Best Online Master's in Physical Education

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/22/2021

A master’s in physical education will prepare students for a career teaching others about the lifelong benefits of physical activity in schools, fitness centers, and other group fitness settings. Graduates of online master’s in physical education programs will be prepared to enter the workforce in engaging, hands-on positions.

Proper accreditation is critical for physical education students looking to teach. The main accrediting body for teaching programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Read more about the importance of program accreditation and discover the best master's in physical education degrees, careers and specializations below.

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Online Master's in Physical Education with the Highest Return on Investment

2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's Degrees in Physical Education Badge

The return on investment (ROI) among schools offering top online master’s degrees in physical education ranges from $288,200 to $533,400. Our ROI calculations represent the estimated 10-year earnings of alumni and factor in student debt. These rankings can be used by students to determine which programs may be most profitable in the future. The top school on this list, Central Washington University, has an estimated return of investment that is $129,300 higher than the national average across all online and in-person programs.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 Central Washington University $23,007 $54,153 $19,333 $533,400
# 2 #2 Ohio University-Main Campus $9,432 $50,995 $37,000 $478,900
# 3 #3 University of South Florida Online $11,586 $49,214 $30,450 $468,700
# 4 #4 University of Central Missouri $6,279 $48,041 $23,528 $465,300
# 5 #5 Georgia Southern University $11,098 $46,846 $20,544 $456,700
# 6 #6 Canisius College $20,160 $47,729 $29,581 $454,500
# 7 #7 University of Northern Colorado $9,435 $44,542 $30,770 $420,200
# 8 #8 Tennessee Tech University $11,730 $41,937 $17,000 $410,600
# 9 #9 Illinois State University $14,251 $42,073 $19,125 $409,300
# 10 #10 Jackson State University $8,316 $44,189 $41,149 $403,700
# 11 #11 Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville $4,561 $41,464 $18,680 $403,600
# 12 #12 Northwest Missouri State University $9,960 $40,647 $13,667 $401,400
# 13 #13 University of South Carolina-Columbia $29,760 $42,682 $30,750 $401,100
# 14 #14 SUNY College at Cortland $28,890 $41,193 $23,000 $395,400
# 15 #15 East Carolina University $15,792 $41,406 $26,250 $393,600
# 16 #16 Michigan State University $13,462 $40,551 $31,021 $378,800
# 17 #17 Georgia State University $22,662 $40,728 $32,899 $378,300
# 18 #18 Liberty University $13,560 $38,937 $28,175 $365,800
# 19 #19 Jacksonville State University $8,400 $38,721 $32,144 $358,600
# 20 #20 University of Memphis $9,705 $38,289 $29,376 $357,600
# 21 #21 Auburn University at Montgomery $8,330 $36,132 $35,684 $327,500
# 22 #22 East Tennessee State University $13,518 $31,374 $27,911 $288,200

Best Master's Degrees in Physical Education Rankings Details

#1

Central Washington University

Ellensburg (WA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $533,400
  • Median Salary: $54,153
  • Annual Tuition: $23,007
  • Median Debt: $19,333

Central Washington University (CWU) offers an online Master of Science in Health and Physical Education degree. Students complete course requirements and then choose the six-hour thesis, project, or examination option. The 47-credit program provides instruction in skills-based health education, instructional models in physical education, pedagogical design and analysis in physical... education, and the principles and techniques of supervision in health and physical education.

Online courses are synchronous. Students use the Canvas online learning management system to access course assignments and communicate with faculty and classmates. Students also use the Zoom or Panopto video platforms. CWU offers over 300 scholarships to students. There are a small number of graduate assistantships available each year. CWU alumni have access to campus discounts, alumni insurance, library privileges, and invitations to special events. Graduates pursue various career opportunities in teaching physical education, in health education, or in other endorsement areas.

Students apply online, with applications received by deadline dates each term receiving priority consideration. Resources for online students include academic advising, career services, library access, tutoring services, and technical support services.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: NWCCU
Graduate Online Enrollment: 226

#2

Ohio University-Main Campus

Athens (OH)
  • 10-Year ROI: $478,900
  • Median Salary: $50,995
  • Annual Tuition: $9,432
  • Median Debt: $37,000

The online Master of Science in Coaching Education degree from Ohio University-Main Campus is designed around national coaching standards and focuses on how coaching impacts athletic performance. The 30-credit, part-time program is delivered over five semesters and can be complete in less than two years. The curriculum includes courses in the foundations of coaching, management... and leadership, psychology and coaching, ethics, and performance and conditioning, and injury prevention.

