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2023 Most Affordable Online Master's in Physical Education

By the OnlineU team | Updated 12/2/2022
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Becoming physically fit often requires the help of skilled professionals delivering guidance and instruction. This encouragement and support help people safely lead active lifestyles. An affordable online master’s degree in physical education can help students expand their knowledge and provide advanced expertise to those they teach and train. Similarly, those interested in working in the sports industry may choose an online master’s degree in sports management or sports psychology. Alternatively, those interested in public sector work may opt for an online master’s degree in public health that can provide the skills necessary to educate the general public.

View our methodology for details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also explore our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for more inspiration.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Fort Hays State University Hays (KS) $4,478
# 2 #2 University of North Georgia Dahlonega (GA) $4,545
# 3 #3 Youngstown State University Youngstown (OH) $5,577
# 4 #4 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg (MO) $5,910
# 5 #5 Jacksonville State University Jacksonville (AL) $6,150
# 6 #6 Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville Edwardsville (IL) $6,300
# 7 #7 Georgia Southern University Statesboro (GA) $6,444
# 8 #8 Chadron State College Chadron (NE) $6,840
# 9 #9 Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus Portales (NM) $7,227
# 10 #10 University of Arkansas Fayetteville (AR) $7,252
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478
Annual Tuition: $4,478

Fort Hays State University (FHSU) is a public institution that offers an online Master of Science in Health and Human Performance (HHP). This program requires completing 32 credit hours, which takes full-time students approximately three to four years. Students with undergraduate degrees in disciplines other than HHP may be required to complete an additional 18 credit hours of coursework. FHSU has a high acceptance rate of 91% and a 57% graduation rate.

Online students of the HHP graduate program participate in classes via Blackboard, including courses with titles like Sports in American Society, Health Promotion Programming, and Biomechanics. To graduate, FHSU requires the completion of an exam and either a thesis or an internship. This program helps students develop advanced skillsets for jobs within industries such as professional sports, education, and public service.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,411
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,453
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#2
#2
Annual Tuition: $4,545
Annual Tuition: $4,545
Annual Tuition: $4,545

The University of North Georgia (UNG) is a public university offering an online Master of Science in Kinesiology - Physical Education intended for students with prior teaching certification or a bachelor's degree in exercise science. Full-time students may complete this 30-credit program in just two years. However, this program does not provide physical education certification upon graduation. UNG has an 81% acceptance rate, while just 37% of students graduate.

For this remote degree program, students receive curriculum and instruction through the Desire2Learn learning management system (LMS). Core courses include Analysis of Motor Skills, Obesity Prevalence in Children and Youth, and Trends and Issues in HPE. A three-hour action research project is also required to graduate. Alumni are eligible to pursue advanced physical education and exercise science careers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 88%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1190
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,138
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 311
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#3
#3

Youngstown State University

Youngstown (OH)
Annual Tuition: $5,577
Annual Tuition: $5,577
Annual Tuition: $5,577

Youngstown State University (YSU), a public institution, offers an online Master of Health and Human Services - Physical Education. Students must complete 37 credit hours to graduate, including 10 to 12 hours that are specific to the physical education track. Therefore, it may take full-time students approximately three years to complete the physical education program. YSU accepts 70% of students who apply and has a 38% graduation rate.

Students securely access coursework and instruction through the Blackboard LMS. Program curriculum and instruction aim to provide the skills necessary for career advancement through courses such as Planning and Fiscal Management, Community Health Practice, and Health Behavior. Students must also complete a thesis project or an internship. After graduation, they may progress to supervisory and management positions within the public service sector.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Average SATs: 970 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 516
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 287
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $5,910
Annual Tuition: $5,910
Annual Tuition: $5,910

The University of Central Missouri (UCM) is a public institution offering an online Master of Science in Physical Education with either a pedagogy or coaching option, depending on students' professional goals. Both tracks require completing 33 credit hours, which full-time students typically finish within a year. Proof of teaching is required for enrollment in either track. The school has a 64% acceptance rate, and 53% of UCM students obtain degrees.

