TitleAre Tertiary Institutions Losing Sight of Their Duty to Cura Personalis?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsSzarabajko, A, Cardinal, BJ
JournalRes Q Exerc Sport
Date Published01/2023


Physical education requirements (PERs) have been suggested as a potential solution for increasing physical activity (PA) among undergraduate students, specifically for the inactive who face the greatest barriers to PA. In 2010, among a nationally-representative, random sample of tertiary institutions in the U.S. only 39% had PERs as part of their general education curriculum. But, being a decade old, this data may be outdated. The aim of this study was to examine the current status of PERs in U.S. tertiary institutions and to explore what institutional characteristics are associated with having a PER.


Academic catalogs of a nationally representative, random sample of 331 institutions were searched for PER information.


The majority of U.S. tertiary institutions mandate physical education (PE) courses (56.2%), whereas 31.7% fully and 12% partially required their undergraduate students to complete a PE course to graduate. The characteristics most associated with an institution having a PER included being private, having a small enrollment size, having an academic degree program related to the field, having both activity and conceptual components, being <3 credit hours, offering an elective program in physical activity education, and being located in the south.


Future work is needed to identify important elements of PER courses, reasons why PERs are sustained by some institutions versus others, and to establish practical guidelines regarding best practices for quality PER courses. More direct action within the discipline of kinesiology is needed to underscore the importance and need of PERs at the tertiary level.

Alternate JournalRes Q Exerc Sport
PubMed ID36689396