The Status of Physical Education in Arizona’s Colleges and Universities




Basic instruction, graduation requirements, higher education, physical activity, physical education


One hundred years ago, physical education was nearly universal in American higher education, with 97 percent of institutions requiring it. The standard mostly continued through the 1960s, when 84-87 percent of institutions required it. By 2012, though, the percentage fell to 39.5, and in 2023, researchers reported, via sampling, that 31.7 percent of institutions required all undergraduate students to take physical education, and another 12.1 percent partially required it. Sampling, while statistically sound, has limitations. To better assess the prominence of physical education across America, examining offerings state-by-state is necessary and has been undertaken for several states thus far. This study investigated the status of physical education in Arizonan higher education institutions to compare to other states’ data and the recently published national sampling data. The specific graduation requirements of each institution were analyzed. Of Arizona’s 29 traditional colleges and universities, 24 (82.75\%) offer physical education; none (0\%) dictates physical education as a graduation requirement for every student, and 15 (51.7\%) have physical education as requirements in particular disciplines or as a general education option. The current trend in higher education is that required physical education is declining, and the results from this study, unfortunately, support this trend. However, most Arizonan higher education institutions offer physical education, and over half allow physical education to count as an option for a graduation requirement. Faculty can use these results to advocate for maintaining and initiating physical education in higher education because the research is clear: Physical education is known to improve students’ health and wellness.


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How to Cite

Murray, S., & Heumann, K. (2024). The Status of Physical Education in Arizona’s Colleges and Universities. Journal of Kinesiology & Wellness, 13(1), 36–52.