UCM uses Blackboard to deliver curriculum and instruction, allowing students to participate virtually in classes, such as Physical Education for Special Populations, Philosophy and Ethics in Coaching, and Effective Teaching in Physical Education. The curricula offered through the pedagogy and coaching tracks support UCM's experiential learning philosophy in support of advancing participants' teaching careers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 449
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 728
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#5
#5

Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville (AL)
Annual Tuition: $6,150
Annual Tuition: $6,150
Annual Tuition: $6,150

Jacksonville State University (JSU) is a public institution offering an online Master of Science in Education, Physical Education - Human Performance. The degree generally takes full-time students two to three years to complete the required 30 credit hours. Students interested in other paths may opt for JSU's Master of Science in Education, Physical Education - P-12 (EdS) or Master of Science in Education, Physical Education - Nutrition. JSU has a 64% acceptance rate and a 47% graduation rate.

Students securely access lessons and instruction through the LMS, Canvas. Program courses are asynchronous and self-paced, including Perceptual Motor Development, Diversity Issues and Trends in Wellness and Sport Studies, and Clinical Cardiopulmonary Physiology. In addition, students must complete a comprehensive exam before they can graduate. This program helps prepare students for advanced careers as athletics directors, community program directors, and ergonomists.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Average SATs: 930 -1160
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 979
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 935
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300
Annual Tuition: $6,300

Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (SIUE) is a public institution offering an online Master of Science in Education in Kinesiology - Physical Education and Coaching Pedagogy. Graduation requires the completion of 30 credit hours, which takes full-time students at least two years. The program may be completed in a flexible format, suiting individual schedules and allowing students to develop their teaching and research skills at their own pace. SIUE has an 85% acceptance rate and a 53% graduation rate.

Students at SIUE utilize the Blackboard LMS to deliver instruction and coursework. Students in the physical education and coaching pedagogy program enroll in the following core classes: Exercise Psychology, Physical Activity and Mental Health, and Analysis of Teaching Behaviors in Sport and Physical Education. Graduation also requires completing an action research project.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Average SATs: 1020 -1220
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 622
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 647
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#7
#7

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro (GA)
Annual Tuition: $6,444
Annual Tuition: $6,444
Annual Tuition: $6,444

Georgia Southern University (Georgia Southern) is a public institution offering an online Master of Science in Kinesiology - Coaching Education. Remote students may finish this 36-credit program in 14 months if they maintain a full-time schedule. Students interested in other professional opportunities may choose an online Master of Science in Kinesiology - Physical Education or an online Master of Arts in Teaching - Health and Physical Education Grades P-12. Georgia Southern has a 91% acceptance rate, with 51% of students who graduate.

Georgia Southern uses Canvas to deliver curricula asynchronously, though some instructors may require synchronous work. Students in the coaching education program may choose from courses such as Team Dynamics, Sociocultural Foundations in Sports Coaching, and Administrative Issues in Coaching. Graduation also requires completing a practicum. This program helps students prepare for advanced coaching roles or careers within coaching administration.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Average SATs: 1050 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,088
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,619
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
#8
#8

Chadron State College

Chadron (NE)
Annual Tuition: $6,840
Annual Tuition: $6,840
Annual Tuition: $6,840

Chadron State College (CSC) is a public institution offering an online Master of Education Administration in specific subject areas, including physical education for elementary and secondary children. Students must complete 36 credit hours to graduate. Courses last eight weeks, which means that it generally takes full-time students two years to finish. The online MEd program aims to help teachers expand their breadth of K-8-level teaching knowledge, and all who apply are accepted. The graduation rate is 43%.

