International Studies

Masters degree and Athletics in USA

By Nicolay Netskar
The opportunities at U.S. Universities are unique, and many don’t know how fantastic pathways Graduate Students may have in the U.S college system. Read about the fantastic journey you can have below!

Many believe “it’s too late” to travel to the USA for a combination of sports and studies if they don’t do it within a year after High School. To some extent, that is correct, as there are some GAP-year rules in place. One can only have one GAP-year before you start full-time University studies.  Many also decide to study in Europe and believe sports scholarships in the USA arent possible as they are too old. The thing most people don’t know is that the chances for Graduate Students are INCREDIBLE. Not only do some schools have cheaper Masters’ degrees, coaches really appreciate the qualities of a Grad-student.

Some schools have very affordable Masters programs, which is good for the student-athlete, but also the coach. It requires less scholarship to get down to an acceptable cost level or to a ‘full scholarship’. Coaches know the Grad students are older, more experienced, more mature, are physically developed, and that they can adapt more quickly. These qualities are so important for a coach, that they do accept the fact that most Grad-students finish their Masters in two years.

College Scholarships USA has helped numerous Graduates Students to the USA over the years, and we sat down with Erlend Hafstad Eikeland from Norway. Erlend graduated from Florida Institute of Technology in June 2020. He played for the Men’s soccer team and was a leading figure in the team. In the 2019 season, they came all the way to ‘The last 16’ losing to semi-finalist Lynn University. Prior to doing his masters at FIT, he studied business at BI Business school in Oslo, Norway.

How was the combination of a Masters degree & soccer in USA?

The combination masters & soccer gave me the perfect opportunity to get my master’s degree and still have time to play soccer at a good level. The major part of my courses were held during evening hours and practices were mostly in the morning, which gave me plenty of time to study, recover, socialize and rest in between.

What is your best memory(s)?

My best memories are when I first came over from Norway and got to meet the team and experience an American college. And the last fall season (2019 season) where we did extremely well. We were ranked number 4 in D2 and got the soccer program back into the national playoffs for the first time in 20 years.

How did you adapt to coming in as an ‘older player’?

I adapted easily coming in as an older player. Of course, more is expected of you when you come in with more experience and you have to give more to the team than a freshman, but you also know what it means to combine playing soccer with a college degree. Thankfully, I had many players already on the team around my age.

Was it easier to combine studies & sports in the USA? (as opposed to during your bachelors)

Yes, it was. Because both the college and the coaches plan for you to have the time to do both.

What is your advice to others considering to do a master combined with sports in USA?

My advice is to stop considering and hop on the plane. Doing a master and playing soccer in the US gives you valuable international experience in so many aspects (sports, social, school etc.). Studying as a student-athlete in a completely different culture is a learning experience like no other.

Erlend (FIT profile) recorded 3 goals and 3 assists in his final year at Florida Tech Men’s soccer. He received All-SSC Second Team, D2CCA All-South Region Second Team and United Soccer Coaches All-South region honors. He was selected to the Sunshine State Conference Honor Roll with a perfect 4.0 GPA.