2024 Best Online Fitness Degrees [Bachelor’s Guide]

By Leon Aristeguieta
Updated on February 19, 2024
Ready to start your journey?
Explore the best online fitness degree programs with our comprehensive 2023 bachelors guide. Turn your passion for health and fitness into a rewarding career.

If you enjoy living a healthy lifestyle, playing sports, or sticking to a strict nutrition plan, then a fitness degree might allow you to turn a hobby into a career.

Best Online Fitness Degrees

Many people want or need professional help to begin a healthy lifestyle or remain committed to fitness and exercise.

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By earning one of the many types of fitness degrees, you could work toward becoming a professional in the field and helping people achieve their fitness goals.

Online Fitness Degrees

Man pursuing Online Fitness Degrees

There are a variety of degrees in health and fitness that you can choose to pursue. College and universities around the nation offer different online fitness degrees depending on their strengths. You can explore these various programs to see which type suits your needs the best.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

The program that’s best for you will depend on your personal interests and professional goals.

Online Exercise Science Degree

Physical Trainer coaching a woman

Earning an online degree in exercise science is a strategic way to pursue careers in physical training and fitness. For students who enjoy working with clients one-on-one, this degree may lead to careers in physical training and lifestyle coaching. Exercise science may also be a beneficial degree path if you want to be part of sports organizations.

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Some graduates go on to become athletic directors or corporate wellness consultants. A typical course of study for this degree includes many courses in the physical sciences, including biology, chemistry, physiology, and anatomy. Extra topics covered generally include nutrition, fitness teaching, and biomechanics.

Online Kinesiology Degree

Physical Trainer assisting a man while exercising

An online kinesiology degree introduces you to the study of body movements. This degree’s coursework generally covers a broad variety of subjects that affect the human body, such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, and motion analysis.

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Earning a degree in kinesiology may be a stepping stone to many careers in fitness. Some graduates choose to work as personal trainers. At the same time, you may want to pursue other jobs. A kinesiology degree may help you prepare for becoming a physical educator or a physical trainer. An online kinesiology degree could also be beneficial as a pre-med degree.

Online Physical Education Degree

PE teacher in an elementary school

An online physical education degree may be a strategic choice for those who seek to teach fitness concepts. There are many job prospects that an online physical education degree may prepare you for.

One of the common career paths for graduates is to become a physical education instructor in elementary, middle, or high school. Other physical education majors may choose to become coaches. Coursework for this degree involves learning the teaching pedagogy necessary to teach kids about physical education concepts.

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Depending on the age range you choose to teach, you may learn about childhood development. Exercise science is a subject that you’ll likely cover, too.

Online Sports Management Degree

PE Directors meeting in a school gym

Earning an online sports management degree could be a strategic way to prepare for a career in the field of sports management.

In this vibrant field, sports managers work behind the scenes of sporting events, supporting the infrastructure that makes sports events at every level possible. Earning an online sports management degree may help you qualify to work for a professional sports league or team. Graduates may also find employment managing a stadium or facility.

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Coursework for this degree includes many of the previously mentioned exercise science courses alongside more specialized sports management classes. For example, you may take classes regarding sports marketing, sport management ethics, and other topics in the field.

Physical Fitness Careers & Salaries

Physical Fitness Careers & Salaries

There are many careers that an online fitness degree may qualify you for. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for some fitness-related positions.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes $78,410
Dietitians and Nutritionists $61,650
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
Middle School Teachers $61,320
Athletic Trainers $48,420
Exercise Physiologists $47,940
Recreational Therapists $47,940
Fitness Trainers and Instructors $40,700
Coaches and Scouts $38,970
Recreation Workers $29,680

Many of these careers are expected to keep growing in demand. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19% job growth for fitness trainers and instructors over the next ten years, which is much faster than average. Coach and scout jobs also have a high predicted job growth rate of 20% over this period.

Some positions, such as physical education teachers, may require certification or licensure, depending on your state and employer. If you’re also interested in a career in nutrition, you might consider a joint fitness and nutrition degree.

