After earning an online bachelor's degree in physical education, you can pursue careers related to student education and private fitness instruction. This guide introduces the essentials of online physical education degrees, covering common program structures and curricula, admission requirements, post-graduation career options, and more.

What Are the Best Physical Education Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Five:

Rank School Location
1 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA
2 University of South Dakota Vermillion, SD
3 Eastern New Mexico University Portales, NM
4 University of Wisconsin-Superior Superior, WI
5 William Carey University Hattiesburg, MS

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that demand for capable health and wellness professionals will continue to rise in the years ahead. The BLS projects 13% growth for fitness instructors and trainers, as well as an 11% increase in health educator and community health worker employment from 2018-2028 -- both of these rates significantly outpace average growth expectations for all professions. For many job-seekers, a bachelor's degree is an essential entry-level credential in an increasingly competitive field.

How We Rank Schools

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find your ideal school.

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Physical Education Programs

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Lafayette, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

UL Lafayette's bachelor's in kinesiology features a concentration in health promotion and wellness. This program uses eight-week courses and an entirely online delivery method. The 120-credit curriculum emphasizes basic nutrition, wellness, and human behavior theories. During their final semester, students complete an internship.

UL Lafayette's career services website uses Handshake to deliver many resources, including counseling appointments and job hunting guides. The university also publishes informational articles that cover leadership and professionalism best practices.

All online learners pay the same tuition rate. The university offers unique scholarship opportunities for in-state, out-of-state, and international students. Graduates of this program qualify to sit for the certified health education specialist exam offered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing.

2

University of South Dakota

Vermillion, SD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 58%

Students looking to earn a bachelor's in physical education may be interested in USD's online bachelor's degree in health sciences. Students choose from six academic pathways, each of which prepares students for a different professional or educational outcome. Pathways include healthcare advancement, public health, and undergraduate research.

About 80% of USD's health sciences alumni start a job or a graduate program within four months of graduation. Current students and alumni can research exclusive job postings through Coyote Careers. Additional resources include a resume guide and cover letter critiques.

First-year admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED scores. Transfer applicants can determine credit equivalency on USD's website. Incoming students can apply for multiple scholarship opportunities by submitting one form.

3

Eastern New Mexico University

Portales, NM Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

Aspiring high school coaches and physical education teachers can earn an online bachelor's degree in physical education at ENMU. This program features an emphasis in sport and recreation management. Faculty deliver all of the program's coursework asynchronously through the Blackboard platform. The program also offers an optional teacher licensure track for learners who plan to work in a public school.

ENMU's career advisors use the Ask-It Basket to address students' most pressing questions and needs. Available resources include Handshake software, career exploration guides, and virtual workshops.

Admission requirements include high school transcripts and FAFSA results. ENMU does not charge an application fee. The university offers scholarships to in-state, out-of-state, and transfer students. ENMU awards the Foundation Scholarship to veterans and dependents who qualify.

4

University of Wisconsin-Superior

Superior, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 36%

UW-Superior's online bachelor's program in exercise science allows students to earn a BA or a BS. The university supplements classroom learning with internship experiences, and participants also have the option to earn a Wisconsin teacher license. Other potential career paths for graduates include sports nutritionists and wellness directors.

The university's dedication to students results in a 91% graduate success rate. Learners can gain the knowledge and skills needed for professional success by taking advantage of UW-Superior's career guides, which cover topics like market trends and interviewing skills.

Transfer applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA. All online learners pay the same tuition, no matter where they live. UW-Superior maintains a scholarship website where students can explore and apply for awards.

5

William Carey University

Hattiesburg, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 47%

William Carey University's online bachelor's in physical education program includes a 36-credit major curriculum. Students also complete a minor in coaching, making the degree an excellent choice for aspiring physical education teachers. The program delivers all coursework asynchronously.

Online students can use Indigo Portal to access interviewing tips, a professionalism guide, and resume templates. Students can also review essential job hunting advice on the My Next Move website.

William Carey University does not accept GED scores. First-year applicants must submit ACT or SAT results. The university also uses a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA cutoff for transfer credit. Endowed scholarships for incoming students consider an applicant's academic merit and commitment to Christian doctrine.

Online Bachelor's in Physical Education Program Overview

The curriculum of an online bachelor's degree in physical education typically includes a required set of core courses, along with general education electives. Some programs also feature specialization options, which allow students to customize their learning by taking electives in concentrated and niche study areas.

