bachelor degree which included exercise and behavioural science, medical aspects of exercise and human movement as well as methodological fundamental knowledge and skills of experimental research.
Professional relevant competencies
The master study program is explicitly research oriented: besides the large fraction of methodologically-oriented content, students are offered an overview of the current international state of research in their field of study interest and develop research perspectives.
The institute of sports science prioritises to impart the following professional relevant knowledge, skills and competencies:
Expertise/ Expert knowledge
In the modules M1 to M3 advanced subject-specific knowledge regarding the physiological, psychological and social conditions, requirements and effects of physical activity and resulting changes will be imparted. Students will deepen their knowledge and specialize their subjects-specific knowledge in the fields of sport psychology and social sport science, neuro and cognition science in the field of movement science as well as in biomechanics and movement control. In the fields of specialization students will know, reflect and grade the “state of art” concerning research gabs and perspectives.
Methodological and statistical research competencies
After graduation the students can independently plan and implement sport science research and intervention programs, gather and interpret data, reflect and communicate results. In concrete terms these are the following specific competencies:
- Competence for independent research, meaning to concept, plan and implement research project at international compatible level,
- Competence to implement research results in training and rehabilitation programs,
- Competence to conduct evaluation studies in the field “Sports, Exercise and Human Performance” as well as
Methodological the masters study program is predominantly research focused. In the module M4 methods of formal modelling, survey research and analysis of large data sets will be imparted. In the specialization and practical modules M6 and M7 students can take part in latest research projects and conduct and implement own projects respectively. In the master module M8 the students have the opportunity to produce research papers of high quality.
These are competencies not only necessary for future occupation in research fields. Moreover, they are highly valuable in competitive and high-performance sport, in rehabilitation sport and the development of sport devices, analytical programs, diagnostical instruments and healing resources in the context of human movement.
Soft skills for research
For the occupation in any research field the interdisciplinary competencies will be acquired by the students in module M5. This includes fundamental competencies in resource acquisition for research and evaluation projects as well as project management. Research projects organised into different specialized divisions require specific leadership skills. To successful research belongs the ability of effective communication to relevant audiences of research and evaluation results and conclusions. Therefore, fundamental competencies in leadership and science communication will be imparted.
English as science and professional work language
By the permanent use of the English language both in subject related reading and during class students gain an experienced reading, writing and linguistic competence in the English language, which opens up next to the German also the English international labour market for graduated students.
The Master of Science predominantly qualifies the students for research focused occupation in university or non-university scope of work.
Admittedly the graduated students should be enabled to staff research related positions at interfaces of research and politics/management, evaluation and program planning departments as well as research management. However, the attainability of such positions highly depends on the efforts of the graduated students to further acquire the complying competencies and develop the appropriate professional profile, as the Master of Science is rather research oriented in regards of the imparting of soft skills.
The students will be qualified for scientific occupations in the public sector for research and research implementation both in the scope of university (e.g. Universities, university administration, medical clinics) and non-university (e.g. Max-Planck- and the Helmholtz- Association or research centre Jülich). For those areas of occupation this study program can be viewed as important preparation in favour of a future scientific career. Fundamentally, this study program provides all necessary requirements for a following PhD position, which is necessary for a research career in the public sector.
Scientific occupation in the private commercial sector can be found for instance at sporting goods manufactures (e.g. Nike, Adidas) or companies, which are involved in the manufacturing of healing resources for human movements or in the development of measuring systems to capture human movement (e.g. Vicon, Kistler; Brain products, Siemens) or produce ergonomic implementations (furniture, school bag). Big sporting good manufactures are in funds of international research and development departments at different locations, where teams consisting of experts on biomechanics, material technology, product and process components as well as designers and product developers cooperate. Due to the wide range of content-related and methodological research competencies the graduated master students of this study program are capable of staffing such acquisitioning and analysing functions in those developmental teams. In these occupational fields one can find job opportunities for a career start directly after the master graduation as well as with a PhD degree.
Another occupational field can be the sport administration and research management, where the basis of scientific findings and the analysis of large data sets decisions are made, communicated and implemented on. These include for instance sport associations, health and accident insurance companies, social agencies and ministries, which have significant databases at one’s disposal and practise increasingly evidence-orientated. The graduated students of the Master of Science have the necessary methodological competencies at one’s disposal to deal with big-data, which is becoming more and more important. Having said this, the demand for such data specialists in those occupational fields seems to not have been fully recognised yet. The graduated students can especially establish those occupational fields, when they set themselves up for those through individual profiling: This profiling on the one hand can take place through an individual selection in this study program (e.g. during the internship, through subject and methodological prioritization during the course of one’s study and with the choice of the master thesis), on the other hand has to be endorsed by independent commitment (e.g. additional internships, additional occupation, volunteering, further education).
