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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Fitness

Majors Overview March 15, 2015

Get information about different bachelor’s degree programs in fitness and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and continuing education and certification choices.

Information on Fitness Degree Programs

While schools don’t offer any specific bachelor’s degree programs for fitness, those interested in the field can choose from several similar awards, including Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Kinesiology or Exercise Science.
Coursework in these four-year programs covers general education courses, in addition to clinical work in exercise and fitness as well as classroom instruction. Students enrolled in these programs are ready for various careers. After completion of teacher training requirements, interested individuals can obtain licensure to teach physical education, while some may seek certification as personal trainers.

Students enrolled in an exercise science degree program are taught about ways to incorporate exercise into a healthy lifestyle or its use for athletic training or another particular purpose. Coursework may include recreation management, fitness for special populations, principles of athletic training, and the biomechanics of movement.
Coursework in a kinesiology program is devised to help students focus on a specific specialty, such as education or fitness. Core coursework may include several of the same topic areas as covered in an exercise science degree program, but may also cover subject areas such as exercise prescription and sports in America.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Exercise Science

Health and wellness are introduced to fitness enthusiasts in this program that is sometimes referred to as exercise physiology and is devised to satisfy the needs of individuals interested in pursuing careers in or enrolling in a graduate program for human health, nutrition, or fitness or in an allied health field. These professionals may also pursue some jobs that involve performing work with athletes in respect to their physical conditioning or treatment of sports-related injuries.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.
Though schools may expect some background in fitness or health, it is not required. Completion of high school courses in physiology and anatomy, in addition to participation in first aid training or another health-related program would also be helpful to incoming students. Minimal ACT or SAT scores as well as an overall strong GPA are necessary.


Coursework in a bachelor’s degree program in exercise science is devised to impart a well-rounded education covering classes in humanities, mathematics, and languages to augment knowledge on the human body and the way it works. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Athletic training techniques
•Care and prevention of athletic injuries
•Recreational management
•Activity for special populations
•Biomechanics of movement

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program may seek entry-level careers in numerous physical wellness settings, including fitness clubs, health care clinics, or hospitals. While they may need certification and additional training, they can choose from popular career options such as the following:

•Athletic trainer
•Exercise and nutrition consultant
•Assistant coach
•Physical therapist assistant

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Programs in Kinesiology

The study of human motion, with a specific aim to improve health through movement, is called kinesiology. Specialty areas are offered for this field by most bachelor’s degree programs aiming to prepare students for particular career paths; for instance, those seeking to become fitness trainers can choose a fitness concentration. Similarly, those that want to teach physical education can choose an emphasis in education. Many who seek employment in fields such as physical therapy or rehabilitation choose kinesiology programs.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.


The specialty area chosen may cause variations in the coursework in bachelor’s degree programs in kinesiology. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Motor learning and control
•Sports in America
•Biomechanics of movement
•Philosophy of physical activity
•Exercise prescription

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program in kinesiology can seek wellness professional roles in the fitness industry, such as that of an exercise physiologist or personal trainer, among other options.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, an above-average job growth rate of 13% has been predicted for fitness trainers and instructors (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought home an average annual wage of $31,720 (BLS).

Continuing Education and Certification Choices

Numerous organizations and agencies in the United States offer certification options for those trying to become a fitness instructor or personal trainer. For instance, accreditation and membership are offered through the Board of Certification by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Those seeking certification in physical education can also prepare through completion of a kinesiology program. Graduates from the bachelor’s degree program can seek continuing education by earning a graduate degree to become a physical therapist.

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