TitleHistorical perspective and current status of the physical education graduation requirement at American 4-year colleges and universities.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsCardinal, BJ, Sorensen, SD, Cardinal, MK
JournalResearch quarterly for exercise and sport
Date Published2012 Dec

This study gives an overview of the history of required physical education in America's 4 year colleges and universities and provides an update on the requirement status. After randomly identifying 354 institutions, we searched their respective websites to determine whether physical education was a requirement to earn a baccalaureate degree. The major finding was that the physical education requirement declined from an all-time high of 97% in the 1920s and 1930s to an all-time low of 39.55% in 2010. Given society's ongoing health challenges and the important role of physical activity in maintaining health, this seems counterintuitive. It is also inconsistent with the National Physical Activity Plan (2010).