What is an Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education?
Ed.D. programs in Health & Physical Education come in a wide assortment of flavors, from degrees that focus on training PE educators to doctoral programs in sports management. There are programs that will prepare you for high-level roles in health administration and promotion. There are Ed.D. opportunities in kinesiology, recreation, and athletic training. There are even doctorates that help doctors & clinicians become seasoned educators.
You may wish to pursue an Ed.D. in Health or Physical Education in order to:
- Advance to a high-level teaching role or administrative position
- Learn how to plan, design, implement, assess, and evaluate programs
- Develop effective interventions through applied research
- Dive deep into issues surrounding your field (e.g. law, finance, policy, etc.)
Types of Physical Education and Health Education Doctoral Programs
Ed.D. in Health & Physical Activity
This interdisciplinary doctorate is a practice-based degree that’s intended to prepare professionals for leadership positions in health & fitness fields. Graduates qualify for roles of power in healthcare agencies & non-profits, public health, K-12 administration, teacher education, worksite wellness programs, sports organizations, and the government.
Explore the listings to view your options. In programs like the University of Pittsburgh’s Ed.D. in Health and Physical Activity you’ll encounter a lot of real-world coursework. Curricula will cover areas like health promotion policy & advocacy, program design & implementation, resource & funding acquisition, leadership in groups & organizations, and the like. You may also be trained in teacher education.
Ed.D. in Health Education & Promotion
An Ed.D. in Health Education or Promotion is similar to an Ed.D. in Health & Physical Activity, but it can lean more heavily on healthcare issues. For example, Columbia University’s Ed.D. in Health Education:
- Explores the determinants of health & health-related behaviors
- Helps doctoral students develop & implement interventions in various settings (e.g. schools, community, hospitals, workplace, etc.).
- Covers program evaluations & applied research in health education
You’ll see similar foci in the University of Kentucky’s Ed.D. in Health Promotion and Clarkson College’s Online Ed.D. in Health Care Education & Leadership.
Ed.D. in Health Professions Education
If you’re interested in teaching healthcare professionals, you could also consider a doctorate that deals directly with this topic. For instance, A.T. Still University of Health Sciences’s Ed.D. in Health Professions, D’Youville College’s Online Ed.D. in Health Professions Education, and Allen College’s Ed.D. in Health Professions Education help healthcare practitioners (e.g. doctors) convert their clinical expertise into practical, experience-based teaching.
Ed.D. in Physical Education & Kinesiology
An Ed.D. in Physical Education and/or Kinesiology is often designed for current physical education professionals who want to teach at the college/university level or qualify for administrative positions within the field. Ohio State University’s Ed.D. in Kinesiology, Physical Education is a good example of this. It even allows students to choose a sub-specialization in Physical Education Teacher Education or Adapted Physical Education (e.g. Sport & Disability).
If kinesiology is a particular passion, you’ll also find education doctorates that land square & center on the topic. For example, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Online Ed.D. in Kinesiology adapts typical Ed.D. topics to the subject of kinesiology (e.g. research methods, field practicums, curriculum development, pedagogy, etc.) and interweaves this coursework with credits in ethics and physical activity & health (e.g. program development).
Ed.D. in Sports Leadership & Management
As the title suggests, Ed.D. programs in Sports Leadership and Management are aimed at aspiring sports administration & management professionals. Graduates of programs like Northcentral University’s Online Ed.D. in Sport and Athletic Management and Concordia University Chicago’s Online Ed.D. in Sports Leadership go on to work in professional sports teams, minor leagues, the NCAA, high school athletics, and the like.
In addition to research work, programs like these are usually set up to provide training in practical challenges (e.g. administration, organizational capabilities, sports law, sports finance, promotion & marketing, etc.).
Ed.D. in Health & Recreation
Ed.D. programs in Health & Recreation usually focus on public recreation services and community health & leisure activities. Examples include the University of Northern Iowa’s Ed.D. in Allied Health, Recreation, and Community Services and Florida International University’s Ed.D. in Adult Education and Human Resource Development – Recreation and Sport Management. You’ll be able to explore issues surrounding public health, law & liability, program design & evaluation, systems change, and even tourism.
Ed.D. in a Related Major – Health & Physical Education Concentration
If you’re interested in taking a leadership or curriculum development role in health & physical education at the K-12 or P-12 level, you’ll find a number of doctorates in our listings that might suit. The bulk of your coursework will be in a relevant major (e.g. Curriculum & Instruction), but you will be able to dig into your area of interest in concentration courses. Examples include:
- Hofstra University’s Ed.D. in Learning and Teaching – Physical Education
- Augusta University’s Ed.D. in Educational Innovation – P12 Health & Physical Education
- Valdosta State University’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – P-12 Disciplinary – Health and Physical Education
Earning an Ed.D. in Physical Education or Health Education
Health & PE Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: Degree requirements going to depend upon your choice of major. For example, applicants to an Ed.D. in Physical Education might be expected to have a master’s degree in physical education or related field. Candidates for an Ed.D. in Sports Leadership may need to have a master’s in health science, sports leadership, or a related field. Check the program page and the “How to Apply” link in our listings for precise details.
- Work Experience: Many universities will want to see evidence of professional experience in your field of study; some schools may specify 3+ years of experience. But the work stipulation can be flexible. For example, Ohio State accepts K-12 teaching experience OR experience working with youth in a physical activity setting.