Ohio University online students use the Blackboard learning management system to access asynchronous course content. Incoming students have access to several scholarships, including the Ohio Excellence award based on merit and need and department-specific scholarships. The curriculum is taught by coaching experts in the field at all levels.

Prospective students must use the Ohio University online application on the university website to apply. Transfer and international students may use the Common Application. Online resources available include the Career and Leadership Development Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, and access to the library.

Cost per Credit: $524
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,892

#3

University of South Florida Online

Tampa (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $468,700
  • Median Salary: $49,214
  • Annual Tuition: $11,586
  • Median Debt: $30,450

The online Master of Arts in Physical Education at the University of South Florida (USF) provides advanced instruction to individuals who wish to instill a love of sports and activity in young people. This 30-credit online physical education degree program is suited for experienced educators as well as those who want to pursue advanced studies in the theories and practices of modern-day... physical education. The curriculum includes six credits of core coursework, 18 credits of content specialization courses, and six credits of electives. There is no thesis required for this degree. Instead, students must pass a comprehensive exam during the final semester of their program.

USF uses the Canvas learning management system to support its online degree programs. Students can access Canvas at their convenience to complete coursework and study for quizzes and examinations. Students and faculty may use discussion forums and email to communicate. In addition to financial aid, several scholarships are available, and various discounts are offered for active military and veterans. The school’s Career Services office works with both current students and graduates and offers many of its tools online.

Students can apply online for the summer or fall semesters by February 15, or for the spring semester by October 15. Resources for online students include tutoring and career services, test preparation resources, virtual library access, and IT support.

Cost per Credit: $772
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,739

#4

University of Central Missouri

Warrensburg (MO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $465,300
  • Median Salary: $48,041
  • Annual Tuition: $6,279
  • Median Debt: $23,528

The online Master of Science in Physical Education from the University of Central Missouri provides students with advanced physical education techniques and practical applications. With a pedagogy option and a coaching option, students in the 30 credit-hour graduate degree program can emphasize one of the two particular curriculum tracks focusing on teaching or coaching with courses... in physical activity promotion, behavior modification, and institutional practices.

Online students access course content through the Blackboard learning management platform. The university provides some $7 million in yearly funding to its students. The UCM Scholarship Finder can quickly identify potential aid or grant opportunities, such as the Graduate Student Achievement Award, covering $500 per semester for master's students.

Applicants must use the university website to submit an application and be considered for financial aid. Online students have access to university resources such as academic support through the learning commons, the counseling center, and the James C. Kirkpatrick Library's digital holdings.

Cost per Credit: $369
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 728

#5

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro (GA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $456,700
  • Median Salary: $46,846
  • Annual Tuition: $11,098
  • Median Debt: $20,544

The online Master of Arts in Teaching - Health and Physical Education from Georgia Southern University (GSU) provides students with advanced physical education pedagogy. Graduates will be eligible for Georgia's T-5 Health and Physical Education Certification for preschool to 12th grade. The 36-credit curriculum includes courses in educational research, physical education methods,... assessments and technology, and scientific topics. GSU also offers an online Master of Science in Kinesiology - Physical Education program for students with a teaching certificate in health education.

Online students at Georgia Southern use a Folio learning management platform to access asynchronous course content that they can complete on their own schedule. Scholarships for graduate students at Georgia Southern include Honors College scholarships, awarded to students in the honors program. There is limited need-based aid for students from the university itself. Graduates of the physical education graduate program can pursue careers as P-12 physical education teachers, coaches, and fitness trainers.

Prospective students must create an account on the university website to complete and submit an application; applicants are automatically entered for scholarships. Online resources for students include the Academic Success Center, the Academic Success Workshop series, and digital tutoring.

Cost per Credit: $358
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,619

#6

Canisius College

Buffalo (NY)
  • 10-Year ROI: $454,500
  • Median Salary: $47,729
  • Annual Tuition: $20,160
  • Median Debt: $29,581

The online Master of Science in Physical Education from Canisius College allows students to research the newest trends, studies, and discoveries in education and physical fitness pedagogies. The professional certification track is meant for students interested in careers as New York state school physical education teachers. The athletics track is designed for those living outside... New York and does not lead to teacher certification. The 30-credit program includes courses in sports psychology, special education, research methods, and aspects of health. Canisius College is a Jesuit University and has Christian-centered coursework and student conduct of behavior.

