Personal Trainer Courses in Massachusetts with Program Overviews

Massachusetts has more than ten colleges and universities that offer personal trainer courses. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for ten of the largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

Aside from professional certification programs or undergraduate certificate studies, personal trainer courses can typically be found through programs in athletic training, exercise science or sports science. Most of these are offered at the bachelor's degree level, though one school also offers a master's degree. Additionally, students can pursue an associate degree in physical education, exercise science and sports studies.

Personal training courses cover exercise equipment operation and safety, exercise physiology, fitness testing and exercise program personalization. Students can gain practical skills by completing at least one internship, and some courses also integrate clinical experiences. When selecting an athletic training program in Massachusetts, students should look for those endorsed by the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) or the Committee on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Career Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require athletic trainers to have a license. In Massachusetts, the licensing requirements include the completion of an approved educational program and a passing score on the National Athletic Trainers' Association Board of Certification (NATABOC) exam. NATA's Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits six of the schools profiled below, and these include Bridgewater State, Endicott, Salem State, Springfield and Westfield State colleges, as well as Boston University.


Boston University

The Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at this large Boston university offers undergraduate and/or graduate programs in athletic training, rehabilitative services and physical therapy. The undergraduate athletic training program can help students prepare for the Board of Certification (BOC) exam. Clinical experience begins as early as the freshman year, and students also take courses in exercise physiology, human anatomy, life science and orthopedic conditions. Additional departmental features include the option to study abroad or pursue a combined Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training/Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $42,994*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city

Bridgewater State University

This Bridgewater school has over 30 academic departments, including the Department of Movement Arts, Health Promotion and Leisure Studies. The 120-credit undergraduate athletic training program includes five clinical education experiences and qualifies graduates for the BOC exam. Students also complete courses in biomechanics, progressive resistance, sports-related injuries and therapeutic exercise. Through the course in personal fitness training, which can count as graduate-level credit, aspiring professionals learn how to work with sedentary and special needs adults and acquire the skills they need to pass the National Advanced Personal Training Certification exam. The 42-credit Master of Science in Athletic Training program is also designed to prepare students for the BOC, and with the exception of the project and thesis requirements, the curriculum is similar to that of the undergraduate program.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
    Master of Science in Athletic Training
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,053 (in-state), $14,193 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

Cape Cod Community College

The main campus of Cape Cod Community College is located in West Barnstable, and its Workforce Education Resource Center (WERC) offers certificates, courses and programs for students in the extended areas of Southeastern Massachusetts, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

The WITS (World Instructor Training Schools) personal trainer program is open to high school graduates or those with a GED. In addition to learning how to operate the equipment, students who pursue the 62-hour program take classes in fitness and health and complete a 30-hour internship. To earn the certificate, students must also become certified in adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) and take the national exam.

  • Program Offered: WITS (World Instructor Training Schools) Personal Trainer Certification
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $699 flat fee**
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Endicott College

The School of Sport Science and Fitness Studies at Endicott College in Beverly offers programs in athletic training, exercise science, physical education and sports management. The 15-member faculty includes a certified athletic trainer, and the co-curricular clubs relate directly to the fields of study. The curriculum of the 128-credit Bachelor of Science program reflects the educational standards of the NATA and meets the BOC exam requirements. The content emphasizes the five main areas of athletic training, including prevention and wellness, clinical diagnosis, emergency care, rehabilitation and organizational health. Students also complete an internship, two athletic practicums, 19 credits of clinical training and a senior thesis.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $28,166*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb

Holyoke Community College

At this Holyoke college, students can pursue a number of specialized certificates in, among other areas of study, strength and conditioning, coaching, group exercise and personal training. The 12-credit personal trainer and fitness counselor curriculum is based upon guidelines established by the American College of Sports Medicine. Its purpose is to help students acquire a working definition of fitness and develop the skills they need to design a personalized exercise program. The study of human movement is approached from a biomechanical and physiological perspective, and the curriculum includes topics in first aid, fitness counseling and nutrition. Students also participate in a 3-credit internship and take electives in arthritis-specific exercise or physical conditioning.

  • Program Offered: Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor Certificate
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $3,574 (in-state), $8,518 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; fringe rural

Northern Essex Community College

This Haverhill community college offers programs in dance, health and physical education. The associate's program in physical education, exercise science and sports studies provides students with two areas of concentration and the option to transfer their completed coursework to a bachelor's degree program. In addition to English and the social sciences, the core requirements include training in health and fitness, career education and first aid.

