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Master’s in Physical Education in the United States

A graduate degree in physical education is an excellent bridge to upper-level jobs. The majority of graduates remain in the education arena, but there is plenty of opportunity at the corporate, facility and federation level as well. The degree is recognized by organizations all over the world, and studying in the US is a great option for both domestic and international candidates.

What Is a Master’s in Physical Education?

This is a graduate-level programme designed to train teachers, coaches, health professionals and sport enthusiast to properly administer, teach and manage related programs. Some programs focus on K-12 education, while others are structured around research and policy. Most schools in the US offer the degree as one of the following designations:

  • Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) in Physical Education
  • Master’s of Arts (M.A.) in Physical Education
  • Master’s of Science (M.S.) in Physical Education
  • Master’s of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) Physical Education

Arts programmes typically focus on teaching methods, while science programs tend to offer more opportunities for research. Neither approach repeats material from the undergraduate level, and some schools may require applicants to have a relevant background. Others welcome domestic and internationally applicants without prior teaching experienced. Ultimately, admissions criteria depend on the objective of the programme.

At a minimum, candidates will need to possess a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, a graduate school entrance exam score and English proficiency. Further requirements may include recommendations, a minimum undergraduate GPA, a character assessment, experience working with children and valid teaching license. Candidates without a teaching and/or health background will likely be required to complete prerequisite coursework in human development, education, anatomy and motor skills.

Graduate coursework varies considerably between each program, but here is a list of common core classes:

  • Advanced Human Growth and Motor Learning
  • Health and Cultural Awareness
  • Physical Education Leadership
  • Sociological and Historical Foundations of Education
  • Sports Psychology
  • Sports in Society
  • Sport Law and Policy
  • Global Health Issues
  • Women’s Health
  • Coaching Theory and Techniques
  • Advanced Teaching Methods in PE
  • Curriculum Development and Analysis
  • Exercise, Diet and Weight Management
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Statistics of Health and PE (Research Emphasis)
  • Research Methods (Research Emphasis)
  • Advanced Exercise Physiology
  • Education for Special Populations

Many programmes also require a certain number of external field hours or a graduate research project.

What Are the Benefits of Getting a Master’s in Physical Education in the United States?

The US is a world leader in education, and the country’s universities are well respected at the international level. The programmes are rigorous and thoroughly prepare educators for applicable licensure in their respective jurisdictions and for advanced careers in their field.

Furthermore, a US-based program is an excellent option for both domestic and international candidates. For example, Florida International University (FIU) in Miami offers degree programs for overseas applicants. The foreign student profile includes graduates from business, sport science, recreation and more.

Another benefit of studying in the US is the ability to focus and specialize. FIU, for example, offers two tracks: the MS in Physical Education prepares current teachers for advancement, while the MS in Physical Education Sports Science is designed for those seeking an allied, non-teaching career path. Many programmes also offer dual degrees in special education, international business, public health and sports management.

What Kind of Career Can You Expect with a Master’s in Physical Education?

A Master’s in Physical Education focuses on experiential learning, teaching theory, research, administration and advanced topics in health and science. It is also a critical stepping-stone for students wishing to obtain a PhD later down the road. In the K-12 arena, physical education is often a smaller department, and getting an advanced degree is a great way to stand above the competition. For those interested in allied careers, this is a great way to stand out for jobs in athletic administration and professional sporting organizations.

Ultimately, a graduate degree in physical education from a US school opens a lot of doors. Consider the following careers:

  • Physical Education Teacher, K-12
  • Personal Trainer
  • College Athletic Director
  • Summer Sports Camp Director
  • Facilities Manager
  • High Adventure Guide
  • School Administrator
  • Product Manager, Retail Sporting Goods
  • Resort Manager
  • Municipal Director of Outdoor Recreation
  • Sports Marketer

It is important to research schools before you apply. Furthermore, a solid focus will help you narrow in on the right programme for you. Contact an admissions representative for more information.

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