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An Exceptional Future Awaits Those Who Teach Exceptional People

You believe everyone deserves access to fitness, fun, exercise, and the long-lasting benefits they provide. But you also know that some people can't access all of this unless activities and equipment are adapted to their special needs. In IUP's Adapted Physical Activity MEd program, you'll learn how to help people with disabilities move beyond their limits.

In the master in adapted physical activity program, you’ll get the information, background, and experience you'll need to help children and adults with different physical needs enjoy more active and healthy independent lives.

Why Go for a Master’s in Adapted Physical Activity?

You support inclusiveness in all areas of our daily lives. Whether you're working in a school, community, or recreational setting, you want to make sure adapted physical activity programs are offered.

In the Adapted Physical Activity MEd, you’ll learn how to develop, adapt, and implement specialized programs for individuals with impairments such as:

  • Autism
  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury

This master’s degree program can be completed 100 percent online. You'll get the background you need with the flexibility that helps you as a busy, working adult. While the program does not prepare you for teacher certification, it will significantly expand your opportunities within a school setting and beyond.

What You'll Learn

One of the most important parts of the Adapted Physical Activity MEd is the real-world, hands-on experience you’ll gain through internships in your chosen industry or workplace. For teaching situations, you'll discover new adapted physical education techniques, including how to help improve individuals’

  • Gross motor skills
  • Perceptual motor skills
  • Physical fitness
  • Sports and game achievement

You’ll also learn to evaluate the motor needs of individuals to determine their requirements for adapted physical activity services. You'll determine how to screen and identify placement, which are essential parts of this role. Your primary goal for the students you teach: Inclusiveness.

National Library of Medicine

Imagine Your Future

Adapted physical education can be an extremely rewarding, though sometimes challenging, career. Your master’s degree will open doors and potentially guide you to leadership positions where you’ll:

  • Coordinate and supervise programs and organizations that support public well-being.
  • Provide adapted physical activity instruction and services to individuals with varied physical needs.
  • Plan, direct, and coordinate recreation-based treatment programs for people with disabilities, injuries, or illnesses.

You might even find yourself coaching an elite athlete—or be credited with giving them their start.

Industries Looking for You

  • Competitive and elite sports teams
  • Inclusive and special physical education settings
  • Recreation and leisure organizations
  • Rehabilitation and health exercise services

Similar Occupations

  • Adapted adventure-tourism provider
  • Aquatics instructor
  • Coach
  • Parks and recreation coordinator
  • Physical activity instructor

Career opportunities in Health and Physical Education/Adapted Physical Activity

  • Adapted activities program director
  • Personal support activity programmer
  • Recreational therapist
  • Rehabilitation center activity counselor
  • Residential treatment facility activity director
  • Senior activity leader

Job growth in adapted physical activity is expected to continue at about a 10 percent annual pace through 2030.

Recreational Therapists in 2020

Annual salary, bachelor's degree


10-year annual job growth


Recreation and Fitness in 2019

Annual salary, bachelor's degree


Classes and Requirements

In the adapted physical activity track of the health and physical education program, you can choose to focus on either:

  • Coaching organizations
  • Recreational services for special populations

Full Academic Catalog Listing

The course catalog is the official reference for all our degree and course offerings. Check it out for a full listing of the classes available and requirements for this degree.

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Program Innovation, Real-World Success Elevate Each Class

The Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science faculty members bring decades of real-world experience to the classroom. Prior to arriving at IUP, they coached athletic teams, operated fitness training centers, and learned first-hand the rigors of working with hospitals to rehabilitate injured athletes and cardiac patients.

Their excellent advisory assistance will help you choose a lasting career in coaching, fitness center management, corporate wellness, or other sports-industry sectors.

  • Our professors continue to expand their scholarly achievements by presenting research at regional and national events.
  • IUP professors have established innovative programs, such as the home school program and Special Needs Activity Program, which give you opportunities that enhance your résumé.
  • Guidance is a key ingredient our professors bring to your graduate program, helping you make the right choices so you can excel as you complete your degree.
  • Active participation in academic and professional circles allows our professors to build a network of potential internship sponsors.
Ashley McAteer

Ashley McAteer ’13, Health and Physical Education

IUP was the best overall fit for me academically and athletically. The professors are very knowledgeable, passionate, and genuinely care about their students.

Earn Your CAPE Credential

If you are a certified physical education teacher, you can earn a Certified Adapted Physical Education designation through the National Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities.

By earning a CAPE, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to and expertise in this field. You’ll be listed in NCPEID’s national registry of certified adapted PE teachers. Initial certification lasts seven years and includes a one-year membership in the organization.

Successful candidates will receive a certificate documenting that they are certified adapted physical educators and will be able to list the initials, CAPE, after their name.

Admission Requirements—Teacher Education

To be admitted to the Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science Department, the applicant must have completed the requirements for a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and must fulfill the general requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies and Research for a master's degree.

A minimum TOEFL score of 540 (paper-based) which converts to a computer-based score of 193 is necessary for international students.

Other admission requirements to be admitted to the K-12 Teacher Certification program include:

  • Fulfillment of requirements set by the College of Education and Communications.

For more specific information related to the application process, visit the website of the IUP School of Graduate Studies and Research.

Graduate students may be eligible to finance their education through student loan programs, the Federal Work Study Program, state university employment, and/or graduate assistantships. For more information, please visit Financing Your Education.