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Physical Education School: PE degree Courses/Programs, Physical Education Degree Colleges/Universities

If you are interested in coaching and training adults and children in physical exercise, health, fitness and nutrition, you can attend a physical education school to become a PE teacher or physical education specialist. Physical education schools, colleges and universities provide comprehensive PE teacher education and PE teacher degree programs at the associate's, bachelor's, masters and doctoral degree levels. Physical education schools typically provide both hands-on and classroom training so that students can acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers. Some physical education colleges and universities prepare students for careers in the field of coaching, athletic advising, program directing and teaching at the university level.

Programs Available at Physical Education Schools

Physical education degree programs and PE teacher education programs can be completed in as little as two years, but most individuals who want to work in public schools or become an athletic trainer need to complete at least a bachelor's or a master's degree in the field.

The types of programs available at physical education schools include:

Associate's Physical Education Degree – A two-year degree that can lead to careers as a personal trainer, fitness center representative or outreach program coordinator

Bachelor's Degree – A four-year physical education degree program that prepares students to teach physical education in public and private schools, or become a coach for intramural and collegiate athletics programs

Master's Physical Education Degree – A two to three-year program that prepares students for a career as an athletic trainer or director of a physical education program. Many individuals who complete a master's physical education degree are also well-prepared to become a director of a fitness center.

Doctoral Degree in Physical Education – These research programs are designed for those who want to become college-level PE teachers or instructors.

What to Expect at Physical Education Colleges and Physical Education Universities

PE degree and physical education degree programs train students how to educate others about exercise, nutrition, sports and physical health. Physical education degree programs prepare students to work as PE teachers, coaches, sports instructors and athletic advisors in a variety of capacities. Some of the key areas of study within a PE degree program include:

  • Health
  • First Aid and CPR Training
  • Exercise Physiology
  • PE Theory
  • Intercollegiate Sports Coaching
  • Kinesiology

Some PE teacher education programs also include specialized courses that focus on different types of sports. For example, a physical education degree and physical education programs may include courses about gymnastics, physical fitness principles, team sports, aerobic fitness and racquet sports.

Advanced studies in PE teacher education programs and PE degree programs typically include subjects such as physical activity epidemiology, sports psychology, stress management, exercise physiology and physical fitness assessment. Students who pursue doctoral programs typically complete career training and leadership programs, and learn how to perform program assessments and formal evaluations. PE teacher education programs also teach students how to communicate good health and nutrition habits to their students and clients, and how to manage injuries.

Types of Physical Education Courses

Most physical education degree programs have a curriculum that includes classroom lectures and projects, and practical exercises. Some bachelor's and master's degree programs also include an internship component where students can gain some real-world experience while completing their PE degree program.

Some of the most common types of physical education courses in a physical education degree program at the undergraduate level include:

  • Introduction to Aquatics
  • Beginning Conditioning
  • Beginning Dance and Gymnastics
  • Individual Sports
  • Healthy Lifestyle Principles
  • Introduction to Athletic Training
  • Foundations of Kinesiology
  • Water Safety Instruction
  • Applied Human Anatomys
  • Measurement in Kinesiology
  • Physical Growth and Motor Behavior
  • Coaching Principles
  • Coaching for Strength, Conditioning and Fitness
  • Psychological Bases of Physical Activity
  • Psychology of Injury
  • Mental Skills Training for Performance Enhancement
  • Ethical Issues in Athletics
  • Issues in School Health Education

Types of Physical Education Courses at the Graduate Level include:

  • Metabolic Responses to Exercise
  • Biomechanical Analysis of Physical Activity
  • Management of Structural Pathologies
  • Sociocultural Practices of Sport
  • Stress Management in Athletics
  • Growth and Motor Behavior
  • Research Methods in Kinesiology
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Activity
  • Field Experiences in Kinesiology
  • Growth and Motor Behavior

Career Options with a Physical Education Degree

Physical Education colleges and universities prepare students for several rewarding careers in the field of coaching, athletic advising, and teaching. Some of the most common career paths for those with a PE degree include:

  • Athletic Coach
  • PE Teacher
  • PE Curriculum Advisor
  • Activities Director
  • Personal Trainer
  • Physical Therapy Assistant
  • Health Club Director
  • Kinesiologist
  • Nutritionist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages of kindergarten, elementary middle and secondary school teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008. Salary ranges vary significantly by degree obtained, the type of position and location of the employer.

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