Best Online Associate in Physical Education Programs

We've ranked the top online associate in physical education programs. Compare by cost and convenience to find your path forward in today.
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Updated on May 9, 2023
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An associate in physical education is a two-year degree offered at some community colleges. These programs give students an understanding of the human body and how it performs during physical activity.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average total cost of room, board, tuition, and fees at a two-year college was $11,391 per year during the 2019-20 school year. That's a total of $22,782 for a two-year degree. Most schools charge the same amount for online or in-person tuition, but some top online schools offer in-state rates to out-of-state students who attend classes online.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that job opportunities for fitness trainers and instructors will increase 39% from 2020-30. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS projects that there will be an additional 121,700 jobs for fitness trainers and instructors between 2020-30.

According to the BLS, fitness trainers and instructors earn a median of $40,510 per year. They need at least a high school degree, but many employers prefer candidates with an associate or bachelor's degree in a recreation and fitness or healthcare-related field.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Physical Education Program?

Effective fitness trainers are easy for clients to relate to. They not only know how to keep in shape, but they set a good example by eating a healthy diet and working out regularly. They don't have to be perfect, but they should model the results that they promise their clients.

Most associate in physical education programs require credits in some sort of physical activity, such as aerobics, weight training, or yoga. These classes are often offered in-person only, so it may be difficult to find a fully online associate in physical education.

An associate in physical education program requires approximately 60-65 credits and takes about two years to complete. Some schools call this program by a related name, such as physical education and wellness or physical education, fitness, and sport studies.

An associate in physical education degree requires general education courses and courses related to physical education. Some programs require science courses that have a lab component.

Some colleges offer the associate in physical education as an associate of arts (AA) degree, while others offer an associate of science (AS) degree. An AS typically requires more science courses, whereas an AA requires more humanities classes.

Popular Online Associate in Physical Education Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Physical Education Program?

Intro to Physical Education

This course introduces physical education, emphasizing curriculum design, classroom management, and the best practices for teaching physical education. Students learn teaching philosophies and the history of physical education.

Personal Health and Wellness

Students enrolled in this course learn the basics of personal health and wellness. The course covers physical fitness, mental health, and nutrition. Throughout the course, students learn strategies for maintaining their own health and fitness.

Basic Human Nutrition

Basic human nutrition introduces food and nutrition science. Students learn about the essential nutrients, including their chemical composition and how they are processed by the body. The curriculum covers healthy eating practices, nutrient requirements, and menu planning.

Basic Human Biology

This course introduces the fundamental concepts of human and cellular biology. The course covers human anatomy, organ systems, cellular organization, the chemistry of life, and the calculation of biometric measurements.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychology teaches the principles and theories of psychology as related to teaching and learning. Students learn about measurement and evaluation, classroom management, instruction, differences between students, memory, and motivation.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Physical Education Program?

The admission requirements for an online associate in physical education program vary from school to school. However, you will have to fill out an application no matter where decide to go to school. In most cases, you will also have to pay an application fee.

You will need to provide proof that you have graduated from high school or passed the GED test. You will also likely need an official copy of your high school transcripts or a copy of your GED certificate.

Some schools require college entrance exams, such as the ACT or SAT. Others may ask for a college application essay or letters of recommendation. If you have already entered the workforce, you may be able to take a test to gain college credit for life and work experience.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Physical Education Degree?

Career Outlook

While Payscale does not publish information about the associate in physical education degree, the site reports that the average base salary for those with a physical education teaching degree is $44,000 per year. Although Payscale reports that there was limited data available for this degree, it is interesting that the most common job titles were unrelated to physical fitness.

The career that most closely matches the associate in physical education degree is fitness trainer, which the BLS projects will grow at 39% from 2020-30. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and indicates a career that is in demand with employers.

About half of all fitness trainers and instructors work at fitness and recreational sports centers. About 18% are self-employed, while others work for civic, social, educational, and government organizations.

