Written By - Derick de Souza

Edited By Darryl S.

Review & Contribution By Jake Wilson

For prospective students working in physical education who want to improve their career prospects in the field without giving up on their present job or career, an online master’s in physical education might be the perfect option. Research continues to show the positive effects of physical activity on people’s lives, mental health, and overall well-being, so students can be assured of career prospects and work value if they choose physical education as a full-time occupation. Moreover, an online physical education master’s can also allow them to keep the valuable expertise they gain through work experience. Learn more about the prospects and possibilities of taking up a master’s in physical education online through this detailed guide to this degree program.

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Best Master’s in Physical Education Online Programs

Before students get into the nitty-gritty of what they will study through online master’s in physical education degree programs or choose their specialization, they must select a university and program that meets their needs and is among the best. OMC teams have compiled a list of some of the best online master’s in physical education programs, considering various criteria, including accreditation, tuition fees, financial aid, admission requirements, program requirements, graduation rates, and more. Here are the best master’s in physical education programs in the U.S.:

<a href="https://www.onlinemasterscolleges.com/masters-in-physical-education-online/">Physical Education</a>

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Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Physical Education Online Programs

A Master’s in Physical Education program explores advanced studies of exercise science, biomechanics, sports psychology, and pedagogy. Students explore topics such as fitness assessment, program design, and exercise prescription tailored to diverse populations. Many universities offer a fully online model, allowing students to continue their work without too much disruption. Meanwhile, a hybrid model will enable them to choose when and where to complete their coursework, allowing them to harmonize work and study. Most universities offer a two-year MPE degree, and credit hours can range from 33 to 40, depending on the delivery model and specialization one chooses. Coursework often includes research methods, sports sociology, and nutrition. Practical experiences in teaching, coaching, and administering fitness programs are integral. Graduates gain expertise in curriculum development, leadership in physical education settings, and promoting lifelong physical activity. The program prepares individuals for education, coaching, sports administration, and community health promotion roles.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Physical Education Master’s Programs

An online master’s in physical education program may vary depending on the school and program type. Physical education courses can include modules on instructional design, learner assessment in physical education, analysis of research in physical education, foundations of educational research, and effective teaching and classroom management. Electives can include sports psychology, grant writing, and sports in society. Depending on the program, students can write a thesis or increase the number of credit hours. Some of the courses found in the physical education master’s are:

Professional Issues in Physical Education and Sport

This course examines ethical, legal, and sociocultural aspects of the field. Topics include governance structures, equity, diversity, inclusion, and ethical considerations in coaching, teaching, and administration. Students analyze current issues shaping physical education and sports professions.

Risk Management in Physical Education & Athletics

In this course, students study strategies to mitigate risks associated with sports and physical activities. Topics include injury prevention, emergency response protocols, facility safety, and liability issues. Emphasis is placed on creating safe environments for participants.

Scientific Principles of Movement and Performance

This course explores biomechanics, physiology, and motor control theories. Students analyze human movement mechanics, muscle physiology, and performance enhancement techniques. The course integrates research findings to optimize athletic performance and injury prevention training methodologies.

The Physical Education Curriculum

In this course, students explore curriculum design, assessment methods, and instructional strategies tailored for diverse learners. Emphasis is placed on aligning curriculum with national standards, promoting inclusive practices, and fostering lifelong physical activity habits.

Although the coursework in a physical education master’s varies by the type of degree one opts for, such as an MA, MS, or M.Ed., students can expect the following courses across all degree types:

  • Research Methods and Statistics in Sport and Movement Studies
  • Systemic Analysis of Teaching Physical Education
  • Motor Learning
  • Skills-Based Health Education
  • Sports Skill Assessment and Instructional Strategies
  • Sport Risk Management
  • Technological Applications and Grant Writing
  • Educational Philosophy, Professional Issues in Physical Education
  • Pedagogical Strategies in School Health Education
  • Sports Psychology
  • Conducting Research in Physical Education
  • Supervision in Physical Education
  • Analysis of Team Sports

As for skills, students graduating with an online master’s in physical education would have acquired various skills, some of which include:

  • Designing courses in physical education for schools and educational institutions
  • Grant writing
  • Sports management skills
  • Analysis and evaluation of performance
  • Adapting physical education programs to suit the needs of students with disabilities
  • Research skills
  • Implementing best practices in assessment and curriculum
  • Administrative skills specific to the sports industry

Master’s in Physical Education Degree Types

An online physical education master’s offers some flexibility when it comes to both specializations and the type of degree students can choose to take up. Students can choose from three-degree types – the Master of Arts, the Master of Science, and the Master of Education.

