Overview of Online Physical Education Degrees
A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for becoming a licensed physical education teacher. However, an online teacher licensure program might be a good option for you if you already have a bachelor's degree in another subject and want to launch your teaching career. For those already working as teachers who wish to add to their skillset or who are looking to make a career switch, online master's degree programs are also available.
But if you're starting from scratch, you can get a physical education degree online at the bachelor's level. Distance learning allows you to pursue coaching, sports performance, or a number of careers working with individuals and teams in various other health and fitness settings. Online physical education degrees are designed to prepare individuals to teach others the benefits of physical activity and healthy living.
Courses cover various health sciences and fitness topics, such as human anatomy, movement, injury prevention, team sport coaching, and nutrition. The curriculum may also explore the mind-body connection, development of motor skills, and the impact of healthy moving on overall well-being. Be mindful that the best online physical education degree requires an on-site teaching practicum for students pursuing teacher licensure to instruct K-12 physical education programs.
Full-time students determined to pursuephysical education degrees online can generally expect to take four years in order to complete approximately 154 credit hours. The program may take five years for students enrolled in programs that also prepare them for K-12 teacher certification. Programs may take longer for part-time students. Upon completing their degree and student teaching experience, graduates can apply for state licensure where they want to teach.
Most schools require official high school transcripts or GED test scores to be eligible for enrollment. Many also have a minimum GPA requirement for applicants, generally a 2.0 score or higher. Prerequisites vary by program but often include English, laboratory science, math, and social sciences.
Other admission requirements for first-year students may include the following:
Common Courses in Physical Education Programs
Degree program curriculum blends rigorous academic coursework with experiential learning so students can develop skills to empower others to become physically fit. Students interested in a specialization may also choose a concentration or minor, such as health and physical education, athletic coaching, or physical activity and sports performance.
While course titles and electives may change from program to program, outcomes and learning objectives are similar:
Philosophy and Psychology of Coaching
This course examines the basic concepts of sports coaching, including creating player development plans and motivating individuals and teams. In addition, students may study the ethics of coaching and how to work with populations of diverse backgrounds and physical abilities.
Teaching Assessment and Management of Physical Education
This course explores source materials and assessment tools to use when selecting activities, planning and organizing instruction, and developing physical education teaching plans in elementary school. Coursework may also require a classroom teaching experience.
Administration and Organization of Physical Education
This course is designed to equip students with basic theoretical and practical understanding about developing, organizing, and implementing physical education and athletic programs. Topics may include management and organizational structure, budgeting, and program evaluation.
The Care and Prevention of Sports Injuries
This course is designed to increase students' knowledge and understanding of sports medicine and the basic methods used to prevent, care and rehabilitate athletic injuries. Instruction may also explain the trainer's role in their relationship with athletes to keep them fit and healthy
Physical Education for the Exceptional Child
Course content includes the best practices in planning, implementing, and adapting existing physical education and activity programs for young learners with disabilities. Instruction may also explore current administrative procedures, policies, and legislation.
Accreditation ensures a school has met quality education standards. It may also be necessary to apply for federal financial aid or transfer credits to another accredited school to meet additional educational goals. By earning an accredited online physical education degree, you'll be better prepared to apply for licensure upon graduation.
Prospective students can verify school and CAEP accreditation status on the Department of Education's Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs database.
Careers with a Degree in Physical Education
Popular career paths include becoming elementary, middle, or high school teachers, which also requires state teacher certification. Though not necessary, some also earn National Board Certification in physical education to become more competitive in the job market.
Licensed physical education teachers work with children of all ages and abilities to teach them about exercising, teamwork, and making healthy choices. They also plan lessons and manage classrooms. High-growth occupations for graduates who do not end up teaching include athletic training, coaching, and fitness training.
Annual Median Salary: $61,350
Job Growth Rate: 4%
Public school K-12 physical education teachers direct and instruct young students on positive lifestyle choices as they relate to physical activity, exercise, and overall health.
Annual Median Salary: $61,820
Job Growth Rate: 5%
Teaching high school means designing curricula and developing academic lesson plans for students to prepare them for entering the job market or secondary education.
Annual Median Salary: $48,420
Job Growth Rate: 17%
Athletic trainers assist athletes in training correctly and safely. They may also diagnose and treat various muscle and bone injuries.
Annual Median Salary: $38,970
Job Growth Rate: 20%
Coaches train and guide athletes to excel at their sport. They do this by developing training exercises and practice drills while preparing strategies for competition.
Annual Median Salary: $40,700
Job Growth Rate: 19%
Fitness trainers motivate others through exercise. They work to increase the physical strength and stamina of clients through workout techniques, class instruction, and strength training.
Funding a PE Degree
With the rising cost of tuition across the country, you might be looking for ways to save money in college. If you're unable to pay your tuition fees upfront — something most students can't afford — there are ways to help shave off a portion of the cost, such as scholarships. These lump sums are awarded to those who meet specific requirements. They can be competitive, however, which is why most students opt to take on student loan debt.