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Physical Education Graduate Programs

Graduate programs in physical education prepare students for careers in teaching, coaching, and sports administration. Many programs offer the opportunity to focus on one of these areas, enabling students to customize their education to their chosen professional path. Some even offer more specialized options, such as physical education for people with disabilities.

People interested in pursuing a career in physical education should possess the following:

  • Good physical health
  • A strong interest in sports and other physical activities
  • An understanding of the human body
  • Communication skills, especially for prospective teachers and coaches
  • Leadership skills, especially for prospective coaches and administrators
  • Patience, especially for prospective teachers

Physical Education Graduate Programs and Curriculum

For those who wish to teach or coach at the K-12 level, a master’s degree is usually required to advance beyond the early years of a career. For those interested in other kinds of coaching or in sports administration, degree requirements vary. The Ph.D. in physical education is primarily for those seeking academic positions in the field.

Degree requirements will likely include coursework in the following areas:

  • Teaching Methods in Physical Education
  • Educational Psychology
  • Motor Skill Acquisition
  • Physical Education Program Design & Assessment

Those pursuing degrees in teacher education will be required to gain additional field experience (i.e. student teaching) and may need to take additional coursework designed for teachers in all subject areas. Those pursuing PhD degrees will learn about and conduct original research in the field, culminating in a dissertation.

Physical Education Career Paths

Individuals with a graduate degree in physical education may pursue careers as physical health educators in elementary schools or high schools. They might also work as fitness instructors, athletic trainers, recreational specialists, coaches, or recruitment specialists. Regardless of the industry the professional works in, this career path emphasizes delivering health and fitness information to specific populations and promoting healthy lifestyles through education and motivation.

Occupational Outlook for the Field of Physical Education

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. job growth for coaches and scouts will grow approximately 29% between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than average. Demand for high school teachers, however, is expected to rise only 7%, which is slower than average. Elementary teaching positions are expected to grow at a more average rate of 17%.

BLS lists the median annual salary for high school teachers in 2010 as $53,230. The wage for elementary teachers is very similar at $51,380. For coaches and scouts, pay varies according to the type of institution that employs them. The following chart provides a more detailed breakdown:

Data According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010

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