Health and Physical Education Major (B.S.)

Health and Physical Education Major (B.S.)
Brendan Holt running an exercise in a UNH Health and Physical Education class

The Health and Physical Education teacher preparation program at UNH prepares you to positively engage with all children and youth in a variety of settings to develop healthy and well-rounded citizens. Authentic learning experiences are used to increase foundational knowledge and skills to apply teaching practices grounded in learning theory, health and well-being frameworks, and physical activity principles. You will be ready to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of school-aged children and youth.


Health and physical education is a major that prepares you to teach school-aged populations the skills and strategies that support and improve their health and well-being. Emphasis is given to increasing your foundational knowledge and ability to apply teaching practices grounded in health behavior change, movement concepts and sport. The health and physical education program at UNH offers its undergraduate students a way to gain knowledge and teaching skills for developing quality programs in both health education and physical education that will make a difference in the lives of all school age children and youth.


Becoming a health and physical education teacher is a rewarding career choice in a high-demand marketplace. The need for teachers has never been greater.Graduates of our program find positions at all levels–elementary, middle and secondary–in physical education, health education and adapted physical education. You will be part of a program with classes taught by faculty who are nationally recognized leaders in their fields. Our program has been ranked in the top 15 percent of all undergraduate health and physical education programs nationwide, with a high rate of successful employment. You’ll also have the opportunity to pursue a fifth-year master of arts in teaching degree.


  • Health and/or physical education teacher
  • Adapted physical education teacher
  • Community health/wellness educator
  • Physical activity program coordinator
  • Athletic coach

From the CHHS Blog

The College of Health and Human Services has appointed Joonkoo (J.K.) Yun, Ph.D., as Professor and Chair of the Department of Kinesiology, effective…
Ryan Bonitatibus and Rachel Simmons and junior Allie Petry, won the Peter Roni NEACSM College Bowl regional competition last October and now compete…
Lauren Carlson is a dual-degree student at UNH in the Social Work department and the Kinesiology Department.

Curriculum & Requirements

The health and physical education (HPE) major provides a foundation for teaching through a four-year program (BS), or the UNH Department of Education fifth-year program leading to a master of arts in teaching (MAT). Graduates become certified to teach kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) health education and physical education in the state of New Hampshire. This licensure is transferable to all other states in the U.S. Extensive supervised practicum experiences that develop teaching skills, including adaptive physical education programming, offer an excellent foundation for preparing high-quality teachers. The combination of health education with physical education and adaptive physical education makes graduates highly marketable.

Fifth Year Program Admission
Admission to the fifth year program for the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) requires a minimum GPA of 3.0. Students admitted to the accelerated masters program (required GPA of 3.2 or greater and completion of 90 credits) are eligible for dual credit at the undergraduate/graduate levels for up to 12 credit hours. This enables undergraduates to begin the masters program in their junior or senior year.

Transfer Student Admission
Internal UNH undergraduate transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.67.
External UNH undergraduate transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.75.

For questions about the program, contact the undergraduate program coordinator, Holly Alperin at (603) 862-1211, or

Sample Degree Plan

Students should be registered for, and taking an average of 16 credits per semester to be ‘on track’ to graduate in 4 years. In most semesters, this means a student will be taking Discovery or elective courses to meet this 16 credit ‘load’.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
HPE 500 Introduction to Health and Physical Education 2
HPE 600 Movement and Gymnastics Exploration 4
NUTR 400 Nutrition in Health and Well Being 4
1 or 2 Discovery Course 4-8
HPE 603 Team Sports 3
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
HHS 540
or PSYC 402
or SOC 402
Statistics for Health and Human Service Professionals
or Statistics in Psychology
or Statistics
1 or 2 Discovery Course 4-8
Second Year
BMS 507 Human Anatomy and Physiology I 4
HPE 610 Elementary Physical Education Pedagogy 4
HPE 648 Current Issues in Teaching Health 4
HPE 675 Motor Development and Learning 4
KIN 501 First Aid: Responding to Emergencies 1
BMS 508 Human Anatomy and Physiology II 4
HPE 570 Elementary Physical Education Practicum 4
HPE 601 Lifetime Sports 3
HPE 671 Health Education Pedagogy 4
Discovery Course 4
Third Year
EXSC 620 Physiology of Exercise 4
HPE 653B Biomechanics of Human Movement 2
HPE 655 Middle School and Secondary Physical Education Pedagogy 4
HPE 702 Health Content and Youth Risk Behavior 4
Discovery Course 4
HDFS 746 Human Sexuality 4
HPE 676 Adventure Activities 3
HPE 712 Health Education Practicum 4
HPE 781 Introduction to Adapted Physical Education 4
Fourth Year
EDUC 605 Educational Perspectives in Critical Times 4
HPE 766 Middle School and Secondary Physical Education Practicum 4
Discovery Course 4
Discovery Course 4
EDUC 694D Supervised Teaching/Kinesiology 4
HPE 694 Supervised Teaching in Health and Physical Education 6
Discovery Course (if needed) 4
 Total Credits128-136