CSC uses the integrated Sakai LMS to deliver school communications, instruction, and coursework to fully remote students. To graduate, MEd students concentrating on physical education must complete 15 credit hours on this topic and complete a thesis or scholarly project.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 601
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 466
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $7,227
Annual Tuition: $7,227
Annual Tuition: $7,227

Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus (ENMU) offers an online Master of Science in Physical Education that focuses on career and business skills development in sports administration. Graduation requires completing 36 credit hours, which typically takes full-time students at least two years. ENMU has a 51% acceptance rate and a 44% graduation rate.

Synchronous classes are delivered via Mediasite, and asynchronous courses are available through the Canvas LMS. Online students in ENMU's physical education graduate program may enroll in courses such as Women's Sport/Wellness Issues, Sport and the Media, Ethics in Sport, and Sport Law and Risk Management. Students can also choose to either write a thesis or produce a capstone project before graduation. Alumni may work in recreation and events management, sports venue/facility management, or professional sports organization marketing.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Average SATs: 900 -1110
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,514
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 917
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
#10
#10

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville (AR)
Annual Tuition: $7,252
Annual Tuition: $7,252
Annual Tuition: $7,252

The University of Arkansas (U of A) is a public institution offering an online Master of Education in Physical Education to students who desire advanced training in this field. This MEd program requires 33 credit hours to graduate for those who complete a thesis and 27 credit hours for all other participants. Full-time students may graduate in just two years. Students must hold a kinesiology degree or a related undergraduate diploma to enroll, and they have a 78% likelihood of being accepted. Additionally, U of A has a 63% graduation rate.

Blackboard delivers curricula to students asynchronously, though faculty may require some synchronous coursework. Courses within the physical education curriculum include Supervision in Physical Education, The Physical Education Curriculum, and Measurement Concepts for K-12 Physical Education Teachers. Graduation also requires completing a comprehensive written exam for all MEd Physical Education students.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 76%
  • Average SATs: 1120 -1300
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 934
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,578
  • School Type: Nonprofit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Overview of Affordable Online Physical Education Master's Degrees

A graduate degree in PE from an accredited program provides learners with a solid foundation in various health topics, including the theories behind physical activity as well as related practices. Programs prepare graduates to work with diverse athletic abilities. Classes may include pedagogy, adapted PE, sport skill assessment, and sports psychology, to name a few. Graduates gain the necessary skills to coach others about the importance of building healthy lifelong habits, physical activity's impact on well-being, and working in teams to achieve common goals.

An online program can be an affordable way to gain these invaluable skills. Remote classes are often conducted asynchronously, where lectures are prerecorded and students engage each other through an online learning platform. This format provides some scheduling flexibility. However, some graduate schools still have in-person requirements that are more rigid, which may include fieldwork or a student teaching internship.


Online PE master's degree programs are usually 30-40 credit hours, and among our list of the 22 most affordable options, annual tuition ranges from $4,545 to $11,586. Most online learners take two years to complete this program, though some are able to finish in just one year.



Funding an Online Master's in Physical Education Degree

Like their on-campus counterparts, students enrolled in an accredited online program in physical education are eligible for financial aid. To determine whether they're qualified for different types of aid and the amounts of aid available, students should submit a Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) form. Federal student loans become available through this process, and they typically offer lower interest rates and better repayment plans than private loans. For additional information on financial aid programs, enrollees should check with their graduate school's financial aid office.


The Best Financial Aid Options for Physical Education Students

Online students should first seek out scholarships, fellowships, and grants because they don't have to repay these types of funding from federal, state, private, and school-based sources. Graduate students may also want to investigate work-study programs, which allow them to earn money toward their educational expenses.

Many resources are available for online students studying physical education at the graduate level. Some schools offer specialized scholarships for students enrolled in their graduate programs, such as the following:

Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarships

The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) awards $1,750 Ruth Abernathy Presidential Scholarships to full-time master's degree students in accredited health, physical education, recreation, or dance programs. Students must have a 3.5 GPA and be current SHAPE members. Students can sign up to be SHAPE members when applying for the scholarship, and awards also include an additional three-year student SHAPE membership for free.