Core courses usually cover the essentials of human anatomy and physiology before delving into more detailed examinations of specific topics, such as kinesiology, health assessment, and exercise instruction. Many programs prepare students for careers in education by familiarizing participants with instructional strategies and technologies.

A bachelor's degree provides the minimum level of education for many aspiring health and fitness educators. As competition increases in the field, some job-seekers also elect to differentiate themselves by earning master's degrees.

Common Bachelor's in Physical Education Degree Courses

Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology

This class introduces students to the interrelated structural functions of the human body's various systems. It also covers physical development, cardiovascular development and functioning, metabolism, the processes that govern injury and healing, and other specialized topics with direct applications to physical education.

Kinesiology and Biomechanics

Introductory courses in kinesiology and biomechanics typically take a survey-style approach to locomotion and motor behavior. Enrollees learn about injury prevention and the importance of proper form in exercise design.

Exercise Physiology

Degree-seekers explore the physical effects of sports and exercise. Coursework covers nutrition and explores how the body sources and utilizes energy during periods of intense physical activity. Participants also examine the roles and effects of exercise in weight control, disease and injury prevention, and healthy aging.

Individual and Team Sports

This course considers strategies and methods used to choose individual physical activities and team sports in school settings. Students also learn how to make sure their selected activities are appropriate for participants of various fitness and skill levels.

Health Assessment Methods

Physical education graduates frequently design exercise and fitness programs for individuals and groups of clients. This course delivers important insights into assessing the relative health and fitness of program participants to ensure activities match their fitness objectives and physical capabilities.

Online Bachelor's in Physical Education Admission Requirements

  • High School Diploma or the Equivalent

    Almost all accredited schools that offer an online bachelor's degree in physical education restrict eligibility to high school graduates or those with a GED certificate.

  • Meet General Admission Requirements for the Institution

    Postsecondary institutions generally require a minimum GPA, and applicants may need to submit supplemental material like academic transcripts, standardized test scores, and letters of recommendation.

  • Academic Prerequisites

    Physical education programs oriented toward teacher training often include academic prerequisites, which degree-seekers must meet before gaining formal admission into a specialized study track.

  • Standardized Test Requirements

    In addition to SAT or ACT scores, physical education programs intended for aspiring teachers may also require applicants to submit specialized test scores, like the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (commonly known as the CORE test).

  • Pass a Background Check

    Some programs -- particularly those with classroom-based and hybrid structures -- offer internship and practical training opportunities. These experiences may bring students into contact with young people. Therefore, degree-seekers may need to pass criminal background checks to obtain the necessary clearances.


Online Bachelor's in Physical Education Career Paths

Many physical education degree-holders go on to pursue careers as elementary/high school teachers, sports coaches, and health educators. These popular paths necessitate additional schooling and training for state-based teaching licensure. Physical therapy offers another related career path, although aspiring therapists must complete 2-3 years of specialized schooling beyond a bachelor's program to earn a license.

Additionally, many employers now offer on-site health and wellness programs as a fringe benefit. Professionals with educational backgrounds in physical education may qualify for these roles without any additional schooling, though openings may display a strong preference for candidates with proven experience.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a physical education teacher do?

Physical education teachers design, implement, and lead activity programs that promote physical health and wellness. They help improve coordination and motor skills and play a key role in instilling healthy lifelong exercise and nutrition habits.

What jobs can I get with a physical education degree?

Many people who graduate from bachelor's-level physical education programs later earn their teaching licenses. The field also supports a growing number of other career paths, including sports coaching, fitness instruction and personal training, physical therapy, and corporate wellness program leadership.

Is physical education a good career?

Many physical education-related career paths display strong growth potential. For example, BLS data indicates high projected growth rates for fitness instructor and health educator roles, and the number of employers that now offer company-backed fitness programs continues to grow. These factors combine to create a wealth of career options and opportunities.

How long does a degree in physical education take?

An online bachelor's degree in physical education usually includes about 120 credits. Thus, a full-time student usually needs the equivalent of eight semesters to complete all graduation requirements.

How much do physical education teachers make?

According to PayScale data, physical education teachers in the United States earn an average annual salary of about $45,000. However, physical education teachers with considerable experience take home about $60,000 per year.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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