Online Physical Education (PE) Degrees

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Learn what it takes to earn your online degree in physical education, from reviewing top programs to graduating with success.

Last Updated: 05/11/2022

Best Online Physical Education Degrees for 2022

If you have an interest in teaching physical education classes, coaching school sports teams, or pursuing a career in the sports industry, an online degree in physical education can be an excellent fit. But how do you know which programs are best? To help, we researched programs from across the country to identify those with the best combinations of quality, affordability, and learning flexibility. See which colleges scored the most points in our ranking below.

About the ranking

Methodology for the STEPS Best Online Programs in 2022

Generate List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

Assign Impact of Data Points

After generating the list of eligible schools, the STEPS data team then assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability. Online program availability and overall affordability received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education. When unable to verify this number, a star-based system was used to signify the number of programs relative to peers.

Affordability

  • Cost:
    Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid:
    Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement:
    Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

All STEPS rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

1
University of Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 76%
Online Students 17,813
2
Utah State University

Logan, Utah

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 73%
Online Students 14,545
3
University of Wyoming

Laramie, Wyoming

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 14:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 75%
Online Students 5,684
4
University of Idaho

Moscow, Idaho

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 91%
Online Students 4,979
5

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 22:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 67%
Online Students 17,806
6
Chicago State University

Chicago, Illinois

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 9:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 56%
Online Students 829
7

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 16:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 96%
Online Students 5,816
8
East Carolina University

Greenville, North Carolina

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 19:1
Tuition (In-State) $
Institutional Financial Aid 49%
Online Students 15,367
9
University of Mary

Bismarck, North Dakota

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 100%
Online Students 501
10
West Virginia University

Morgantown, West Virginia

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 21:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 78%
Online Students 12,702
11
University of South Carolina-Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 18:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 83%
Online Students 12,929
12

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 13:1
Tuition (In-State) $$
Institutional Financial Aid 68%
Online Students 1,979
13
Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 15:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$
Institutional Financial Aid 94%
Online Students 3,317
14
Canisius College

Buffalo, New York

Total online programs: 1

Academic Counseling Yes
Career Placement Yes
Student-to- Faculty Ratio 11:1
Tuition (In-State) $$$$$
Institutional Financial Aid 99%
Online Students 1,669

Can You Get a Physical Education Degree Online?

Students can earn an online physical education degree with few or no on-campus obligations. These programs feature a hybrid or blended course format, where you complete kinesthetically focused, hands-on classes in-person and finish the remaining academic or theory-heavy classes online. Alternatively, some colleges and universities offer fully online physical education programs at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels. Faculty delivers coursework in these programs through the school’s online learning platform. After completing coursework, students then engage in internships, clinical placements, and service-learning for hands-on training. Let us now take a closer look at the different types of physical education degrees you can earn online.

Online Associate Degree in Physical Education

The associate degree in physical education is typically a two-year program that prepares students for further study in four-year colleges and universities. An associate degree positions you for further study in the physical sciences, sport studies, physical education, or a related field. You will study a combination of physical education classes combined with liberal arts courses in biology, chemistry, psychology, health, and more. Many students enjoy pursuing an associate degree before engaging with an extended four-year bachelor’s program to gain a comprehensive introduction to the field. Provided you attend an accredited college or university for your associate degree, the majority of your credits will likely transfer toward a bachelor’s degree in virtually any field, especially credits you earned in general education classes.

  • Movement and Motor Activities
    In this class, students learn to examine the relationship between motor skills and movement activities. The class allows learners to study human development and motor skills and their relation to overall physical fitness. This foundational course helps students develop basic skills in movement analysis and prepares them for further kinesthetically focused work in more advanced classes.
  • Life Fitness Concepts
    This foundational class help students understand the concepts, principles, and values of proper nutrition, stress management, and physical fitness. Professors help learners explore negative lifestyles and their impact on the body. Upon completing the introductory sections in this course, students then learn to write their own exercise prescriptions.
  • Anatomy and Physiology
    Remote students study human anatomy, normal physiology, and diseases. This class covers introductory-level topics including basic cellular function, metabolism, body tissue, and the skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. Depending on the program, learners may go on to study the cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, immune, digestive, and reproductive systems.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education

Most bachelor’s degrees in physical education are aimed at producing educational professionals and future school teachers. In these programs, you will study how to manage a classroom, build professional relationships for collaboration with fellow educators and administrators, and grow as a physical education leader. Bachelor’s degree-level curricula focus on physical and mental skill development, healthy living, and providing students with the necessary techniques to teach others basic to advanced physical education topics. A bachelor’s degree in physical education prepares you for work outside of the classroom, too. Degree holders move on to careers as nonprofit organizers, wellness counselors, fitness coaches, and more.

