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Physical Training Schools, Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

Physical training programs prepare students for jobs as personal or strength trainers. Although physical training degree programs do not exist, students can pursue related degrees or certificates in exercise science, physical education, or personal training.

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Personal trainers lead group or individual lessons, demonstrate exercises, provide motivation, and plan an activity schedule. Students in personal, strength, or physical training degree programs learn how to help future clients reach athletic goals.

10 Schools with Physical Training Related Programs

These colleges and universities offer educational programs related to physical training, including kinesiology, athletic training, exercise science, and physical education. Up-to date tuition information from the 2015-2016 school year is also available.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered* Tuition (2015-2016)*
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $10,037 in-state
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree, Master's degree $6,381 in-state (undergraduate), $12,737 in-state (graduate)
The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $9,806 in-state
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree, Master's degree $13,560 in-state (undergraduate), $16,122 in-state (graduate)
University of South Florida Tampa, FL 4-year, Public Master's degree $10,428 in-state
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign Urbana, IL 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, Doctorate degree $15,054 in-state (undergraduate), $18,041 in-state (graduate)
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree $13,856 in-state
Florida International University Miami, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree, Master's degree $6,556 in-state (undergraduate) $11,097 in-state (graduate)
Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's degree, Master's degree $6,507 in-state (undergraduate), $11,543 in-state (graduate)
Riverside Community College Riverside, CA 2-year, Public Undergraduate certificate $1,368 (total program fee)

Sources: *School websites, National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for physical training schools:

  • Many personal trainers earn certificates or associate's degrees in personal training. Athletic trainers who work at schools, clinics and professional sports organizations typically earn a bachelor's or master's degree.
  • Students interested in earning certification as personal trainers or athletic trainers should find out the requirements from their preferred certification organization.
  • Schools should offer a combination of class work and hands-on training.
  • Individuals who want to redirect their careers toward personal training while continuing to work full-time may consider online training programs.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs for aspiring personal trainers typically prepare students for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) exam. Students typically take foundational science courses in anatomy and physiology, as well as applied courses in topics such as nutrition, injury prevention, biomechanical analysis and fitness program design. Some programs also include internships in the field.

Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs in personal training and/or exercise science prepare students for jobs in fitness and rehabilitation facilities. They provide the education necessary for NASM certification, so students can work as personal trainers, or they may find jobs as group fitness instructors, sports coaches or corrective exercise trainers. In addition to the fitness-related coursework included in certificate programs, students must also fulfill general education requirements.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training programs prepare students for jobs as athletic trainers, who typically work with high school, collegiate and professional athletes to prevent and treat injury. These programs prepare students for the National Athletic Training Association (NATA) certification exam or the Board of Certification (BOC) offered by the Commission on Athletic Training Education (CAATE). In addition, students in BS programs must complete general education coursework.

Master's Degree Programs

Like BS programs, MS in Athletic Training programs prepare students for CAATE or NATA certification. Students take advanced courses in injury and illness prevention, emergency case, injury diagnoses and athlete rehabilitation. They also get real-world clinical training.

Students who want to become personal trainers or athletic trainers can find certificate and full-degree programs that prepare them for certification and work in the field. Students can consider programs that are consistent with their career goals and include both theoretical and practical training.

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