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 online 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 Online Master’s in Physical Education

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, taking into account a variety of 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.: 

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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

A master’s in physical education online allows for a flexible learning option for physical educators. While an offline option works best if one finds a university in their region and is not looking to continue working while they study, an online physical education degree allows one to choose to study outside of their state without giving up their job.  

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. Some online programs provide a unique option that allows students to collaborate with their peers through virtual learning software on large-scale projects. Programs can also offer the opportunity to reduce the number of credit hours by including a thesis. 

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 of 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 of Science in Physical Education allows for a more in-depth study of kinesiology and is designed for those looking for advanced knowledge and certification. The MS in Physical Education is best suited for students interested in the technical and scientific side of physical education 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 in this case, factoring in the student’s existing 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 or 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 by using programs, systems, and policies that affect 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 areas of athletics. Students prepare to coach their own teams in the future and learn about strength and conditioning, motor learning and control, and sport 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. 

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 either write a thesis or increase the number of credit hours. Some of the courses found in the physical education master’s are: 

  1. Professional Issues in Physical Education and Sport – This course reviews current research literature that informs effective physical education teaching practices. Students gain experience reviewing literature critically and discussing current issues. 
  2. Risk Management in Physical Education & Athletics – This course teaches students how to lower the risk of injuries and remove dangers that could lead to accidents during physical education and athletics.
  3. Scientific Principles of Movement and Performance – This course focuses on the theoretical knowledge of movement principles and sport biomechanics, with applications to the physical education and coaching professions. 
  4. The Physical Education Curriculum – This course examines the principles, issues, techniques, and the impact of educational philosophy on physical education programs and their application in creating a study plan for a particular circumstance. 

Although the coursework in a physical education master 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 

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) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and 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 but also in 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: 

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) 
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC

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) and the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE). 

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

A master of physical education degree program can be pursued either 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 3 years or more to complete. Taken full-time, a physical education master’s usually takes up to 2 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. 

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) 
  • Graduate Résumé 
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement 
  • At least 2 Letters of Recommendation 
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMATScores 
  • 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, and Educational Gymnastics, Team Sports, Individual Sports, Leisure or Outdoor Sports, Fitness Activity, etc., may be required to be completed. 

No GRE Physical Education Master’s Programs

The GRE and GMAT are two of the primary ways in which 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 University, Canisius College, and the University of South Florida offer online master’s in physical education no GRE programs. 

Accelerated Online Physical Education Master’s Programs

Accelerated master’s in physical education online allow students to complete their degree programs faster than the usual two years. This is especially useful for online students, as online courses typically take more time, especially if students are enrolled part-time. A fast-tracked program allows students to move forward more quickly in their chosen career 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 2 years by combing the master’s degree with the bachelor’s. These programs allow students to each both degrees in about 5 years, instead of the usual 6 years. Suny Brockport is an excellent example of a university offering such programs. 

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 are helpful for gaining 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 
Topics Related to Physical Education Udemy Udemy is home to over 200 free courses on topics related to physical education, such as CPR & Education in the Modern Age, Physical Activity & Medical Conditions, Know Yourself with Yoga, etc. 
Topics Related to Physical Education Coursera Several top universities in the U.S. provide physical education courses on Coursera. Topics include Improving Immunity Based on Traditional Eastern Exercises, Brilliant, Passionate You, Preventing Chronic Pain: A Human Systems Approach, etc. 
Topics Related to Physical Education Class Central Class Central has free physical education courses from Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California, Irvine, and many other top universities worldwide.. 

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

The cost of a master’s in physical education degree online can work out to be less than an offline program, but there are still various factors that influence the overall costs. Tuition fees for an online MPE degree can vary from about $300 per credit hour to about $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 exercisecaution when they apply and avail of scholarships, as there are numerous scholarship scams


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 amaster’s in physical education.Students can apply toFAFSAto 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 Program 

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   

Closed for 2023 | TBA for 2024 

Amarillo Area Foundation College Scholarships 

The Amarillo Area Foundation provides several scholarships to high school students and undergraduate and graduate students under varying circumstances and criteria. 



Application Deadline 


Mary Lampe Scholarship 

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 15, annually 

FAQs about Physical Education 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 as well as enhance their career prospects. Programs can be related to pedagogy, instructional design, 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? 

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 a range of 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, find 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 Physiologists $47,940 13% (faster than average) Exercise physiologists create diet and fitness programs that facilitate the healing and recovery of sick or injured patients. 
Coaches and Scouts $38,970 26% (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 Teachers $61,820 8% (as fast as average) 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 Teachers $61,820 8% (as fast as average) Physical educators play an essential role in giving high school students a head start regarding physical health and well-being. They can also choose to take on an athletic leadership role within the institution. 
Instructional Coordinators $63,740 10% (as fast as average) Instructional coordinators oversee the curricula and teaching standards in educational institutions. They create educational materials, implement them with teachers and principals, and assess their effectiveness. 

Certifications and Licensing for Physical Education Graduates

A certification proves that one possesses the necessary qualifications, expertise, and skills in a particular discipline. Most online master’s in physical education degree programs have certification built in. However, certification and physical education teacher licensure vary by state; each state has distinct criteria that 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 require to: 

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

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

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 a wealth of resources for distant learners, family & home learning, etc., and on topics of wellness, safety, nutrition, sexual health, social-emotional health, and more. 
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