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Online Physical Education Degree Programs Resource

Physical education plays a core role in the curriculum in American schools, and with a nationwide effort to fight obesity and to promote a healthier way of living for today’s generation, PE has also become one of students’ most important classes. Because of the ever-growing importance of physical education to current and future generations, the need for qualified, educated physical education teachers has risen. To learn more about how to become a physical education teacher, see our career guide.

Physical Education Degrees & Certification

A physical education degree can be the first step in a rewarding, lifelong career for those with a passion for teaching and helping shape students’ lifestyles. Choosing the right physical education degree program for you depends upon your career goals and whether you want to study on-campus or online. The time you invest in researching your option will ensure you choose the best school for you. Like other teachers, physical education teachers must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and become certified before they can begin working. Students have two options for earning a PE degree: at a traditional university or through an accredited online school.

Every college and university, whether on-campus or online, is different when it comes to the physical education degrees offered. Some PE programs offer culminate in a health studies degree, which means students will also focus on health topics, giving them the opportunity to teach health classes as well.

Profiles of Traditional Physical Education Degree Programs

West Virginia University

West Virginia University offers a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education Teacher Education through its College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences. This degree program provides students with a comprehensive skill set in physical education and leads to state-level teaching certification at the elementary and/or secondary levels in both physical education and health education. Graduates may also find career opportunities in student health and athletic coaching. The professionally oriented coursework includes learning across developmental levels and differing student populations for a well-rounded understanding of physical education. Courses are sequenced to provide an integrated learning experience. Students may also be interested in adding one of the school’s physical education minors to their degree plan, such as adventure sports leadership, athletic coaching, group fitness, and personal training. The Bachelor of Science in Physical Education Teacher Education at West Virginia University is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Physical and Health Education that can lead to a teaching license in P-12 physical education and middle to high school health. The program emphasizes the health of school-age children and methods of countering negative conditions including obesity and sedentary lifestyles through the teaching of movement skills and health concepts. An optional minor in coaching can be added to the degree program. The teaching certification track includes a practicum in elementary physical education, in which students complete a field experience in a school classroom. The majority of program courses are led by faculty who hold doctoral degrees in education and the health sciences. The Bachelor of Science in Physical and Health Education meets the standards set by the Indiana Department of Education, American Association for Health Education, and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio awards the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology – Physical Education Concentration to students who complete its 120 credit hour program. Graduates obtain the skills and knowledge necessary to obtain certification in teaching physical education from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12. Courses in individual activities, team sports, motor development, and exercise physiology provide students with a firm foundation in kinesiology for physical education instruction. In the final semester of study, students complete a student teaching field experience of full-day teaching in the certificate area sought, supplemented by seminars in teaching practice and related issues. Qualified students may enter the Department Honors program for opportunities for advanced study. A 15 credit hour certificate in Athletic Coaching can be added to the standard curriculum for students interested in coaching careers. The department also offers 18 credit hour minors in community health and wellness.

Profiles of Hybrid and Online Physical Education Degree Programs

University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers an online Master of Education in Physical Education that is designed for currently certified teachers. This 100% online teacher education program can be completed in two years, with two courses offered online each semester. The program is designed to provide advanced training in health and physical education, with courses such as Professional Issues in Physical Education and Sport; Supervision in Physical Education; and Sport Skill Assessment and Instructional Strategies. An independent study capstone allows students to develop an in-depth research project on a topic within physical education of their choosing. To be considered for admission, students must have a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology or a related field and have a GPA of at least 3.0. The Master of Education in Physical Education at the University of Arkansas is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The program has also been ranked among the best online graduate education programs by US News.

Western State Colorado University

Western State Colorado University (WSCU) offers an online teacher licensure program designed for prospective first-time teachers in Colorado who already hold a bachelor’s degree. During a one-year residency, students intern under a mentor teacher for 24 hours per week while taking online courses towards a Master of Arts in Education program. During the residency, students progress towards becoming an independent lead teacher and will teach full-time for the final five weeks of this segment of the program. Following initial licensure after the first year, students may elect to continue studying online to earn a further 16 credits to complete the master’s degree in education. In addition to a K-12 endorsement in physical education, this program can lead to endorsements in a range of other subject areas. In total, the program requires 43 to 44 credit hours to complete. Courses include Creating Effective Online Learning Environments; Curriculum Development and Assessment; and Research and Critical Inquiry for Leaders.

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University’s transition to teaching program offers two pathways of interest to prospective physical education teachers: an endorsement in health education in grades 5-12 and an endorsement in physical education in grades P-12. To be eligible for admission, students must already hold a bachelor’s degree in any field. All courses take place online, though students must complete field experiences and a student teaching semester within the state of Indiana. The program is designed to be completed in 18 to 24 months. Courses in the program include Educational Psychology and Diversity for Secondary Educators; Assessment and Learning Processes in the Secondary Classroom; and Secondary Teaching Methods and Resources. All education programs at Indiana Wesleyan University are accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Physical Education Degree Requirements and Coursework

Physical education degree programs are typically designed for those who wish to teach physical education, coaching, and related subjects in grades K-12. Certain degree programs may also prepare students to teach physical education at the adult level. Graduates may become teaching certified for entry-level careers or pursue graduate study in physical education or other education subject areas.

The curriculum for a physical education degree program involves learning about the human body, health, fitness, and education theory to prepare to teach students with diverse needs and abilities.

Some examples of typical courses in a physical education degree program include:

  • Introduction to Physical Education
  • Teaching Health & Physical Education
  • Organization & Administration of Physical Education Programs
  • Assessment in Physical Education
  • Anatomy and Physiology of Physical Education
  • Structural & Mechanical Kinesiology
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Adapted Physical Education
  • Concepts of Coaching and Officiating

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education recommends that students take health-related courses and also obtain any health certifications available to them to increase their marketability and ability to teach in the gym and in the classroom.

Teaching and Education Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Can I become teacher certified with a physical education degree?

Answer: Most degree programs in physical education include courses preparing students to become certified to teach at the state level as part of the curriculum, producing qualified teachers specializing in physical education.

Question: What career roles does a physical education degree lead to?

Answer: A degree in physical education can lead to teaching roles in athletic coaching and training, physical education, and sport activities in K-12 and adult school settings. Graduates may also find careers teaching in recreation programs and fitness centers.

Question: How long does a degree in physical education take to complete?

Answer: A bachelor’s degree in physical education typically takes 4 to 6 years to complete, depending on whether a student takes a full or part time course load. Master’s degrees in physical education average one to two years to completion.

Question: Are online degrees in physical education available?

Answer: Yes, many schools offer physical education degrees online. Students pursuing teaching certification can find usually find local field experience placement assistance through their departmental advising office. Oftentimes, students – whether embarking on their careers for the first time or making a change mid-career – opt for online education because of its convenience and flexibility. More and more traditional universities are also offering online PE degree programs. Being diligent and conducting research will help you choose the best program for your career goals.