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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Physical Education

Majors Overview March 17, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in physical education and their coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Physical Education

Students enrolled in physical education (P.E.) bachelor’s degree programs may pursue careers as athletic directors, athletic coaches, fitness instructors, or elementary or secondary school P.E. teachers. The teaching or education department of a university or college is most likely to offer these programs.

Topic areas such as motor skills development, exercise psychology, and kinesiology are explored to teach students physical activities that are development-oriented and aimed at improving the quality of life of their students. A student teaching experience is available through a P.E. bachelor’s degree program. Passage of a Praxis examination and a qualifying test will enable aspiring physical education teachers to obtain mandatory licensure.


Coursework in the majority of bachelor’s degree programs in physical education covers subject areas such as assessment, instruction, motivation, classroom management, and student diversity and growth. Students also complete general education requirements. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Physically adapted activities
•Physical education organization and administration
•Anatomy and physiology
•Motor skills development
•Exercise psychology
•Physical education teaching methods
•Psychomotor skills
•Injury prevention and first aid

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 12% has been predicted for elementary and middle school teachers in general over the 2012 – 2022 decade. Over the same period, high school teachers are expected to see 6% growth (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).

In May 2012, elementary school teachers brought in an average annual wage of $53,090, while high school teachers earned $55,050 on average per annum (BLS). The BLS has also predicted job growth rates of 15% for coaches and scouts over the 2012 – 2022 decade; the projection is attributed to the expected expansion of athletic programs by schools. In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $28,360 (BLS).

Continuing Education Choices

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, state licensure must also be obtained by aspiring physical education teachers. Requirements vary from state to state, but may typically cover passage of the Praxis test specific to physical education as well as a basic competency exam to augment work experience in a school environment and graduation from an accredited school.

Renewal of licensure in most states requires a certain number of continuing education hours. Some states require completion of graduation within a specific time span.

Teachers can advance their instructional skills by earning master’s degrees in physical education, and such graduate degrees would also help them stay abreast of P.E. curricula. Many schools offer areas of concentration in adaptive physical education, sports psychology, athletic administration, and teaching.

Schools typically offer Ph.D. programs through kinesiology programs, wherein specializations are available in areas of sports medicine, exercise physiology, applied biomechanics, or adaptive physical education. Successful completion of a Ph.D. graduate program may lead to a career in academia or research.

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