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Doctoral Degree in Exercise Science: PhD Program Information

Oct 12, 2019

If you want to pursue a career in exercise science research or teaching, a Ph.D. in the field may be the right educational choice for you. Read on to get information about prerequisites, curriculum and career prospects for graduates.

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Essential Information

A doctoral degree in exercise science, often known as kinesiology, provides broad training in body movement, exercise physiology and motor skills development. Specialization options include obesity, biomechanics and sports psychology. These programs integrate theoretical coursework with independent research that leads to a final dissertation. Some programs also have a student teaching requirement.

In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree and have completed coursework in human anatomy, exercise physiology and motor learning.


Doctoral Degree in Exercise Science

Courses in exercise science Ph.D. programs vary significantly based on the student's area of interest and background in the field. Common course topics may include the following:

  • Principles of biomechanics
  • Health and wellness in diverse populations
  • Motor development and behavior
  • Athlete conditioning methodology
  • Environmental factors in exercise
  • Exercise science measurement techniques

Popular Career Options

Graduates with an exercise science Ph.D. work to advance the health and wellness of individuals through teaching, advocacy or direct work with clients in careers such as the following:

  • Exercise science educator
  • Physical health policy advocate
  • Exercise physiology research scientist
  • Biomechanics specialist

Continuing Education Information

Certification is not required for most careers in exercise science. It is necessary for a career in primary or secondary physical education, but graduates of exercise science Ph.D. programs seldom pursue this field. Some graduates pursue complementary degrees, such as those in physical therapy, occupational therapy or medicine, so that they can practice in those areas.

Career and Salary Information

Graduates of doctoral programs are qualified to teach and conduct research at universities and colleges. The median annual salary for postsecondary health specialties teachers was $97,370 as of May 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also predicted that these postsecondary teachers would enjoy a 11% increase in job opportunities between 2018 and 2028.

Overall, a doctoral program in exercise science provides students with broad training in the field and also allows them to pursue their particular areas of interest through independent research. Many graduates go on to careers in academia.

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