Boy plays on slide in the pool during the motor development program.
Boy plays baseball with university student.

Welcome! You made an excellent choice to inquire about Adapted Physical Education (APE) teacher preparation at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. We encourage you to explore our website to learn about our APE teacher preparation programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The APE programs are housed within the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, in the College of Science and Health and are affiliated with the School of Education.  Our nationally- and internationally-known APE programs deal with all aspects of physical education and physical activity for individuals with a wide array of disabilities at all age levels.  We hope you become part of this exciting, growing, and rewarding teaching profession.

Organizationally, the APE program is comprised of four interrelated program areas with each contributing to the academic mission of the university and community-based objectives. The four programs are the undergraduate APE Teaching ConcentrationMasters Emphasis in APE,  Graduate Certification in APE Teaching, and the Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity Programs.

If you would like more information about any of our academic or community service programs, please use the contact information below.

Dr. Brock McMullen

Adapted Physical Education Programs

216 Mitchell Hall


Two Adapted Physical Education Minor students play ball with two girls with disabilities.
Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors work out in the strength center with children with disabilities.

Admission Requirements

  1. Minimum GPA = 2.75/4.0 scale
  2. Minimum BC grade in ESS 231, Introduction to Adapted Physical Education (or equivalent)
  3. Admission to Physical Education Teacher Education (or in process)
An Adapted Physical Education teaching minor plays with a boy with a disability.
Two Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors smile with the children with disabilities they are holding.

Admission Packet 

Students must complete and submit the following: 

  1. Application form
    2. Recommendation form

Admission Process

Undergraduate students who are accepted into the Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) program can apply to the Adapted Physical Education Teaching minor. Students should submit their applications as soon as possible after admission to the Physical Education Teacher Education Program. It is important to start the program early in your PETE progression in order to receive proper advisement.

All applications are reviewed and verified for accuracy by the undergraduate Adapted Physical Education Coordinator. Students will then be notified of application status no more than 10 days after the application is submitted.

Students may apply to the minor and be provisionally accepted while concurrently enrolled in ESS 231 Introduction to Adapted Physical Education or during the semester in which they apply to the Physical Education Teacher Education Program. In this case, formal admission to the APE program will be contingent only upon satisfactory completion in ESS 231 (BC or better) and admission to the Physical Education Teacher Education Program.

Admittance to the APE Teaching minor is competitive. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Preference will be given to students who:

  • Meet all admission requirements,
  • Are already admitted to the PETE program,
  • Can fully and sequentially complete the minor in the semester prior to student teaching, and
  • Have demonstrated an interest in the program through volunteer or other experiences with persons with disabilities.

Application forms may be accessed via the following links: 

Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor - Application Form 


  1. Download.
  2. Thoroughly complete application (type or write legibly).
  3. Submit application to the Adapted Physical Education office at 108 Mitchell Hall.

Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor - Recommendation Form


  1. Download.
  2. Complete top section of recommendation form.
  3. Present form to person capable of judging your teaching ability.  This must be a faculty/staff member (NOT a graduate student).  Request that they return the form to the Adapted Physical Education Office. 
Two Adapted Physical Education Minors help a boy with a disability in the pool.
An Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor holds a small girl with a disability in the pool.

Application Deadlines   

Applications can be submitted at any time after admission to the Physical Education Teacher Education Program. It is strongly encouraged to apply immediately after PETE admission so you get proper advisement on the required sequence of APE Courses.

Application Tips

  • Type or write legibly, and check your application for completeness.
  • Choose a person to recommend you that you have worked closely with and that knows your teaching ability.  This can not be a graduate student.
  • Obtain your recommendation form and attach it to the application form for submission.
Two University Students help a girl with a disability float in the pool.
A boy with a disability rides on a floating motorcycle toy in the pool with help from Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors.
Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor plays with a child with a disability in the gym.
Two Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors help a boy in the pool.

Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor 

This highly regarded and very popular undergraduate APE Teaching Minor is designed for students majoring in Physical Education Teaching. Comprehensive evidence-based coursework and significant practicum/clinical experiences, including APE student teaching, prepare PK-12 teachers to plan, implement, and evaluate specially designed instruction for students with disabilities in physical education.

Students are encouraged to regularly visit the Wisconsin Education Career Access Network (WeCan) website to see how many school districts require the 860 add-on license for their teachers.

