Now more than ever, our society is focusing on health. The UW-Madison physical education program is committed to developing professionals who will provide the best movement experiences possible. Improvements in physical education experiences can inspire increased physical activity, with the potential to benefit the health of millions of people.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education prepares individuals for careers in a variety of areas. At the heart of the degree is the physical education teacher education program, which has been preparing excellent physical educators since 1911. The Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education is the key to obtaining physical education teaching positions in Wisconsin, other states, and internationally. Graduates of the program have received state-level awards for their teaching accomplishments.

A degree in physical education also readies individuals for other career paths. Some graduates have pursued teaching positions outside of school settings. Other graduates of the program have successful careers in many positions unrelated to teaching. Program alumni are well represented in the areas of coaching and officiating, recreation, fitness, healthcare and sport management. A few alumni are coaching at the NCAA Division I level or working for the U.S. Olympic Committee or the Cincinnati Bengals. 

The careers of some of our physical education alumni are highlighted here.

We are committed to transforming physical education into a powerful experience in which students develop physical, mental, and social skills for life. To that end, our program includes the following elements:

  • A standards-based curriculum
  • A cutting-edge conceptual approach to teaching physical education
  • “Hands-on” guided teaching
  • Culturally responsive teaching techniques in urban, inclusive, and multicultural settings
  • Social and emotional learning that incorporates community building and behavior management
  • Appropriate and sequential motor skill development

Physical education students also benefit from:

  • Nationally and state recognized faculty and staff members
  • Certification options in Adapted Physical Education and Health Education
  • Small class sizes and advising groups
  • A strong science and technology based curriculum
  • Instruction within the nationally ranked UW–Madison School of Education

Physical education students have the opportunity for professional growth as they earn their degree. Students have given presentations at professional conferences and are currently serving in leadership positions for Wisconsin Health and Physical Education or the Society of Health and Physical Educators Midwest District.

Graduates are eligible to apply for a Wisconsin Physical Education license at the Kindergarten through Grade 12 level. Students intending to teach in Wisconsin may be eligible for the Teacher Pledge, an opt-in loan forgiveness program for teacher education students.

Physical Education Declaration Overview

Students interested in a degree in Physical Education can enter UW–Madison with a Pre-Physical Education classification. They spend their initial semesters completing liberal studies, general education, and science core requirements.

UW-Madison students who started in another major can move to Pre-Physical Education by completing a Pre-Professional Declaration. A GPA of 2.75, based on all UW–Madison coursework or the last 60 credits, is required to transfer into Pre-Physical Education.

It is not necessary to be a Pre-Physical Education student before declaring the Bachelor of Science in Physical Education.

Declaring Bachelor of Science in Physical Education (BSPE)

On-Campus Students

On-campus students may declare the Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree at any time, provided they have met the following requirements:

  • Have second-year academic standing.
  • Earned a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA (4.00 scale) on all college work attempted, or a 2.75 on the last 60 credits.
  • Have met with a Physical Education or School of Education Student Services advisor who will submit the declaration form; see Contact Information for details.

Last 60 Credits Rule - Two grade point averages may be calculated to determine a candidate's eligibility to declare Physical Education. A GPA may be calculated using (1) UW-Madison and all other all transferable college level coursework attempted and (2) the last 60 credits attempted. The higher GPA of these two calculations will be used for determining eligibility. Once declared, students must earn a semester GPA of 2.75 each semester after declaration. More information on this rule is available here.

Off-Campus Transfers to UW-Madison

Off-campus students wishing to transfer to UW-Madison and declare the Bachelor of Science in Physical Education degree must be admitted to UW-Madison. Admission to the university has its own application, admission process, and application deadlines; see Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Students also need to meet with a Physical Education or School of Education Student Services advisor, who will determine if the following eligibility requirements to declare the BSPE degree have been met:

  • Have second year academic standing.
  • Earned a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA (4.00 scale) on all college work attempted or 2.75 on the last 60 credits.

See Contact Information for details. The advisor will submit the declaration form if the student has met the eligibility requirements. Transfer students who do not meet the declaration eligibility requirements may be admitted to UW-Madison with the Pre-Physical Education classification.   

