Physical Education

Teach students about the importance of physical activity and develop a solid understanding of behavioral science, exercise science, and teaching methods.

Physical Education B.S. - Final entry term: Fall 2021

Students currently enrolled in this major will be supported through completion of their degree. (For degree requirements, please refer to the Ithaca College catalog for the year in which you declared the major.)

Studies consistently show that our country's children are watching more television, eating more high-fat foods, and exercising less. Obesity and physical inactivity in children have been linked to a myriad of health problems that extend throughout the human life span. Now more than ever, physical education programs in schools are absolutely essential.

Technology, such as pedometers, hand-held devices, heart rate monitors, and games such as the Wii, help physical education teachers enhance student learning. Hear from some of our students (who won a National Association in Physical Education and Sport technology contest) how technology can be used in physical education:

Ithaca College has been training physical education teachers and coaches for almost 90 years. In our program you will develop a solid understanding of behavioral science, exercise science, and teaching methods. Your hands-on practice in school settings under the guidance of expert mentors and faculty will build your confidence in your skills. You will graduate job-ready, as an engaged and effective physical education teacher for all students in the 21st century.

Our Educational Philosophy

A student in a blue Ithaca College shirt is running on a treadmill. A faculty member in a blue shirt stands to the right, making notes. Another student is on a computer that is hooked up to the computer to the left and is monitoring the exercise session too.

Photo credit: Michael (Mike) Grippi

Our faculty teach you to use the "discovery learning" model. Rather than simply telling young people what’s right and wrong, you'll learn to encourage them to find their own solutions and to develop their own set of ethics concerning health and wellness.

The discovery learning model is interwoven throughout the courses you will complete. During your four years, you will complete an array of health education core courses, covering topics such as:

  • Introduction to Health & Physical Education

  • Motor Skill Development

  • Fitness Applications

  • Physical Education Teaching Activity Courses - Dance, Educational Gymnastics, Goal Games, Net & Wall Games, Target & Fielding Games, Outdoor Pursuits, Fitness, and Individual Activities

  • Philosophy & Principles of Coaching

  • Prevention & Care of Athletic Injuries

  • Organization & Administration of Physical Education & Athletics

These will be augmented by pedagogical and professional education courses, such as:

  • Teaching Strategies in Physical Education

  • Teaching Physical Education Activities in Elementary Physical Education

  • Curriculum and Methods in Elementary Physical Education & Secondary Physical Education

  • Adapted Physical Education & Sport

  • Assessment in Physical Education

  • Reading Foundations

  • Child Abuse Seminar, Drug & Alcohol Abuse Seminar & School Violence Prevention Seminar

  • Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Prevention & Intervention

In addition to these professional core courses, you will complete courses in anatomy and physiology, psychology, language, and education theory along with liberal arts courses under the Integrative Core Curriculum (general education) that all students at Ithaca College must complete. 

Hands-On Practice

A small child is in a physical education class and is balancing on half-discs that are laid across the gymnasium floor.

Photo credit: HPPE Department

You'll begin working with young people right away. In your freshman year you'll spend time at local schools observing and assisting teachers. Each subsequent year in the program offers more time and experience with students.

Your final student-teaching experience occurs in your senior year. Supervised by a master teacher, you'll spend an entire semester planning, presenting, and participating in classes. Half of the semester you'll teach in an elementary or middle school; the other half is spent at a high school.

The Department has long-standing collaborative relationships with K-12 schools. These partnerships will provide opportunities for you to complete observation hours as well as student teach. These partnerships span schools that are urban, suburban and rural in nature as well as schools that serve high-needs students. These schools include the Ithaca City Schools as well as schools in Candor, Groton, Dryden, Binghamton, Horseheads, Newfield, Trumansburg, Owego, Newark Valley, Montour Falls, Watkins Glen, and Elmira.

Teaching Certification

Our teacher education programs are aligned with New York State standards for teacher education. After finishing our four-year course of study, you'll be eligible for initial New York State certification to teach physical education at the elementary and secondary school levels.

More information about applying for initial teacher certification and New York State teacher certification exams is available on the All-College Teacher Education Committee website.

Our Graduates

Examples of the pathways of our recent graduates include:

  • Physical Education Teacher

Once they earn their master's degree, some of our graduates also go on to find jobs as teachers or coaches at colleges and universities.


HPPE Department Office
Danielle Paolicelli, Administrative Assistant
G40 Hill Center
Ithaca College • 953 Danby Road • Ithaca, NY 14850

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