Students at Canisius College use a Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management platform to access course materials and complete assignments. Graduates can apply for many scholarships, such as the ALANA achievement award presented to non-white students or the $500 Bill Davis Scholarship awarded to a winning essayist. Graduates of the Canisius College physical education program can pursue careers in coaching or teaching.

Prospective students must apply to Canisius College using the application form on the university website. Resources for online students include the Griff Center for Student Success, the counseling center, and the writing center.

Cost per Credit: $840
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 291

#7

University of Northern Colorado

Greeley (CO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $420,200
  • Median Salary: $44,542
  • Annual Tuition: $9,435
  • Median Debt: $30,770

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers the 30-credit hour online Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership degree. The program is designed for full-time teachers and can be completed in 18 months. The curriculum focuses on physical activity leadership for classrooms and school programming. Students will learn how to design physical... education programs, pedagogy, assessment, and nutrition. Students also participate in a Greely summer visit and complete a capstone portfolio. A Master of Arts in Dance Education is also available to those who want to teach choreography and dance performance. This program is mostly online except for some on-campus workshops in the summer.

Students complete courses asynchronously through the Canvas learning management system. Students at UNC apply for internal and external scholarships by completing one application. The university also offers transfer scholarships for both resident and non-resident students. UNC has a large alumni network, consisting of regional and national groups. UNC faculty have been selected by the Colorado Health Foundation to help create a statewide system dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of children in Colorado.

Students apply to UNC by the admission deadline for the fall term. Once enrolled, student resources include access to academic advising, the counseling center, the virtual library, tutoring and writing center services, and career services.

Cost per Credit: $555
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,186

#8

Tennessee Tech University

Cookeville (TN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $410,600
  • Median Salary: $41,937
  • Annual Tuition: $11,730
  • Median Debt: $17,000

Tennessee Tech University offers an online Master of Arts in Exercise Science degree, with five concentrations, including Elementary and Middle School Physical Education. This 30-credit program consists of core courses, research courses, electives, and required concentration courses. Class titles include Curriculum Design in Physical Education, Instructional Strategies for Physical... Education, Assessment and Strategies for Adapted Physical Education, and Middle School Physical Education.

Students complete their courses through the D2L Brightspace online learning management system. Online classes may be asynchronous or synchronous. Zoom allows students to contact faculty and classmates. Tennessee Tech University awards several scholarships and grants each year, including departmental and donor-funded scholarships. . The university accepts transfer credits. Graduates had the highest starting career salary of any public university graduates in Tennessee for the years 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Students apply by the deadline for fall, spring, or summer admission. Resources for online students include virtual library access, academic advising, access to the Student Success Center, and the Center for Career Development, and tech support services.

Cost per Credit: $782
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 554

#9

Illinois State University

Normal (IL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $409,300
  • Median Salary: $42,073
  • Annual Tuition: $14,251
  • Median Debt: $19,125

The online Master of Science in Kinesiology & Recreation - Physical Education Pedagogy Sequence degree from Illinois State University gives students an enhanced understanding of the skills and techniques needed to teach K-12 physical education. The 33-credit program is designed for certificated teachers. Students take classes titled Measurement and Evaluation, Instruction in Physical... Activities and Settings, Authentic Assessments, and Contemporary Topics in Physical Education.

Students at Illinois State University access asynchronous course content through the Moodle learning management platform. Scholarships are available to graduate students, including teaching and research assistantships. The Alumni Engagement Scholarship requires applicants to submit an essay. Graduates can seek careers in physical education, primarily at schools and private companies, gyms, or even sports teams.

Students interested in applying should use the university webpage to submit an application. The summer and fall semester deadline is early April; the spring semester deadline in early January. Online students have access to tutoring, writing workshops, group tutoring, and career advising.

Cost per Credit: $838
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 437

#10

Jackson State University

Jackson (MS)
  • 10-Year ROI: $403,700
  • Median Salary: $44,189
  • Annual Tuition: $8,316
  • Median Debt: $41,149

The online Master of Science in Physical Education from Jackson State University provides students with advanced coursework in education, sports science, and teaching concepts. The 42-credit degree has three focuses: nutrition, human performance, and teacher education. This program is designed for teachers who already have Class B teacher certification, and completion can lead to... Class A certification. The curriculum includes courses in sport psychology, developmental learning, principles of fitness, and pedagogy of physical education.

