2022 Best Online Physical Education Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 6/21/2022

Online physical education degrees at the bachelor's level equip students with relevant skills to promote physical fitness and well-being. The curriculum covers the mechanics of movement, the physiology of healthy activity, and helps prepare students to work with various abilities and ages. These degree program graduates can become coaches, athletic and fitness trainers, or K-12 physical education teachers. If you're interested in this field, you should also explore our best online degree programs in physical therapy and exercise science.

View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Salary Score Median Starting Salary
Fort Hays State University 6,864 6,864 NA NA NA NA
Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus 2,431 NA NA
Kansas State University 2,386 24 $25,270
Eastern Oregon University 1,496 38 $27,016
William Carey University 1,155 40 $27,292
University of Wisconsin - Superior 910 NA NA
East Central University 663 44 $27,783

East Central University

  • Salary Score: 44
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,783
  • Locations: Ada (OK)
  • Accreditation: HLC

East Central University (ECU) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology, which requires 124 credits. This program helps students understand key topics, such as sports nutrition, first aid, strength, conditioning, and motor learning. Some core classes for this major include Theory of Coaching, Fundamentals of Sports Administration, and Health Promotion. This program can be completed in four years with a full-time schedule. Graduates may work as athletic or personal trainers, recreation directors, and wellness directors, to name a few options.

At ECU, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is fully online and asynchronous.

William Carey University

  • Salary Score: 40
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,292
  • Locations: Hattiesburg (MS)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

William Carey University (WCU) is a medium-sized, private institution. WCU offers both an online Bachelor of Science in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and an online Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, the latter of which requires a minor. Minor options include Coaching, Recreation, and Special Education. Each bachelor’s program requires 120 credit hours, and students can complete their degree in four years with a full-time schedule. Some core classes across these majors include Organization & Administration of Physical Education, The Care & Prevention of Sports Injuries, and Leisure Services.

At WCU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous.

Eastern Oregon University

  • Salary Score: 38
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,016
  • Locations: La Grande (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Eastern Oregon University (EOU) is a medium-sized, public institution, which offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Health & Human Performance. EOU’s online degree program — requiring 180 credit hours — has three concentrations: (1) Community Health, (2) Exercise Science, and (3) Physical Education & Sport. All of these concentrations require a capstone course and research project in order to graduate. Overall, students can finish the degree in three years with a full-time schedule. Graduates may become fitness trainers, health educators, physical therapists, and physical education teachers.

At EOU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is entirely online and may be either synchronous or asynchronous.

Kansas State University

  • Salary Score: 24
  • Median Starting Salary: $25,270
  • Locations: Manhattan (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Kansas State University (KSU) is a large, public university. It offers an online Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology requiring 120 credit hours. KSU highlights the importance of physical activity and combines biomechanical, physiological, and sociological perspectives. This program can be completed in four years with a full-time schedule, and graduates may work as physicians, health educators, recreation directors, and personal trainers. Some core classes for this major include Biobehavioral Bases of Physical Activity, Cardiorespiratory Physiology, and Social Structural Determinants of Physical Activity.

At KSU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous.

Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus

  • Salary Score: NA
  • Locations: Portales (NM)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus (ENMU) is a medium-sized, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. Totaling 120 credit hours, the program has three concentrations to choose from: (1) Sports and Recreation Management, (2) Teaching Physical Education, and (3) Health and Wellness. Example coursework includes Concepts in Physical Education, Sports Finance, and Fundamentals of Sport Management.

ENMU’s online students complete coursework in synchronous and asynchronous format on Blackboard. In addition, online students can access a range of resources, such as academic advising, an online library, tutoring, and more. Admission requirements include a minimum ACT score of 17 or an SAT score of 810 or higher, official transcripts, and an application.

Fort Hays State University

  • Salary Score: NA
  • Locations: Hays (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fort Hays State University (FHSU), a medium-sized public institution, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Health and Human Performance. The program requires a minimum of 120 credit hours, and prospective students can expect to learn the fundamentals of a career in physical education, including a well-rounded approach to health, wellness, and nutrition, to name a few. Courses from the curriculum include Concepts of Physical Fitness, Kinesiology, and Care and Prevention of Exercise and Sports Injuries.

