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College of Education

Physical Education, Ph.D.

What will I study?

The doctoral program in Physical Education will prepare you to work as an educator and researcher in higher education. The goals of the program emphasize skills, knowledge and dispositions that are essential to long term success as a faculty member at a college or university.

Our faculty believe that physical education faculty have the responsibility to help teachers and teacher candidates learn to create a rich and meaningful educational environment for all children and adolescents that will promote lifelong participation in, and enjoyment of, health enhancing physical activity.

During your program of study, you will have multiple opportunities to work directly with teachers and teacher candidates to develop strategies for increasing the positive impact of physical education on all members of a school community.

You will also learn advanced research skills that will allow you, and others in the field, to use an evidence-based approach to teaching and teacher education in physical education.

For information on types of classes, see Typical course work below.


What kinds of work will I be able to do?

Graduates from the program typically find jobs as teacher educators and researchers in physical education. Some of our graduates pursue jobs in related disciplines either in higher education or in industry. No matter what they choose to do, our graduates are well prepared to contribute to the holistic education of current and future teachers to ensure all children and adolescents find personal meaning and enrichment in maintaining a physically active lifestyle.


Typical Course Work

Physical Education Core Courses  (15-18 hours)
Physical education core courses will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed to understand both the breadth and depth of subject matter that informs the work of physical education faculty. Courses range in focus, covering areas such as historical and philosophical perspectives of physical education, research on teaching in physical education, motor skill learning, growth and development, curriculum, teacher education, and sport psychology.

Research Methods Courses (15 hours)
One of the distinguishing features of a Ph.D. degree is the focus on learning to become a researcher. The research methods courses will prepare you to understand, design, and conduct research using a wide variety of specialized techniques, including quantitative and qualitative methods.

Cognate Courses (9-12 hours)
You will be able to choose a cognate (specialized area of focus) as part of your program of study. Students often choose a cognate that advances their knowledge and skills related to specific research interests. Examples include emphases in public health, special education, statistics, and qualitative research.

Research Practicums (6 hours)
The purpose of the research practicums is to enable you to apply your research skills to ongoing research initiatives within the department. You will have the opportunity to write grants, collect and analyze data, present and publish research, and participate in a wide range of other research-related activities.

Dissertation (12 hours)
The dissertation is considered the signature educational experience in most doctoral programs. It enables students to demonstrate their ability to lead a major research study and share the results in accordance with general practice within the scientific community. You will work closely with a faculty advisor to identify a suitable topic of study, construct a dissertation committee, propose a research plan, and carry out the project. The culminating event for most students in the program is the dissertation defense, during which the doctoral candidate presents his or her research and fields challenging questions from the dissertation committee and others who attend the presentation.

For additional information about curriculum or program requirements, please visit the academic bulletin.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.