2019-2020 Catalog

Publication date June 2019

ESS: Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis - Master of Science

Program Coordinator: Brock McMullen
216 Mitchell Hall; 608.785.8167
Email: bmcmullen@uwlax.edu


Persons seeking graduate level adapted physical education (APE) professional development can pursue the Master of Science degree in physical education teaching with an emphasis in teaching APE.  This is a practitioner oriented program for teachers seeking additional expertise, evidence-based content knowledge, technology skills, and clinical experiences in physical education for PK-12 students with disabilities in general and/or specially designed physical education classes.

Students who successfully complete this graduate program are eligible for the Wisconsin add-on teaching license in APE (WI EC-A #860).  Graduates of the program are primarily hired by school districts as adapted and/or general physical education teachers.  These teachers are often employed as itinerant (traveling) APE specialists within a district and may teach students from grades PK-12 in several schools. Graduates are hired throughout the United States to serve as APE instructional leaders for school districts.

Roles commonly performed in school districts by these APE professionals include:

  • Teaching at early childhood, elementary, middle, and secondary levels
  • Serving as itinerant or traveling APE teachers at several schools within a school district
  • Collaborating with special education and related service personnel
  • Teaching students with disabilities in one-on-one, small group, or large group classes
  • Preparing paraprofessionals/teaching assistants for supervised APE instruction
  • Consulting with general physical education teachers and special education staff
  • Team teaching in inclusive settings while assisting general physical education teachers
  • Assessing physical and motor development for IEP planning and implementation
  • Designing and monitoring measurable IEP goals and objectives
  • Using evidence-based teaching strategies, including instructional technologies
  • Transitioning students from school-based to community-based instruction leading to healthy and active lifestyles
  • Coaching school and community-based sport programs for students with and without disabilities

Some graduates of this program progress to full-time doctoral study at institutions such as Oregon State University, University of Virginia, University of Michigan, Texas Woman’s University, Ohio State University, and others that specialize in disability related fields.  UW-La Crosse graduates from the APE program are faculty at many of the leading higher education institutions that prepare physical education teachers for students with disabilities.

The APE graduate program can be completed while students are enrolled either full-time or on a part-time basis.  There is much flexibility for currently employed teachers who only desire additional certification, not a graduate degree.  The purpose of the certification-only program is to assist general physical education teachers to acquire the knowledge and skills to become highly qualified and effective APE specialists and enable them to be eligible for Wisconsin APE teaching licensure.  This certification-only program can be completed in 2-3 summers and during the academic year depending on course loads and course availability.  Clinical experiences are part of this program.

The Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity (Center) is a focal point of the APE teacher preparation program.  One of only five centers at UW-La Crosse, the Center implements many on-campus and community-based physical activity programs for individuals with disabilities of all ages.  A primary mission of the Center is to conduct a variety of physical activity/education programs serving children, youth, and adults with disabilities.  Opportunities to enhance teaching competencies and gain advanced leadership skills are afforded to future APE professionals.  The Center serves as a resource for parents, school districts, human service agencies, and local and state agencies, as well as national organizations focusing on physical activity and health for individuals with disabilities.  Examples of programs include: Children’s Motor Development Program; Physical Activity Mentoring Program; Adult Fitness Program; Adapted Aquatic Program; and Adapted Sport Programs.

Financial assistance is generally available each year for qualified students who pursue their graduate degree on a full-time basis.  Assistance is usually in the form of graduate assistantships and/or fellowships that may include a stipend, tuition assistance for resident and nonresident students, fringe benefits, an office on campus, school-based teaching with an APE teacher mentor, and opportunities to work alongside faculty in teaching, research, service, and professional development. 


Prerequisites or equivalents are:

  1. Undergraduate major/minor in physical education and/or sport science/management from an accredited four-year institution.
  2. Documented course work in the following areas:
    • Anatomy/physiology
    • Measurement and evaluation in physical education
    • Adapted physical education
    • Motor development/behavior/child development


36 credits


  • Thesis option  

ESS 730Research Methods for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 735Statistics for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 799Research: Master's Thesis6
Total Credits12
  • Non-thesis option 

ESS 730Research Methods for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 536Assessment in Adapted Physical Education3
ESS 736Critical Analysis Project: Adapted Physical Education3
Total Credits9


ESS 725Diversity in the Physical Activity Setting2
ESS 727Planning for Effective Instruction in Physical Education2
ESS 737Curriculum Design in Physical Education2
ESS 759Analysis and Supervision of Physical Education3
ESS 765Adventure Education for Physical Educators3
ESS 771Current Issues in Physical Education2-3
Total Credits14


Thesis option: 10 credits
Non-thesis option: 13 credits
ESS 530Disability and Physical Activity Implications3
ESS 535Sport for Persons with Disabilities1
ESS 537Teaching and Service Delivery Models in Adapted Physical Education3
ESS 787Clinical Internship in Adapted Physical Education3
Elective (required for non-thesis option only) 13

Graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses).
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval at least two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Director of Graduate Studies. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see the Office of Graduate Studies.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)
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