Online students at Jackson State use the Canvas learning management platform to access asynchronous lectures and assignments. General and department-specific scholarships can help to minimize the cost of tuition: the Medallion Academic Scholarship is awarded to high-achieving students, while the $1500 Dr. Jacquelyn C. Franklin Annual Scholarship is awarded only to education students.

Applicants should ensure they meet application deadlines and required materials, then submit an application through the university website. Student resources that online students at Jackson State have access to include career services, one on one counseling, the English Development Writing Center, and the Instructional Services Unit.

Cost per Credit: $462
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 647

#11

Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville

Edwardsville (IL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $403,600
  • Median Salary: $41,464
  • Annual Tuition: $4,561
  • Median Debt: $18,680

The online Master of Science in Education in Kinesiology - Physical Education and Coaching Pedagogy from Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville provides students with advanced knowledge in physical education theory and practice. Students are prepared for careers as health and physical education instructors. This 30-credit hour program includes courses like physiology, sports... psychology, teaching behaviors, education research, and kinesiology.

Online coursework is asynchronous and delivered through the Blackboard learning management platform. A variety of institutional scholarships are available to help incoming students offset their education costs, such as the Graduate Scholar Award. The school also provides a database of scholarships offered through various departments, organizations, and private donors.

Prospective students fill out and submit an online application to apply. Online students have access to resources, including academic advising and digital library collections.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 647

#12

Northwest Missouri State University

Maryville (MO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $401,400
  • Median Salary: $40,647
  • Annual Tuition: $9,960
  • Median Debt: $13,667

The online Master of Science in Health and Physical Education at Northwest Missouri State University consists of 30-credit hours of courses that emphasize contemporary physical education teaching approaches. Students learn instructional practices that include health models backed by the latest research. Students complete a thesis or research project to graduate. The program can... be completed in 12 months.

Students complete synchronous coursework through the Canvas learning platform. Students also use Zoom to communicate with faculty and classmates. Textbooks and laptops are included in the tuition fees, and non-residents pay the same rate as resident students. Northwest Missouri State University offers several graduate student scholarships that are major-specific. The program is taught by award-winning faculty and current board members of SHAPE America. Graduates can pursue careers as K-12 physical education teachers, K-12 adaptive physical education teachers or specialists, and district or collegiate coaches.

Students may apply multiple times throughout the year, up to two weeks before the start of the term. Online student resources include academic advising, virtual library access, and 24-hour technical support.

Cost per Credit: $332
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 959

#13

University of South Carolina-Columbia

Columbia (SC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $401,100
  • Median Salary: $42,682
  • Annual Tuition: $29,760
  • Median Debt: $30,750

The online Master of Science in Adapted Physical Education at the University of South Carolina – Columbia (USC) is designed to instruct PE teachers how to support all students, with and without disabilities, in a physical education setting. The 30-credit online physical education program is offered in an eight-week format and includes classes such as Theories and Principles of Motor... Learning and Control, Theories and Principles of Growth and Motor Behavior, and Measurement and Research in Physical Education. An action research project is also required for program completion. Graduates will be qualified to seek the Certified Adapted Physical Educator certificate to become an adapted physical educator in some states or can seek an Adapted Physical add-on endorsement or certificate in others.

Students complete their coursework through the Blackboard learning management system, which allows them to access learning materials and connect with their instructors and classmates. South Carolina certified teachers receive reduced tuition, and out-of-state students pay the regular South Carolina resident tuition rate. Program graduates can find career help through the Carolina Teacher Induction Program, which bridges the gap between USC’s College of Education and school districts across the state.

Students can apply online by April 1 for the spring semester or July 1 for the fall semester. Online students have access to career support, academic advising, peer tutoring, and the USC Writing Center.

School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,462

#14

SUNY College at Cortland

Cortland (NY)
  • 10-Year ROI: $395,400
  • Median Salary: $41,193
  • Annual Tuition: $28,890
  • Median Debt: $23,000

The online Master of Science in Education in Physical Education Leadership at SUNY College Cortland is designed to prepare candidates for employment in K-12 physical education programs throughout the nation. This online physical education degree program is available on a full-time or part-time basis and focuses on pedagogy and best practices for inspiring young people to live active... healthy lives. Students can expect to take classes such as Technology in Physical Education, Professional Literature Analysis, Curriculum Construction, and School-Based Leadership. In addition to 30 credits of online coursework, program participants complete fieldwork and a culminating experience in the form of an active research project.

