Online Doctoral Programs in Physical Education: Degree Overviews

Learn about online Ph.D programs with physical education courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

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.

Online Availability Fully online
Important Prerequisites Bachelor's and Master's in physical education; some schools may require students to be certified teachers with teaching experience
In-Person Requirements Most Ph.D. Programs require an on-campus residency; new applicants may need to attend in-person interviews

Doctor of Physical Education

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.

Doctorate-Level Physical Education

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

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

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

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

Statistical Applications

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

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 19% from 2012-2022 ( The BLS also found that postsecondary teachers in education-related subjects made a average yearly salary of $65,180 in May of 2014.

Jobs for educational administrators were expected to increase by 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS; earnings for postsecondary school administrators in May of 2014 reflected an average annual salary of $101,910.

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