Degree Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement: 128 credits
Minimum Residency Requirement: 32 credits must be taken at UNH
Minimum GPA: 2.0 required for conferral*
Core Curriculum Required: Discovery & Writing Program Requirements
Foreign Language Requirement: No

All Major, Option and Elective Requirements as indicated.
*Major GPA requirements as indicated.

Major Requirements

Students must receive a minimum grade of C (2.0) or better in all major-required courses.

Teaching Licensure Program Requirements
In order to ensure full admittance to the teaching licensure program, all students are required to pass Praxis Core (Reading, Writing, Math) or equivalent prior to starting Elementary Practicum (HPE 610). Additionally students must earn a minimum grade of B- or better in the following major-required courses, HPE 570, HPE 675, HPE 781, and EDUC 605.

Culminating Experience
The coursework for students choosing the four-year or five-year path to teaching certification is exactly the same until the final semester of the undergraduate program. The culminating experience for students in the four-year teaching program is student teaching (EDUC 694D /HPE 694). Students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 to be eligible to student teach. Students choosing the fifth-year program complete a year-long internship, in lieu of student teaching. Students also have the option of completing a concentration in adapted physical education through additional coursework designed to enhance teaching strategies and the programmatic needs of students with disabilities. Students must pass a required background check prior to admittance to student teaching. 

Required Courses
BMS 507Human Anatomy and Physiology I4
BMS 508Human Anatomy and Physiology II4
EDUC 605Educational Perspectives in Critical Times4
EXSC 620Physiology of Exercise4
HDFS 746Human Sexuality4
HPE 500Introduction to Health and Physical Education2
HPE 570Elementary Physical Education Practicum4
HPE 600Movement and Gymnastics Exploration4
HPE 601Lifetime Sports3
HPE 603Team Sports3
HPE 610Elementary Physical Education Pedagogy4
HPE 648Current Issues in Teaching Health4
HPE 655Middle School and Secondary Physical Education Pedagogy4
HPE 653BBiomechanics of Human Movement2
HPE 671Health Education Pedagogy4
HPE 675Motor Development and Learning4
HPE 676Adventure Activities3
HPE 702Health Content and Youth Risk Behavior4
HPE 712Health Education Practicum4
KIN 501First Aid: Responding to Emergencies1
HPE 781Introduction to Adapted Physical Education4
NUTR 400Nutrition in Health and Well Being4
PSYC 402Statistics in Psychology4
or SOC 402 Statistics
or HHS 540 Statistics for Health and Human Service Professionals
Senior Capstone Experience
HPE 766Middle School and Secondary Physical Education Practicum4
Total Credits86

  • Apply sound pedagogical practices that enable effective teaching of health education, physical education, and adapted physical education at all levels.
  • Create a learning environment that allows each student to feel safe, challenged and valued by embracing the unique strengths each student brings into the classroom and gymnasium.
  • Integrate foundational skills and knowledge from health education and physical education disciplines that enhance teaching practices in the classroom and gymnasium.
  • Design unit and lesson plans within an overall curriculum for health education and physical education that supports the development of students’ intellectual, physical, social and emotional well-being.
  • Design and implement authentic assessments for health education and physical education that will enhance and inform student learning. 

Explore Program Details

Adapted physical education session

The Physical Education Option with the Department of Kinesiology would like to offer an undergraduate concentration in Adapted Physical Education.

