Physical Education Degree

Physical Education Degree

Pursuing a physical education degree will allow you to obtain the knowledge and experience needed to become a PE teacher at an elementary, middle or high school. In physical education programs, students explore the nature of human movement and learn how to communicate with and lead groups in physical activity settings. Physical education schools also prepare students for careers in wellness, fitness, recreation, and coaching. If you would like to encourage youngsters to be physically active for a lifetime, learn more about what it takes to earn a degree in physical education.

Physical Education Teacher Requirements

Degrees in physical education are available at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. The prerequisites for an undergraduate degree in physical education are typically a high school diploma or GED, minimum required SAT/ACT scores, and a minimum required GPA. In order to become a physical education teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and a state teaching license or certification in physical education. Bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete.

The admissions requirements for master’s and doctoral degree programs in physical education are usually a bachelor’s degree in a related field, a minimum required GPA, minimum required GRE scores, and letters of recommendation. Master’s degree can be one to two years beyond the bachelor’s degree. Doctoral degrees are generally designed to prepare individuals for academic positions in physical education departments at colleges and universities. They can take from three to five years to complete. Some doctoral programs may require a master’s degree.

Curriculum of Physical Education Programs

Degrees in physical education are designed to help students gain instructional skills. Physical education students also learn a variety of sports, games, and outdoor pursuits, develop strong leadership and communication skills, study how the body works, and understand and apply the principles of healthy living. Courses that physical education teachers may be required to take include the following:

  • Human anatomy & physiology
  • Applied exercise physiology & prescription
  • Human wellness
  • Applied movement analysis
  • Organization & administration of physical activity
  • Physical activity of special populations
  • Psychosocial aspects of physical activity

Degrees in physical education prepare students to teach at both elementary and secondary schools. Physical education students are required to complete supervised student teaching in order to obtain a certification to teach K-12 physical education.

Career Overview for Physical Education Teachers


Physical education teachers lead K-12 PE students in fitness testing, organized physical activity, recreational sports, and nutrition and wellness classes. Like teachers of academic subjects, PE teachers will need to create lessons plans, evaluate students’ progress, and maintain classroom discipline. Although it is atypical for PE teachers to give homework assignments, they may administer written exams regarding health lessons or the rules of sports.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of teachers from the K-12 level should increase at a rate of 11% from 2012 to 2022, which is about as fast as average as all occupations. Declining student-teacher ratios and an increased student enrollment rate will necessitate the growth. However, the increase in teaching positions will be restricted by local and government budgets. The South and West are projected to see employment growth in this field, while the Midwest should hold study, and positions in the Northeast are expected to decline.


The BLS also reports that the median annual wage of elementary school teachers was $53,400 in 2012. Middle school teachers earned 53,430, and high school teachers earned $55,050.  Other careers you could pursue with a degree in physical education include athletic trainer, coach, recreation worker, health educator, and fitness specialist.

Playing a Critical Role in the Health of Our Nation

Physical education graduates play a critical role in shaping the health of our nation and world. Becoming a physical education teacher may be right for you if you like working with children and adolescents and also enjoy sports and movement. When you pursue a degree in physical education, you learn the science behind the moves and get involved in a variety of sports and activities. You also learn to lead groups and work with everyone from serious athletes to those who struggle to get off the couch. If you would like to pursue a career in physical education, wellness, recreation or coaching, earn a physical education degree today.