At FHSU, online students complete coursework synchronously on the platform Blackboard. In addition, online students can access tech support, academic advising, career development, and more. General admission requirements are a cumulative 2.25 or higher GPA, an ACT score of 21 or higher, or a minimum SAT score of 1060.

University of Wisconsin - Superior

  • Salary Score: NA
  • Locations: Superior (WI)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus (ENMU) is a medium-sized, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Physical Education. Totaling 120 credit hours, the program has three specializations to choose from: (1) Sports and Recreation Management, (2) Teaching Physical Education, and (3) Health and Wellness. Example coursework includes Concepts in Physical Education, Sports Finance, and Fundamentals of Sport Management.

ENMU’s online students complete coursework in both synchronous and asynchronous formats on Blackboard. In addition, online students can access resources, such as academic advising, an online library, and tutoring. Admission requirements include a minimum ACT score of 17 or an SAT score of 810 or higher, official transcripts, and an application.

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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 go into teaching. 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. If teaching is not your career path, you can choose a concentration within the physical education major, such as coaching or sports performance, to work with individuals and teams in various other health and fitness settings.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Physical Education

A physical education degree program is designed to prepare students to teach others the benefits of physical activity and healthy living. The degree can be completed online with courses covering 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. An on-site teaching practicum is required for students pursuing teacher licensure to instruct K-12 physical education programs.



A physical education degree program is designed to prepare students to teach others the benefits of physical activity and healthy living.

Full-time students determined to pursue online physical education bachelor's programs generally expect to take four years 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.

Admission Requirements

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 2.0 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:

  • One year of a foreign language or fine arts
  • SAT or ACT standardized test scores
  • An essay or letter of intent
  • A completed application and non-refundable fee of approximately $50

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 to apply these new tools and skills.

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.

Interested in learning about similar programs? Explore online bachelor's degrees in exercise science, personal training, or health education.

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures a school has met quality education standards. It may also be necessary to be able to use federal financial aid or transfer credits to another accredited school to meet additional educational goals. Most non-profit universities are regionally accredited, which is often preferred over national accreditation because it has more regulations to ensure high academic standards and quality.

Programmatic accreditation is often conferred on programs such as teaching to help ensure students enter the workforce prepared to meet industry expectations. Students interested in teaching physical education at the elementary, middle, or high school level should look for programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). 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. Public school K-12 physical education teachers earn an annual median salary of $60,660 with a 7% job outlook through 2030, and those teaching in high schools earn a median annual salary of $62,870 with an 8% job outlook during the same period.



Licensed physical education teachers work with children of all ages and abilities to teach them about exercising, teamwork, and making healthy choices.

High-growth occupations for graduates who do not end up teaching include athletic training, coaching, and fitness training. While two of these occupations make less than the national median annual salary of $41,950, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects all three to have a significantly higher than average job growth rate through 2030. Athletic trainers who assist athletes in training correctly and safely earn the most of these occupations at $49,860 and have a 23% job outlook. Coaches who train and guide athletes to excel at their sport earn the least of the three professions at $36,330 but have a 26% job outlook. Fitness trainers who motivate others in exercise earn $40,510 and have an even higher 39% job outlook than athletic trainers and coaches. These high outlooks may be attributed to an increased awareness of the health benefits of physical activity on sedentary lifestyles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Become a PE Teacher Online?

Yes, you can earn your physical education degree online. However, keep in mind that you'll likely need to complete an in-classroom teaching experience to graduate and earn your teaching license. For students of physical education programs, this may provide an opportunity to develop and implement an activity to assess student performance and outcomes.

How Much Does an Online Physical Education Degree Cost?

Tuition for online physical education degree programs ranges from $8,488 to $35,290 annually at the schools on our ranking.

How Long Does an Online Program in Physical Education Take To Complete?

It can take approximately four years to finish an online physical education degree program if you attend online full-time. Becoming a licensed teacher may take extra time because it requires completing a student teaching experience before taking the licensure exam.

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