MA in Physical Education

A Master’s in Arts in Physical Education allows students to train themselves as educators or pursue other industry careers, such as working with people with disabilities. Programs can take up to two years, and students have the option of choosing to specialize further later on. An MA in Physical Education online is an excellent option for those already working as educators or are relatively new to the field.

MS in Physical Education

A Master’s in Science in Physical Education allows for a more in-depth study of kinesiology and is designed for those seeking advanced knowledge and certification. The MS in Physical Education is best suited for students interested in physical education’s technical and scientific side and how to apply what they learn to real-world situations.

M.Ed. in Physical Education

An M.Ed. in Physical Education is best suited to those who are either looking to or already work in the field of physical education. Admission requirements can be more flexible, factoring in the student’s work experience. Educators can choose to focus their learning on pedagogy and will find that having this further accreditation vastly improves their options in the industry. The M.Ed. in Physical Education online is an excellent option for those already working as physical educators looking to improve their pay grades and career prospects.

Specializations in Master’s in Physical Education Programs

Students already working in the field will find it helpful to look into physical education specializations that can tap into their most abiding interests and offer a chance to enter a new domain within the industry. Specializations can range from academic – research and pedagogy to more unique areas of interest, such as working with people with special needs. Choosing to take up a specialization allows working professionals and students to acquire a more in-depth knowledge of the subject that interests them the most and break into new potential workspaces. Here are a few to explore:

Area of Specialization Description 
Athletics This specialization dives into the nuances of athletics and athletic performance. It is designed for students interested in teaching physical education, physical activity, or coaching.
Health Promotion and Disease Prevention This specialization focuses on promoting, improving, and maintaining health using programs, systems, and policies affecting individuals, organizations, and communities. Students learn about the underlying factors contributing to poor health and how to address these issues.
Athletic Leadership This specialization provides students with a strong foundation in the essential athletics areas. Students prepare to coach their own teams in the future and learn about strength and conditioning, motor learning and control, and sports psychology.
Adapted Physical Education This specialization focuses on the fundamental concepts for designing, implementing, and evaluating adapted physical education programs. Students will be prepared to work with people with special needs who want to participate in physical activities and will develop and manage prescriptive programs for patients with disabilities who need specialized activities.

Timeline for graduation from Online Master’s in Physical Education Programs

A master of physical education degree program can be pursued full-time or part-time. Part-time or flexible options are ideal for students already working and looking to boost their careers with a master’s degree but may require about three years or more to complete. Taken full-time, a physical education master’s usually takes up to two years to complete, though some institutions offer shorter timelines. Credit hours can range between 33 and 40, with, in some cases, the option of writing a thesis and reducing the number of credit requirements. Some universities offer the opportunity of asynchronous learning, where students can individually adapt the learning schedule to their own needs and manage the credits based on their time and work schedules.

Accelerated Master’s in Physical Education Online Programs

Accelerated master’s in physical education online allows students to complete their degree programs faster than the usual two years. This is especially useful for online students, as online courses typically take longer, especially if students are enrolled part-time. A fast-tracked program allows students to move forward more quickly in their chosen careers or to study without taking an extended break from work. While some universities offer the option of reducing the number of hours of coursework by completing a thesis, others offer accelerated programs that can be completed in less than two years by combining the master’s degree with the bachelor’s. These programs allow students to each both degrees in about five years instead of the usual six years. Here are some examples of universities offering accelerated master’s in physical education:

Online Master’s in Physical Education Programs Admission Requirements

Master’s in physical education admission requirements can vary depending on the institution or type of program. Most institutions require an undergraduate degree in physical education or a related field. Some institutions may also factor in work experience, personal interests & investment in the subject. An online physical education master’s can offer greater flexibility for students looking to switch careers or areas of study, as some institutions accept graduates in any field of study. English proficiency is a prerequisite in many of the universities offering this program. Further program-specific requirements may also have to be met if the student chooses to specialize in a particular field of study. Some of the standard admission requirements for a physical education master’s include:

  • Online application for the chosen university, along with the application fee
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, preferably in physical education
  • All official academic transcripts 
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 (varies by school)
  • A Graduate Résumé
  • A Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • At least 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Scores
  • College-specific requirements – some colleges will have specific requirements. Students must check with the admissions office at the college/s to which they are applying for exact requirements. Some prerequisite courses, such as Kinesiology, Dance, Rhythms, Educational Gymnastics, Team Sports, Individual Sports, Leisure or Outdoor Sports, Fitness Activity, etc., may be required to be completed.

