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Online master's degree programs in physical education (PE) are intended for educators who already have certification and experience as physical education teachers. Most of these programs are designed to enhance the skills of current teachers and increase their opportunities for career growth.
Since these programs are usually designed for experienced teachers, applicants are often required to provide documentation of their teaching experience and submit copies of their certification. Some programs do accept individuals without teaching credentials, but students who want to work in K-12 schools will have to find an alternative method of meeting certification requirements in their states. Additional requirements include campus visits and an internship.
All prospective students must have a bachelor's degree, and some schools require an undergrad major or minor in PE. Programs are available fully online or in a hybrid format. Majors with PE courses include general physical education and physical education for children with physical disabilities.
Much, if not all, of the coursework in a distance learning physical education master's program can be completed online in a virtual classroom. These websites contain lecture materials, assignments and assessments. Instructors may use a combination of communication methods with their online students, such as video conferencing, discussion boards or chat rooms.
That said, some graduate programs in this field do require some on-campus class time, which may involve a course being offered in a hybrid format. Practicum or internship experiences could also be required, which often can be organized at a school local to the student. Students seeking any sort of certification or endorsement from graduate studies should therefore check with their state to ensure that a particular online program meets their needs.
Master's Degree in General Physical Education
Most programs for physical education teachers are focused on producing knowledgeable health educators who can skillfully manage physical education programs in K-12 schools.
These programs generally require about 30 to 36 semester hours of coursework. Some programs require students to spend a couple of weeks at the campus during the summer before each of the two years of coursework. Other programs require or offer the choice of a comprehensive examination as the final course of the curriculum. Programs may also require a portfolio that shows the student's knowledge of physical education content.
Coursework for online master's degrees in general physical education is different from school to school. Courses that are common to most programs include:
- Applied statistics
- Enhancing performance
- Motor development and learning
- Physical education curriculum
- Risk management in PE
- Sport psychology
Master's Degree in Physical Education for Children with Physical Disabilities
Adapted PE is a type of physical education designed for students with physical disabilities. There are a few online PE master's degree programs that totally focus on adapted programs, their design and use; other programs may be in physical education but offer a specialization in special or adapted methods. Courses are based more on research and are more project-focused than general physical education programs. They are also based on goals and standards from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) and Adapted Physical Education National Standard (APENS).
These physical education master's degree programs also require about 30-36 semester hours to complete. An internship of up to 140 hours or a practicum in an approved school setting may be required to give students the opportunity to gain experience planning and carrying out physical education activities for physically disadvantaged children. Other coursework may include:
- Adapted physical education
- Issues in physical education
- Pedagogy for adapted PE settings
- Assessments for students with physical disabilities
- Partnering with parents of children with physical disabilities
- Thesis, project or seminar
Individuals who would like to earn an online masters degree in physical education typically already have a teaching certificate and teaching experience in physical education before pursuing this degree. Students have the option to pursue a degree that is completely online or one that is hybrid.