Personal Training Certification Programs in Pennsylvania

There are more than 20 schools in Pennsylvania that have programs that lead to personal training certification. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Essential Information

According to the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) website, all of the following four-year schools that prepare individuals for the athletic trainer certification exam in Pennsylvania offer these programs at the bachelor's level except for Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, which has a master's degree program that prepares graduates for certification. Some of the other schools have master's degree programs as well. Majors suitable for personal training certification include exercise science, athletic training, kinesiology and physical education. A supervised internship at a local school is commonly required, and in order to participate, a criminal background check, CPR certification, personal liability insurance and current immunizations is necessary.

Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

This Bloomsburg university has several degree options in its Department of Exercise Science. In the 60-credit Bachelor of Science (BS) major, students take classes in anatomy, kinesiology and physiology, in addition to electives that cover topics like coaching and sports nutrition. They also participate in an internship.

There is also a Master of Science (MS) in Exercise Science program, which consists of advanced courses in exercise physiology. There are thesis and non-thesis options for this 39-credit hour program. The department also offers a 51-credit MS in Clinical Athletic Training, a five-semester program that covers orthopedic assessment, therapeutic modalities and disease rehabilitation. Students in this program participate in supervised clinical experiences.

California University of Pennsylvania

Situated in the town of California, this university offers BS and MS programs in athletic training. The BS program includes coursework in kinesiology, pharmacology, orthopedics and therapeutic studies. Students participate in clinical training starting the second year. There is also an option of receiving a dual PTA (physical therapist assistant)/athletic training degree; this sequence takes five years to complete.

The MS program consists of 38 units in topics like pedagogical studies in athletic training, research methods, gross anatomy and leadership. Students participate in a three-credit training practicum and complete a master's thesis.

Community College of Allegheny County

Associate degree-seekers can earn a degree in health and physical education at this community college in Pittsburgh. Students can choose from four areas of concentration: exercise sports science, fitness sports and lifetime fitness, teacher education and sports management. Each concentration includes coursework in applied anatomy and kinesiology, foundations of physical education and health, community health and wellness, exercise physiology and biology. The program spans four semesters.

Duquesne University

Also in Pittsburgh, Duquesne University has a four-year, 130-credit hour bachelor's degree program in athletic training. The first year covers topics like biology, chemistry and psychology, while the second year gets into physiology, biostatistics and healthcare ethics. This program is heavy on clinical and lab learning; during the sophomore year, students accumulate 100 hours of clinical experiences. The junior and senior years are considered the 'professional phase' of the curriculum and involve participation in approximately 1,100 clinical hours. Most of the required courses in the latter two years, such as weight management and therapeutic exercise, have a lab component.

East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

This university in East Stroudsburg offers a BS program in athletic training through the College of Health Sciences. Averaging 15 credit hours per term, the sequence begins with courses in anatomy and kinesiology, aerobic fitness, acute care of injuries and physical conditioning and concludes with courses in exercise physiology and therapeutic modalities. Students complete four internships in this program.

There is also a Master of Science program in athletic training with two tracks: a 36-credit advanced clinical practice track for people who are eligible to become athletic trainers and a 48-credit professional practice program for people who have not met those requirements. In addition to coursework, the professional practice curriculum contains four internships. The advanced clinical practice track has two clinical practicums and a thesis.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Undergraduates can enroll in an athletic training BS program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana. Comprised of 120 credits, the sequence is split between 69 units of major requirements and 51 units of general education courses in natural and social science, liberal studies and math. The curriculum for this competitive program includes courses in motor behavior, biomechanics, human physiology and therapeutic modalities. Students participate in four clinical practicums.

The university also offers a master's degree in sport science with a concentration in exercise science. This program is designed to prepare individuals for a variety of professions in the fitness and sports industries and can lead to certification by the ACSM and other certifying organizations. The program offers 30-credit thesis and 36-credit non-thesis options. The latter includes an internship.

Northampton County Area Community College

Northampton County Area Community College in Bethlehem offers an AS in Sports Medicine with a concentration in athletic training. Comprised of 63 units, the program's curriculum covers anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, foundation of sports medicine, care of injuries, physics, contemporary health and cultural anthropology. Admission requirements for the sports medicine program include immunization and passage of a criminal background check. The program is designed to qualify individuals to sit for the ACSM Certified Personal Trainer exam and the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) exam. It also serves as preparation for matriculation to a four-year program in the field.

