What is a Physical Education Degree?
The Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree program offered by Grand Canyon University is a collaborative initiative from the College of Education and the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. This physical education degree attracts teacher candidates who possess an enduring love of sports, physical fitness and wellness. Physical education teachers can serve as powerful role models and motivators for the next generation as they strive to make healthy choices and reach their full potential.
Earn Your Bachelor of Science in Physical Education at GCU
GCU offers a modern curriculum that is fully aligned with Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) principles. All coursework adheres to the national standards for Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) as established by SHAPE America, which is the national organization for physical educators.
This BS in Physical Education enables teacher candidates to develop these core competencies:
- Create a safe, positive learning environment
- Meet the diverse needs of students with varying abilities
- Empower students to thrive physically, and stay active in and out of school
While you earn your Bachelor of Science in Physical Education at GCU, some of the topics you study may include:
- Human development and function
- Fitness development and assessment
- Biomedical principles
- Techniques and best practices for safe movement
- Physical education for students with disabilities
- Instructional technology
- Teaching methods for individual and team sports
All teacher candidates are required to complete a student teaching experience. Under the supervision of a certified, experienced physical education teacher, teacher candidates apply their knowledge to the classroom.
What Is the Role of a Physical Education Teacher?
Physical education teachers fulfill several roles within a school system. They assess and guide the physical development of students, provide nutritional guidance and inspire an enthusiasm for healthy exercise. Many physical education teachers also coach one or more school sports teams. Some of the responsibilities of a physical education teacher can include:
- Developing a well-rounded curriculum
- Organizing activities
- Preparing and maintaining gym equipment
- Teaching students how to play sports and other physically active games
Additionally, physical education teachers can guide the socio-emotional development and ethical awareness of their students. They seek to instill values such as good sportsmanship and teamwork. Physical education instructors can help students work toward a love of healthy competition, tempered by the humility to gracefully accept a loss.
Are Physical Education Teachers in Demand?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for high school teachers from 2016 to 2026 is 8 percent. During this period, it’s expected that a substantial percentage of teachers will retire, creating new opportunities for teacher candidates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the demand for a similar occupation, fitness training and instruction, is expected to grow by 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. This growth in demand is faster than average.
Job Opportunities with a Physical Education Degree
A BS in Physical Education allows you to turn your passion for fitness and sports into a rewarding career inspiring students. Graduates may pursue job opportunities as instructors in elementary, middle or high school physical education programs. Other career possibilities that may be related to this degree include:
- Physical activity director
- Sports team coach
- Fitness trainer
- Athletic director
- Community recreation director
- Strength and conditioning coach
The Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree program at GCU leads to initial teacher licensure. Teacher candidates are responsible for obtaining all necessary certifications required by the state in which they wish to teach.
General Education Requirements
General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.
Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.
- UNV-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
- UNV-103, University Success: 4
- UNV-303, University Success: 4
- UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.
- UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
- ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
- ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.
- CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
- CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.
- MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
- MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
- PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
- BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, crosscultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.
- HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
- PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
- SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4
Program Core Courses
This writing intensive course is designed to prepare future physical education teachers, fitness instructors, and recreational leaders in the skills necessary to teach physical education activities to groups. Included is the development of lesson plans and course goals/performance objectives that can be applied to the teaching of any skill or activity. Becoming aware of the place of physical education and exercise science globally and perspectives on human diversity in all areas of sport and physical activity is included.
A study of the basic structure and function of the major systems of the human body, this course focuses on an in-depth exploration of the musculoskeletal and neurological systems for athletic training, health, and exercise science majors. This course also compares normal and abnormal function for more comprehensive understanding of the human body. Co-requisite: BIO-155L.
This lab is designed to complement and support the principles taught in BIO-155. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to identify and describe functions, structures, and classifications of the skeletal, muscular, and organ systems along with related disorders. Co-requisite: BIO-155.