Students with a Previous Undergraduate Degree

Students who already hold a Bachelor’s degree and wish to become certified to teach Physical Education must be admitted to UW-Madison. Admission to the university has its own application, admission process, and application deadlines; see Office of Admissions and Recruitment for university application information.

Students need to meet with a Physical Education or School of Education Student Services advisor who will (1) review the student's eligibility to declare the BSPE degree, and (2) discuss their admission status, see below. Eligibility requires that a student has:

  • Earned a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA (4.00 scale) on all college work attempted or 2.75 on the last 60 credits.

See Contact Information for details. The advisor will submit the declaration form if the student has met the eligibility requirement.

An applicant with a previous undergraduate degree will be admitted to Physical Education as a second degree candidate or as a School of Education "Special Student," depending on their academic background. Second degree candidates in the School of Education are changing their academic direction and wish to complete a degree that is unrelated to their first degree. A large number of credits are usually required to complete the new degree requirements and a second degree is awarded upon its completion; more information is available here.

Admission as an Education Special Student indicates that the applicant wishes to pursue teacher certification in Physical Education and studied it extensively during their initial degree. An individual enrolls in Physical Education as a Special Student to complete the requirements that were not taken during the first degree; these are assessed on a case by case basis. Another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework.

All returning students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office before applying for admission to UW-Madison. Consultations with advisors are available in person, virtually, or via telephone; email studentservices@education.wisc.edu or call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment.

Background Checks

Pursuant to State of Wisconsin law PI 34.018(2), the School of Education is required to administer a background check on all students entering teacher education programs. This check is intended to determine if the applicant has engaged in any behavior that endangers the health, welfare, safety, or education of PK-12 pupils. Local school districts frequently conduct background checks on teacher education students prior to the start of their in-classroom field work, and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will also conduct a background check on each applicant for a Wisconsin educator license.

Students should be aware that background checks may be initiated by other agencies or organizations when they are seeking employment or a professional license. School administrators have the authority to determine the appropriateness of a student placement and may choose not to permit a placement based on a student’s background check results.

An individual who has been deemed ineligible to participate in field or clinical experiences based on the results of their background check may not be able to complete the requirements for their degree or certification. Students with questions about these processes should contact the Teacher Education Center, tec@education.wisc.edu.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs and Kinesiology have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The Physical Education program has six components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Science Core coursework offers in-depth study of the basic sciences and mathematics.
  • Kinesiology Core courses look at how the body responds and adapts to exercise, the role of psychological factors in sports and exercise, mechanics applied to biological systems, and how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the life span.
  • The Physical Education requirements focus on advanced study in Physical Education pedagogy, including teaching methods coursework and field experiences in the schools.
  • Education coursework includes an examination of the school's relationship to our society and also of the processes by which students grow and learn.
  • Elective coursework is taken to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for the degree.

While not required, teaching certifications in Adapted Physical Education and Health Education are also offered. See Additional Certification Options, below.

Science and Kinesiology Core Courses

With the exception of KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support and KINES 121 Foundations of Physical Education, Kinesiology coursework must be taken after admission into the professional part of the undergraduate program.

MATH 112 Algebra3
CHEM 108 Chemistry in Our World5
or CHEM 103 General Chemistry I
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 235 Human Physiology and Health4
KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support 12
KINES 308 Biomechanics of Physical Activity2
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise4
KINES 361 Motor Learning and Performance3

Students may exempt from KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support by completing American Red Cross First Aid AND either American Red Cross Basic Life Support or American Red Cross CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers, enroll here.

If a student wishes to request that a different course (or courses) be considered, contact the Department of Kinesiology undergraduate office PRIOR to enrolling. 

Physical Education Courses

Effective for Fall, 2023 program admission.