Career Paths

Fitness Trainer

Fitness trainers help clients implement and stick to a physical fitness program. They demonstrate various exercises and make sure their clients know how to do them without injuring themselves. They watch their clients work out and make changes to their fitness programs as needed.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $40,510

Gym Manager

Gym managers manage the operation of fitness clubs. They do financial projections and hire fitness trainers and other workers. They oversee the cleanliness of the facility and order equipment and supplies. Some employers require a degree in business administration or management. Gym managers should demonstrate interest in physical fitness.

Median Annual Salary (March 2022): $36,050

Aerobics Instructor

Aerobics instructors lead individual and group instruction in aerobic exercise routines. This position requires a high level of physical fitness, since the instructor must have the stamina to make it through multiple classes every day. They often work in group settings at gyms and fitness centers.

Median Annual Salary (March 2022): $38,500

Yoga Instructor

Yoga instructors teach groups and individuals to perform various yoga moves. They often work for gyms and fitness centers. They must be able to model the poses correctly so that their students can copy what they are doing. Yoga instructors provide hands-on guidance to ensure that their students perform the moves correctly.

Median Annual Salary (March 2022): $37,500

Health Coach

Health coaches usually work with individuals one-on-one to help them make improvements to their health and wellness. They help clients establish monitoring systems, exercise routines, and meal plans. While some employers require health coaches to be certified as nutritionists, this is not always the case.

Median Annual Salary: $49,050

Physical Education Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Sometimes fitness trainers go back to school to become physical therapists, physical education teachers, or nutritionists. To practice as a physical therapist, you will need to earn a doctor of physical therapy degree and pass a licensure exam. But first, you will need to earn your bachelor's degree. Biology is a common choice for those who plan to pursue a doctorate of physical therapy.

If you want to work as a high school, elementary, or middle school physical education teacher, you will need a bachelor's degree in physical education, or a related field, and a state teaching license.

To become a nutritionist, you will need at least a bachelor's degree in nutrition. If you want to become a certified nutrition specialist, you will need either a master of science in nutrition or a doctoral degree in nutrition, as well as 1,000 hours of supervised practice.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Physical Education Program?


When comparing the cost of various programs, be sure to consider the true cost, including housing, transportation, and lost wages. Also compare the costs of online vs. on-campus programs. You will likely find that although the average tuition and fees for a two-year college was $3,621 per year in 2019-20, the tuition can vary greatly from one school to another. Private schools and out-of-state colleges tend to be more expensive.

Program Format

Synchronous programs require you to log in at specific times, whereas asynchronous programs do not. If you need more flexibility in your schedule, you should choose an asynchronous program. Generally, if you attend school full time, you will not be able to work. If you want to keep working, you should choose a part-time program.


If you have found an online associate in physical education that is 100% online, you do not need to worry about location. You can attend school from anywhere. However, if your associate in physical education program has any in-person requirements, you will need to consider whether it is worth it to move to a different area or if you should limit your search to nearby schools.


Accreditation is the process by which a third party accrediting board verifies that a school meets certain minimum academic standards. There are two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic. Institutional accreditors accredit the entire school, while programmatic accreditation applies only to a certain program or programs.

Student Support

Many schools offer student support services such as academic advising, career services, mentorship, tutoring, internship services, and alumni connections. Many schools offer phone-based or online student services for online students.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Physical Education Programs

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Best Online Bachelor's in Photography Programs

  1. Copiah-Lincoln Community College

    Wesson, MS



    Co-Lin offers a fully online associate degree in physical education, health, and recreation. Distance learners can focus their studies on health and fitness, coaching, health education, or sports administration.

    The 63-credit program prepares learners to transfer into a bachelor's track. Most classes use an asynchronous format, in which learners can engage in course content and complete assignments largely on their own time. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.

    To apply, prospective students submit their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACT or SAT scores. Co-Lin has campuses in the Mississippi communities of Wesson, Natchez, and Mendenhall. Its average graduate holds about $5,000 in student loan debt.

