New Moves: UWG Adds a Physical Education Master’s Degree

Julie Lineback

Monday, August 10th, 2020

The University of West Georgia will offer a Master of Education in Physical Education beginning this fall. Approved by the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, this new degree – housed in the College of Education (COE) – supplements the already robust Department of Sport Management, Wellness and Physical Education (SWP).

“COE is recognized as a leader in graduate education, not only at the university level but statewide as well,” explained Dr. Brent Heidorn, program coordinator and an associate dean in COE. “The Physical Education program wanted to get involved with that.”

The new program, offered fully online, can be completed in two years.

An advanced degree will help prepare current K-12 PE or health education teachers for other positions, such as coaching, personal training and higher education.

“The classes are designed for teachers in the field for their professional development,” said Dr. Brian Mosier, SWP chair, and added the courses “provide current, relevant information, curriculum and ideas for teachers who are dealing with 21st-century issues.”

Specifically, Heidorn said the master’s program will take a deeper look into topics including curriculum, exercise physiology and fitness-based principles while introducing them to concepts such as legal liability concerns, connecting with research and collecting data, and  advocating for the profession.“One of the largest challenges right now is budget and economic concerns,” he said. “This program will prepare students to have proper communications with all stakeholders – current K-12 students, parents or guardians, fellow teachers, administrators, community members and legislators – and educate them of the benefits of quality health education, physical activity and overall wellness.” 

Already a known leader of quality academic programming in the state, Heidorn said UWG is uniquely poised to offer this degree.

“People know us,” he stated. “We’ve been able to communicate with hundreds of current PE teachers across the state through professional development, publications and presentations at state and local conferences, through fitness grants and Power Up for 30 trainings across the state. District coordinators, the state Department of Education, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, and many teachers across the state are familiar with us and our program.”One of the program’s first students is Bryan Purinton, who graduated from UWG in May with his bachelor’s degree in physical education. He said faculty was the main reason he stayed with West Georgia to get his master’s. 

“The professors are experts and well respected in the field while staying humble,” Purinton shared. “They have created a family atmosphere and have a knack of relating the content that is being taught to real-life situations. They care about your success in and out of the classroom. Having professors like this through my educational journey made it an easy decision to Go West to further my education.”