Online Doctoral Programs in Physical Education: Degree Overviews

Universities and colleges do not offer doctoral degrees in physical education as online programs. However, students can find on-campus Ph.D. in Physical Education programs that will allow them to earn this advanced credential.

Essential Information

There are no online doctoral programs in physical education. Most Ph.D. programs in physical education have a residency requirement, such as one year of full-time study done on campus, as well as a thesis or dissertation requirement. There may be a teaching component as well.

Doctoral programs emphasize research and reporting those findings. Courses may include teaching and various aspects of sports, such as the behavior of athletes. A doctoral program in physical education requires full-time study.

Related Degree Programs

If a doctorate degree program in physical education doesn't seem appealing, here are a few more programs that utilize similar skills, but may be available online or at a lower degree level:

  • Bachelor in Secondary Education - Physical Education
  • Education Specialist with a specialization in Sports Management
  • Master of Science in Leadership/Coaching Psychology

Doctor of Physical Education Overview

A Ph.D. in Physical Education has a course and a research component. It may be offered with a specialization, such as sport and exercise psychology or adapted physical activity, which focuses on individuals with disabilities. Other specializations include exercise physiology or curriculum and instruction. Students learn advanced skills and knowledge in the field. They also learn new ways to research, as well as how to develop and test hypotheses.

Program Information and Requirements

Applicants need to first complete a bachelor's and usually a master's degree - generally in physical education - in order to enroll in a doctorate program. Schools may require applicants to be certified teachers with teaching experience. They may also ask for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, transcript(s), curriculum vitae and an expository writing sample. Applicants may be required to attend personal interviews. Some schools may admit applicants to the program, but postpone their status as Ph.D. candidates pending successful completion of qualifying exams later in the program.

List of Common Doctorate-Level Physical Education Courses

Ph.D. candidates take courses in physical education and research methods, as well as teaching courses, science courses and electives. Candidates are expected to write a publishable article based on research with their advisor before they finish their dissertation. Some of the subjects studied include:

How Humans Behave in Sports Settings Course

This course looks the manifestations of sports culturally and socially. This course might include a study of aggression in sports, leadership and motivation.

Sports and Society Course

Students investigate sociological research that examines various sports. They learn about a number of sociological theories, as well as how they apply to various sports.

Correct Research Methods and Presentation of Results Course

Students learn to identify and sketch out research problems. Literature searches and a survey of various research methods are also covered.

Statistical Applications Course

This course introduces students to advanced applications in statistics, such as multiple regression and discriminate analysis. The course also involves the use of statistical software.

Career Information for Graduates

Graduates of a Ph.D. in Physical Education are ready to take academic positions in a college or university, generally in education, kinesiology, physical education or physiology departments. They may conduct research in the field, become sports pedagogy experts or educate aspiring teachers in physical education.

Individuals specializing in adapted physical activity may help disabled individuals participate in sport activities. They may also take advocacy or administration positions in national, state or local organizations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for postsecondary teachers would grow by 15% from 2008-2018 ( The BLS also found that postsecondary teachers in education-related subjects made a median yearly salary of $59,140 in May of 2010.

Jobs for educational administrators were expected to increase by eight percent from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS; earnings for postsecondary school administrators in May of 2010 reflected a median annual salary of $83,710.

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