How to Choose a School with Physical Fitness Management Programs

Several colleges and universities offer physical fitness management programs with a variety of specializations. These programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels at schools throughout the nation. Distance and online courses are also often available.

Students can earn certificates, associate's degrees, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees in fitness and sports management. Some programs offer concentration areas for personalized training.

Top Ten Schools with Sports and Fitness Management Programs

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer sports and fitness management programs.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
California University of Pennsylvania California, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $9,936; In-state Graduate $8,460
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $10,176; In-state Graduate $5,598
University of Tulsa Tulsa, OK 4-year, Private Minor Undergraduate $39,521
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $6,381; In-state Graduate $10,770
Towson University Towson, MD 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state Undergraduate $9,182; Out-of-state Undergraduate $20,788
University of San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, Private Master's Graduate $22,410
University of Louisville Louisville, KY 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $10,744; In-state Graduate $11,664
Wichita State University Wichita, KS 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $7,528; In-state Graduate $4,927
University of Massachusetts - Amherst Amherst, MA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's In-state Undergraduate $14,171; In-state Graduate $12,782
Taylor University Upland, IN 4-year, Private Bachelor's Undergraduate $30,270

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting a program in this field.

  • Online and distance learning may be available in some programs to cater to those with full-time jobs or busy schedules.
  • Some programs offer students the opportunity to focus their education on either the business end of fitness or exercise science.
  • Research the hands-on experience opportunities offered by a program, as they are an important part of the preperation for a career in fitness management.
  • National certification is required to work in most fitness settings, and many schools offer courses to help students prepare for certification tests.

Certificate in Fitness Business Management

Usually offered online, certificate programs in fitness management are narrowly focused on managing a fitness facility or program at a corporate site, gym, medical facility or public recreational center. They are appropriate for students who are already experienced fitness professionals.

Completion of this type of course usually counts for continuing education credits with several national certification organizations. Proof of CPR certification is required to be certified.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Health and Fitness

These 2-year programs introduce the student to exercise science and the world of fitness. Programs will typically direct students to the appropriate national certifications for different fitness disciplines, such as personal training, group fitness and yoga. In most cases, credits from these programs can transfer into a bachelor's program in the health and fitness management field. The basics of human anatomy and kinesiology, sports psychology and exercise prescription are covered.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Sports and Fitness Management

In many of these 4-year programs, students can elect to minor in coaching, physical education, injury rehabilitation, health promotion, recreation or business management. Most programs have a required field internship in which the student works in a fitness or wellness facility. Some programs offer special certifications in coaching and Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), which is a trademarked program in body alignment used in many physical fitness programs.

Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Fitness Management

For students already holding a bachelor's degree in a health-related field, these 2-year programs combine coursework in business management and physical fitness. Master's degrees are appropriate for professionals who have several years of experience in the fitness business and want to increase their fitness knowledge, advance into a management role or start their own business.

There are many program options for individuals interested in a career in physical fitness management, ranging from undergraduate certificates to bachelor's or master's degrees. Students should keep in mind cost, the diversity of program levels, and the quality of hands-on experiences before choosing a program.

Search Degrees, Careers, or Schools