Students with an online associate degree in physical education can pursue entry-level employment as fitness instructors or personal trainers. They can also pursue a bachelor's degree on the way to becoming a physical education (PE) teacher.
Employers increasingly prefer candidates with a postsecondary degree and professional certification for fitness instruction and training jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of fitness trainers and instructors will grow by 13% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $40,390.
The following ranking highlights some of the best online associate degrees in physical education.
What Are the Best Physical Education Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Five:
|1||Copiah-Lincoln Community College||Wesson, MS|
|2||Allen County Community College||Iola, KS|
|3||Holmes Community College||Goodman, MS|
|4||East Mississippi Community College||Scooba, MS|
|5||Western Oklahoma State College||Altus, OK|
|6||Northeast Mississippi Community College||Booneville, MS|
|7||Niagara County Community College||Sanborn, NY|
|8||Clarendon College||Clarendon, TX|
|9||Erie Community College||Buffalo, NY|
|10||Blinn College||Brenham, TX|
The curriculum of an online associate degree in physical education often combines interdisciplinary study in fields like physical education, kinesiology, and exercise science, emphasizing coursework in anatomy, group fitness, biology, and nutrition. Graduates are prepared for careers as fitness instructors. Many students also enroll in bachelor's programs, preparing to become PE teachers.
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2020 Best Accredited Online Associate in Physical Education Programs
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
|Wesson, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Co-Lin offers a fully online associate degree in physical education, health, and recreation. Distance learners can focus their studies on health and fitness, coaching, health education, or sports administration.
The 63-credit program prepares learners to transfer into a bachelor's track. Most classes use an asynchronous format, in which learners can engage in course content and complete assignments largely on their own time. Full-time students typically graduate in two years.
To apply, prospective students submit their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACT or SAT scores. Co-Lin has campuses in the Mississippi communities of Wesson, Natchez, and Mendenhall. Its average graduate holds about $5,000 in student loan debt.
Allen County Community College
|Iola, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Allen delivers an online associate in physical education degree with an emphasis in sports medicine and athletic training. The program prepares graduates to pursue bachelor-level studies or seek careers as athletic trainers and related occupations.
The 66-credit program includes courses on nutrition, human anatomy and physiology, and preventing and treating athletic injuries. Many graduates opt to continue their study at a four-year college; Allen holds transfer agreements with several schools, including Emporia State, Fort Hays State, and Kansas State University.
Applicants must submit their high school transcripts or GED scores, along with ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students must also provide transcripts. In addition to an online division, Allen has campuses in Iola and Burlingame, Kansas.
Holmes Community College
|Goodman, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 38%||
Holmes Community College's associate in physical education prepares learners for a bachelor's degree in secondary education, which can translate to careers as teachers and coaches in K-12 settings.
The 62-credit program includes courses on health, physical education, and recreation, along with general education classes on psychology, biology. Full-time learners typically graduate in two years. Students can complete most of their classes online, although some courses may require on-campus attendance.
Students take the Praxis I exam in the first term of their second year, which prepares them for bachelor's degree-level studies. Individuals who complete the program may attend four-year institutions nationwide.
To apply, prospective students must submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. Holmes Community College is located in Goodman, Mississippi.
East Mississippi Community College
|Scooba, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
EMCC students can complete an associate in physical education program that covers topics in human performance, health and nutrition, and recreation science.
The degree allows learners to apply the credits they earn toward a future bachelor's degree and move into careers as K-12 physical education instructors and coaches. The program offers online and in-person classes, and most students graduate in two years. Distance courses are delivered through Mississippi Virtual Community College.
Applicants must provide official high school transcripts or GED scores. Prospective students should also submit ACT or SAT scores and take part in a registration session. With campuses in Scooba and Mayhew, EMCC features a student retention rate of nearly 70%.