KINES 121 Foundations of Physical Education2
KINES 315 Assessment and Research in Physical Activity Pedagogy3
KINES 316 Adapted Physical Activity3
KINES 325 Group Development and Behavior Management3
KINES 327 Current Topics in Outdoor Pursuits1
KINES 353 Health and Physical Education in a Multicultural Society3
KINES 372 Methods and Practicum of Teaching PK-5 Physical Education3
KINES 373 Methods and Practicum of Teaching 6-12 Physical Education4
KINES/​CURRIC  478 Elementary School Physical Education Student Teaching6
KINES/​CURRIC  479 Middle School or High School Physical Education Student Teaching6

Professional Education Courses

Learning (Minimum of 3 credits)
ED PSYCH 301 How People Learn3
Foundations of the Profession: (Minimum of 3 credits)
ED POL 300 School and Society3
or ED POL/​HISTORY  412 History of American Education

Additional Certification Options

Physical Education students are encouraged to increase their content knowledge and teaching capabilities through additional training. Although not required, teaching certifications are available in Health Education and Adapted Physical Education. Students may pursue more than one additional certification.

Health Education minor, 23-24 credits.

Contact Cindy Kuhrasch, cnkuhrasch@wisc.edu, for additional information about the Health Education minor.

Adapted Physical Education, 15 credits.

Certification in Adapted Physical Education requires the coursework listed below. Contact Cindy Kuhrasch, cnkuhrasch@wisc.edu, 608-262-4348, for additional information regarding this certification.

Required Courses
KINES 316 Adapted Physical Activity (required of all PE majors)3
KINES 300 Practicum in Kinesiology (Adapted Sport and Fitness:Adults)1-3
KINES 364 Assessment and Programming in Adapted Physical Education3
KINES 365 Practicum: Adapted Physical Education (Children)2
RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3
Select one elective. Requires advisor approval.
RP & SE 330 Behavior Analysis: Applications to Persons with Disabilities3
RP & SE 505 Biological, Psychosocial, and Vocational Aspects of Disabilities3
RP & SE/​CURRIC  506 Strategies for Inclusive Schooling3
CS&D 110 Introduction to Communicative Disorders3
CS&D 240 Language Development in Children and Adolescents3
CS&D 424 Sign Language I2
PSYCH 405 Abnormal Psychology 13-4

Continuation Requirement: Department of Kinesiology

All students admitted to undergraduate programs in the Department of Kinesiology, including Physical Education, must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75, based on all UW–Madison campus course work. Consult the School of Education's Academic Policies and Procedures for additional information about the continuation requirement.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average across all professional education courses (excluding practicum and student teaching).
  • 2.75 cumulative grade point average in the major.
  • A minimum of 120 credits.
  • Major residency: Degree candidates must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework (numbered 300–699) in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus. Student teaching and practicum are considered part of the 30 credits.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE), or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major and certificate completion in the School of Education.

Additional Certification Requirements and Applying for a License

In addition to completing UW-Madison's program requirements, students must also complete Wisconsin statutory requirements and certification requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Many of these requirements are embedded within the program's requirements and require no additional attention. The endorsement of the program coordinator/faculty is also required to receive certification through UW–Madison.

The State of Wisconsin requires that anyone wishing to teach in a public K–12 setting hold a valid teaching license issued through the Department of Public Instruction. In addition to completing a certification program, students must submit a separate application for this license.

Detailed information about certification requirements and applying for a license is available under Certification/Licensure.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Standard 1: Scientific Foundational Knowledge. Physical education candidates demonstrate an understanding of scientific foundations for the delivery of an effective preK-12 physical education program.
  2. Standard 2: Physical Education Foundational Knowledge. Physical education candidates demonstrate an understanding of theoretical foundations for the delivery of an effective preK-12 physical education program.
  3. Standard 3: Physical Education Content Knowledge. Physical education candidates understand physical education content, concepts and skills associated with the development of a physically educated student.
  4. Standard 4: Planning for Instruction. Physical education candidates plan developmentally appropriate learning experiences aligned with local, state and/or SHAPE America National Standards and Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education.
  5. Standard 5: Instructional Delivery and Management. Physical education candidates engage students in meaningful learning experiences through effective use of pedagogical skills. They use communication, feedback, and instructional and managerial skills to enhance student learning.
  6. Standard 6: Assessment of Student Learning. Physical education candidates select and implement appropriate assessments to monitor students’ progress and guide decision making related to instruction and learning that do not marginalize students.
  7. Standard 7: Technology. Physical education candidates select and implement a variety of technologies to enhance learning, as well as personal and professional productivity.
  8. Standard 8: Social-Emotional Learning and Trauma Based Practices. Physical education candidates understand and utilize a variety of practices critical to SEL and positive mental health outcomes.
  9. Standard 9: Professional Responsibility. Physical education candidates demonstrate behaviors essential to becoming effective professionals.