This course is intended to provide students with the general technical and physical skills required to teach selected outdoor sports. Students learn how to plan and organize the team sports of soccer, flag football, and speedball for educational settings; conduct classes while ensuring participants’ health and safety; and work with a variety of age and skill levels. This course is also designed to acquaint students with knowledge and experience of outdoor living and outdoor leadership skills. The individual/group activities of camping, backpacking, orienteering, and desert survival skills are discussed and practiced. Field trips to outdoor facilities are taken. Prerequisite: PED-247.
This course is a survey of Arizona history and government, as well as American government. It meets the teacher certification requirement for Arizona government and American government.
This course is intended to provide the student with the general technical and physical skill required to teach selected sports. Students learn how to plan and organize the team sports of basketball, softball, and volleyball, and the individual/dual activities of tennis, golf, and badminton for educational settings. Students work with a variety of age and skill levels and conduct classes while ensuring participants’ health and safety. Prerequisite: PED-247.
This course provides future teachers the opportunity to examine the use of technology in the 21st century classroom. In addition to studying and utilizing a variety of technologies, such as computer software and hardware, students develop a personal technology philosophy and classroom technology plan designed to enhance and shape their teaching skills and knowledge to better utilize emerging technology. Fingerprint clearance not required.
Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 5. Fingerprint clearance not required.
This is an introductory course in teaching of fitness and wellness. This course provides a series of modules that encompass all of the important aspects of overall fitness and wellness by means of lecture, demonstration, and participation. Key components throughout involve instruction and application of the needs of the human body, nutritional principles and producing a personalized nutrition plan. A special emphasis is placed on instruction and practice opportunities in the theoretical and practical aspects of flexibility, aerobics, and weight training activities. Also included are assignments to create and implement lesson planning, teaching techniques, evaluation, and proficiency in fitness skills. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-247.
This writing intensive course is a study of the effects of exercise on the body. Topics include nutrition as the basis for physical activity; how energy is produced and utilized during physical activity; the energy delivery and vital functions of the respiratory, cardiovascular, muscular, and nervous systems during exercise; how these systems can be enhanced through training; the impact of ergogenic aids and environmental stress on performance; and the effect of exercise on body composition, weight control, aging, and disease prevention. The body’s responses and adaptations to exercise at the systemic, as well as the subcellular level, are also discussed. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-340L.
This is a course of field and laboratory experiences designed to reinforce the basic principles learned in the lecture course. Skills of measurement and evaluation, including computerized methods employed to facilitate testing, are applied to physiological and systemic principles of exercise. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-340.
In this writing intensive course, teacher candidates study how to teach a diverse population of students by examining the foundations and dimensions of social justice in education, social constructs, privilege, prejudice, and oppression with the goal of becoming culturally competent educators. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.
In this course, teacher candidates continue to examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. They plan, deliver, and evaluate instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.
This course prepares students for teaching physical education to elementary grade students. The course begins with a rationale for the necessity of physical education in the schools. This is followed by a detailed overview of how to instruct elementary school children in the psychomotor domain. Methods of program implementation are then examined, including curriculum, instructional effectiveness, content area literacy, management and discipline, and assessment and evaluation. These concepts are then applied in field experiences for teaching of the objectives of physical education in the school situation and for application to learner analysis to meet the individual needs of the child. Experiential teaching and peer review are included in the course. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-247.
This course prepares students for teaching physical education to middle grade students. Concepts introduced in PED-420 will be further developed and applied to the middle grade student to enhance personal health skills, general and specialized motor skills, sports and fitness skills, and lifetime activities. Topical areas include content area literacy, curriculum, assessment, data driven instruction, teaching strategies and methods, classroom engagement and management, and learner analysis for K-12 physical education teachers. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-275.
This course is an analysis of human movement, integrating knowledge of the skeletal, muscular, and neurological systems with the effects that gravity, friction, internal and external forces, and the laws of motion have on their functions. Topics presented include biomechanics of human bone, joint, and skeletal muscle; structure and function of the upper extremity, lower extremity, and spine; concepts of linear and angular kinematics and kinetics as applied to human motion; equilibrium and stability on land; and motion through a fluid medium of air or water. Included is the application of these factors to various types of physical skills. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-335L.