Western Oklahoma State College
|Altus, OK||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 37%||
Located in Altus, WOSC offers courses in health, recreation, and physical education that meet the general education requirements at most four-year postsecondary institutions across the United States.
The school's 64-credit associate in physical education and health features online, hybrid, and in-person courses. Students can explore subjects like personal and community health, lifetime health, sports officiating, and the care and treatment of athletic injuries.
Graduates are prepared to transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor's degree. Many go on to serve as physical education teachers and coaches at the K-12 level.
Prospective students must submit their official high school transcripts or GED scores, along with their ACT scores. Most associate in physical education students graduate within two years.
Northeast Mississippi Community College
|Booneville, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
Northeast delivers an associate in physical education program designed for students who plan to go on and earn a bachelor's degree at a four-year college or university. Most students complete this program within two years.
In addition to general education classes, the program's curriculum features courses on coaching, fitness, nutrition, group exercise, personal training, injury prevention and treatment, and strength and conditioning. Students take 62 total credits and must maintain a 2.0 GPA to successfully complete the associate degree. The program features in-person classes and online courses delivered through Mississippi Virtual Community College.
Applicants must provide proof of a high school diploma or GED certificate. Prospective students under the age of 21 also need to submit their ACT or SAT scores. Northeast is located in Booneville, and the college maintains articulation agreements with postsecondary institutions throughout the state.
Niagara County Community College
|Sanborn, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 31%||
NCCC's associate in physical education studies program prepares students to continue their education at a four-year institution. Graduates often pursue work as K-12 physical education instructors and coaches, personal trainers, wellness coaches, and facility managers.
The 62-credit curriculum includes classes like adventure education, co-ed gymnastics, basketball skills, and kinesiology. Students may shadow physical education teachers in western New York to learn practical skills they can apply to their careers. Participants can complete general education courses online, although major classes must be taken in person in Sanborn, New York.
This associate in physical education program also allows students to seek certification in first aid/CPR, personal training, child abuse recognition, and lifeguarding. To apply, prospective students should submit their high school transcripts or GED scores. The school accepts ACT or SAT scores, but does not require them for admission.
|Clarendon, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 29%||
CC's associate degree in health, physical education, and fitness prepares students to serve as effective educators, coaches, trainers, and managers in schools, athletic facilities, and gyms.
Students complete a total of 60 credits, which can be transferred into many four-year colleges and universities across Texas and nationwide. The program features both in-person and online classes. Graduates of this program earn an associate of arts degree.
The college maintains an open-enrollment policy, accepting nearly all applicants. Prospective students must provide official transcripts. Incoming students also must complete Title IX and Clery Training before taking their first class. CC has campuses in the Texas communities of Clarendon, Childress, Pampa, and Amarillo.
Erie Community College
|Buffalo, NY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 35%||
ECC's associate in physical education studies follows standards set by the Society of Health and Physical Educators. This program prepares students to transition seamlessly into a bachelor's program in their pursuit of a career in physical education, and ECC maintains matriculation agreements with the State University of New York system.
The 62-credit curriculum includes classes on outdoor education, administering first aid, biology, and leading PE activities. Participants also take part in a practicum, in which they learn directly from established K-12 educators and coaches. Students can complete at least 50% of their degree requirements online.
Applicants must provide proof of high school graduation, submit their high school and/or college transcripts, and take a math and English placement exam. ECC has campuses in Buffalo, Williamsville, and Orchard Park.
|Brenham, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
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.
Online Associate in Physical Education Program Overview
The best online associate degrees in physical education can prepare graduates for entry-level jobs in fitness or build a foundation for a career as a PE teacher.
Most online associate programs in physical education include coursework in anatomy and physiology, science and wellness, nutrition, and methods of instruction and personal training. Some associate tracks offer concentrations in areas like health, kinesiology, and exercise science. Many programs also prepare students for certification as certified strength and conditioning specialists or certified personal trainers.