Fitness Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses

Students taking Fitness Bachelor's Degree, walking in campus

The course requirements for a physical fitness degree depend on the school that you attend. That being said, there are similarities between different programs.

Typically, a course of study for physical trainer degrees and similar fitness degrees focuses on foundations in biology, chemistry, anatomy, and exercise, with additional courses depending on specialization. Here are some sample courses:

  • Exercise Physiology: This course dives into the physiological changes that happen when a person exercises.
  • Principles of Coaching: This course introduces you to the basic principles of coaching and leadership as well as practice organization and time management.
  • Biology: This course is designed to give you an overview of the foundations of biology.
  • Chemistry: This course is for you to learn about the principles of chemistry and how the discipline relates to bodily processes.
  • Anatomy and Physiology: This course is for you to learn the principles of human anatomy and physiology.
  • Biomechanics: This course is about the skeletal and muscular systems of the body and how they interact with each other.
  • Sports Management: This course introduces you to the basic principles of managing sports organizations.
  • Sports Ethics: This course teaches you about the ethics within sports management.
  • Strength and Conditioning: This course is for you to learn the fundamentals of strength training and conditioning and how to implement a program.
  • Sports Marketing: This course teaches you the principles of sports marketing.

In addition to your coursework, you may also be required to complete an internship or other form of practical experience.

Degrees in Fitness Admissions Requirements

Student preparing requirements for Online Fitness Degree

Though the requirements for each university are different, there are certain requirements that most schools share in terms of admissions.

Here are some common admissions requirements for online fitness programs:

  • Online application. Most schools ask you to complete some sort of online application in order to be admitted.
  • Transcripts. Colleges and universities will likely ask you for your high school or GED transcripts.
  • Standardized tests. Though this is becoming less common, some universities will still ask for you to submit SAT or ACT scores.

When applying to colleges, it’s essential to make sure that you meet all the admissions requirements.

Nutrition and Fitness Degrees Accreditation

University offering Nutrition and Fitness Degrees

When researching colleges and universities, it’s beneficial to ensure the ones you are considering are regionally accredited. Accreditation is a process whereby a third-party agency ensures that a university is providing high-quality education and meeting certain rigorous standards.

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Earning a degree from a non-accredited university may impact your future job prospects or future eligibility for graduate school. To see if the schools you are applying to are accredited by credible organizations, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Fitness Bachelor Degrees financial aid

There are many resources available to help qualifying students pay for college. One of the most common ways students pay for college today is through government aid.

The federal government provides large amounts of student aid in the form of loans and grants. To assess your eligibility for federal aid, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website to create an account and fill out an application. In addition, states may also have their own student aid programs for you to apply for.

Scholarships—for academics, diversity, or other qualifications—may also be available to you. You can typically search these out and apply to them yourself. If you are employed, then your employer may offer professional development programs or other forms of assistance to help you achieve your higher education goals.

What Is a Fitness Degree?

Exercise Physiologist discussing with client

A fitness degree is a science-based bachelor’s degree that focuses on giving students the background, skills, and knowledge they need to work in the fitness and sports industry.

The different specializations— like exercise science, kinesiology, physical education, and sports management—make up the different versions of an online fitness degree. Programs offering fitness degrees typically require their students to take courses in anatomy, biology, physiology, exercise, and sports management. A fitness degree can be useful for a wide variety of jobs and careers in the fitness and sports industries.

What Can You Do with a Fitness and Wellness Degree?

Dietician in a follow-up session with her client

A fitness and nutrition degree may be useful for many different types of positions that work to help people lead healthier lifestyles and promote physical activity. Your specialization could also impact your career trajectory.

A number of fitness majors go on to pursue careers as personal trainers or group fitness instructors, helping others reach their health and fitness goals. Some graduates become athletic trainers, though many who want to pursue this career go on to earn their masters. Coaching and scouting jobs are another possibility for fitness majors. Those who specialize in nutrition as well as fitness may also work as a nutritionists or wellness coaches.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree In Nutrition and Fitness Online?

