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Overview of Master Degree Programs in Fitness

Majors Overview July 30, 2018

This article talks about master’s degree programs in fitness and their educational requirements, coursework, career options, job and wage outlook, and certification options.

Master’s Programs in Fitness

Individuals who want to oversee the operations of sports teams, community sports organizations, sports teams or fitness centers would benefit from enrolling in a graduate degree program in sports management, fitness management, or a related field. Schools most commonly offer a graduate level Master of Science (M.S.) in Sport and Fitness Management. The program differs from those related to athletic training with the primary focus on sports administration and physical education rather than on the kinesiology of the body.

Enrollees in these 2-year programs may learn about working with teams or individuals towards enhancing performance, providing physical fitness education services and managing the effectiveness of fitness programs. A particular specialization, such as fitness club management, sports administration, or fitness education may be necessary for students enrolled in some programs. The program may require the completion of a capstone project or thesis, which could supplant or complement an internship at a physical fitness facility. Fitness instructors and personal trainers may gain professional certification through the passage of the exams from organizations as the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in a field such as sports management, physical education or sports nutrition. Requirements also include submitting letters of recommendation from employers or teachers, a statement of purpose and GRE scores.


The curricula relating to a fitness management master’s degree program has an array of subjects ranging from exercise biomechanics to administration techniques. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Psychology of coaching
•Exercise through the lifespan
•Nutrition and fitness
•Physical Education
•Sport Administration
•Principles of sport and fitness management
•Analysis of physical fitness
•Sports leadership
•Sports and Finance

Career Options

Program graduates may seek career roles as administrators, coaches, and directors of private and public training facilities or sports teams. They may choose from possible job positions such as:

•Sports agent
•Event manager
•Fitness facility manager
•Athletic director
•High school sports coach
•Collegiate sports coach
•Sports marketing director
•Sports information director

Job and Wage Outlook

Coaches and scouts are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth of 13%, over the 2016-2026 decade. These professionals brought in an average annual wage of $32,270, in May 2016 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In 2016, agents and business managers of performers, artists, and athletes brought in an average annual wage of $90,870. Facilities managers, who are expected to see a job growth of 10%, earned a median annual wage of $94,020, in May 2016 (BLS).

Certification Options

Certification related to the field of physical education and physical fitness is available through many organizations and associations, including the American Council on Exercise. The American Council on Exercise offers certified credentials for advanced fitness specialists, fitness instructors, and lifestyle consultants. Certification that is also suitable for fitness instructors or personal trainers is available through other organizations, such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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