Pennsylvania State University

The Department of Kinesiology at this state school in University Park has various bachelor's degree options to choose from. Students in the BS program in athletic training undergo an eight-semester sequence of coursework that includes exercise psychology, therapeutic modalities, experimental chemistry and emergency care, along with clinical practicums every semester beginning in the sophomore year. The department also offers kinesiology degrees in the following concentrations: physical and health education teacher education, exercise science, movement science and fitness studies. A kinesiology minor is also available.

Penn State also has a kinesiology graduate program that was ranked #1 in the field by the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, as well as the National Research Council, in 2010. Graduate students can focus their studies on one of six areas, including athletic training and sports medicine. Students can earn a master's or doctoral degree. The master's degree can be completed with 30 credit hours; students take 12 units of core and supporting courses and complete a thesis. Assistantships, graduate work-study and fellowships are available for the program. Students have access to facilities that include an athletic training research laboratory with a wide range of biomedical equipment.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Situated in the borough of Slippery Rock, this school's BS program in athletic training includes courses in applied anatomy, exercise physiology, physics, biomechanics and nutrition in addition to general education studies. Students also take four semesters of an athletic training practicum, the equivalent of a 12-credit internship. Admission to this competitive program requires 50 hours of athletic-training observation and the completion of a 500-word essay. Students starting the athletic training program as freshmen can graduate in seven semesters.

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

The Department of Sports Medicine at this West Chester university offers undergrad and graduate-level degrees in athletic training. BS students take 50 semester hours of athletic training courses along with 42 semester hours in related courses, such as biology, kinesiology, chemistry, math and physics. Students also undertake clinical hours in the WCU athletic training rooms and at other affiliated sites at high schools and colleges in the area.

The 40-credit master's degree program with a concentration in athletic training is offered through the departments of kinesiology and sports medicine. This program includes coursework in biomechanics, motor learning, cardiovascular physiology and orthopedic techniques. Students also complete a cadaver anatomy course and a thesis.

Career Requirements

To work as an athletic trainer in Pennsylvania, individuals must obtain certification through either the State Board of Medicine or the State Board of Osteopathic Medicine. To become certified, individuals must have graduated from an athletic training program accredited by the and passed an exam. Individuals who wish to become fitness trainers or instructors can become voluntarily certified through one of numerous organizations, such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM); no specific college-level training is required for this level of certification.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Personal Training Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; small city BS in Exercise Science,
MS in Exercise Science,
MS in Clinical Athletic Training
$9,326 (in-state)*
$20,144 (out-of-state)*
$11,750 (in-state graduate)
$16,450 (out-of-state graduate)*
California University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; small suburb BS in Athletic Training,
BS in PTA/Athletic Training,
MS in Athletic Training
$9,936 (in-state)*
$14,069 (out-of-state)*
$11,707 (in-state graduate)
$15,937 (out-of-state graduate)
Community College of Allegheny County Two-year, public; large city AS in Health and Physical Education $3,999 (in-district)*
$7,298 (in-state)*
$10,440 (out-of-state)*
Duquesne University Four-year, private not-for-profit; large city BS in Athletic Training $33,778*
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; small city BS in Athletic Training,
MS in Athletic Training
$9,684 (in-state)*
$20,502 (out-of-state)*
$10,924 (in-state graduate)
$15,152 (out-of-state graduate)
Indiana University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; distant town BS in Athletic Training, MS in Sport Science $9,936 (in-state)*
$21,835 (out-of-state)*
$11,174 (in-state graduate)*
$15,404 (out-of-state graduate)*
Northampton County Area Community College Two-year, public; large suburb AS in Sports Medicine - Athletic Training $3,990 (in-district)*
$8,700 (in-state)*
$12,840 (out-of-state)*
Pennsylvania State University Four-year, public; small city BS in Athletic Training,
BS in Kinesiology,
MS in Kinesiology
$17,514 (in-state)*
$31,346 (out-of-state)*
$19,328 for in-state graduate
$33,142 for out of state graduate
$942 fees for each
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; distant town BS in Athletic Training $9,645 (in-state)*
$13,175 (out-of-state)*
West Chester University of Pennsylvania Four-year, public; large suburb BS in Athletic Training,
MS in Exercise and Sport Physiology
$9,462 (in-state)*
$20,280 (out-of-state)*
$10,772 (in-state graduate)
$15,002 (out-of-state graduate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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