Physical Education – Sample Four-Year Plan

This sample four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with your academic advisor(s) to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

KINES 1212KINES 1162
Communication A 3CHEM 1085
POLI SCI 1044MATH 112 (Also meets Quantitative Reasoning A)3
Liberal Studies coursework 6Liberal Studies coursework 3
 General Electives2
 15 15
KINES 3253KINES 315 (Also meets Quantitative Reasoning Part B)3
Liberal Studies coursework6KINES 3271
General Elective4ANAT&PHY 3373
 General Electives5
 16 15
KINES 3082KINES 3724
KINES 353 (Also meets Communication Part B)3ANAT&PHY 2354
KINES 3613Liberal Studies coursework3
General Electives7General Electives5
 15 16
ED POL/​HISTORY  412 (Also meets U.S./European History)3 
General Electives 5 
 16 12
Total Credits 120

Physical Education Advising

Prospective off-campus and on-campus physical education students will meet with Dan Timm in the Department of Kinesiology. Students considering physical education should schedule an appointment with Dr. Timm, dtimm@education.wisc.edu, or call 608-262-0259, as soon as possible. Pre-declaration advising is conducted by the Department of Kinesiology and staff in the School of Education Student Services office, see below. 

Students with either a pre-certification (PED) or certification (BSPE) classification are required to meet with their department advisor at least once per semester. Mandatory advising meetings are conducted every semester, just before enrollment begins for the following semester.

School of Education Advising

Academic Advising in the School of Education

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, Academic Advisors are here to assist students with the adjustment to college, understanding their degree and career goals, and connecting them to resources. Advisors support prospective and current School of Education students in all programs through:

  • course selection
  • mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students
  • understanding degree requirements and progression
  • interpreting academic policies
  • helping students recognize their strengths and suggesting ways to expand their skills
  • expanding learning through activities such as study abroad, volunteering/work/internship, and by assuming leadership roles

To schedule an appointment: Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Appointments can also be made through email at studentservices@education.wisc.edu, by calling 608-262-1651, or in person.

Career Advising in the School of Education

The School of Education Career Center provides students with the knowledge needed for connecting their classroom experiences with real-world application to develop skills needed to navigate the ever-changing world of work. Through individual appointments, events, courses, and online resources, the Career Center provides students and alumni with the tools needed to be successful in their career development. 

Career and Internship Advisors are prepared to help students with:

  • Exploration of career and academic pathways
  • Resumes
  • Cover letters
  • Job/Internship search
  • Interview preparation
  • Mock interviews
  • Graduate school search, applications and decisions
  • Negotiating job or internship offers
  • Professional networking
  • Connecting with employers

Students are encouraged to meet with their Career and Internship Advisor early in their college experience to take full advantage of the resources and support available.

To make an appointment: log into Starfish from the MyUW dashboard.

For more information, visit the School of Education Career Center website or reach out at career-center@education.wisc.edu.

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Kinesiology can be found on the department's website.

Additional Certification Requirements 

Students interested in certification must, in addition to completing UW–Madison's program requirements, also complete Wisconsin statutory requirements related to teacher education and certification requirements established by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Students must complete all requirements and also obtain the endorsement of the program faculty to receive certification through UW–Madison. For additional certification requirements and information about applying for a license, see the Teacher Education Center.

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure about whether each program meets state educational requirements for initial licensure or certification. Following is this disclosure information for this program:

The requirements of this program meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:


The requirements of this program do not meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Not applicable

The requirements of this program have not been determined if they meet Certification/Licensure in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming, District of Columbia; American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.