Adapted Physical Education emphasis overview

A page within Physical Education Teaching

Physical Education Teaching with Adapted Physical Education emphasis (MS)

The Physical Education Teaching with Adapted Physical Education (APE) emphasis (MS) is a practitioner oriented program designed for teachers seeking additional expertise in a number of areas:

  • Evidence-based content knowledge
  • Technology skills
  • Clinical experience in PK-12 physical education for students with disabilities in general and/or specially designed classes

Our graduates are equipped to perform consultation, leadership and supervision roles in APE for school districts and other agencies. Graduates of this program have also progressed on to doctoral study and become faculty at higher education institutions.

Youth on slide with instructors


Program overview

APE professionals provide an important area of expertise for the school districts in which they work. Here are just a few of the contributions our students make in the professional world.

Professional contributions:

  • Serve as traveling APE teachers 
  • Collaborate with special education personnel and educational staff
  • Teach PK-12 students with disabilities
  • Assess development for IEP implementation & evaluation
child in tunnel

There are a number of funding opportunities available to provide financial assistance for graduate students. Find out more about these options on our program's financial aid information webpage.


Child in pool with student

There are a few different approaches a student may take when progressing through this program.  

  • Full-Time, On Campus - Academic Year and Summer Terms
    • 12-14 credit hours - Fall and Spring semesters
    • 6-9 credit hours - Summer semesters
    • Program runs: Summer, Fall, Spring, Summer
    • Allows for degree completion and eligibility for employment within one year of program start
  • Part-Time, On-Campus - various terms
    • Attend part-time on an intermittent basis in various semesters
    • Degree completion over a span of 3-5 years

Our 36 credit program curriculum combines advanced study of general physical education with specialized APE course work. 

Course content includes:

  • Assessment and program evaluation
  • Instructional models & teaching strategies
  • APE leadership development
  • Disability impacts on physical & motor performance

Students entering our program with an existing Wisconsin teaching license have the option of adding on the 860 supplementary teaching license. Contact Dr. Brock McMullen if you are interested in this option.

Child biking with student

Curriculum adapted eb

ESS: Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis - Master of Science


Candidates for the Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis program must meet the following minimum admission requirements:

  • Meet all UWL graduate admission requirements
  • Have completed or be enrolled in a physical education teacher preparation program1
  • Complete a successful criminal background check (initiated by UWL - see below)

Criminal background check

The WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires that candidates for admission to a teacher education, administration, or pupil services program successfully pass a criminal background check (CBC) as one criterion for admission (PI 34.018(2)). By applying for admission to one of these programs, candidates agree to provide the necessary personal information to UWL in order to initiate their CBC and to complete their portion of the process prior to the deadline specified in their admission letter. Teacher candidates are responsible for all costs associated with their criminal background check(s).

Certification option

Candidates in the Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis program may elect to certify their program and receive UWL endorsement for a Wisconsin Adapted Physical Education teaching license. In order to certify the program, candidates must:

  1. Indicate their choice to certify their program by the end of the fall semester (second term of coursework). 
  2. Complete all Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis program requirements.
  3. Hold a Wisconsin Physical Education (PE) teaching license. Candidates holding a PE license from another state may apply for a WI PE license through the Department of Public Instruction (a fee may apply). Interested candidates should contact the SOE Teacher Certification Officer.

Candidates who complete the Physical Education Teaching - Adapted Physical Education Emphasis program without certifying their program will not be eligible for UWL endorsement for a WI Adapted Physical Education teaching license.


