Washington Masters in Physical & Coaching Education

A masters in physical education and coaching degree combines elements of education, curriculum design, injury prevention, and physical activity to teach how to effectively create curriculum and apply coaching principles.

How to Earn a Masters in Physical Education and Coaching Degree

Physical education teaching and coaching master’s degrees strive to teach a complete understanding of the current research and theories in the fields of:

  • Coaching
  • Physical activity
  • Curriculum design
  • Kinesiology
  • Injury prevention

These, plus other topics, help you understand the principles of each and how you can apply them to your career in the classroom and as a coach in various sports.

Did You Know?

In 2015, there were 2,021 master’s degrees in physical education teaching and coaching awarded.

Common Admissions Requirements for a Masters in Physical Education

Some of the common admissions requirements for physical education master’s degree programs are:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • Resume
  • Letter of intent

Many programs ask that you have a bachelor’s degree from a similar or related subject, such as kinesiology. In addition, some schools look for applicants who have earned their bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Other schools may not be as strict in their admissions requirements. 

Another requirement of some schools is that you have an interview with a professor in the department either in person or on the phone. These differences are why it’s important you check with a variety of schools before applying.

Potential Degree Names in a Physical Education Master's

Usually, physical education master’s degrees come in two different types of degrees:

  1. Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)
  2. Master of Education (MEd)

In addition, there are usually slight variations in the names of the degrees offered in the field, which include:

  • Physical Education  
  • Health and Physical Education
  • Elementary / Secondary Physical Education
  • Health, Physical Education, and Recreation
  • Human Performance
  • Health, Exercise, and Sport Science

Choosing Your Focus

While these programs have a similar overall structure and share common curriculum, each program may focus on a different aspect of the field. For instance, sport science and human performance programs usually focus more on physiology. On the other hand, education programs focus more on the different aspects of instruction design and creating lesson plans.

Some schools offer a master’s in physical education with different tracks depending on whether or not you are a licensed and practicing teacher for elementary and secondary teaching positions.

For instance, schools that offer an initial teaching certification as part of the coursework for the master’s degree, usually have more courses and assignments that focus on curriculum design and include student teaching to prepare you for and to meet your state’s certification requirements.

Common Courses

Some of the common courses while earning your master’s degree in physical education include:

  • Fitness Activities
  • Movement Experiences in the Elementary School
  • Dance in the Schools
  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Advanced Instructional Strategies for Physical Education
  • Sport and Exercise Psychology
  • Physical Education Curriculum in Secondary School
  • Inclusion for Physical Education Special Needs Populations
  • Motor Development and Analysis

Every program has a unique design, especially when it comes to the variations in degrees mentioned above.

For instance, some programs customize your coursework depending on your educational and work experiences.

This is especially true for programs that offer an initial teaching certification, which are usually designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in an area other than physical education who want to pursue careers as an elementary or high school teacher.

Graduation Requirements

Some of the common graduation requirements for a masters in physical education and coaching degree include:

  • All required courses (usually combination of core and required courses)
  • Written comprehensive exam

As mentioned, those programs that offer initial teaching certification also include student teaching assignments to meet your specific state’s certification. This usually includes a certain number of hours a course that reviews what you’ve learned, challenges you’ve faced, and minor assignments.

Many masters in physical education and coaching degree programs also require that you complete a capstone or portfolio project, which usually includes samples of exemplary work that reflect your ability to plan and implement dynamic physical education programs.

What Is Physical Education?

Physical education provides children and teens an opportunity for physical activity, as well as lessons on the skills and knowledge to establish and sustain an active lifestyle.

As Americans continue to battle obesity, physical education may be one of the contributing factors to help children understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, different ways to remain active, and the negative effects of a sedentary life.

Obesity in America

According to new data, nearly 40% of American adults were obese in 2015 and 2016 and 7.7% were severely obese. This is a sharp increase from 2007 and 2008, when 33.7% of American adults were obese and 5.7% were severely obese.

Key Concepts in Physical Education

When pursuing a masters in physical education and coaching degree, the key concepts you’ll study are similar to other subjects in education, simply with a physical education tilt.

For instance, some of the most important topics while earning your degree include:

  • How to assess student knowledge
  • How to assess motor and social skills
  • How to effectively provide instruction in a supportive environment

Applying Concepts to Physical Education

Programs also focus on the specific benefits of physical activity for children, which include:

  • Improve physical fitness
  • Skill development
  • Benefits of regular physical activity
  • Reinforce knowledge learned across the curriculum
  • Reduce stress
  • Strengthen peer relationships
  • Improve confidence

Therefore, your coursework, research, and portfolios will consist of applying current theories in the field in order to effectively teach students the benefits of physical activity, but also life lessons that they can apply to other classes and other aspects of their life.

