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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.

Lipscomb University

Nashville, United States

  • 237SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 38,700Average Tuition
  • 61%Acceptance Rate

Lipscomb University, established in 1891, is a Christian University with students from over 50 countries, and located in the Green Hills area of Nashville in Tennessee, USA. The University offers a number of master's degree programs in the disciplines of Liberal Arts, Business, Health Sciences and Engineering....

Oregon State University

Corvallis, United States

  • 247SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 23,500Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

Oregon State University (OSU) is a public research university in Corvallis, Oregon, United States. The university delivers quality master’s degree program courses through its campuses. Some master’s degree courses offered by the school include biochemistry, education, agricultural education, animal science, animal science, anthropology, applied anthropology graduate, applied anthropology, applied economics, applied economics, and applied ethics....

University of South Florida

Tampa, United States

  • 256SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 15,900Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

The University of South Florida (USF) is a public research institution located in the city of Tampa, Florida, United States. The university has three campuses through which it delivers master’s degree courses in the fields of health professions and related programs, business, management, marketing, and related support services, biological and biomedical sciences, social sciences, psychology, architecture, liberal arts, education and visual and performing arts....

Adelphi University

Garden City, United States

  • 268SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 34,034Average Tuition
  • 72.4%Acceptance Rate

Adelphi University is a private, coeducational institution of higher learning located in Garden City, New York, United States and has a dedicated faculty through which it offers a wide range of master's degree programs. ...

Eastern Michigan University

Ypsilanti, United States

  • 285SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 24,000Average Tuition
  • 73%Acceptance Rate

Eastern Michigan University (EMU) is a learning and research institute in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Students can choose from over 150 master’s degree programs at EMU. ...

University of South Carolina

Columbia, United States

  • 333SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 67,212Average Tuition
  • 65.2%Acceptance Rate

University of South Carolina (USC) is an American Public University founded in 1801. The university’s primary campus is located in Columbia, South Carolina, and it has dedicated faculties through which it offers master’s degree courses....

George Mason University

Fairfax, United States

  • 353SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 33,200Average Tuition
  • 0Acceptance Rate

George Mason University (GMU) is a public research university based in Fairfax County, Virginia, USA and offers a wide range of master's degree courses through its 10 academic schools....

University of Massachusetts Boston

Boston, United States

  • 355SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 30,230Average Tuition
  • 70.8%Acceptance Rate

University of Massachusetts-Boston is a public institution that was founded in 1964. The University, also known as UMass Boston, is the third-largest campus in the five-campus University of Massachusetts System. It is the only public University in Boston....

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

Pomona, United States

  • 368SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 35,310Average Tuition
  • 52%Acceptance Rate

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) is a public university in Pomona, California. Cal Poly Pomona offers a wide range of master's degrees through its College of Business Administration; Education and Integrative Studies; Engineering; Environmental Design; Extended University; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Science; Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture; and The Collins College of Hospitality Management. ...

University of Dayton

Dayton, United States

  • 393SchoolApply Rank
  • USD 43,840Average Tuition
  • 59%Acceptance Rate

University of Dayton (UD) is a private institution located in Dayton, Ohio. UD offers more than 50 master's degree programs through its five academic schools namely, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business Administration, School of Education and Health Sciences, School of Engineering, and School of Law....