36-39 credits

Category A - research

  • Thesis option  

ESS 730Research Methods for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 735Statistics for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 799Research: Master's Thesis6
Total Credits12
  • Non-thesis option 

Code Title Credits
ESS 730Research Methods for Exercise and Sport Science3
ESS 736Critical Analysis Project: Adapted Physical Education3
Total Credits6

Category B - core requirements

Code Title Credits
ESS 725Diversity in the Physical Activity Setting2
ESS 727Planning for Effective Instruction in Physical Education2
ESS 737Curriculum Design in Physical Education2
ESS 759Analysis and Supervision of Physical Education3
ESS 765Adventure Education for Physical Educators3
ESS 771Current Issues in Physical Education2-3
Total Credits14

Category C - adapted physical education teaching requirements

Thesis option: 13 credits
Non-thesis option: 16 credits
Code Title Credits
ESS 530Disability and Physical Activity Implications3
ESS 535Sport for Persons with Disabilities1
ESS 536Assessment in Adapted Physical Education3
ESS 537Teaching and Service Delivery Models in Adapted Physical Education3
ESS 787Clinical Internship in Adapted Physical Education3
Elective (required for non-thesis option only) 23

University graduate degree requirements

After being admitted to the program of one's choice, candidates for a graduate degree must:

  1. Complete any preliminary course work and deficiencies.
  2. Complete all courses and other program requirements, including residence requirements prescribed for the degree desired in the respective school or college within a seven-year period from the date of initial enrollment, with the exception of students enrolled in the Student Affairs Administration and Leadership Ed.D. (SAA Ed.D.) graduate program. SAA Ed.D. students must complete all degree requirements within ten years from the time of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
  3. Earn a minimum of 30 credits for a master's degree; 54 credits for a doctorate or post-master's degree. Earn at least one-half of the minimum number of credits required in the program in graduate-only level courses (700, 800, 900, and non-slash 600 level courses). Some UWL graduate programs require more than 30 graduate credits. Please review the individual program requirements listed in the catalog for the exact number of credits required.
  4. Earn a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00.
  5. Satisfy dissertation, thesis, seminar paper, terminal/graduate projects and internships, or comprehensive examination, where applicable. A dissertation or thesis approved by the committee must be submitted to Graduate Studies for editorial review and approval by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. The recommended initial submission date for review is two weeks before commencement. Ordinarily, a seminar paper or project report does not have to be approved by the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. However, if the seminar paper or project report is to be archived in Murphy Library, the student must follow the same rules as they apply to the dissertation/thesis requiring approval from the Dean of Graduate & Extended Learning. For further research/dissertation/thesis guidelines, see Graduate & Extended Learning.
  6. File a completed "Intent to Graduate" form online via the WINGS Student Center immediately following registration for the final semester or summer term in residence. December graduates and winter intersession should file by May 1. May and summer graduates should file by December 1.
  7. Pay the graduation fee and remove all other indebtedness to the university. Payment of graduation fees does not imply readiness for graduation and does not take the place of applying for graduation.
  8. Complete all requirements within 30 days after the official ending date of a term in order for a degree to be awarded for that term. (See #5 above for separate deadline for written capstone experience.)

View in catalog

School-based practicum/clinical experiences
Prepare graduates to provide leadership for PK-12 APE service delivery.

Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity (CDHAPA) program
Our graduate students obtain additional practical experiences working in the on-campus CDHAPA program serving persons with disabilities. 

Students helping youth on bike

Our students select a thesis or non-thesis option. Thesis students complete courses in research methods and statistics along with a thesis project. Students choosing the non-thesis option complete courses in research methods and assessment in addition to completing a project. The work of a few of our students is highlighted below.

Graduate Project

Lauren Bach

Modifications and Adaptations for Successful Inclusion in Aquatics for Individuals with Visual Impairment

Graduate Project

Rhyanne Hartwig

Implementing Self-Protection Units in Adapted Physical Education

Graduate Project

Quinton White

Parent perceptions of extracurricular sport programs for high school students with disabilities.

Contact our Adapted Physical Education Teaching emphasis coordinator

Brock McMullen  Profile of Brock McMullen  Office hours

Assistant Professor
215 Mitchell Hall

Specialty areas:

Adapted Physical Education and Physical Education Teacher Preparation