Online PhD in Kinesiology: Doctoral Program Information

Get info about online master's degree and on-campus doctoral programs in kinesiology. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career options.

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Essential Information

Kinesiology Ph.D. programs are typically not offered online due to the intensive curriculum and dissertation requirements. Students can instead find fully online Master of Science in Kinesiology programs. Courses cover exercise metabolism, the U.S. health system, sports nutrition and health promotion. Students typically can work virtually with professors on a culminating thesis project. Graduate programs in kinesiology train individuals to become leaders in their respective career paths, which can include teaching, sports medicine, rehabilitation, research and other various health-related fields. Applicants who have previous degrees in other fields must complete prerequisite courses in related subjects before they can enroll in a graduate degree program.

Master of Science in Kinesiology

Master of Science (M.S.) programs in kinesiology are available for students who wish to advance their careers in athletic training, sports administration, exercise science and physical education. These programs usually offer concentrations in areas that are specific to a student's career goals, which include physical education teaching, health promotion, kinesiology and health, exercise pedagogy and athletic training.

Information and Requirements

The average length of an online master's degree program in kinesiology program is 36 semester hours, and can be completed in 2-3 years. Programs are common, and can be completed entirely online. Curriculum structure is usually tailored for working professionals, so students can access class materials and plan their course of study at their discretion. Course material is administered through streaming video, downloadable multimedia, websites and mailed instructional media.

Students must have access to a computer with a high-speed Internet connection. In order to access multimedia files, students must have a computer with audio and video capabilities. Students must have a working e-mail account to communicate with instructors. It is also recommended that the computer have an updated browser and operating system.

Common Masters-Level Courses in Kinesiology

Many programs require that prospective students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than kinesiology satisfy prerequisite courses in biomechanics, exercise physiology, anatomy and bodily movement.

Exercise Physiology

Students study the short and long-term effects of physical exercise, and the influences on muscles, metabolism and the cardiovascular system from such exercise. Students integrate information from case studies, technology and current practices into their own practice methodology.

Sports Psychology

Emphasis is placed on understanding and applying appropriate psychological practices for both players and coaches within a competitive athletic perspective. Psychological concepts are examined, including leadership, motivation, group cohesion, anxiety, sociological factors, confidence and performance enhancement.

Current Issues in Kinesiology

This course provides a survey of contemporary trends in kinesiology issues in sub-practices of the field. Students are expected to thoroughly research and declare a professional viewpoint on these issues, and to defend their position via papers and presentations.

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Kinesiology

Ph.D. programs in kinesiology are widely available for prospective students who want to pursue the highest level of education for this field. Students usually need to have a master's degree to be eligible for admission into this program. However, many programs offer this degree as a combination master's/Ph.D program. If a prospective student's graduate degree is in a field other than kinesiology, then the student must complete prerequisite courses prior to enrollment.

Information and Requirements

The average length of a Ph.D. in Kinesiology degree program is 60 semester hours, and can be completed in no less than four years. Though these programs are only available on campus, some programs are offered in a part-time format for working professionals who cannot commit to a full-time format. Many programs require doctoral candidates to complete a college-level student teaching internship prior to graduation.

Common Ph.D.-Level Courses in Kinesiology

Many programs offer Ph.D. students concentrations in various areas of kinesiology. These concentrations include cognitive motor neuroscience, biomechanics, athletic training, exercise physiology and socio-cultural aspects of kinesiology.

Age-Related Issues in Kinesiology

This course focuses on the psychological, psychosocial and physiological issues that confront patients as they adapt to the challenges of aging. Concepts in this course include the pathophysiology of disease, healthy aging patterns, exercise programs and issues in examination and testing.

Issues in Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Students examine the moral and ethical arguments associated with the use of performance-enhancing drugs in athletic competition. Through analyzing case studies, statistical evidence and real laboratory surveying, students document the psychological, physiological and pharmacological impact of drugs on athletes and their performance.

Laboratory Practicum

Students work with instructors and peers to gain real-world experience in their concentration area of kinesiology. Emphasis is placed on observation, gathering and analyzing data and developing physical treatment programs when necessary.

Career Information

While some graduates of a M.S. in Kinesiology program pursue careers in health promotion fields, many degree holders pursue a high school teaching career. Teaching certification varies by state. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual salary for high school teachers, excluding special ed and vocational teachers, was $60,440. ( The BLS also reported in that the employment rate for high school teachers was projected to grow by 6% between 2014 and 2024, which is about the same as the average for all occupations.

While graduates of a Ph.D. in Kinesiology program can find employment in various fields, many graduates choose to teach kinesiology at the college level. The BLS reported in that employment of postsecondary teachers was expected to increase by 13% from 2014-2024, which is faster than average for all occupations during that decade. Also according to the BLS, in May 2015, the mean annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $71,060.

While Ph.D. programs in kinesiology are only available on-campus, it is possible to earn a master's degree in the subject online. Both include advanced coursework in exercise science and offer preparation for careers in coaching, education or sports administration.

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