No GRE Master’s in Physical Education Online Programs

The GRE and GMAT are two primary ways universities assess students’ abilities and potential, apart from the Grade Point Average (GPA). Many universities do not ask for a GRE or GMAT score during admission as they give more weightage to the incoming student’s interest level and work experience in physical education. For example, Hofstra University4, the University of Central Missouri5, and East Carolina University6 offer online master’s in physical education, no GRE programs.

Accreditation for Online Physical Education Master’s Programs

Accreditation has a significant impact on one’s career. Accredited institutions are evaluated by one or more independent accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE)7 or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)8. They go through a lengthy, in-depth process to assess their quality standards. Accredited physical education colleges are the best options for students looking for a degree that will aid their future careers, not just in terms of learning and work potential. Accreditation can be of two types – regional and national; most colleges are regionally accredited by any one of the six available accrediting agencies, which are:

In the field of physical education, accreditation may be awarded to physical education colleges or their specific programs (programmatic accreditation) by specialized accrediting agencies, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)9 and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE)10.

Free Physical Education Courses Online

Free master’s in physical education online courses are an excellent way to enhance one’s knowledge and expertise in the physical education space. Although most free courses are not accredited or recognized by the industry, they still help gain additional insights into the subject. Here are a few platforms offering free courses suitable for online master’s in physical education students:

Course Provided by Description 
Diploma in Physical Fitness11AlisonThe Diploma in Physical Fitness is a free online course covering exercise physiology basics, explaining how the body reacts and adapts to physical activity. It emphasizes injury prevention while enhancing fitness and core strength for oneself and others. This training ensures safer and more effective fitness routines, enhancing physical training skills at no cost.
Diploma in Physical Therapy Aide12AlisonThe Diploma in Physical Therapy Aide equips learners with skills to assist patients in enhancing mobility and managing pain and chronic conditions. It highlights the pivotal role of physical therapy in injury recovery, emphasizing an understanding of human anatomy and providing techniques for rehabilitation and strengthening. The course illustrates how aides support physical therapists in their critical work.
Diploma in Outdoor and Physical Education Studies13AlisonThe free online Diploma in Outdoor and Physical Education Studies covers coaching, physical fitness, outdoor activities, and basic physiology. It offers valuable insights into outdoor adventure and physical education, fostering a comprehensive understanding of the key concepts. This course paves the way for a rewarding and healthy career in the great outdoors.

How to Pay for a Master’s in Physical Education Online Program

The cost of a master’s in physical education degree online can be less than an offline program. However, there are still various factors that influence the overall costs. Tuition fees for an online MPE degree can vary from $300 per credit hour to $700, depending on the college. These prices may become a barrier for students looking to further their education. Fortunately, several funding options are available to students to reduce their financial burden, some of which are:


Scholarships are available to many students pursuing an online master’s degree in physical education. They are usually awarded based on merit, with the amount determined by gender, minority status, major chosen, and academic achievements. Students must exercise caution when applying for and availing of scholarships, as numerous scholarship scams exist.


In simple terms, grants are support usually in the form of cash and do not need to be returned or paid back. Grants can be offered based on various criteria, including race, ethnicity, gender, and disability, but are mostly given based on the applicant’s financial need.

Graduate Assistantships 

A Graduate Assistantship is an excellent option for students looking to earn while they complete their studies. While a Graduate Teaching Assistant usually works with a faculty member, helping with grading, organizing teaching material, etc., a Graduate Research Assistant can be assigned to a specific research project being conducted at the university under the guidance of a mentor. Students are given a stipend or tuition fee waiver/discount in exchange for their work.


FAFSA, short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, can help students mark down the price of a master’s in physical education. Students can apply to FAFSA to check their eligibility for financial aid from the federal government.

Read the Financial Aid Guide to understand and choose the most appropriate financial aid.

Scholarships for Online Physical Education Master’s Programs

Scholarships are the ideal way to offset the high costs of university education. Scholarships can be influenced by various factors, including minority status, gender, and professional orientation, but are frequently based on academic achievements. Here are a few examples:

JCC Professional Development Scholarship Program14

The JCC Scholarship Program is designed to assist current full-time Jewish Community Center (JCC) professionals in deepening and expanding their professional knowledge to advance their careers at a Jewish Community Center or Jewish Community Camp.


