Online Physical Training Degree Programs

Physical training degrees teach students how to instruct and manage various fitness programs. Discover what online learning looks like in this field, what courses you will take, what options are available for professional certification and what the current career outlook is for those in the fitness sector. Schools offering Fitness Trainer degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Types of Online Physical Training Degree Programs Are Available?

In addition to traditional campus programs, physical training degrees are available as online or hybrid programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. You can find online degree programs such as an Associate of Applied Science, a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science or a Master of Science: Exercise Science and Health Promotion. These programs are often available through for-profit schools. Online master's degrees in physical training are available but not as common as associate's and bachelor's level programs.

Online Degrees Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees often available through for-profit institutions
Common Courses Fitness theory, kinesiology, nutrition, sports psychology, fitness coaching and management
Online Requirements Internet access and personal computer for communication with classmates and instructors; may include required externship at a local business
CertificationOnline degree programs usually prepare students to take national certification exams, improving job opportunities
Career Outlook (2014-2024) 8% job growth in the field
Median Annual Salary (2014) $34,980 (for fitness trainers and instructors)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do Online Programs Work?

Online degree programs in physical training may be offered as online classes over the Internet with all assignments, quizzes and tests being conducted online. Some programs may have a combination of online and on-campus courses. Communication with instructors takes place by e-mail, class discussion boards or online chat rooms that are conducted through a Web-based course delivery platform such as Blackboard. Externships are typically arranged by you within your own community or place of work.

What Will I Learn?

Associate's degree programs will give you the knowledge and skills required for entry-level positions in the fitness industry. Curriculum typically consists of basic business courses, hands-on internship requirements and core classes covering topics such as the following:

  • Anatomy
  • Fitness theory
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Kinesiology
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness for special populations
  • Biomechanics
  • CPR and first aid
  • Sports psychology

Bachelor's degree programs provide you with advanced knowledge required for management and ownership positions. Some programs offer concentrations in coaching, sports management and exercise science, while others include seminars for national certifications in specialized areas such as Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) and Resistance Training Specialist (RTS). An externship in your community may be required. Your curriculum will typically build upon core courses similar to those mentioned above with the addition of expanded business courses and classes such as fitness analysis, fitness for children and coaching online.

What Are My Certification and Career Options?

With a degree in physical training, you can seek a career instructing clients in aerobic exercise, stretching or weight training. Some positions - especially fitness instructors and personal trainers - may require certification. There are a number of organizations that offer certification exams to fitness professionals; prerequisites generally include a high school diploma and CPR certification.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for fitness workers are expected to increase by 8% from 2014-2024, which is an average growth rate for jobs within any field. ( As of May 2014, the median annual salary for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors was $34,980.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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