Most of the program can be completed remotely through the Blackboard learning management system, with the exception of a two-week, on-campus summer session. Through Blackboard, students can access syllabi, coursework, and grades and interact with classmates and professors. Financial aid, scholarships, and discounts for New York residents are available. This program fulfills the graduate degree requirement for New York professional certification.

Students can apply online for the summer semester by April 1 or for the fall semester by July 1. The deadline for the spring semester is December 1. Applications after the deadline may be considered if space is available. Resources for online students include peer and professional tutoring.

Cost per Credit: $963
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: MSCHE
Graduate Online Enrollment: 140

#15

East Carolina University

Greenville (NC)
  • 10-Year ROI: $393,600
  • Median Salary: $41,406
  • Annual Tuition: $15,792
  • Median Debt: $26,250

The online Master of Arts in Education - Physical Education from East Carolina University offers two concentration options: adapted physical education or physical education pedagogy. The program gives students advanced level understanding of physical education concepts, qualifying graduates for an increased salary level for those employed by a North Carolina school district. The... 128-credit program also counts toward completion of National Board Certification. The curriculum explores research methods, differences in learning styles, leadership and communication, and physical activity programs.

The primary learning management platform for East Carolina University online students in Canvas, allowing them to access asynchronous course content. Scholarships are available to incoming students based on merit and need, and all incoming students use the academic portal to apply for these scholarships online. ECU has partnered with RaiseMe to provide micro-scholarships to incoming and transfer students who had strong academic records in previous settings. Graduates of the program will be able to pursue careers in physical education, both in schools and at private businesses.

Prospective students must create an account on the ECU website to submit a digital application, receive information, and submit transcripts or test scores. Online resources for students include advising resources, academic affairs, and the Center for Counseling and Career Development.

Cost per Credit: $877
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 3,181

#16

Michigan State University

East Lansing (MI)
  • 10-Year ROI: $378,800
  • Median Salary: $40,551
  • Annual Tuition: $13,462
  • Median Debt: $31,021

The online Master of Arts in Education - Sport Coaching and Leadership at Michigan State University covers advanced physical education pedagogy, sports leadership, and coaching. The 30-credit program is designed for students planning to work in schools or community sports programs. Students take courses specifically focused on coaching: Psychosocial Behavior, Youth Development,... Skills Training, Sports Psychology, and Safety and Injury Control.

Online students complete asynchronous coursework using the Brightspace D2L learning management platform. The university offers department-specific scholarships solely for education students. All scholarship applications and information can be accessed on the university's financial aid website. Graduates can pursue careers in physical education teaching, coaching, and fitness training.

Prospective students can apply by submitting an online application form. Online students can access the Career Services Network, the Office of Financial Aid, and the One Book One Community reading program.

Cost per Credit: $898
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,943

#17

Georgia State University

Atlanta (GA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $378,300
  • Median Salary: $40,728
  • Annual Tuition: $22,662
  • Median Debt: $32,899

The online Master of Education in Health and Physical Education degree from Georgia State University provides advanced skills for current physical education teachers seeking career advancement. The 36 semester hour degree includes courses in leadership, curriculum development, program administration, and health sciences organization.

Georgia State University online students can access... course materials through the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system. Some graduate-level courses also use Canvas for content delivery. Georgia State provides many different scholarships for students, with 92% of students receiving some form of financial assistance.

Students should submit an online application to attend Georgia State. Fall semester deadlines are in early April; spring semester deadlines are in early December; summer semester deadlines are in early May. Online students at Georgia State can access career services, study abroad opportunities, leadership programs, and student civic engagement.

Cost per Credit: $1,259
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 364

#18

Liberty University

Lynchburg (VA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $365,800
  • Median Salary: $38,937
  • Annual Tuition: $13,560
  • Median Debt: $28,175

Liberty University offers a fully online Master of Science in Sport Management degree with concentrations in coaching and athletic administration, outdoor adventure sport, and sports administration. Each of these programs is available as a thesis or non-thesis option. The 30-credit degree is accredited by the Commission on Sport Management. Students learn how to train athletes,... manage outdoor adventure sports, or perform administrative functions for sport-related teams or organizations. Liberty is a Christian university, incorporating Biblical principles into the curriculum and student code of conduct.

