M.S.Ed. in Kinesiology and Physical Education


Lifelong physical activity is a critical pursuit – and one that requires knowledgeable professionals who research and implement evidence-based practices for students and clients. Our M.S. Ed. in Kinesiology and Physical Education, with thesis and non-thesis options, prepares you to work as a competent and reflective professional in the exercise science or physical education teacher education communities. You'll choose from four specialties: Adapted Physical Education; Exercise Physiology and Fitness Leadership; Pedagogy and Curriculum Development; and Sport and Exercise Psychology. We offer outstanding instruction with state-of-the-art equipment to ensure success and professional growth. You'll also have multiple opportunities to engage with graduate faculty on research projects, grant-writing and community outreach.

Choose Your Specialization

Adapted Physical Education prepares you to deliver physical education services to students with special needs. You're trained to assume roles related to adapted or special physical education including teaching, assessment, Individualized Educational Program development, consulting, program planning and research. Certified physical education teachers completing this specialization meet Illinois State Board of Education recommended guidelines for personnel reimbursement as an "approved" adapted physical education instructor for students with disabilities.

Exercise Physiology and Fitness Leadership prepares you for various roles related to exercise physiology, including research, teaching and fitness leadership in hospitals, corporations and health clubs. Prerequisites include applied exercise physiology, chemistry and a human anatomy and physiology course.

Pedagogy and Curriculum Development provides relevant theoretical knowledge and experience in contemporary best practices in the discipline of physical education, including methodology/instructional strategies, supervision, program development and the use of technology and assessment in educational settings. You'll become a leader in pedagogy and curriculum development for physical education and related fields.

Sport and Exercise Psychology focuses on relevant theory, research and practice to help you examine a variety of predictors and consequences of sport and exercise participation. We emphasize the application of knowledge grounded in theory and research for teachers, coaches and exercise professionals in addressing the psychological needs of their participants in a performance setting.

You'll need a bachelor's which included courses in kinesiology, physical education, health, recreation, dance or equivalent courses. We'll also need to see your college transcripts.

During your program of study, you will utilize:

  • Oral communication to effectively communicate your knowledge to fellow professionals and lay-persons
  • Written communication to effectively communicate your knowledge to fellow professionals and lay-persons
  • Technology effectively and appropriately as required in your area of specialization
  • Critical thinking skills to analyze, synthesize and evaluate relevant material within your area of specialization
  • Graduate assistantships are competitive for students who want to study full-time and gain pre-professional experience.
  • Our FitWell exercise program for NIU employees and residents of the surrounding communities provides educational opportunities for our students of all levels.

Thesis Option (36 credits)

  • KNPE 699A Master's Thesis (1-6)

Non-Thesis Option (36 credits)

  • Available for each specialization.

Adapted Physical Education Specialization Core (9 credits)

  • KNPE 589 Inclusion Strategies for Special Populations: Theory and Practice (3)
  • KNPE 590 Physical Education for Individuals with Physical and Sensory Disorders (3)
  • KNPE 591 Assessment and Program Planning in Adapted Physical Education (3)

Exercise Physiology/Fitness Leadership Specialization Core (12 credits) 

  • KNPE 514 Neuromuscular Aspects of Physical Performance (3)
  • KNPE 560 Cardiorespiratory Physiology: Responses and Adaptations to Exercise (3)
  • KNPE 561 Advanced Exercise Physiology (3) KNPE 652 Exercise Bioenergetics (3)

Pedagogy and Curriculum Development Specialization Core (9 credits)

  • KNPE 620 Seminar in Physical Education Curriculum (3)
  • Two of the following (6):
    • KNPE 568 Principles of Supervision of Physical Education (3)
    • KNPE 569 Instructional Skills for Physical Education (3)
    • KNPE 577 Physical Education in the Elementary School (3)

Sport and Exercise Psychology Specialization Core (9 credits)

  • KNPE 582 Psychology of Sport and Exercise (3)
  • KNPE 583 Psychology of Coaching (3)
  • One of the following:
    • KNPE 586 Sport in Society (3)
    • CAHC 500 Professional Identity and Ethics in Counseling (3)

See our faculty webpage for more information on KNPE's faculty.