Making the Right Moves: A Guide to Majoring in Physical Education
A physical education (PE) major combines the best of interpersonal communication, fitness, and science. It’s an excellent choice for anyone interested in sports and fitness who likes working with others. As a PE major, you’ll learn how to help others improve their relationships with their bodies and exercise by teaching them about safe movement and wellness.
Of first and foremost importance in the field of physical education is an understanding of how the body moves. Students studying physical education majors should expect to take coursework in subjects such as anatomy, kinesiology, motor learning, and physiology. Depending on your chosen career path, you may also study education (for those who want to teach) or sports management and marketing (for those interested in administrative jobs).
Since physical education is a hands-on discipline, your program may require labs, student teaching, or fieldwork at a local school. Many physical education programs also take a more holistic approach to wellness, and it’s common for some institutions to require that students take nutrition and health classes.
Careers in Physical Education
A degree in physical education is highly versatile and can be applied in education, healthcare, and professional sports. Below are a few examples of careers that physical education majors may pursue:
- Physical education (PE) teacher
- Personal trainer
- Sports coach
- Fitness instructor
- Physical therapist
- Athletic director
- Sports journalist
Black Representation in the Physical Fitness Industry
As a niche field composed of disparate careers and professionals, there is often a lack of comprehensive data regarding the representation of Black Americans in high levels of the physical fitness industry, which includes everything from gym owners to professional trainers, executives within fitness corporations, and sports journalists. However, it is generally accepted that underrepresentation in the fitness industry follows similar trends as in other fields. Across industries, Black professionals hold only 0.8% of CEO positions and just 3.2% of senior leadership positions.
In physical education, as in all fields, representation matters. When people see trainers, physical educators, and fitness influencers who look like them, it fosters a sense of relatability and belonging, ultimately encouraging more Black individuals to pursue work in this field, or simply to prioritize their own physical fitness and well-being. This increased engagement can not only inspire future fitness professionals, but can help address racial disparities in health outcomes.
In addition, the increased visibility of Black professionals in this industry can inspire the younger generation to pursue careers in the field of physical education and sports. It will underscore the message that the fitness industry is not exclusive but open and inviting for all, regardless of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. Their representation can thus foster a diverse and inclusive fitness culture, paving the way for the promotion of holistic health, wellness, and empowerment within and beyond the Black community.
As a student, you can further Black representation in fitness industries by submitting a major interest form and exploring physical education degree programs. Alternatively, you can prop up tomorrow’s Black fitness professionals with a donation to UNCF, and support the more than 8,000 students who graduate from UNCF schools every year!
Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in physical education? Looking for help with financing this degree?
How to Prepare for Success
Preparing for success in college as a physical education major involves developing a solid background in the sciences, leadership, and physical fitness. High school students can take specific steps to prepare including:
- Academics: Physical education is more than just playing sports. A PE major often includes classes in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and kinesiology. Take advantage of your school’s course offerings in the sciences, particularly biology and chemistry for a good foundation.
- Physical Fitness: To teach others about physical fitness, you need to practice it. Regularly participating in sports or other physical activities keeps you fit and teaches you firsthand about the benefits of physical activity and how to maintain an exercise routine.
- Leadership Experience: PE teachers are often called upon to lead groups and instruct others. Look for opportunities to develop your leadership skills, like coaching a youth sports team or serving as a team captain.
UNCF Schools to Consider
Several UNCF-member schools offer programs in physical education, including:
- Bethune-Cookman University
- Huston-Tillotson University
- Jarvis Christian College
- Johnson C. Smith University
- Lane College
- Morehouse College
- Philander Smith College
- Spelman College
- Tuskegee University
- Xavier University of Louisiana
The following organizations can provide information about and related to physical education:
- National Athletic Trainers’ Association
- American Council on Exercise
- Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America
There’s no better way to start your career in a fitness industry than on strong financial footing. Search for current UNCF scholarship opportunities and check with colleges and universities to see if additional scholarships are available for physical education majors. SHAPE America also offers several scholarships each year. Be sure to check out our tips on applying for scholarships and grants here.
Reach out for guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in PE. Submit the form on our website to get started, and follow us on UNCF’s social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!
You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in physical education by contributing to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all. Help us achieve this future by donating today!