  2. Allen County Community College

    Iola, KS



    Allen delivers an online associate in physical education degree with an emphasis in sports medicine and athletic training. The program prepares graduates to pursue bachelor-level studies or seek careers as athletic trainers and related occupations.

    The 66-credit program includes courses on nutrition, human anatomy and physiology, and preventing and treating athletic injuries. Many graduates opt to continue their study at a four-year college; Allen holds transfer agreements with several schools, including Emporia State, Fort Hays State, and Kansas State University.

    Applicants must submit their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students must also provide transcripts. In addition to an online division, Allen has campuses in Iola and Burlingame, Kansas.

  3. Holmes Community College

    Goodman, MS



    Holmes Community College's associate in physical education prepares learners for a bachelor's degree in secondary education, which can translate to careers as teachers and coaches in K-12 settings.

    The 62-credit program includes courses on health, physical education, and recreation, along with general education classes on psychology, biology. Full-time learners typically graduate in two years. Students can complete most of their classes online, although some courses may require on-campus attendance.

    Students take the Praxis I exam in the first term of their second year, which prepares them for bachelor's degree-level studies. Individuals who complete the program may attend four-year institutions nationwide.

    To apply, prospective students must submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. Holmes Community College is located in Goodman, Mississippi.

  4. East Mississippi Community College

    Scooba, MS



    EMCC students can complete an associate in physical education program that covers topics in human performance, health and nutrition, and recreation science.

    The degree allows learners to apply the credits they earn toward a future bachelor's degree and move into careers as K-12 physical education instructors and coaches. The program offers online and in-person classes, and most students graduate in two years. Distance courses are delivered through Mississippi Virtual Community College.

    Applicants must provide official high school transcripts or GED scores. Prospective students should also submit ACT or SAT scores and take part in a registration session. With campuses in Scooba and Mayhew, EMCC features a student retention rate of nearly 70%.

  5. Western Oklahoma State College

    Altus, OK



    Located in Altus, WOSC offers courses in health, recreation, and physical education that meet the general education requirements at most four-year postsecondary institutions across the United States.

    The school's 64-credit associate in physical education and health features online, hybrid, and in-person courses. Students can explore subjects like personal and community health, lifetime health, sports officiating, and the care and treatment of athletic injuries.

    Graduates are prepared to transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree. Many go on to serve as physical education teachers and coaches at the K-12 level.

    Prospective students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACT scores. Most associate in physical education students graduate within two years.

  6. Northeast Mississippi Community College

    Booneville, MS



    Northeast delivers an associate in physical education program designed for students who plan to go on and earn a bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university. Most students complete this program within two years.

    In addition to general education classes, the program's curriculum features courses on coaching, fitness, nutrition, group exercise, personal training, injury prevention and treatment, and strength and conditioning. Students take 62 total credits and must maintain a 2.0 GPA to successfully complete the associate degree. The program features in-person classes and online courses delivered through Mississippi Virtual Community College.

    Applicants must provide proof of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective students under the age of 21 also need to submit their ACT or SAT scores. Northeast is located in Booneville, and the college maintains articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions throughout the state.

  7. Niagara County Community College

    Sanborn, NY



    NCCC's associate in physical education studies program prepares students to continue their education at a four-year institution. Graduates often pursue work as K-12 physical education instructors and coaches, personal trainers, wellness coaches, and facility managers.

    The 62-credit curriculum includes classes like adventure education, co-ed gymnastics, basketball skills, and kinesiology. Students may shadow physical education teachers in western New York to learn practical skills they can apply to their careers. Participants can complete general education courses online, although major classes must be taken in person in Sanborn, New York.

    This associate in physical education program also allows students to seek certification in first aid/CPR, personal training, child abuse recognition, and lifeguarding. To apply, prospective students should submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. The school accepts ACT or SAT scores, but does not require them for admission.