Students at Liberty University access course materials using a Canvas learning management platform. Scholarships are available to provide students with financial aid; the Middle America Scholarship is worth up to $5000 for first-generation college attendees. Graduates of the physical education master's degree can pursue careers in professional coaching, training, and sports management.

Students can complete and submit the online application form on Liberty's website to apply. Online students have access to university resources such as an online research library, Office 365, the career explorer tool, tutoring, and academic advising.

Cost per Credit: $565
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 36,337

#19

Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville (AL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $358,600
  • Median Salary: $38,721
  • Annual Tuition: $8,400
  • Median Debt: $32,144

The online Master of Science in Physical Education from Jacksonville State University provides students with advanced coursework in education, sports science, and teaching concepts. The degree has three concentrations: nutrition, human performance, and teacher education. This 42 credit hour degree is available to teachers who already have Class B teacher certification, and completion... can lead to certification of Class A. Courses in the degree program include sport psychology, developmental learning, principles of fitness, and pedagogy of physical education.

Asynchronous online courses are available on the Canvas learning management, where students can access lectures, videos, and PowerPoint slides. Jacksonville State provides scholarships to its students, such as the Competitive Foundation Scholarships, and students can use the JaxApp to apply for some 250 different scholarships. Scholarship money at Jacksonville State does not carry over from year to year.

Students interested in submitting an application to Jacksonville State must use the university website application form, which also gives them access to financial aid applications. Online students have access to many student resources, including career services, child development centers, counseling, and the English Department writing center.

Cost per Credit: $400
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 935

#20

University of Memphis

Memphis (TN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $357,600
  • Median Salary: $38,289
  • Annual Tuition: $9,705
  • Median Debt: $29,376

The University of Memphis (UofM) offers an online Master of Science in Health Studies - Physical Education Teacher Education. This program covers theories, methods, and research practices in physical education. The 33-credit program requires a six-credit research project or thesis that is completed under the guidance of a faculty member. The curriculum includes classes such as Research... Methods in Health Studies, Advanced Motor Learning, Sport and Exercise Psychology, and Instructional Leadership.

Online coursework is accessible to students through the eCourseware platform, which is hosted by the Desire2Learn learning management system. Students can find syllabi, class updates, assignments, quizzes, and grades on eCourseware. Lesson materials such as readings, videos, and streamed lectures can also be found on this platform. For those with prior college-level work or life experience, UofM offers credit for experiential learning credit by examination. There are also discounts available for military service members and veterans, persons with disabilities, and more.

Students can apply online through UofM’s graduate school. Resources for online students include online tutoring, academic advising, and career services, as well as technical support through the UofM Help Desk.

Cost per Credit: $647
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,332

#21

Auburn University at Montgomery

Montgomery (AL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $327,500
  • Median Salary: $36,132
  • Annual Tuition: $8,330
  • Median Debt: $35,684

Auburn University at Montgomery offers an online Master of Education in Physical Education Teacher degree. Students enrolled in the 33 to 37-credit hour program complete courses in computer-based instructional technologies, research methods, advanced educational psychology, and the historical and philosophical foundations of education. Students complete a required practicum and... a required thesis.

Students complete coursework in a synchronous and asynchronous format through the Blackboard online course management system. Auburn University awards several scholarships, including the Continuing Merit Scholarship, the Graduate Focus Scholarship, and several external scholarships. Graduates may pursue careers in education, health and wellness, corporate fitness, or pre-physical therapy. Military or veteran students may qualify to receive academic credit for certain courses.

Auburn University at Montgomery practices rolling admissions, allowing students to apply online up to one week before the start of classes. Resources for students include career development, academic advising, counseling and health promotion services, access to the Experiential Education and Engagement Center, and study abroad opportunities.

Cost per Credit: $490
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 264

#22

East Tennessee State University

Johnson City (TN)
  • 10-Year ROI: $288,200
  • Median Salary: $31,374
  • Annual Tuition: $13,518
  • Median Debt: $27,911

The online Master of Science in Sport Science and Coach Education - Strength and Conditioning at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) prepares students for careers in coaching, sports science, or physical education. The program is integrated with ETSU's Center of Excellence for Sport Science and Coach Education so students can be involved in hands-on experiences like coach clinics... and community activities. The 36-credit program includes classes like conditioning, physiology, and nutrition. Students may complete a three-credit internship.