  • Elementary methods in health education
    This class is centered around preparing students to teach physical education in public and private schools. The curriculum is typically centered around both state and national standards and allow students to acquire the necessary teaching competencies. The class often requires students to develop and present lesson plans, whether online or in-person.
  • Substance abuse and health issues
    Bachelor’s degree seekers in this class take a close look at over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs that are widely used in the U.S. Students explore the proper uses of medication, drug addiction, and the physical and mental impact of substance use. You will learn about healthy alternatives to medication and focus on the best health-related decisions for those confronted by substance use.
  • Student Teaching and Preparation
    These types of classes typically take place during your third and fourth year of the bachelor’s degree. They serve as the culminating experiences in your preparation as a teacher. Depending on the program, each student teaching training course requires them to complete several weeks of full-time teaching experience in a classroom. You will be required to deliver appropriate classroom instruction, develop curriculum plans, use learning technology, and use the latest student assessment strategies.

Online Master’s Degree in Physical Education

A master’s degree in physical education allows you to further refine your teaching skills and receive advanced training in a specialized area of the field. In addition to making you a more competitive candidate in today’s job market, advanced degrees serve as one of the primary factors in increasing your earning potential. Applicants for these master’s programs typically possess an undergraduate degree in physical education, kinesiology, or a related field. A master’s degree in physical education also qualifies you for work outside of the classroom as a health consultant, life coach, wellness director, professional in the sports industry, and more.

  • Nutrition and Exercise Science
    In this class, you will study a diverse overview of food sources, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and physiological scenarios that impact our health and athletic performance. You will also learn to design nutritional regiments, evaluate athletic performance, examine nutritional supplements, and explore the bodily and societal impact of illegal substances. This advanced course typically requires a series of prerequisites including human anatomy and physiology and courses in fitness training.
  • Sports Psychology
    The field of sports psychology is helpful for graduate students interested in examining athletic performance, exercise science, and physical education. You will study the essential research findings and theories that inform our knowledge of athletic performance and current research in the field. Although this class is quite theory-driven, it is helpful for all graduate students aspiring to work in the health and fitness or sports industries.
  • Motor Behavior and Disabled Learners
    In this class, you will focus on motor development principles by studying relevant research and applications for coaching individuals with disabilities. Additionally, you will examine legislation, administrative rulings, and litigation related to special education topics. Ultimately, you will understand the legal policies and procedures to deliver appropriate education for disabled students.

Online Physical Education Degree Program FAQs

With the recent expansion of online learning opportunities and wealth of information available on the internet, it can be difficult to discern valuable information sources from clever advertising or generally uninformed content. In the section below, we have answered a series of important questions to consider for all prospective online physical education degree seekers.

How do you become a certified physical education teacher?

After completing a bachelor’s degree in physical education or a related field and a student teaching internship in a physical education setting, you will need to take your state’s physical education certification exam. Most states require three Praxis tests on academic skills, subject assessments, and teaching knowledge. This exam ensures that you have obtained the minimum standard of education and knowledge to effectively teach in your subject area. Aspiring physical education teachers can obtain certification in several categories such as early childhood education, K-12 instruction, and special needs populations. After passing the exams, you need to apply for a state teaching license.

How long do you have to go to school to be a PE teacher?

The amount of time you spend in school is significantly related to your desired career path. In most cases, to secure a physical education teaching position in a public or private school, you will need a bachelor’s degree. Your bachelor’s degree, coupled with the required student teaching or internship hours, may take four or more years to complete. If you enroll as a part-time learner, it will take longer to complete all of the required coursework before you can register for student teaching experiences and proceed with state certification exams and licensure.

How much does an online degree in physical education cost?

The cost of your physical education degree depends on the length of the program, type of school, and your availability each semester. Distance students enrolled in self-paced, asynchronous online programs can sometimes get through course materials more quickly than students in cohort learning formats or traditional on-campus classes. Sometimes colleges and universities offer tuition discounts when a student takes more credits per semester than the standard full-time amount. Tuition fees and regulations vary per school, and each program will likely offer some kind of time- or money-saving option. The table below offers a look at the typical number of credits and cost for online college degrees in physical education.

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Cost
Grand Canyon University 120 (B.S.) $395 $47,400
University of Arkansas 33 (M.Ed.) $430 $14,190
University of Southern Mississippi 30 (M.S.) $479 $14,370
Coastline Community College 60 (A.A.) $265 $15,900
Allen Community College 64 (A.A.) $60 $3,840

What is the salary of a PE teacher?

Your earning potential as a physical education teacher varies by state, position, and your level of experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10% of high school teachers earn less than $39,740, while the highest 10% earn more than $97,500 in 2018. Similarly, middle school teachers earned comparable wages during the same year, with the lowest 10% earning a median income of $39,090, and the highest 10% earning more than $93,180. An added bonus of pursuing a career as a physical education teacher is the likelihood of coaching options and related activities to increase your income.

Are physical education teachers in demand?

The outlook for physical education teachers looks bright. According to Projections Central, an employment research site partially funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant, the number of teaching positions in educational institutions should increase by 9.9% by 2026. At this rate, that equates to new 97,000 jobs. Comparatively, jobs for health educators will increase by 14.6%, or approximately 8,900 new jobs, by 2026. Given that the average growth for all other careers in the U.S. is 7.4% by 2026, the career outlook for physical education degree-holders looks promising.