Completion of the coursework can count towards eligibility in sitting for the Adapted Physical Education National Standards examination.

Program offers

  • Overall knowledge of instruction
  • Assessment
  • Programming for students with disabilites
  • Guided practicum experiences
  • Learn to address needs of students with disabilites to become physically literate individuals
  • 19-20 credits of coursework

Required courses

  • HPE 675 - Motor Development and Learning (4 credits)
  • HPE 731- Inclusive Teaching Through Sport (4 credits)
  • HPE 781- Inclusion in Physical Education (4 credits)
  • HPE 742- PE Practicum for Students with Disabilities (4 credits)
  • HPE 696- Independent study (3-4 credits)

For more information, please contact Scott McNamara at

Q: What is needed to be certified to teach in NH?

  • To be certified in the state of New Hampshire you need to complete an undergraduate degree program through an accredited school such as UNH. In addition, you need to take standardized tests at the state level for teacher certification.

Q: What kind of certifications will I receive?

  • The UNH Health and Physical Education program certifies its 4-year B.S. students in both health and physical education. The 5th year Masters program also certifies its teacher candidates in both health and physical education.

Q: What can I do with the certificate?

  • With a health and physical education teaching degree you are able to teach at any level from kindergarten to grade 12 in either health or physical education. Many of our graduates receive jobs where they are able to teach in both of these areas. The degree also qualifies you to work in a recreational setting. In addition, you will have the knowledge to coach at any level, and teach students with disabilities. 

Q: What is the difference between the 4 and 5-year programs?

  • The 4-year program gives you a B.S. degree with certification to teach in health and physical education. Candidates are only required to student teach for one semester.
  • Because many states and school districts require a master’s degree to teach, the 5-year program gives you a master’s degree with certification in health and physical education. Candidates in the master’s program complete a yearlong internship.

Q: What if I only want to teach in one area - either health or physical education?

  • You can do that! What we find is that most students get the job and the teaching levels they want to work in.

Master’s in Art in Teaching (MAT)

Students who opt for the 5-year graduate program as their route to teaching certification in Health and Physical Education will apply to the UNH Graduate School for admission into the Department of Education’s MAT program.

Students must have a UNH undergraduate GPA (Grade Point Average) of at least a 3.0 out of 4.0. The application process is done online, and three letters of recommendation are required.  An outstanding benefit for high achieving students is referred to as ‘early admission’ to graduate school. If an undergraduate has a GPA of 3.2 or better at the time they apply, they will be accepted ‘early’ and can take up to three courses (12 credits) as dual listed – undergraduate and graduate level courses. This would mean that an undergraduate student early admitted to the graduate program, will be eligible to take three of the required five courses as undergraduates. Early admit students would then have only two courses left to complete their graduate program. This saves both time and money!

All graduate students, whether regular or early admitted will also be required to take a full year of student teaching (referred to as an internship), as the major component of the MAT that leads to teaching certification. This includes a 16-week placement at an elementary school and a 16-week placement at a middle or high school. Classes required include:  (700 level is undergraduate and 800 level is graduate).

Regular Admission Courses Early Admission Courses
EDUC 800 Ed Structure and Change EDUC 700/800 Ed Structure and Change
EDUC 805 Contemporary Ed Perspective EDUC 705/805 Contemporary Ed Perspective
KIN 802 Content Risk Behavior      KIN 702/802 Content Risk Behavior
KIN 910 Curricular Issues in Health   KIN 910 Curricular Issues in Health
One additional 800 level KIN course     One additional 800 level KIN course

With the additional, 5th year of study, including the internship, a student will graduate with an MAT Education Master’s degree and certification to teach Health and Physical Education, K-12 in New Hampshire. These teaching certifications will be transferable to all of the other 49 states in the U.S.  If you have further questions about this graduate program, contact Holly Alperin at

Teachers and kids in gym

Internal transfers must:

  • Have a minimum GPA of 2.67
  • A completed- application form, including an essay on why you want to teach
  • Interview with the option coordinator

Once the application is complete, contact for an interview.


Students interested in our Health and Physical Education major may also be interested in these advanced degree offerings:

Take the Next Step

student posing in doorway on campus
Thompson Hall
student at Career Event