The variety of paths offered in this field continues to expand, thanks to a growing fitness industry. A number of national certification programs enable multiple points of entry to a physical education and health degree.
Online Degrees in Physical Education and Health
Students considering this path can take advantage of online degree programs in physical and health education, cutting down on campus commutes and residency requirements. These e-learning programs are particularly popular with working educators who don''t want to step off the tenure track in order to earn their degrees. Online education in this field has expanded in recent years, offering more flexibility and lower residency requirements. Even in this hands-on discipline, students can learn theory and study the most up-to-date health research from the comfort of their own homes. Graduates of these degree programs can count on strong career growth, since physical education and health degrees carry increasing importance in school curricula. Many online degree programs allow students to complete necessary residency and teaching requirements at nearby campuses or other facilities.
Certificate Programs in Physical Education and Health
A certificate program provides a course or a series of courses designed to qualify the recipient in a particular field, such as exercise science or sports management. For physical education and health, those holding a bachelor''s degree in another subject may gain the requisite background to teach health education by entering a certificate program after completing courses on:
- Curriculum Planning
- Mental Health
- Various other health issues
In the burgeoning fitness industry, certificate programs in exercise science play an essential role in qualifying trainers for gyms. For teachers who received their degrees in other fields, a certificate program can qualify them to assist a school''s athletic department in certain team sports or classes.
Associate Degrees in Health and Fitness
Associate's degrees in physical education and health remain an option in a number of states, with some of the coursework available online. Community colleges often provide associate's degrees to students who want to get a foothold in the workforce before returning to complete their bachelor's degrees in evening classes or online. This route is practical for students who want to postpone the pursuit of a four-year degree. Such situations would apply to trainers seeking further qualifications or certifications, gym instructors and fitness leaders program leaders. Some health education venues, such as public outreach organizations, may also accept associate''s degrees as sufficient qualification for teaching.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Health & Fitness Education
Although each college seems to offer a different title for this type of degree, the bachelor's degree in health and exercise generally equips graduates with the necessary tools to teach these subjects in K-12 classes. Experienced coaches can qualify for employment in college athletic departments with this degree alone, although master''s degrees in topics like sport psychology or human movement might be preferred. Teaching college courses in this field requires an advanced degree in health education or a related field. In addition to the core curriculum required of most college students, the physical education and health degree focuses on:
- Learning how to analyze human performance
- The effects of muscular and skeletal functions on performance
- Kinesiology (human movement studies)
A physical education and health degree can qualify the graduate for state certification to teach classes from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Some high-demand school districts even seek signed letters of intent from final-semester students prior to graduation. In some institutions, students may pursue a specialization in recreation, a category growing in demand over the past decades as municipalities hire workers to coordinate recreational activities in parks and other facilities.
Master of Science Degrees in Physical Education and Health
Master's degrees in health education and exercise science often specialize in particular topics such as sports science, coaching or leisure studies. At this level, kinesiology - the study of human movement - also becomes a key part of the curriculum. For teachers and coaches desiring to work at the high school level or beyond, as well as those wishing to keep open the option of administrative work later (as a principal or administrative staff leader), the master''s degree improves career options. Online degree programs offer busy teachers and coaches access to this career-advancing coursework. In addition to completing 30 or more credit hours of coursework over a year or more, degree candidates also develop a thesis. Teaching certification plays a major role in master''s degree programs in this field.
Doctorates in Physical Education, Sport Management & Kinesiology
Within the Schools of Education in various universities, graduate students may pursue a doctoral degree in such specialized topics as physical education and health, sports management or kinesiology. Doctoral students are required to produce a dissertation during their pursuit of this degree. Studies include:
- Systems of human motor control
- Performance analysis
- Sports psychology
- Leadership skills