Coursework includes:

ESS 231  Introduction to Adapted Physical Education (3 cr.)

ESS 233  Teaching Methods in Adapted Aquatics (2 cr.)

ESS 430  Disability and Physical Activity Implications (3 cr.)

ESS 431 Fitness Programming for Persons with Disabilities (1 cr.)

ESS 435 Sport for Persons with Disabilities (1 cr.)

ESS 436  Assessment and Program Evaluation in APE (3 cr.)

ESS 437  Teaching and Service Delivery Models in APE (3 cr.)

ESS 439  Teaching Methods and Internship in APE (3 cr.)

SPE 424 Classroom Management and Positive Behavioral Supports (3 cr.)

Students who successfully complete this teaching minor are eligible for the Wisconsin add-on license in Adapted Physical Education (WIEC-A #860). Graduates of the program are primarily employed by school districts as adapted and/or general physical education teachers. These teachers often serve as itinerant (traveling) APE specialists within a district and instruct students at several schools.


  • Teaching at early childhood, elementary, middle and secondary levels
  • Serving as an itinerant or traveling APE teacher at many buildings within a school district
  • Collaborating with special education and related service personnel in many educational environments
  • Consulting with general physical educators and special education staff
  • Assessing physical fitness and gross motor development for IEP planning
  • Teaching students with disabilities in one-on-one and small or large group classes
  • Teaching in inclusive settings while assisting general physical education teachers
  • Preparing paraprofessionals to assist with physical education instruction
  • Transitioning students from school-based to community instruction leading to healthy and active lifestyles
  • Designing and monitoring measurable IEP goals and objectives
  • Participating as a collaborative IEP team member
  • Using instructional technology in adapted physical education

Graduates of this program teach in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and throughout the nation. Advanced graduate studies in APE is an option after this program.

Two University Students lift weights with a boy with a disability.
Two Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors help a girl on a tricycle.
Adapted Physical Education Minor smiles with a child.
Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minor works out with girl with a disability.

School districts in all states seek to hire teachers who possess a range of skills, knowledge, and dispositions to best educate all learners, including students with special education needs. The more credentials or licenses teachers hold, the more flexibility and opportunities they have for employment in PK-12 schools. The Wisconsin 860 add-on teaching license in adapted physical education (APE) is an example of a credential that prepares future educators to offer school districts expertise and experience beyond a typical or common teaching certification. The Q & A below provides information about the very popular UW-La Crosse APE teaching minor that leads to Wisconsin 860 add-on teaching license in APE. Further questions can be directed to Dr. Brock McMullen ( or Abbie Wagner (


1.  What is the Adapted Physical Education (APE) teaching minor?

  • One of the most popular, meaningful, and career-determining teaching minors completed by physical education teacher candidates.
  • Courses and hands-on clinical experiences to prepare physical education teachers to plan, implement, and evaluate instruction for students with disabilities in adapted physical education.
  • Coursework and hands-on clinical experiences to prepare physical education teacher candidates for inclusive classrooms in regular instructional environments.
  • An exciting, rewarding, and fun experience at UWL where you meet many new friends, professors, and important school-based professional contacts for future teaching jobs.
  • Includes experiences in school-based adapted sport programs for future coaching and leadership.
  • A highly regarded teacher preparation program leading to the additional Wisconsin Adapted Physical Education teaching license (refer to question #3 below).

2.  Why should I consider completing the APE teaching minor?

  • To acquire enhanced teaching knowledge and practical skills necessary for contemporary educational practices.
  • To further develop your teaching and advocacy skills to meet the needs of ALL students in your future physical education classes and extracurricular sport programs. 
  • Successful completion of the APE teaching minor leads to attainment of the important Wisconsin 860 add-on teaching license in adapted physical education. See page 172 at Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction 
  • Over 60-70% of the K-12 physical education jobs advertised in Wisconsin include a qualification statement that either requires or prefers the APE add-on teaching license.      
  • To provide quality instruction for all students regardless of ability in commonly used inclusive practices.
  • School districts need and desire physical education teachers with adapted physical education background and state licensure. UWL is notified frequently about these jobs.

