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Masters in Fitness Management: Program Overview

If you want to become an executive at a fitness-related organization, you can pursue a master's degree in fitness management. Find out what you need in order to apply, what you can expect from the program, and what you can do after graduation.

Essential Information

A master's degree in fitness management combines advanced studies in health and exercise with the fundamental principles of leadership and business management. Some schools may offer similar master's degree programs in sports management or health promotion. An important element in most master's degree programs in sports and fitness management is an internship experience at a fitness or sports center, coaching facility, or rehabilitation center. Most programs last between 14 and 24 months, and some are available online.

In order to apply to one of these programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field. Colleges also consider an applicant's GPA, particularly for science and health related courses. Most colleges require a GPA of 3.0 or higher, as well as minimum scores on GRE tests. Some colleges also require applicants to take a prerequisite course in exercise physiology.


Masters in Fitness Management

Common courses in master's degree programs in fitness management include:

  • Sport, physical education and the law
  • Sports marketing
  • How nutrition affects physical performance
  • Exercise through the stages of life
  • Sport facility management
  • Health communication

Popular Career Options

A master's degree in fitness management prepares students for leadership roles in the industry. Over the course of the program, students acquire managing and budgeting skills needed to successfully operate a business. Graduates can work at corporate or hospital wellness centers, recreational organizations, health clubs, or sports facilities. Possible job titles include:

  • Coach
  • Personal Trainer
  • Business Manager
  • Fitness Instructor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Many graduates aspire to become top executives at sport arenas or fitness centers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for top executives in general will increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as average when compared to other occupations. For coaches and scouts, employment is expected to increase by 6%, and for fitness trainers and instructors, it is expected to increase 8%, during this same decade. In May of 2015, the median annual salary for chief executives was $175,110, for general and operations managers $97,730, for coaches and scouts $31,000, and for fitness trainers $36,160.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

While program graduates are qualified to manage fitness centers and similar institutions, an individual who wants to work as a fitness instructor or personal trainer must earn certification. The National Commission of Certifying Agencies lists accredited agencies for fitness instruction certification. For those who want to pursue work as athletic directors or physical education instructors, state licensing and certification is necessary to work in an elementary or secondary school. Individuals who wish to pursue postsecondary teaching or research in the fitness field can pursue a Ph.D. in fitness, health or human performance.

Overall, a master's degree in fitness management provides the interdisciplinary business and wellness training that students need for executive positions in the field, state licensure for fitness-related jobs, or doctoral studies in the field.


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