Physical education jobs increasingly require an associate or bachelor's degree for entry-level employment. Many students who complete an online associate in physical education go on to earn a bachelor's or master's degree in pursuit of a management role in the fitness industry.
Physical education majors aspiring to teach PE in a public school need additional experience and a state-issued teaching license. These teachers may also need to be certified to work with students in a specific age group.
Common Associate in Physical Education Degree Courses
- Personal and Community Health
This course examines a variety of common health practices and emphasizes the integration of healthy habits into daily life. Topics include bodily functions related to digestion, fitness, and immunity, as well as the ways in which one's lifestyle can affect their physical and emotional well-being.
- Physical Education
Also commonly called "exercise science," this course provides a broad overview of physical education, including sports nutrition, athletic training, physiology, sports psychology, and motor behavior. Physical education coursework also explores the unique professional skills needed in this field.
- Anatomy and Physiology
Anatomy and physiology coursework typically explores the complexities of living organisms — including but not limited to human beings — through scientific study and theoretical discourse. Topics include major bodily systems, structural/functional relationships, and biological principles.
- Care and Prevention of Athletic Injury
This course provides students with comprehensive training in the prevention and treatment of sports-related injuries that can occur during periods of high athletic activity. Examples include external safety hazards and common areas of strain and vulnerability in athletics, such as the knees and feet. Most courses cover techniques approved by the American Red Cross.
- Methods and Instruction of Personal Training
Through this course, students explore various methods of group and personal fitness training. Coursework approaches personal training and instruction as both a science and an art, teaching students to develop personalized fitness plans for individuals and groups in any setting.
Online Associate in Physical Education Admission Requirements
High School Diploma
Associate programs typically attract recent high school graduates. Most schools require applicants to have a high school diploma or GED certificate to demonstrate a student's readiness for college-level coursework.
Although requirements vary by school and program, a minimum GPA is among the most common admission requirements for a postsecondary program. Many schools prefer candidates with a minimum GPA between 2.0 and 3.0.
ACT or SAT Scores
Many schools request that students hold ACT or SAT scores at or above the school's minimum threshold. Some schools maintain a preference for the ACT or SAT, while others allow students to decide which test scores to submit.
A common requirement of undergraduate college applications, most programs request that students submit their FAFSA results. Students pursuing an online associate degree in physical education should complete the FAFSA as early as possible to determine their eligibility for financial aid.
Some schools may require applicants to sit for placement tests to determine a student's proficiency in general education subjects.
Online Associate in Physical Education Career Paths
Individuals who earn an online associate in physical education can pursue a variety of fitness careers. Most entry-level positions in fitness training, athletic training, and instruction require an associate or bachelor's degree.
While not expressly required, most employers prefer candidates with professional certification, such as personal trainer, group fitness instructor, health coach, and/or medical exercise credentials.
Students pursuing an online associate in physical education who aspire to become PE teachers in a public school setting must ultimately pursue a bachelor's degree. They also need to earn a general teaching license and subject certification through a PRAXIS exam.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does a physical education teacher do?
Physical education teachers work in schools or within the community to educate students about fitness, wellness, and nutrition.
- What jobs can I get with a physical education degree?
Graduates who earned an online associate in physical education qualify for jobs like personal trainers and fitness instructors. Earning a bachelor's degree (or higher) in physical education can lead to management positions in fitness or a teaching career.
- Is physical education a good career?
Graduates of associate programs in physical education often pursue fitness training and instruction jobs, which have a projected growth rate of 13% between 2018 and 2028. This projected growth is more than twice the national average for all jobs in the U.S., indicating strong demand.
- How long does a degree in physical education take?
Most associate degrees take two years to complete, although online programs may feature accelerated completion times and generous transfer policies.
- How much do physical education teachers make?
Fitness trainers and instructors tend to earn more than $40,000 per year. Additionally, individuals who earn a bachelor's degree and state licensure can become physical education teachers. The median annual salary for teachers at elementary schools is $59,670.
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