Up to $20,000 

Application Deadline   


Amarillo Area Foundation College Scholarships15

The Amarillo Area Foundation provides scholarships to high school bachelor’s and master’s students under varying circumstances and criteria.



Application Deadline 


Mary Lampe Scholarship16

The Mary Lampe Scholarship is awarded to professionals and undergraduate & full-time graduate students who wish to enhance their professional/educational endeavors.



Application Deadline   

April, annually,

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Physical Education Graduates

After completing a physical education online master’s, graduates can look forward to enhanced job prospects in various industries. Those already working as educators can look forward to improved pay grades but also choose to specialize in working to fit curricula to the needs of people with physical disabilities, for example. The sports industry also has plenty of scope for careers for students who have completed an online master’s in physical education.

Graduating students can find positions as directors, administrators, and department heads within the sports industry. Those more interested in research and the health industry can find jobs working with medical research teams to include physical activity, finding ways to prevent and cure lifestyle diseases, and more. Educators can also expand their careers to take on the role of athletic leadership in educational institutions, promoting physical activity and wellness practices among the student population.

Here are a few typical roles physical education graduates take up, along with their median annual salary and job outlook, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

Occupation Median Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030) Job Description 
Exercise Physiologists17$51,35010% (much faster than average)Exercise physiologists create diet and fitness programs that facilitate the healing and recovery of sick or injured patients.
Coaches and Scouts18$44,890 9% (much faster than average)Coaches train amateur and professional athletes to compete in their sport, improving their skills and performance. Scouts look for fresh talent to bring into the industry.
Special Education Teachers19$62,950 0% (little or no change)Special education teachers (with a physical education degree) work with students with physical, learning, or psychological disabilities. They can play a unique role in designing activities that can include the participation of those with special needs.
High School Teachers20$62,3601% (little or no change)Physical educators are essential in giving high school students a head start regarding physical health and well-being. They can also take on an athletic leadership role within the institution.
Instructional Coordinators21$66,4902% (as fast as average)Instructional coordinators oversee educational institutions’ curricula and teaching standards. They create educational materials, implement them with teachers and principals, and assess their effectiveness.

Certifications and Licensing for Physical Education Graduates

A certification proves one possesses the necessary qualifications, expertise, and skills in a particular discipline. Most online master in physical education degree programs have certification built in. However, certification and physical education teacher licensure vary by state; each state has distinct criteria a candidate must fulfill. Furthermore, certification and licensure go hand in glove in that one leads to the other. To obtain certification in physical education, one would be required to:

  • complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree in physical education;
  • complete a teacher preparation program;
  • pass the state examination (usually the Praxis II22 test); and
  • obtain concomitant certifications.

Exact eligibility criteria, requirements, and state certification information are available on teachingcertification.com23.

Additional Resources for Physical Education Professionals

Many online resources are available, adding to one’s educational background and providing new ideas and creative inputs to one’s work. A master’s in physical education online can be followed up or bolstered with a range of free and valuable information by networking with like-minded people, attending webinars and seminars, and exchanging ideas in forums. Here are a few valuable resources for physical education students and professionals that can be of use:

  1. SHAPE America – Society of Health and Physical Educators – SHAPE America provides PE lesson plans that help professionals create effective programs for physical education in schools that align with SHAPE America’s National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education. 
  2. OPEN Online Physical Education Network – Open provides physical education lessons, comprehensive curriculum tools for physical educators, and inspiration for professional development.
  3. The PE Specialist – The PE Specialist provides a vast bank of blogs and articles on classroom management strategies, teaching tips, lesson ideas, technology resources, games & activities, and more.
  4. Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction – The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has many resources for distant learners, family & home learning, etc., and wellness, safety, nutrition, sexual health, social-emotional health, and more. 

FAQs About Master’s in Physical Education Online Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a master’s in physical education?

A master’s in physical education is a postgraduate study for fitness educators looking to improve their knowledge and career prospects. Programs can be related to pedagogy, instructional design, and the designing of physical activities for students with special needs, sports administration, psychology, and so on.

What can you do with a master’s in physical education degree?

How long is a physical education master’s?

Is a physical education master’s worth it?

Can I teach with a physical education master’s?

Can I collaborate with fellow students and faculty in an online physical education program?


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