Physical Education Degrees


Consider an online teaching program currently accepting applicants for 2024.

School Level Program Admissions

Greenville University

Master Master of Arts in Education - Coaching
Offers six undergraduate and graduate options.

Concordia University - Saint Paul

Master MS in Coaching & Athletic Administration
Tudor Certification Prep

View online teaching programs currently accepting applicants for 2024.

Physical education plays a significant role in the curriculum of schools in America. There is a nationwide effort to battle obesity and promote a healthy way of life. Phys Ed is among the most important classes. Due to the growing importance of PE to current and future generations, there is a need for qualified physical education teachers. A physical education degree may be the first step toward a lifelong, rewarding career for those with a passion for helping shape and teaching student lifestyles.

Physical education professionals include sports program administrators, fitness instructors, and school teachers. PE teachers have several degrees from which to choose. Choosing the right degree program depends on whether one wants to study online or on-campus. Typically these professionals require a minimum Bachelor's degree and a teaching license. Those with a Bachelor's degree may specialize in physical education teaching, outdoor recreation or coaching.

Each specialization has different coursework that leads to different career paths. An Associate's degree program prepares individuals to work as coaches or trainers. Whether coaching high school-aged adolescents or kindergartners, the process is relatively similar. A Bachelor's degree is the standard throughout the U.S. regardless of the teaching specialty. Like most teachers, physical education teachers must have at least a Bachelor's degree and be certified before they can work in the public school system. Some private schools do not require certification.

A Master's degree is for professionals who wish to further their careers as recreation or athletic program directors, sports facility managers, or leaders in adventure education at camps, private clubs, or resorts. Every university and college, whether online or on-campus, is different in terms of the physical education degrees offered. Some Phys Ed programs have a health studies degree attached that means students also focus on health topics that allow them the opportunity to teach health classes.

Online Physical Education Degree Options

Thinking back to PE class, recall celebrating the chance to be active during the school day. We rejoiced in flag football days and kickball tournaments. Physical Education teachers share knowledge of physical well-being and preventative health practices while teaching children the value of sportsmanship and team building. Enrollment in an online Physical Education degree program may help in making a career in teaching, training, or coaching. Enrollees learn to provide athletic instruction and effectively mentor students.

There are online Masters degrees available

A Master's degree is the most commonly offered online, which is perfect for non-educators to make a career switch or educators to step into coaching. There are Bachelor's in Physical Education or related fields such as exercise science, kinesiology, or health education. PE teachers and coaches are often required to hold at least a Bachelor's degree and certification for a particular area to be competitive for a specialization. Doctoral degrees are available. They are geared to academics and research. If interested in earning a Physical Education degree online, check out related areas of study, such as exercise, nutrition, and sports management degrees.

Consider a hybrid program

There are some hybrid options available. Hybrid degree programs entail taking most courses online and attending campus classes for several days or a weekend each semester. Depending on the program, degree seekers.may have to complete a student instruction session at a local school. Those who aspire to coach at any level from pro to elementary, should consider specializing in training or coaching. That course of study may help land a coaching job. A more general degree is geared toward public school physical education instruction. Look for programs that offer concentrations in the desired career. Several Master's programs provide certification as a Master Coach. A Master Coach demonstrates competencies in 320 areas identified by the National Standards for Athletic Coaches.


Consider an online teaching program currently accepting applicants for 2024.

School Level Program Admissions

The University of Texas Permian Basin

Master MA in Special Education
CAEP-accredited, Complete in as little as 12 months, six start dates a year, cost-effective tuition.

Purdue University

Master Online MS in Education
Specialized degrees in Special Education, Curriculum Instruction, Learning Design and Technology.

University of West Florida

Master Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction
CAEP Accredited, 3 specializations.

Arizona State University

Bachelor Online Bachelor of Education Programs Website

View more 100% online teaching programs currently accepting applicants.

General Overview of Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degree programs prepare students to become secondary or elementary PE teachers, athletic directors, athletic coaches, or fitness instructors. Future Phys Ed teachers obtain licensing by passing a Praxis exam and a qualifying test. Most Physical Education programs instruct students in the areas of instruction and assessment, motivation, classroom management, and student growth and diversity. General education requirements must also be completed. Core courses may include:

Introduction to Teaching Physical Education - In this introductory course, students may do more than learn the basics. The course explores philosophical approaches to physical fitness and current trends that define wellness and health.

Growth, Development, and Motor Learning - This course teaches about motor function, development, and growth expectations of adolescents and children. These areas guide learning theories and instruction for planning activities in physical fitness, individual sports, and team sports. The course focuses on strength, coordination, balance, and agility.

Designing Sports Programs for the Special Child - PE teachers teach students with various abilities and needs. This course provides instruction for the creation and implementation of effective and appropriate strategies for teaching children who are developmentally or physically challenged.

Planning and Implementation of Physical Activities - PE teachers are responsible for planning appropriate developmental learning activities in physical education. The course teaches how to design a curriculum from an activity framework that is research-based for children and adolescents.

