Physical Education Teacher Education

A degree in physical education demonstrates that a teacher is able to help students throughout their school careers achieve good health and exercise habits. Effective physical educators are able to incorporate their knowledge of education and health into successful physical education programs that are in line with state standards.

PE teacher degree programs also include studying the treatment of injuries, life-saving measures, behavioral considerations, adaptive measures, and psychological issues. In addition to covering teaching methodology, physical education degrees cover related topics like nutrition, anatomy, and kinesiology, among others.

Whether at the bachelor’s or graduate level, earning a PE teaching degree is the most streamlined approach to becoming a physical education teacher. These degree programs are often state-recognized, regionally accredited programs that incorporate all the requirements for PE teacher preparation. Enrollees are always advised to check with their state’s board of education to ensure programs meet licensure/certification requirements.

In general, accredited physical education degree programs are designed to prepare graduates to become effective physical educators for grades kindergarten through grade 12.

A comprehensive PE degree program allows students to demonstrate competency in planning, conducting, and evaluating lessons; in guiding the personal and academic growth of students; and in developing an effective learning environment where student differences, strengths, and weaknesses are taken into consideration.

Bachelor’s Level Programs in Physical Education

Bachelor’s degrees related to Physical Education prepare aspiring teachers to focus on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of their students. These programs also involve studying individual and group motivation and behavior and effective verbal, and nonverbal communication techniques that enhance learning in a physical education setting.

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These programs are also focused on the scientific aspects of physical education, including knowledge of the human body. These degree programs teach students about the scientific and theoretical concepts that are critical to the development of students. These bachelor’s programs are meant to help aspiring PE teachers enhance student engagement and learning, and to make informed instructional decisions.

Major course requirements for physical education bachelor degrees often include:

  • Principles of education
  • Behavior management in the classroom
  • Human relation skills for educators
  • Foundation of American education
  • Educational psychology
  • Child and adolescent development
  • Student teaching seminar
  • Student teaching experience

Concentration courses in physical education often include:

  • Personal health and wellness
  • Human biology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Prevention and care of athletic injuries
  • Applied kinesiology and biomechanics
  • Foundation of movement and motor activities
  • Individual and team sports
  • Curriculum and administration of physical education
  • Adapted physical education


Master’s Level Programs in Physical Education

Master’s degrees in physical education may be designed to prepare individuals for initial teacher certification (MIT), or they may be designed for current K-12 physical education teachers (MEd) pursuing graduate degrees as a way to improve their credentials and increase their salaries.

Master’s degree programs for initial certification involve studying pedagogy in the context of health and fitness.

Related courses may therefore include:

  • Analysis of Curriculum and Teaching
  • Advanced human growth and motor development
  • Advanced teaching methods in physical education

Students of graduate degrees in physical education (MEd) can also expect to research any number of cutting-edge topics in physical education and learn how to apply them in their PE programs.

Just a few of the topics that can be explored in a master’s degree program include:

  • Holistic health
  • Health and cultural awareness
  • Alternative medicine
  • Leadership in physical education and athletics
  • Controversial issues in health education
  • Social psychology of sport and physical activity
  • Analysis of curriculum and teaching
  • Performance enhancement and interventions
  • Legal aspects in sport and physical education

Master’s degree programs in physical education culminate in either an internship (MIT) or a graduate practicum (MEd).

Fifth-Year Certificate Options in Physical Education

Another popular option for individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree in physical education or a related field is the fifth-year master’s or certificate program. These programs allow individuals to take one year of pedagogical coursework beyond a bachelor’s degree and complete a rigorous student teaching experience to qualify for a teaching credential, and sometimes a master’s in education as well.

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A fifth-year non-degree certificate program that is recognized by the state board of education allows individuals to learn pedagogy so as to be qualified to teach, and then eventually apply the credits toward a master’s degree.

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