Man pursuing Degree In Nutrition and Fitness Online

The time it takes to complete a degree in nutrition and fitness online depends on many factors, including how many classes you take per semester and how your school organizes its calendar.

If your school follows a traditional 16 week semester structure with two semesters a year, then it typically takes 4 years to complete a bachelors degree with full-time study. If your school follows an 8 week semester, then you might be able to finish your degree in less time if you can stay enrolled full-time throughout the year. Part-time enrollment could extend the length of your program.

Is a Degree in Fitness Worth It?

Athletic Trainer providing feedback to his client

Yes, a degree in fitness is worth it for many students. You might consider a fitness degree if you have an interest in health and fitness and want to help others get in shape.

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There are many degree specializations available that can help you tailor your studies to your preferred career path in fitness and wellness. In terms of job prospects, the fitness and sports industries have very promising job outlooks. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 19% job growth for fitness trainers and instructors over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Health and Fitness Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American Public University

American Public University campus

American Public University offers a Bachelor of Science in Sports and Health Sciences. Classes in the program are online and 8 or 16 weeks long. APU has a partnership with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Through this, the program can help students become certified personal trainers, corrective exercise specialists, performance enhancement specialists, or group fitness instructors.

APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University campus

Arizona State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Health Education and Health Promotion.

The program requires the completion of 39 classes, and each class is 7.5 weeks long. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the Certified Health Education Specialist exam. Potential courses include Health Theory, Foundations of Health Education and Health Promotion, and Methods of Health Education.

ASU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University campus

California Baptist University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. All courses are taught from a Christian perspective. Potential courses include Care and Prevention of Athletic Injury, Research Methods and Evaluation in Kinesiology, and Organizational and Administration of Physical Education.

California Baptist University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Concordia University – Saint Paul

Concordia University St Paul campus

Concordia University—Saint Paul offers a BA in Exercise Science. The program’s graduates have a 95% job placement rate. Potential courses include Foundations of Exercise and Sports Science, Functional Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, and Applied Nutrition. Students in the program also get to participate in an interest-matched internship.

Concordia University – Saint Paul is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

East Central University

East Central University campus

East Central University offers a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology. The program consists of online courses that are 8 weeks long. Potential courses include Care and Prevention of Athletic Injuries, Fundamentals of Sports Administration, Research and Evaluation of Kinesiology, and Sports Nutrition. Students must also complete 80 hours of hands-on training.

East Central University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Franklin University

Franklin University campus

Franklin University offers a BS in Exercise Science. The program consists of fully online courses that are 6 or 12 weeks long. Potential courses include Designing Exercise Programs, Principles of Strength Training and Conditioning, Contemporary Issues in Sport, and Exercise Physiology. Students also have the option to complete either a field experience or a capstone project.

Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Grand Canyon University offers an on-campus program for a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science—Sports Performance. Each class is 15 weeks long. Potential courses include Nutrition and Wellness, Health Promotion, and Motor Control and Motor Learning. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for a variety of professional certification exams.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

Liberty University offers a residential program for a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science: Fitness Specialist. Students in the program must complete an internship to learn hands-on skills and are given the opportunity to take various professional certification exams. All courses are taught from a Christian worldview. Potential courses include Exercise and Sports Nutrition, Exercise Leadership, and Biomechanics.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Maryville University

Maryville University campus

Maryville University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. Students can choose a concentration in Wellness Management or Strength and Conditioning. Maryville’s state-of-the-art Human Performance Lab makes it easy to study human movement remotely. The curriculum emphasizes real-world experience and project-based learning.

Maryville University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University campus

North Carolina Central University offers a BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Fitness and Wellness Management. The program is online, with video demonstrations and labs to help students learn hands-on skills. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for a variety of professional certifications. Graduates of the program often go on to graduate school and pursue allied health careers.