ETSU students use the Canvas learning management platform to access online course content on their schedules. Graduate students can participate in assistantships that cover some or all tuition costs. Graduates can pursue careers as physical education instructors, coaches, trainers, and fitness consultants.

Applicants must complete and submit an application on the university's website. Online student resources include access to academic advising and career and internship services.

Cost per Credit: $751
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,157

What can you do with a master's in physical education degree?

With a master’s degree in physical education, possible career paths include teaching physical education, coaching, and scouting. Teachers can be employed in a K-12 grade setting or at a university teaching health and physical fitness. A teaching certification is required to teach in a public school. Coaches and scouts can work for teams or individual athletes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the median annual salary of kindergarten and elementary school teachers was $59,420. Middle school teachers earned $59,660 a year, while high school teachers earned an annual salary of $61,660. By contrast, coaches and scouts earned a median salary of $34,840.

Teacher employment is expected to grow 3-4 percent through 2028 and 11 percent for coaches and scouts during this same period. Other career opportunities could involve working in recreational sports settings, community outreach programs, and fitness centers.

Online Master's in Physical Education Degree Overview

Graduate-level physical education degrees include Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Education programs. Master of Arts programs focus on artistic and social aspects of health and wellness, such as dance theory or community programs, while Master of Science programs focus more on the scientific aspects of health and wellness, such as anatomy and physiology. Master of Education programs focus on providing advanced teaching methods to prepare graduates to become skilled educators.

Program Requirements

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in athletics as a teacher, personal trainer, or coach should consider a master's degree in physical education. Admission requirements will vary depending on the program; some programs require a bachelor’s degree in education, physical education, or a related field such as kinesiology or athletic training, while others simply require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Other program requirements may include a minimum GPA, GRE or other test scores, letters of recommendation, or a background in teaching. Most online programs require 30–36 credits, which can be completed in one to two and a half years.

Curriculum

The curriculum for a physical education program will also vary depending upon the focus but may cover health and wellness, teaching methods, curriculum development, physical education assessments, social psychology, or controversial health issues. Programs may include courses such as Motor Learning, Risk Management in Physical Education and Athletics, Sport Psychology, and Statistics in Education and Health Professions. Students may be required to complete some type of final research project, and students in teaching programs may be required to complete fieldwork in the classroom.

How to Choose a Program

When looking for an online master’s in physical education program, it is important to consider program and school accreditation, class flexibility, the variety of credits offered, fieldwork or on-site requirements, and support and resources available for graduates. The ability to tailor credits to fulfill your specific career aspirations, such as a focus on sports management or coaching, can also be an important factor in choosing a program.

Students should also ensure they have a plan for completing any required fieldwork or student teaching, and that it can be done at a convenient location. Alumni networks and career services offered through the school can also benefit graduates interested in networking or finding assistance with job placement.

The Importance of Accreditation for Master's in Physical Education Programs

Accreditation is a thorough and ongoing review that signals to schools, students, professionals, and employers that a program meets universal standards of quality. Students who attend accredited programs are more likely to be eligible for scholarships, grants, federal student aid, licensure, certification, and to transfer credits or continue their education.

Students should pursue programs with national or regional accreditation to ensure their credentials will be considered legitimate in their chosen field. While institutions seek accreditation as a whole, there are organizations that grant accreditation to specific programs as well.

Students looking to pursue a career as a physical education teacher will need to check licensure requirements for their state. Some states simply require students to complete an accredited program, while some require programs to be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), formerly known as NCATE and TEAC.

Some programs were previously accredited by SHAPE America, formerly known as NASPE, which is no longer evaluating curriculums. The main accrediting body for physical education programs is now CAEP, but some program pages still have SHAPE or NASPE listed as a programmatic accreditor. These programs will remain accredited through CAEP until their status expires and they must renew accreditation.

Other physical education programmatic accreditors include the Commission on Sports Management Accreditation (COSMA) and the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE). For students who would like to check that their program is accredited by a legitimate organization, a full list of approved accrediting bodies can be found here.

What kinds of master's in physical education specializations are available?

While most physical education programs prepare students to be PE teachers in the K-12 school system, there are a few concentrations for people to pursue particular interests. Seeking a specialized degree can uniquely prepare students for a career in their chosen field, and can differentiate them from other job candidates by their credentials and experience.