Prevention and First Aid for Injuries Due to Physical Activites - The course is aimed at providing sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge to enable:

  • Familiarity with breadth and scope of sports injuries
  • Guiding, eliminating, and reducing risk during physical practice sports and daily life
  • Knowing steps to take to prevent possible physical or athletic injury from occuring
  • Step by step vital components of an effective emergency plan if athletes are injured while playing sports
  • Identifying the first aid to provide for each type of injury
  • Knowing how to apply first aid and techniques based on the injury or type of accident according to established protocol
  • Developing a kit with necessary materials for application if needed

Overview of Master’s Degree

To be admitted to a Master’s in Physical Education, the applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree. Some admission committees require the applicant to have a Bachelor’s degree in a specific related field, such as education, exercise science, or nutrition. Letters of recommendation, a personal statement and standardized test scores may be required. Most programs emphasize essential skills that include sports knowledge, nutrition, sportsmanship, how to structure classes based on student fitness levels, and how to develop a curriculum that uses physiology knowledge and contemporary exercise. They also incorporate training in physiology and anatomy, first aid, body mechanics, and exercise science.

Program specializations from which students may choose include coaching, sports studies, health education, and pedagogy. Top courses include:

Anatomy and Physiology – Students develop an in-depth knowledge of physiological and anatomical features of the human body. The nervous, special senses, urinary, reproductive, digestive, lymphatic, cardiopulmonary, and cardiovascular systems are typically covered. Coursework may include discussions of balance, development, fluid and electrolyte balance, and metabolism.

Sociological and Ethical Issues in Sports – The course is a study of sports evolution and its American culture role. Course topics include sports as an American cultural phenomenon and ethical issues in the context of sports, including fair play, moral obligation, and moral reasoning in sports. The topics assist students in reinforcing and evaluating their principles, values, and morals as they relate to their field in the profession.

Assessment, Technology, and Evaluation in Physical Education – This course gives exercise science and physical education practitioners practical and theoretical knowledge in evaluation techniques, technology, and assessment. The assessment tools that are introduced and practiced include validity/reliability theories, computer/technology applications, and basic statistical concepts. It allows students to master and apply the essential concepts needed to become competent evaluators in exercise science and physical education.

Advanced Principles of Physical Conditioning – The course is designed for fitness experts, athletic trainers, coaches, and physical educators to understand and apply the body weight, nutrition, flexibility, muscular strength, and cardiovascular exercise concepts as they relate to athletics and physical education.

Sport Psychology – This course permits students to examine psychological research and theories related to exercise and sports behavior. Students are introduced to an array of topics in the area with an opportunity for reflection, application, and writing.

Online Schools that Have Multiple Degrees in Physical Education

University of Southern Mississippi offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology – Physical Education. It is a 33-credit program that includes courses in physical education teaching methods, kinesiology foundations, sports regulations, and motor skills development. Students are required to have a qualifying score on an entrance exam.

University of South Dakota offers an online Master of Arts in Kinesiology and Sports Management program. Students have the option of full- or part-time study. The program is completed in 12 to 24 months.

University of Nebraska at Kearney offers an online Master of Arts in Education – Physical Education Master Teacher program that has two 36-credit hour concentration options – special populations and pedagogy. Courses include physical education for disabled students, exercise physiology, school education, and physical education philosophy.

University of Alabama at Birmingham offers two physical education programs. The Master of Kinesiology focuses on exercise physiology. It is a 33- to 36-credit hour program. The program includes courses in statistics, exercise physiology, and research methods. The Educational Specialist in Kinesiology focuses on physical education teacher certification. The program is open to current teachers.

What Can You Do with a Physical Education Degree?

Positions vary based on the class of degree and experience. The available jobs fall under the categories

  • Teaching
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Performance Analysis
  • Sports and Recreation Management
  • Research
  • Other Specialties

A physical education degree qualifies graduates to teach students from kindergarten to college. Instruction involves the gym, field time, and often, classroom instruction based on the specialty. Teachers who coach often receive supplemental pay for extra time, particularly at the college level. Physical education graduates may work as a recreation center, aerobic center, of private gym trainers. They teach others about movement study and performance analysis. Many professional and amateur athletes seek a trainer, mentor, or instructor to break down their performance into various components and analyze how to find more efficiency or increase speed in their movements.

With a leisure or recreation studies degree, graduates can coordinate a myriad of activities at a recreation or sports center as well as municipal recreation programs. At the doctoral level, health and physical education degree holders can launch a career in research. The occupation appears most often in the study of human movement or the field of kinesiology. Other specialties include rehabilitation specialist, corporate fitness instructor, spa/health club manager, occupational exercise specialist, nutrition specialist, camp director, and activities director.

Top Organizations to Know

Society of Health and Physical Educators is a national organization serving as the voice for more than 200,000 physical education and health professionals across the nation. The organization defines excellence in physical education. Across the country, well-designed physical education programs have a foundation based on the organization’s National Standards for K-12 Physical Education.

National Athletic Trainer Association is the professional membership association for those who support the athletic training profession, such as certified athletic trainers. There are over 45,000 members worldwide. The majority of certified trainers chose NATA for support in their profession and a broad array of benefits. The group as a whole can accomplish more for the profession of athletic trainers than individuals can.

North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity has the purpose of developing and advancing the study of Motor Behavior and Sport and Exercise Psychology. Membership is open to anyone interested in these goals and who pays their annual dues. There are approximately 400 members from the U.S. and Canada. About half of the membership consists of graduate students in the kinesiology field.