3.  What is the Wisconsin 860 APE add-on teaching license?

  • An additional teaching license that signifies "highly qualified" teacher status for competency in adapted physical education for special education students in PK-12 schools.
  • Wisconsin is one of only 14 states with a separate add-on teaching license in adapted physical education.  School districts seek teachers with multiple licenses for qualified and flexible staffing.
  • Minnesota PE teachers can also pursue an APE add-on license.  The WI APE add-on meets most of the MN requirements. We regularly have UWL graduates hired in MN as APE teachers.
  • The Wisconsin 860 APE add-on teaching license is highly regarded throughout the country by other state education agencies and school districts.

4.  How do I apply to the APE teaching minor?

  • Go to the following adapted physical education teaching minor program link to review the brief application process.
  • Complete and submit your application and reference letter as soon as you are admitted to the Physical Education Teacher Education Program.
  • Visit Dr. Brock McMullen (216 Mitchell Hall) for a personal explanation of the program, application process, or other questions about the APE minor.

5.  Do I need experience teaching persons with disabilities to apply to the APE Teaching Minor?

  • No prior experience teaching or working with persons with disabilities is necessary for admission. 
  • The minor provides future teachers with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach persons with disabilities using a variety of physical education methods and interventions.
  • The minor provides a variety of sport, aquatics, physical fitness, motor development, and other physical activities to prepare future teachers for general and adapted physical education.
  • Hands-on experiences take place on campus, at areas schools, and in facilities such as YMCAs, Boys' and Girls' Clubs, and other community sites.
  • The APE teaching minor relies on hands-on experiences in order to help teacher candidates obtain confidence and mastery of teaching skills.
  • Numerous UWL programs such as the Physical Activity Mentoring Program for Persons with Disabilities are available to gain practical experiences
Two Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors play with a girl with a disibility.
Two University Students play in the pool with a girl with a disability.

6.  When do I apply to the APE Teaching Minor?

  • Full acceptance to the APE teaching minor is contingent upon acceptance to the Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) program.
  • Students should apply to the APE minor as soon as they are admitted to the PETE program.
  • Students can apply during or immediately after completion of ESS 231 (Introduction to Adapted Physical Education).  Students can also apply later, but early entrance is recommended.
  • PETE teaching candidates are highly encouraged to apply to the APE teaching minor early in their program of study to ensure timely completion and proper course sequencing.

7.  What are the ages and disabilities of students that an APE teacher works with?

  • An exciting aspect of teaching APE is your work with students ranging from preschool to young adults (ages 3-21). State and federal education laws require this age range for services in physical education.
  • Persons with APE teaching assignments may work with students who have all types and severities of disabilities, including physical, cognitive, behavioral, and sensory.
  • APE teaching minor courses and clinical experiences prepare you to teach ALL students to benefit from and enjoy physical activity.

8.  How long will it take to complete the APE Teaching Minor?

  • The minor is composed of 24 semester credit hours, including student teaching.  Adapted and general PE student teaching is combined during the same semester.
  • With timely admission to the APE teaching minor and consistent enrollment in required courses, students can complete the minor in about one and a half years (including student teaching) while completing other PETE courses.
  • Some students will purposely spread out the APE minor course work over 2 years, including a summer.
  • Students will often enroll in summer courses while completing the APE minor. For student convenience, two to three APE courses are generally offered each summer.

9.  Will I student teach in adapted physical education as part of the APE teaching minor?

  • Yes, an exciting culminating experience is the mentoring you will receive during student teaching by a state licensed APE professional.
  • This APE student teaching does NOT add time to your student teaching and is completed at the same time as regular student teaching (for your 530 general physical education teaching license).
  • Approximate 25-30% of your student teaching, depending on the placement, will be in adapted physical education settings with mentoring from an APE professional.

10.  Will the APE Teaching Minor make me more marketable in the profession?

  • Absolutely.  We find that about 60-70% of the physical education teaching jobs advertised in Wisconsin include a qualification statement that either requires or prefers the APE add-on teaching license. 
  • Many school districts (e.g., Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, and Sparta) rarely consider any physical education teacher without the WI #860 APE add-on teaching license.
  • In today's tight budget times, administrators employ physical education teachers who have multiple licenses and can provide a wide variety of educational services.
Two Physical Education Teaching Minors raise their hands to celebrate with a child with a disability.
Two Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors and a child with a disability hold their balls above their heads and smile.