- Minimum GPA: The standard minimum GPA for health education & physical education doctorates is 3.0. Big-name Colleges of Education can go higher (e.g. 3.25-3.5). If your GPA is below a certain threshold, schools may demand to see GRE scores.
- Additional Requirements: Universities can ask for GRE or MAT scores, a résumé, letters of recommendation or professional references, an admissions essay, an academic writing sample, and/or a professional goals statement.
Health & PE Coursework
Curricula for Ed.D. programs in Health & Physical Education will reflect the title. An Ed.D. in Sports Management, which deals with on-the-ground issues in sports leadership, is going to be drastically different to an Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction – P12 Health & Physical Education, which is focused on teacher training and curriculum development.
We’ve included curriculum links in our listings so you can explore the differences. Whichever major you choose, you can expect to tackle a number of courses in research methods & applied research, leadership issues, and evidence-based practice. These are the DNA of education doctorates the world over.
Health & PE Internship and Fieldwork
A healthy number of on-campus and online doctorates in health education & PE contain an internship, fieldwork, or practicums. We give these programs a virtual “thumbs up”—they allow you to trial research-based theories & practices in a relevant environment.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Ed.D. in Health and Physical Activity is a good example. Students may choose a supervised “job-embedded” internship for work in their current position, an “aspirant” internship for job responsibilities they are not yet qualified to perform, or a “global studies” internship. Each has a different set of requirements.
Health & PE Dissertation
All Ed.D. programs in Health Education or Physical Education are going to contain a large, research-based project. This can take the form of a traditional, 5-chapter dissertation (similar to a Ph.D.), a Dissertation in Practice (DiP), or a capstone project. We cover the differences between these options in our guide to Ed.D. programs without a traditional dissertation.
It’s not a quality issue—many CAEP-accredited and top-ranking Colleges of Education have opted to go down the capstone route for the Ed.D. (e.g. University of Pittsburgh). So you should feel free to pick a program & project that tallies with your career goals. For instance, if you’re interested in teaching at college or university level, a program with a traditional dissertation may suit you best.
Online Doctorate in Health & Physical Education Programs
Are Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education Programs Offered Online?
Yes. Our listings contain a number of online education doctorates, including some from CAEP-accredited schools. We’ve flagged them all with an “Offered Online” marker. UNC-Greensboro’s Online Ed.D. in Kinesiology claims to be the only online Doctor of Education in Kinesiology in the country.
Do Online Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education Programs Contain Residencies?
Many Online Ed.D. programs in Health & Physical Education fields will contain on-campus intensives or residencies. To cater to working professionals, these experiences are usually short (e.g. a long weekend or one week in the summer) and limited (e.g. 2-3 visits).
Health and Physical Education Careers
Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education Jobs
Because of the diversity of majors in this field, there all kinds of jobs available to Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education graduates. You may end up working in:
- K-12 schools
- Colleges & universities
- Healthcare agencies
- Public health organizations
- Sports organizations
- Athletic departments
- Recreation departments
- Government departments & councils
- Corporate wellness programs
Depending on your choice of field, you could be looking at senior-level positions like:
- Director of Curriculum & Program Development
- Physical Education Professor
- Kinesiology Professor
- Health Science Professor
- Sports Management Professor
- Clinical Educator/Director
- Director of Athletics
- Athlete Development Specialist
- Fitness Director
- Health Promotion Manager
- Director of Recreational Sports
- Parks & Recreation Director
- Public Health Program Director
- Community Program Director
- Director of Community Health
- VP of Community Health
- Senior Program/Project Manager
- Chief Program Officer
Ed.D. in Health & Physical Education Salary
A little research on common salary sites (e.g. Glassdoor, Payscale, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, etc.) will give you ballpark estimates for your choice of job title (e.g. Community Health Director). It’s worth noting that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also posts annual occupational & wage data for Health Education Specialists and Postsecondary Recreation & Fitness Studies Teachers.
Your choice of organization will mean a great deal. Local governments will pay less than private corporations. High school departments will pay less than college departments. And professional sports teams are going to pay a lot.
Is an Ed.D. in Physical Education or Health Education Worth it?
This is a situation where we highly recommend talking to peers, mentors, and recent Ed.D. graduates in your area of expertise. An education doctorate in an “on-the-ground” field such as sports management or recreation & community services is a big investment to make. So it pays to ask alumni about their career experiences post-graduation.
- In some cases, a master’s degree, professional certification, and work experience is going to count for a lot more than an education doctorate. When we looked at job openings for Athletic Directors, the standard minimum was a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.
- In other cases, a doctorate may be a “no exceptions” prerequisite (e.g. teaching at the university level, teaching other clinicians in health professions, etc.).
Health and Physical Education Resources
- Alliance for a Healthier Generation: The Alliance specializes in educating kids about the importance of nutrition, exercise, and preventative care. It also advocates for physical and health education in U.S. public schools.
- American Kinesiology Association (AKA): The AKA focuses on professional development within the field of kinesiology, offering a job board and networking opportunities for those who wish to work in this field.
- Online Physical Education Network (OPEN): OPEN provides classroom resources, professional development opportunities, and extensive multimedia resources—including a podcast and a YouTube channel—dedicated to the field of physical education.
- Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE): SHAPE is the official national organization for physical educators and health educators, offering online professional development courses, free classroom resources, grants, and scholarships. It advocates for public policy that advances health and physical education.
- World Health Organization (WHO): The WHO is—among other things—the world’s leading organization advocating for universal health education.