Adapted physical education: Teachers trained in adapted physical education specialize in inclusive curriculums and coaching methods for students with disabilities. This degree will prepare graduates to work in general and adapted physical education settings, such as elementary schools or with adapted sport teams. Programs will cover physical education and activities for students with disabilities, design and implementation of effective curriculums, and may include courses on development of motor skills or legal issues in special education.

Sport coaching: Coaching programs equip students with the skills necessary to meet the needs of school, community, and club sport teams. Graduates will be ready to enter the changing field of athletics with the experience needed to train teams and athletes. Coaches can work with professional teams or individual athletes, and may focus on specific sports such as football or basketball. Programs may cover coaching techniques, sport psychology, motor development, and creating healthy competitive environments.

Sport management/administration: Sport management programs are geared towards students interested in the business side of athletics. These programs prepare students for a wide range of positions in the sport industry. Graduates may pursue careers in sales, marketing, event management, or athletic administration, for example, and may work for college or professional sport teams. Coursework may include sports marketing and finance, public relations, social, cultural, and ethical aspects of sports, and legal issues in sports administration.

Curriculum development: Programs with an emphasis on leadership and the use of research to enhance teaching methods will prepare students to create effective physical education programs. While most physical education degrees include courses on curriculum development, some programs focus on how to conduct, interpret, and implement research to improve student learning. Courses will likely cover leadership, curriculum construction, research methods, and technology use in physical education.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I finance a master's in physical education program?

Students considering a master's in physical education program have access to a variety of resources to help them finance their degree. These resources include scholarships, grants, loans, and tuition reimbursement programs available through employers. The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America) provides a list of available resources, including scholarships for health and wellness degrees.

Students pursuing a career as a teacher may be eligible to have a portion of their federal student loans forgiven under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Eligibility for these programs depends on the type of student loan you have and your employment after graduation. There are also many state-sponsored loan forgiveness programs for teachers. The American Federation of Teachers offers a tool to search for loan forgiveness and funding programs here.

How should I choose a program?

When looking for an online master’s in physical education program, it is important to consider program and school accreditation, class flexibility, the variety of credits offered, fieldwork or on-site requirements, and support and resources available for graduates. The ability to tailor credits to fulfill your specific career aspirations, such as a focus on sports management or coaching, can also be an important factor in choosing a program. Students should also ensure they have a plan for completing any required fieldwork or student teaching, and that it can be done at a convenient location. Alumni networks and career services offered through the school can also benefit graduates interested in networking or finding assistance with job placement.

What professional industry associations are available for physical educators?

Joining a professional network can benefit students while in school and long past graduation. Professional associations allow students to make connections, provide opportunities for career development, and can help ease the transition from program to employment. Many of these organizations offer discounted student membership prices and can help students develop additional skills, knowledge, and professional contacts to achieve their career goals.

American Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE America): SHAPE America is a leading national organization that actively promotes quality physical education from preschool to university levels. Their K-12 PE standards are used in school districts across the United States to shape curriculums. They provide members with educational resources, tools, and programs for educators to better meet the unique needs of students in physical education.

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM): The American College of Sports Medicine is an excellent resource for sports medicine students and professionals. Their members include trainers, academic researchers, and physicians. ACSM members gain access to academic journals, continuing education materials, a sports medicine podcast, and other resources for a range of professionals in the field. They also have a members-only career portal with resources for resume writing and career development.

American School Health Association (ASHA): The American School Health Association advocates for creating collaborative, coordinated healthy school environments. They promote quality nursing, health and physical education, counseling, social services, and nutrition to best support school-aged children. Members gain exclusive access to the Journal of School Health, discounts on their annual conference and other educational support resources, and free Continuing Education credits through webinars, conferences, and self-studies.

The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE): SOPHE is a nonprofit organization that works to improve public health through education and advocacy. They emphasize a holistic approach to public health by connecting behavioral science and health education. SOPHE members can participate in the larger public health education conversation, access journals and resources to continue education, become trained in public health advocacy, and connect with other professionals in the field.

National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA): The NRPA supports public health by supporting parks and recreation organizations. They emphasize conservation, health and wellness initiatives, and equal access to programs. Individuals and organizations can become NRPA members and gain access to educational resources, professional development tools, volunteer and leadership opportunities, and grant and fundraising support.

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