  8. Clarendon College

    Clarendon, TX



    CC's associate degree in health, physical education, and fitness prepares students to serve as effective educators, coaches, trainers, and managers in schools, athletic facilities, and gyms.

    Students complete a total of 60 credits, which can be transferred into many four-year colleges and universities across Texas and nationwide. The program features both in-person and online classes. Graduates of this program earn an associate of arts degree.

    The college maintains an open-enrollment policy, accepting nearly all applicants. Prospective students must provide official transcripts. Incoming students also must complete Title IX and Clery Training before taking their first class. CC has campuses in the Texas communities of Clarendon, Childress, Pampa, and Amarillo.

  9. Erie Community College

    Buffalo, NY



    ECC's associate in physical education studies follows standards set by the Society of Health and Physical Educators. This program prepares students to transition seamlessly into a bachelor's program in their pursuit of a career in physical education, and ECC maintains matriculation agreements with the State University of New York system.

    The 62-credit curriculum includes classes on outdoor education, administering first aid, biology, and leading PE activities. Participants also take part in a practicum, in which they learn directly from established K-12 educators and coaches. Students can complete at least 50% of their degree requirements online.

    Applicants must provide proof of high school graduation, submit their high school and/or college transcripts, and take a math and English placement exam. ECC has campuses in Buffalo, Williamsville, and Orchard Park.

  10. Blinn College

    Brenham, TX



    Located in Brenham, Texas, Blinn offers an online health and kinesiology associate degree that prepares learners for rewarding careers in physical education. The two-year program emphasizes nutrition, physical fitness, and active lifestyles.

    Through the program, students learn about preventing substance abuse in youth, administering first aid, principles of community health, and the basics of athletic training. Students also may choose from activity courses like bowling, fitness conditioning, pilates, weight training, basketball, and aerobic walking.

    Many graduates immediately move on to a bachelor's program. Blinn maintains articulation agreements with 65 postsecondary institutions throughout Texas. Applicants must submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores, along with proof of U.S. residency.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Physical Education Programs

Is an associate degree in physical education worth it?

To consider whether an associate in physical education is worth it, you should compare the salary you expect to make after receiving the degree with what you are making now. Consider how much the degree will cost and figure out how long it will take for the degree to pay for itself. The average annual salary for someone with an associate in physical education is lower than for some other degrees, so you may decide it is not worth it.

However, if you are passionate about physical fitness and have always wanted to be a personal trainer, aerobics instructor, or gym manager, you may decide that it is worth it to you.

How fast can I get an associate in physical education degree online?

Although most associate programs take about two years to complete, there are accelerated programs that speed up the process, sometimes allowing students to complete the program in 18 months or less.

You can also speed up your associate in physical education by taking more than the recommended number of credits each term or by attending school during the summer, when most students take a break. These strategies will allow you to graduate sooner.

Is an online associate degree in physical education credible?

In most cases, if the school you attend is institutionally accredited, your degree will be credible. Accreditation gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your school has been evaluated by a third party and approved.

If you are still worried, you can research your school's reputation online. Try searching for the name of the school and "reviews" to see what other students are saying about the school. Pay attention to whether they have had any trouble finding jobs or if they feel like they are not making as much money as expected.

How much money can I make with an associate in physical education?

Payscale reports that the average base salary for people with a degree in physical education teaching is about $44,000 per year. This seems about right when you consider the average salaries of the jobs that were reviewed in this guide, which range from $35,690 to $48,650 per year.

People with an associate in physical education frequently work as fitness trainers (or personal trainers), gym managers, aerobics instructors, yoga instructors, and health coaches. The highest-paying job among this is health coach, with an average base salary of $48,650 per year.

Is an associate degree in physical education in demand?

The demand for fitness trainers and instructors is very high. The BLS projects that openings for people in this career will likely grow 39% from 2020-30, resulting in an additional 121,700 jobs. At the time of writing, Indeed had over 10,000 job postings for personal trainers and over 2,500 job postings for yoga instructors. Additionally, there were over 5,000 job postings for gym managers.

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