The Barbara A. Cooley Master's Scholarship

This $1,000 master's scholarship is awarded to one master's level student pursuing a health education program at an accredited school. Students must have a 3.0 GPA to be eligible. The recipient will also get a free one-year SHAPE student membership.

For more information about college affordability, we're compiled resources about financial mistakes to avoid, popular college savings plans, and more.


Common Courses for an Online Physical Education Master's Degree

PE master's degree programs cover standard topics and electives to ground graduates in the knowledge and pedagogical practices associated with athletic training and sport science, such as anatomy and physiology, exercise practices, and nutrition. Coursework covers how to develop a curriculum, teach sports safely, and assess people's physical ability. In addition to taking the core online courses listed below, enrolled students are typically required to complete a practicum. For an advanced degree in PE, a practicum experience may involve participation in real-world settings, such as hands-on activities with youth, but it may only entail observation for some degree programs. Below are some examples of standard required classes for a PE master's program.

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology: Physical educators need to understand the human body's systems and how they interrelate. In this course, students learn the structure and function of these systems, along with common exceptionalities. The curriculum introduces exercise physiology and nutrition, which are topics that students explore further in later courses.
  • Exercise Physiology: Human Anatomy and Physiology is usually a prerequisite to this course, where students explore the effects of physical activity on the human body. The curriculum covers different body systems and how they interact and react to exertion as well as the exercises and activity levels that are appropriate for various age groups.
  • First Aid and Safety: This course covers the fundamentals of first aid. Students learn to assess injuries, safely handle potential biohazards, and recommend further medical intervention if necessary. Most sections include a CPR certification or recertification module.
  • Nutrition: The faculty discuss different nutrients and how they satisfy human nutritional needs, emphasizing dietary requirements that vary by age group and developmental level. Students also practice sensitivity to the cultural, religious, and moral dietary restrictions they may encounter.
  • School Health Education: PE teachers are often assigned health classes to teach young learners about physical and mental health. This course covers the latest research into human health and best practices for teaching this subject. Topics usually include exercise, psychological well-being, nutrition, human sexuality, and first aid.
  • Testing and Measurements: This course teaches methods for assessing various indicators of student health. Students learn how to carefully conduct tests and interpret the measurements they take. Each section also describes the fitness assessments that are mandated in-state.

Is an Online Master's in Physical Education Worth It?

Each prospective student must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of earning a master's degree in PE and doing so through distance learning. While tuition rates for online programs are often cheaper than on-campus degrees, a remote education may not suit every applicant's learning style.

Potential Benefits

  • This degree can lead to a variety of career paths in the fitness and wellness industry. For example, you can enter a career as a fitness and wellness coordinator or a health educator in settings ranging from hospitals and non-profits to government institutions and private businesses.
  • According to CareerExplorer, most occupations in this field tend to have relatively high job satisfaction. For example, coaches rate their experience 3.7 out of 5 stars, placing them in the top 18% of careers. Perhaps this is because a career in fitness allows you to positively impact people's quality of life by lowering their chances of developing health problems.
  • Online education offers increased flexibility. Since many post-baccalaureate students are already entrenched in the workforce, an online degree makes advanced study possible, allowing individuals to study around their current obligations.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Unless you want to pursue a leadership role, acquiring a master's degree in physical education may be an unnecessary step. Many occupations in the field require only a high school diploma or a bachelor's degree.
  • Earning this advanced degree may not significantly improve your financial situation. For example, PE teachers with a master's degree only earn an average of $5,000 more per year than those with bachelor's degrees, whereas other types of teachers can experience a salary jump from $10-20,000. Furthermore, master's graduates of teaching programs take an average of eight years to earn back their educational investment.
  • It may be challenging to form a tight-knit group with your fellow peers and mentors due to the nature of an online degree. Since most online communication is written, you may also lose the chance to fine-tune your proficiency in oration, an essential teaching skill.

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