This laboratory course is designed to apply the anatomical, kinesiological, and biomechanical principles learned in the lecture course to human body movement. Movement of all of the major joints of the body is analyzed by relative and absolute joint position and muscle action, and biomechanical terms - such as linear and angular kinematics, friction, work, power, energy, and torque - are applied to human motion. Prerequisites: BIO-155 and BIO-155L, or BIO-201 and BIO-201L, or BIO-210 and BIO-210L. Co-Requisite: EXS-335.
This course is designed to present the student with the necessary information to develop a plan for identifying, evaluating, and implementing programming for all children with disabilities. Special topics include implications of legislation that affects children with special needs, due process and the IEP, guidelines for inclusiveness and modification of activities for inclusion, characteristics of normal and abnormal motor functioning and development and behavior management techniques. The types of special populations and their specific needs are presented, and methods and techniques are developed for teaching the exceptional child in motor activities. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-247.
This course prepares students who desire to teach at the secondary school level. Topical areas include how students are assessed and classified, curriculum and instructional organization of classes and selection of appropriate methods, strategies, and materials. The course also examines teaching styles, techniques of effective student engagement, and implementing instructional activities that meet NASPE standards. Special topics involve use of technology in physical activity, content area literacy, data driven instruction and physical learner analysis of secondary school students. Students are encouraged to develop strategies for promoting an active lifestyle, lifetime activity, inclusiveness, responsibility, cooperation, and diversity. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-275.
This course is a study of the methods and procedures of teaching health. Resources, aids, and agencies are studied and methods for implementing group processing skills and conducting values based education are reviewed and practiced. Also included are assignments to create and implement lesson planning, teaching techniques, and assessment for the topics of mental health, substance abuse, sexuality and family living, environmental health, nutrition, aging spirituality and death, and personal health. Health assessment topics include an overview of statistical tools, tests and measurements in health and physical education, producing valid and reliable tests, data analysis techniques for test evaluation, test construction assessment, and interpretation of test results. Practice teaching assignments and presentations are included. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: PED-275.
The student teaching experience includes practical/clinical classroom experiences in a school setting with elementary students, grades K-6. Teacher candidates are required to fulfill a full-time 8-week internship experience in a classroom with a certified, experienced teacher. All aspects of instruction are addressed, including effective presentation of movement, sports and fitness skills, strategies and assessments of student learning, student engagement and classroom management, integration of technology and content area literacy, curriculum and learner analysis for elementary physical education teachers. The internship includes the opportunity to utilize applicable content standards for elementary students, including Arizona Professional Teacher’s Standards, and Physical Education Teacher Education Standards of the national association Shape America, and to integrate these within the classroom. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of all courses in POS and content area; senior status; a 2.8 GPA; successful completion of state mandated basic skills and content area exams or Praxis I® (Basic Skills) and Praxis II® (Content Area); and approval and placement by Office of Field Experience. Arizona residents will be required to take the Arizona Educator Proficiency Assessment (AEPA) or the National Evaluation Series (NES). All paperwork for student teaching must be submitted by the due date the semester prior to student teaching.
The student teaching experience includes practical/clinical classroom experiences in a school setting with secondary students, grades 7-12. Teacher candidates are required to fulfill a full-time 8-week internship experience in a classroom with a certified, experienced teacher. All aspects of instruction are addressed, including effective presentation of movement, sports and fitness skills, strategies and assessments of student learning, student engagement and classroom management, integration of technology and content area literacy, curriculum, and learner analysis for secondary physical education teachers. The internship includes the opportunity to utilize applicable content standards for secondary students, including Arizona Professional Teacher’s Standards, and Physical Education Teacher Education Standards of the national association Shape America, and to integrate these within the classroom. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisites: Successful completion of PED 480A, approval and placement by Office of Field Experience.