Online Schools for Fitness and Nutrition Degrees: How to Choose

A number of schools offer fully online or hybrid fitness and nutrition certificate and degree programs. Depending on a student's particular area of interest, he or she can choose to complete a certificate program in personal training or pursue a degree in an area like health fitness or nutrition. Read on for advice on picking an online program in these fields.

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Online degree options for students wishing to study fitness and nutrition are available at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Learn about a few of the schools that offer these programs, as well as different degree options and things to consider when choosing a program.

How to Select an Online Fitness and Nutrition School

Online fitness and nutrition programs are offered by 4-year colleges and universities. Students should weigh the program type with time and cost factors.

Program Type

When deciding on what type of program is best, an individual must consider his or her specific interests and career goals in the fields of nutrition and fitness. For instance, those interested in working as personal trainers either through a gym or independently may benefit from obtaining an online certificate in personal training. Others who are more interested in diet and health might choose to earn an online degree in nutrition.

Time Commitments and Costs

Individuals should then decide how much flexibility their schedules demand. Another factor to consider is how much time and money they're willing and able to dedicate to their schooling. Since fully online programs can often be more costly, students might consider hybrid programs - in which only certain classes are required to be completed online, with the rest taken on-campus - if their daily schedules allow.

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List of Common Online Fitness and Nutrition Programs

Online Certificate in Personal Training

Through an online personal training certificate program, students learn the fundamentals of developing fitness programs for clients, including how to start and maintain a business. Coursework typically covers:

  • Injury prevention
  • The psychology of wellness
  • Exercise physiology
  • Nutrition

Students enrolled in an online personal training program also receive instruction on fitness assessments and risk factor screenings, stretching techniques, helping clients lose or gain weight, reaching out to clients and setting rates.

In addition to one-on-one personal training programs, some schools allow students to specialize in group fitness. These programs offer very similar coursework to a personal training certificate program, along with instruction on class design, cueing and instructional techniques. Online personal trainer and group fitness instructor certificates can be completed in anywhere from four weeks to six months.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Wellness and Fitness

The online bachelor's degree in wellness and fitness can prepare students for careers in fields like personal training, youth athletic coaching or community recreation. Coursework, which is sometimes delivered through online videos, may include topics like:

  • Sports psychology
  • Fitness analysis
  • Kinesiology
  • Sports nutrition

While some programs can be taken completely online, others require clinical externships or field experiences in which students work with qualified trainers and fitness instructors in their local area.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition

An online Bachelor of Science in Nutrition program aims at preparing students for careers as nutritionists, dietitians or holistic healthcare providers. Through this type of program, students study topics like:

  • Nutrition and health communications
  • Healthy cuisine development
  • Cultural aspects of food
  • Life cycle in nutrition

They also receive instruction on ethical and administrative skills required to succeed in the field. Specific course topics can include biochemistry, nutrition for special populations, eating disorders, physiology, obesity, sports nutrition and health education. Students may be required to complete a capstone project or field experience.

Online Master's Degree in Nutrition

For those seeking to pursue higher positions in the healthcare field related to diet, health and nutrition, there is an online Master of Science in Nutrition available. This type of program includes more advanced course topics like:

  • Clinical biochemistry
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Evidence based nutrition
  • Botanical medicine
  • Vitamins and minerals

Students will also have opportunities to participate in nutritional research while pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and they may complete an original project or thesis; students communicate frequently with their online instructors for research guidance. Some programs require students to take a comprehensive final exam.

Schools With Online Programs in Fitness and Nutrition

Penn Foster Career School offers an online certificate in fitness and nutrition for those wishing to work in the fitness industry. The program covers healthy eating habits, creating fitness routines and more. The program consists of seven units and can be completed in as little as two months.

Northeastern University offers an online Master of Science in Applied Nutrition that offers four degree specializations. Students can focus their studies in obesity and eating disorders, business and entrepreneurship in nutrition, nutrition and fitness or nutrition education. The program requires 45 to 47 quarter hours for completion.

Kaplan University offers students a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness that totals 180 credits. Students in this program learn how to apply a mind-body-spirit approach to help people live healthy lives. Graduates of this program are prepared for a variety of careers in the health field.

Students interested in studying fitness and nutrition online can choose from schools that offer certificates, undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs. While searching for the right school to attend, students should consider what kind of degree they want and need to pursue, as well as the time commitment and cost that degree requires.

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