11.  What types of teaching situations or jobs do persons attain with the APE minor?

  • A wide variety of jobs are possible in schools based on student enrollment, number of schools in the district, size of the special education program, staffing needs, and other factors.
  • Many districts employ professionals who teach APE full-time (100% of their job).
  • Full-time APE teachers will work with children and assist general physical education teachers as consultants for students with disabilities who may be included in general education classes.
  • Full-time employment will often include part-time teaching responsibilities in APE (could be percentages ranging from 20-75% depending on school building or district needs).
  • Percentages of APE teaching load will vary from district to district based on student populations, needs in the district, numbers and qualifications of teachers, and other factors.

12.  Will the APE minor and WI 860 APE add-on teaching license from UWL transfer to other states?

  • Yes, we regularly have students accept APE teaching jobs in MN and other states (Utah, Illinois, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, North Carolina, Florida, Alaska, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, New York etc.).
  • Some states may require additional courses to meet unique state requirements, but we have found this to be rare (or 1-2 courses at the most).

13.  Can I attain the WI 860 APE add-on teaching license after I complete my undergraduate degree with general physical education license (530?)?

  • Yes, a student who already has a bachelor's degree and physical education teaching license (530) may earn the WI 860 APE add-on teaching license in either one of two graduate options at UWL.
  • A teacher with a 530 general PE license may earn the WI 860 license through the summer-only graduate APE certification program.
  • A teacher with a 530 general PE license may also earn the WI 860 license through the full- or part-time master's degree program in Physical Education Teaching.

14.  Are there graduate school opportunities in adapted physical education at the master's and doctoral degrees levels?

  • Yes, many students pursue graduate level work in APE after graduation from UW-La Crosse.
  • UWL serves as a feeder school to many federally funded graduate programs in APE throughout the country (these programs have scholarships and financial assistance for qualified students).
  • Past UWL students have pursued master's level work at:  SUNY Brockport, University of Virginia, Oregon State University, University of Utah, etc.
  • Our graduates have pursued doctoral level study at:  The Ohio State University, Texas Woman's University, Oregon State University, California State University at Chico, University of Alabama, Arizona State University, etc.
  • UWL faculty personally and professionally know directors of these programs and can facilitate important connections and admissions process conversations for qualified UWL graduates.

15.  What is the UWL APE Undergraduate Fellowship Program? Is financial assistance available?

  • The APE Fellowship is a select group of undergraduate APE students who receive a financial stipend of approximately $4,000 per year.
  • APE Fellowship students gain advanced knowledge and skills through a combination of public school practicum experiences and professional development activities.
  • Interested students apply for the APE Fellowship.  Approximately 10 APE Fellowship students are chosen every year.
  • The APE Fellowship is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services.
  • The federal grant supporting fellowships is the only one in the country supporting APE teachers at the undergraduate level.  UWL was awarded this grant because of its high quality program.

16.  What makes the UWL APE program unique?

  • We are part of Center of Excellence designated for the Department of Exercise and Sport Science by the University of Wisconsin System.
  • Wisconsin only 1 of 14 states that possesses a separate teaching license in APE.
  • UWL has three faculty members contributing to this comprehensive APE teacher preparation program.
  • APE teacher preparation is closely affiliated with the Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity. The Center provides numerous opportunities for professional development, community service, research, and networking connections for future endeavors.
  • Excellent state, national, and international reputations for APE teacher preparation.
  • Comprehensive program based on theory and best practices, and accompanied by numerous supervised service-learning experiences in the real-world.
  • Relationships with numerous disability related organizations and community agencies that provide future teacher candidates with relevant professional experiences.
  • Network of experienced APE teachers and special education related service professionals that work with our students (i.e., physical and occupational therapists).
  • Supported by interdisciplinary faculty and staff from the Departments of Exercise and Sport Science, Special Education, Therapeutic Recreation, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, and other disability related programs.

17.  Are there other types of non-teaching jobs for APE teaching minors?

  • Students completing the APE teaching minor find employment in positions besides school districts.
  • Sport organizations such as the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association ( ), Lakeshore Foundation ( ), and many others hire APE graduates.
  • Inclusion Specialists at YMCAs, community centers, and Parks/Recreation agencies.
  • U.S. Paralympics (
  • American Association of Adapted Sports Programs (
  • Adaptive Adventure Programs ( ).
  • Residential, summer, and other types of camps and treatment facilities.


A group of Adapted Physical Education Teaching Minors and children with disabilities pose for a picture in the pool.