University of South Carolina


Physical Education: What to Expect

If you’re interested in a career as a physical education teacher, the Physical Education major at the University of South Carolina may be a great choice for you! The faculty members have national reputations in physical education pedagogy and are on the cutting edge in their field. They are committed to providing the best possible education for students through small class settings. As a Physical Education major, you will learn how individuals learn and develop and provide opportunities that support their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. You will also develop knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to enhance learning and engagement in physical activity settings. You will also learn how to plan and implement a variety of developmentally appropriate instructional strategies to develop physically educated individuals, based on state and national standards. You will also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working in a K-12 school setting throughout your time at Carolina.

The following courses fulfill the education core for a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education:                                                                                  

  • Introduction to the Description and Analysis of Human Movement
  • Philosophy and Principles of Physical Education
  • Motor Learning in Physical Education
  • Teaching Health Related Physical Fitness
  • Observational Analysis of Sports Techniques and Tactics
  • American Coaching Effectiveness Program

A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Website for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. As a Physical Education major, you can join Pi Epsilon Mu (PEM). This student organization aims to unite all Physical Education majors through involvement in professional, charitable, and social activities. PEM seeks to help members grow professionally through local, state, district, national meetings, and social functions. You can also compete in “Superstars,” a competition during the annual conference of the South Carolina Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreating and Dance. You can find other student organizations on campus that interest you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. Many graduates go on to receive their Master of Education (M.Ed.), Masters in Health, or Masters in Exercise Science.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Dr. Panayiotis Doutis, Dr. Murray Mitchell, Dr. Collin Webster, and Dr. Lynda Nilges-Charles are committed to providing quality classroom and field experience work for students. They assure courses build progressively in content and scope.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding students. The College of Education offers more than 30 scholarships each year for education majors.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Physical Education majors have the opportunity to work in K-12 school settings throughout their time at Carolina to gain hands-on experience.

Career Opportunities

Physical Education majors primarily pursue a career as a Physical Education teacher. Within the first five years after graduation, Physical Education majors typically earn a salary of $37,000 to $43,000.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

Alumni Spotlight

After taking only a few physical education classes at USC, Ben Landers knew he had found the right major and career path for him. Ben is currently a physical education teacher at River Springs Elementary in Irmo, S.C. The perks, such as working with kids, staying active, and the holiday schedule, attracted Ben to a career as a physical education teacher. In addition to teaching classes, Ben helps out with related area programs including Field Day, Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser, fitness testing, and before school activities. For Ben, the most exciting part of his career is “helping kids learn to do things they didn’t think they could.” He also enjoys “teaching kids how to enjoy active lifestyles and use good sportsmanship and teamwork when participating in athletics.” The University of South Carolina was instrumental in helping Ben prepare for his career as a physical education teacher. “It was tough, but I was definitely ready to teach when I got out,” he said. While at Carolina, Ben said that student teaching was one of the most helpful aspects in preparing him for his career. He encourages current students to work hard while at Carolina. “Keep working hard and it will pay off in the end,” he said. “If you have questions, find somebody that’s good at what they do and ask them.”

About the College of Education

The College of Education prepares students for professional careers as educators or athletic trainers through focused studies and extensive field experiences in personal settings.  The College offers five majors including Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle Level Education, Physical Education, and Athletic Training. The College also offers Masters in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy, and Teaching. Doctoral degree programs in Early Childhood Education, Language and Literacy, and Teaching and Learning, and curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in curriculum studies are also offered. All undergraduate programs emphasize putting theory, methods, and skills into practice in real professional settings. Students are also exposed to extensive fieldwork in schools throughout the program for those seeking teacher certification and in athletic training settings for those enrolled in the athletic training program.

Points of Pride

  • All teacher preparation programs in the College of Education are fully accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teach Education (NCATE).
  • The Athletic Training program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).

 Additional Resources
Physical Education Website
College of Education Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin