Doctorate in Physical Education: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Earning a doctorate in physical education prepares you to perform research and influence how teachers keep students active and healthy. Get information about concentrations, common courses and qualifications necessary to enter a doctoral program in physical education. Schools offering Exercise Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Doctorate Programs in Physical Education Are Available?

The most common doctorate in physical education is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), although some schools award a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) These programs are usually found in colleges of education and are designed to prepare candidates to be postsecondary teachers, researchers or administrators of physical education, athletic or health programs. Some required courses might be available through distance learning, but you will not be able to complete this degree online.

Program TypesDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) and Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Program Structure60-84 hours of coursework, can take 3-6 years and may require a 1-year residency
CourseworkResearch methods, statistics, experimental design, human physiology and teacher education and supervision
QualificationsMost require a master's degree and prior coursework in physical education or a related area.

What Can I Expect from the Program?

You will complete anywhere from 60-84 credit hours of coursework, depending on whether you begin from a baccalaureate or master's level. Degree requirements can often be fulfilled within three years, and a maximum of six years is usually allowed. Some programs have a 1-year residency requirement for which you must live on-campus and attend classes full-time. You will also take comprehensive written and oral exams, write a dissertation and complete a teaching internship.

Depending on your career goals, you can choose an area of specialization in most programs. Possible concentrations include:

  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Exercise physiology
  • Sports administration
  • Sport and exercise psychology
  • Physical education pedagogy

What Courses Will I Take?

All programs are research intensive and require coursework in research methods, statistics in education and experimental design. You will take courses on various aspects of human physiology, teacher education and supervision, teaching methods and facility management. Some common doctoral-level courses include:

  • Curriculum design in physical education
  • Critical issues in physical education
  • Human growth and development
  • Sports and exercise psychology
  • Kinesiology
  • Motor learning and control
  • Analysis of teaching behavior
  • Supervision of physical education programs

Am I Qualified for a Doctorate Program?

Some programs will admit candidates with only a bachelor's degree, but most require a master's degree. You should have completed prior coursework in physical education or a related area such as kinesiology or sports management. Experience in the field is a plus. Admission is generally based on your success in previous studies, graduate record exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, a writing sample, a statement of purpose and an interview.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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