What Is Coaching Education?

Coaching education is the process of teaching ways for coaches, especially those at the elementary and secondary school levels, how to effectively:

  • Plan, organize, and conduct practice
  • Provide direction, encouragement, and motivation to prepare athletes
  • Plan and direct physical conditioning programs
  • Instruct athletes on proper techniques, game strategies, sportsmanship, and the rules of the sporti

Usually, courses while earning your physical education master’s degree focus on different elements of coaching. Some programs may offer concentrations in coaching, while others may offer more courses in the elements of coaching in specific sports.

Key Concepts in Coaching Education

Some of the key topics you’ll study while pursuing a master’s degree in coaching education, while similar to a physical education degree, are tailored more towards effectively guiding athletes to achieve their goals as individuals and as part of a team.

Many programs focus on teaching the eight domains of coaching responsibility from SHAPE America, which are:

  1. Philosophy and Ethics: in regards to the sport and the well-being of each athlete.
  2. Safety and Injury Prevention: recognize high-risk situations and be properly trained in injury prevention and first responder care.
  3. Physical Conditioning: implementing research-based, developmentally appropriate drills that support athlete development.
  4. Growth and Development: tailor challenges to the age and skills levels of the athletes to create effective learning environments.
  5. Teaching and Communication: plan and implement organized practices so athletes have a positive learning experience.
  6. Sport Skills and Tactics: develop skills of all team members to create an efficient and successful group.
  7. Organization and Administration: as the integral resource in the sport program, the coach must meet the needs of the athlete and serve as the key communicator.
  8. Evaluation: how to make accurate and timely decisions, as well as an analysis of player ability and program needs.

These standards, while developed by SHAPE America, is recognized by the National Committee for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE), which is the premier authority on coaching education in the United States.

Choose the Format for Your Master's

Usually, there are two learning formats available for you to pursue your masters in physical education and coaching degree:

  1. Online Physical Education Programs
  2. On-Campus Physical Education Programs

The formats share many similarities and are academically equivalent. Mainly, the differences include how you access course materials, communicate with professors and classmates, and how you submit assignments.

In addition, many programs take two years for you to earn your degree as a full-time student, whether you choose to pursue your degree online or on-campus, though it takes part-time students longer to earn the degree.

Did You Know?

The odds of high school football players to go pro is 1 in 6,000. For baseball, it is 1 in 4,000 and in basketball it is 1 in 10,000.

What Is the National Association for Sport and Physical Education?

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) is the largest of the five professional organizations within the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, which was recently renamed as SHAPE America.

This nonprofit membership association strives to enhance the knowledge, improve professional practice, and support high quality physical education.

With more than 15,000 members, NASPE offers an array of informational conferences, valuable resources, and grants and awards to members, who include:

  • Physical education teachers
  • Coaches
  • Athletic directors
  • Trainers
  • Researchers
  • Sport management professionals
  • College and university faculty

Potential Careers in Physical Education and Coaching

Some of the careers you can pursue after earning a master’s in physical education and coaching degree, and their 2016 median annual salary according the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are:

  • Health Educators and Community Health Workers: $44,390ii
  • Coaches and Scouts: $37,040iii
  • High School Teachers: $58,030iv
  • Elementary School Teachers (Except Special Education): $55,800v

Keep in mind that many of the positions above only require a bachelor’s degree. However, earning a master’s may set you apart from other candidates and may qualify you for leadership positions.

In addition, some states require that high school and elementary school teachers earn a master’s degree after earning a teacher certification and obtaining a job.vi

Physical Education Certification Requirements

Specific certification requirements vary from state to state, however, all states require that teachers in public schools be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Usually, the requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA
  • Completion of teacher preparation program
  • Supervised experience in teaching, such as student teaching
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test

In addition to initial licensure, teachers are generally required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license or certification.vii

Earn a Master’s in Physical Education Today!

Looking to jumpstart your career by learning how to teach physical education and coaching? Find the perfect masters in physical education and coaching degree program for you!

Click on any of the sponsored listings to learn more about each program, such as when the next starting date is, common courses, and how to apply.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm#tab-2 [ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/health-educators.htm#tab-5 [iii] bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/coaches-and-scouts.htm#tab-5 [iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 [v] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-5 [vi] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 [vii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-4

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