Results of an international employment analysis for July 2016
The masters study program intends to qualify the graduated students for the national and an international labour market. An international employment analysis during the accreditation phase of this study program has been performed in order to determine the requirements of possible occupational fields and their competencies and professional goals. Whereas all positions required excellent English language skills, the job enquiry revealed that many positions did not ask for specific study degrees, but rather addressed a heterogeneous field of applicants, which had a wide range of particular methodological competencies at one’s disposal. These competencies included:
- Competencies and experience in laboratory or rather experimental research, though only in rare cases specific procedure knowledge was requested,
- Advanced statistical knowledge, in domains such as epidemiological models or multi level analysis, though only rarely referred to specific analytical software,
- Advanced competencies in the domain of programming and modelling of processes,
- The ability to cooperate in collaborative operating and interdisciplinary research groups and, if necessary, perform developmental and leadership duties,
- Professional communication competencies and soft skills.
As possible occupational positions in the field of behavioural and social science have not been taken into account, it has to be recorded that in total, there exists an international labour market for the aspired occupational field of research oriented work, on which the annual twenty graduate student sized cohort successfully apply for. Nonetheless, the advertised jobs are commonly referred to as qualification positions: thus these are positions, in which one is dedicated to write a doctor thesis. This also emphasizes the fact, that a PhD is the required next step to scientific research in the public sector. The doctorate outlines the start of a scientific career, which in characterized by a highly competitive nature for the few (unlimited) positions and the requirement of high motivation for individual profiling. For the occupational field in research related positions it has to be noted, that this field is in a state of consistent change and required entry qualifications (e.g. whether to the master degree an additional PhD is required) vary between different employers.
Professional orientation: how does that work?
The masters study program „Sports Exercise and Human Performance“ forms with the acquired competencies and skills an excellent foundation for the entrance into different occupational positions and fields of work. However, the individual professional orientation is each student’s own sphere of responsibility:
- the assessment of one’s own strengths and preferences
- the amalgamation of study qualifications with additional individual competencies and characteristics
- the development of an individual research profile
- the comparison of the individual profile with the possibilities in professions.
In order to develop their own professional options, students should reflect their individual professional profile. They should know their strengths and weaknesses, gauge their preferences and interests, as well as combine their acquired competencies with additional individual competencies and characteristics to further compare those with the possibilities in professions. For a successful transition from study program to occupation there needs to be an individual profiling and professional orientation.
Therefore, professional orientation is part of the study program as well as the selection of the topic of the student’s master thesis. Whoever deals with their individual professional orientation at an early stage, can set many switches autonomously on their way into the professional field. The institute of sport science and the Career Service support the student’s in their professional orientation by providing two seminars in module M5 as well as an E-Learning- Unit “The internship in ten steps” in module M7. The Career Service offers not only a wide range of seminars with lots of information but also occupational-biographical individual counselling. Information with video material for professional orientation can be found here: http://www.uni-muenster.de/CareerService/infos/berufsorientierung/index.html
Possibilities of individual profiling
Over the course of your studies you have different possibilities to shape your individual profession profile and therefore align it with eventual occupational positions: with you studies itself, but also asides from your studies and afterwards.
During your studies
Major field of study
In the modules M6 to M8 each student has the opportunity to specialize in one of the different subdisciplines (sport biology/training science, sport psychology, sport medicine, biomechanics). In the modules M5 to M7 each student reflects on their individual profile and is enabled to orientate occupationally.
During the practice phase in the module M7 allows the students to get to know possible occupations, fields of activities and employers. Exemplary-theoretical competencies and abilities, that have been acquired with the study program, can be transferred to current problems. In the process students gain valuable experiences and strengthening their competencies, which will ease each student profession orientation and the career start.
The choice of topic for the master thesis allows each student to immerse their expertise in this field of knowledge. The choice of method, with which the research topic is examined, strengthens the methodological competencies in this field.
Voluntary participation in additional courses at the WWU
Depending on the availability students can voluntary gain additional competencies through different courses at the WWU. This can be e.g. professional skills in a different study program, contemporary foreign languages at the language centre, but also EDV-, methodological and social competencies through e.g. the centre of information processing, centre for rhetoric or the centre for science theory.
Asides from your studies
Whether as student assistant, as coach or as volunteer at a sports club, in additional occupations in the public sector (e.g. open all-day school care or “hochschulsport”) or in the private sector (e.g. at a fitness gym or health insurance company) – through additional occupation students gain not only ancillary revenues, but also valuable competencies which add to their individual professional profile.
As coach in the handball youth teams in your hometown, as treasurer at your sports club or as person in charge of press of students’ association: through extramurally commitment students can not only expands methodological and social competencies, but rather already take on responsibility and show personal initiative- these are highly appreciated characteristics of prospective employers.
After your studies
Nowadays yearlong and biennially remunerated traineeships are a requirement for a career start in some occupational fields e.g. media companies and in the field of PR.
E.g. in the field of project and information management, PR, group leadership or moderation training courses (also asides from studies or occupation) are provided by private and public carriers. Through these students can fine-tune their individual professional profile and adjust it to a specific field of occupation.