There are no undergraduate physical education degree programs offered online, but many schools offer online master's degree programs in physical education. There are several master's degree programs available, some for licensed teachers and others for people with bachelor's degrees in fields other than education who want to become certified to teach. In an online program, students can 'attend class' over the Internet as their schedules permit, within set deadlines.
Students in a master's degree program in physical education study curriculum development, student assessments and human development. Some programs call for students to follow a prescribed curriculum, while other programs allow students to choose courses that best help them meet their career goals. In some programs, students complete assigned projects in the classroom, then gather with classmates online to discuss their work. Students spend time learning about research methods and how to use research to improve their teaching.
Earning a master's degree will not automatically qualify a graduate to teach physical education. Anyone who wants to teach in a public school must be licensed by their state. Requirements vary, but generally include completing an approved education program that includes student teaching, as well as passing a competency exam.
Master's Degree in Physical Education
Master's degrees in physical education are typically offered as Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT), the Master of Education (M.Ed.), and the Master of Science in Physical Education/Teacher Education degrees. The Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees are designed for new and veteran teachers who have teaching credentials. The Master of Education is designed for individuals who need to earn their teaching certification or are employed in sports.
Program Information and Requirements
These degree programs require completion of anywhere from 30 to 40 credit hours. Students can complete coursework online and communicate with instructors and fellow students via e-mail or online discussion boards. Some courses require students to pass a comprehensive test to qualify for graduation. Programs may allow students to tailor their studies toward their career goals, or they may require that students complete a specific set of prescribed courses.
List of Common Physical Education-Related Courses
For individuals who want to teach physical education, course requirements range from research and curriculum design to human development and assessment of student performance. Some schools recommend courses in psychology, gender differences or grant writing.
Students learn to create physical education lesson plans for movement-related activities. Some of these courses are specific to individual sports or athletic activities, like gymnastics, dance or general games.
This course explores how people move. The focus of this course is on the body's physiological systems and how they work. After learning to interpret and analyze experimental data, students use that information to develop lesson plans for physical education classes.
Research Methods and Analysis
This course includes analyses of literature related to physical education, explores research techniques and teaches students to create research experiments for classroom use. The goal of many courses on research methods is for students to assess their own teaching methods and make improvements where necessary.
Career Information and Certification
Physical education teachers are employed in all levels of educational institutions, from elementary schools through universities. These education professionals may supplement their income with coaching jobs in school and community athletics programs. Teacher certification requirements vary, depending on where the prospective physical education teacher wants to teach. According to Payscale.com, physical education teachers earned a median annual salary of $44,097 in 2019.
Individuals with master's degrees in physical education can find employment in athletic coaching or as athletic officials, such as umpires. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), coaches in public school programs may be required to gain certification for head coaching positions; these certification requirements vary based on location. The BLS states that coaches for private school teams may not need official certification for coaching positions (www.bls.gov).
For individuals who seek further education in the field of physical education, Doctor of Philosophy degrees in physical education or human performance are available. These programs are not typically available online.
While undergraduate physical education degree programs are not found online, those who are interested in online study in this field, and who already hold a bachelor's degree, may consider enrolling in a master's degree program. Graduate students in physical education learn how to adapt exercise techniques for educational settings, preparing them for possible careers as teachers or trainers.