Undergraduates who pursue the physical education and recreation specialization take courses in adventure education, biology, nutrition and sports skills. The curriculum for the concentration in exercise science and pre-sports medicine includes topics in strength and conditioning, anatomy, physiological chemistry and physiology.

  • Program Offered: Associate in Arts in Physical Education, Exercise Science and Sports Studies
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $3,768 (in-state), $9,552 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; fringe rural

Salem State University

Through the Department of Sport and Movement Science at this Salem university, students can pursue degrees in athletic training or sport science, as well as minors in coaching, dance, health and sports management. The 120-credit bachelor's in athletic training program is designed to prepare students for the Athletic Training Board of Certification exam. In addition to topics in exercise, kinesiology and nutrition, the curriculum includes four practicums and training in strength and conditioning. Students who pursue the 120-credit degree program in sport and movement science take courses in, among other topics, fitness programming, physical performance and perceptual motor development.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
    Bachelor of Science in Sport and Movement Science - Fitness and Wellness
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,050 (in-state), $14,190 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

Springfield College

The Exercise Science and Sport Studies Department at this private Springfield college offers undergraduate and graduate programs in athletic training, exercise science and nutrition. In addition to a 15-member faculty, relevant resources include state-of-the-art classrooms, a human performance laboratory and an 18,900-square-foot training and exercise science complex.

The 4-year program in applied exercise science requires 120 credits to complete and offers concentrations in personal training, spa management and sport performance. In addition to courses in graded exercise testing, resistance training and evaluation, students who pursue the 18-credit concentration in personal training take courses in business, personal training concepts, budgeting, human resources and marketing.

Core and supporting courses for the 120-credit athletic training curriculum include topics in therapeutic interventions, orthopedic assessments, human anatomy and movement physics. It helps students prepare for the BOC exam. At the advanced level, the 36-credit graduate athletic training program is for industry-certified or certification-eligible trainers and includes concentrations in administration, professional preparation and rehabilitation.

  • Programs Offered: Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science - Personal Training,
    Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
    Graduate Athletic Training
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $31,690*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city

University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth

At the university's North Dartmouth location, the Professional and Continuing Education division offers a 66-hour course for students who would like to obtain their WITS Personal Trainer Certification. Classes are held on Saturdays, and each session last for five hours. Students take courses in, among other areas, exercise physiology and prescription, fitness testing, special populations and safety issues. In addition, students participate in a 9-week internship.

  • Program Offered: WITS Personal Trainer Certification
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $858, including fees and textbook**
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; midsize suburb

Westfield State University

This Westfield school has a number of departments devoted to the study of health, nursing and science. Through the Movement Science, Sport and Leisure Studies Department, students can earn an undergraduate degree in athletic training or movement science, and they can pursue concentrations in physical education teaching certification, exercise science, sports medicine or wilderness leadership.

The undergraduate program in athletic training requires 69 credits of major coursework, and in addition to fieldwork, students learn about motor learning and development, program supervision and the medical issues associated with physical exercise. To obtain advanced standing, undergraduates must submit a number of documents, including faculty and supervisor recommendations, first aid certification, a personal statement, a resume and proof of membership in a professional organization. Students who complete this program can sit for the BOC exam.

  • Program Offered: Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
  • Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $8,297 (in-state), $14,377 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 4-year, public; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Personal Trainer Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)
Boston University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training$42,994*
Bridgewater State University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
Master of Science in Athletic Training
$8,053 (in-state), $14,193 (out-of-state)*
Cape Cod Community College 2-year, public; small city WITS (World Instructor Training Schools) Personal Trainer Certification $699 flat fee**
Endicott College 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training $28,166*
Holyoke Community College 2-year, public; fringe rural Personal Trainer/Fitness Counselor Certificate $3,574 (in-state), $8,518 (out-of-state)*
Northern Essex Community College 2-year, public; fringe rural Associate in Arts in Physical Education, Exercise Science and Sports Studies $3,768 (in-state), $9,552 (out-of-state)*
Salem State University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training,
Bachelor of Science in Sport and Movement Science - Fitness and Wellness
$8,050 (in-state), $14,190 (out-of-state)*
Springfield College 4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science - Personal Training,
Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training
Graduate Athletic Training
$31,690*
University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth 4-year, public; midsize suburb WITS Personal Trainer Certification $858, including fees and textbook**
Westfield State University 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training $8,297 (in-state), $14,377 (out-of-state)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Schools' websites.

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