North Carolina Central University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Park University

Park University campus

Park University offers a Bachelor of Science in Sport and Exercise Science. This face-to-face program is available at multiple campus locations. The curriculum is designed to help students become certified personal trainers or certified strength and conditioning coaches. Concentrations are available in Exercise Physiology, Fitness Management, Health Promotion, and Sports Performance.

Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Pennsylvania Western University – California

Pennsylvania Western University campus

Pennsylvania Western University—California offers an online program for a BS in Exercise Science. The program is designed to help students become certified personal trainers or certified speed coaches. Potential courses include Applied Anatomy and Physiology in Wellness and Fitness, Fundamentals of Speed Training, and Business Aspects of Fitness.

Pennsylvania Western University – California is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The United States Sports Academy

The United States Sports Academy campus

The United States Sports Academy offers a Bachelor of Sports Science in Sports Strength and Conditioning. The curriculum is designed to help students prepare for national certification exams from the NSCA and ACSM. Students can complete their coursework 100% online and may participate in an internship locally to gain hands-on skills. Most graduates of the program find a job within four months of graduation.

The United States Sports Academy is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Kansas

University of Kansas campus

The University of Kansas offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Exercise Science. Students in the program may complete an internship and take courses like Methods of Strength and Conditioning, Principles of Personal Training, and Tactical Strength and Conditioning.

The University of Kansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Louisiana – Lafayette

University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus

The University of Louisiana—Lafayette offers a BS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health Promotion and Wellness. Courses are 100% online and may be completed in either a 16 week semester format or an accelerated 8 week format. Online students have access to tutoring, library services, and tech support.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Missouri – Columbia

University of Missouri – Columbia campus

The University of Missouri—Columbia offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Fitness Programming and Management. No campus visits are required, but students do receive practicum assignments that may be completed locally. Potential courses include Exercise Techniques, Foundations of Movement in Exercise, and Introduction to Human Physiology.

The University of Missouri – Columbia is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota campus

The University of North Dakota offers a BS in Kinesiology. The program is available on campus and online and typically takes 4 years to complete. Potential courses include Exercise Testing and Prescription, Introduction to Coaching, and Adapted Physical Activity. The program also offers the opportunity to participate in an internship.

UND is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Saint Mary

University of Saint Mary campus

The University of Saint Mary offers a BS in Exercise Science that can be earned on campus and online. The curriculum is designed to help students pursue professional certifications from the ACSM, NSCA, and NASM. Each course is 16 weeks long. Potential courses include Exercise Physiology, First Aid and Emergency Procedures, and Kinesiology.

The University of Saint Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

The University of the Cumberlands offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Coaching. The courses are designed so that online students can learn the same knowledge they would in the on-campus program but with the flexibility to study when it is most convenient. The curriculum is highly customizable through elective options.

The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus

The University of Wisconsin—Whitewater offers an online Bachelor’s in Human Performance. Classes are fully online and asynchronous. Potential courses include Structure and Function of the Human Body I and II, Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise, and Physical Activity and Recreation for Special Populations. The program also offers internship opportunities.

UW-Whitewater is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your Health and Fitness Degree Online

Woman taking Health and Fitness Degree Online

The fitness industry is growing rapidly, and you might consider a bachelors degree in this field if you’re looking to make a difference in the lives of others by encouraging them to lead healthier lifestyles.

Graduates may go on to work in a range of fields, including personal care and service, sports, healthcare, and education. The coursework for fitness degrees is varied, and you could choose a specialization that best aligns with your career goals. It’s strategic to compare the available coursework, concentrations, and schedules of various online fitness degree programs to ensure that you choose one that meets your needs and interests.

Why not start exploring accredited schools today?

Ready to start your journey?
WRITTEN BY
Leon is currently pursuing an M.A. in History from Florida Atlantic University. He holds both a B.A. in History and a B.S. in Communications with a concentration in Journalism from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Leon's research interests include the Cold War in Latin America and US-Latin American relations.