Boost your career with an innovative master’s degree

UNC’s online Master of Arts in Teaching Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership prepares you for one of the fastest-growing roles in K-12 education. One of the nation’s first and only graduate degrees to focus on physical activity leadership, this online master’s degree gives you a head start in the job market. You’ll develop skills that are in growing demand, giving your career an immediate boost and raising your potential for advancement as a school-wide or district-wide physical activity leader.

Designed specifically for employed teachers with full-time workloads, our online MAT in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership emphasizes practical skills that you can use right away. You’ll learn to promote physical activity and fitness in multiple school contexts, with applications for the classroom, before- and after-school programs, health and nutrition instruction and other settings. Put yourself at the forefront of an exciting trend in education.

Degree Details

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Online + Greeley Summer Visits

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Degree Option

M.A.T. in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership

Designed for currently licensed teachers, this online Master of Arts in Teaching program lasts two years (five semesters). You’ll take each course individually (two eight-week courses per semester) and spend two weeks at UNC’s campus during the summer between years one and two. This online master’s program covers advanced techniques in pedagogy and assessment along with broader strategies for school-based physical activity promotion. The program meets Quality Matters standards for online learning.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Online/Greeley Visits Program

Your Future in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership

Championed by Michelle Obama and other high-profile figures, the Physical Activity Leadership movement has been gaining momentum for several years. There are now more than 17,000 U.S. schools enrolled in the First Lady’s “Let’s Move! Active Schools” initiative. Early trials have proven highly successful, encouraging schools and districts to integrate physical activity more extensively into their curricula and programming. Demand for teachers with expertise in physical activity leadership should continue to grow rapidly over the short and medium term.

Consider UNC's M.A.T. in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership if you want to:

  • Put yourself at the forefront of an emerging trend in education.
  • Develop new educational programs and curricula for multiple settings, including classrooms, physical education and before/after school programming.
  • Help fellow educators implement new tools.
  • Pioneer new techniques, assess outcomes and build new educational models for the future.

You’ll learn:

  • Design of physical activity programming that supports broader educational goals
  • Assessment of learning outcomes
  • Advanced pedagogy and classroom techniques
  • Coordination of programming across multiple schools and school environments

Sample courses:

  • Assessment in Sport Pedagogy
  • Instructional Strategies for K-12 Physical Education
  • Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programming
  • School Physical Activity Policy, Advocacy, and Leadership
  • School-based Nutrition and Wellness
Megan Babkes Stellino


Megan Babkes Stellino, Ph.D.

Moving to Address Childhood Obesity

Taking a close look at the factors surrounding childhood obesity and its stigmas, UNC researchers like Megan Babkes Stellino, Ph.D., are taking steps to help children get fit. Read more in UNC Magazine.

Learn More

Beyond the Classroom

The online M.A.T. in Physical Education and Physical Activity Leadership provides professional development you can apply in your current job. You’ll build skills that make you a better instructor, colleague, and evaluator, enabling you to constantly improve your techniques and achieve better outcomes. The online master’s program concludes with a capstone project in which you’ll try new teaching strategies, pilot innovative content, measure effectiveness and outcomes, and devise next steps for improvement based on the evidence you’ve gathered.

Where can your degree take you?

  • School-wide physical activity leader
  • Physical activity leader and coordinator across multiple schools in a district

Current Research in Exercise Physiology

Making the Case for a Schoolwide Movement

Russell Carson, Ph.D., the research and evaluation director of the MATPE_PAL program, co-chaired the national task force that developed the initial CSPAP professional development program. This program is now referred to as the Physical Activity Leader learning system accompanying First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative. Dr. Carson, an Associate Professor in Sport and Exercise Science, is conducting research aimed at maximizing the sustainability and impact of prolonged CSPAP professional development. He conducts CSPAP trainings for physical educators and university faculty, delivers invited CSPAP presentations, chairs CSPAP research symposia, and consults on youth physical activity assessment and evaluation.

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Making a case for a schoolwide movement

What You Need to Know Right Now