PhD in Exercise Physiology: Degree Program Summaries

Exercise physiology programs combine studies in human cellular structures and anatomical composition. Doctoral programs in the field focus on independent research, and students typically tailor programs to meet their career goals.

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Essential Information

Exercise physiology Ph.D. programs integrate numerous laboratory components so that students can prepare for professional roles in research and development. Most programs allow student to create their own concentration areas. Programs generally conclude with the presentation and defense of a dissertation. Most programs require at least a bachelor's degree, GRE scores and previous science education in order to apply.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Kinesiology and Exercise Science
  • Physical Education and Health
  • Sport and Fitness Management
  • Sports Medicine

Ph.D in Physiology

Many colleges prefer students with relevant undergraduate and graduate degrees, such as those in kinesiology or athletic training. Applicants with unrelated majors will usually need to complete preparatory courses in organic and general chemistry, physics, biology and calculus. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores may also be required.

Exercise physiology doctoral students participate in independent study initiatives to prepare for their dissertation defense, which may be in verbal and written form. They take essential research and statistics courses, as well as classes in the following:

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiological measurements and tests (i.e. stress tests)
  • Physiology of the heart and lungs
  • Hormones and metabolism
  • Environmental factors and exercise performance

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a doctoral degree program in exercise physiology can work in public or private sectors. Jobs are often found with athletic organizations, colleges and clinical centers, and specific titles may include:

  • Exercise physiology professor
  • Scholarly fitness writer
  • Corporate fitness and wellness program director

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that college teachers of health specialties earned a median salary of $90,840 as of 2015. Between 2014 and 2024, the number of employed college-level teachers was projected to grow 13% - faster than average growth, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Those who have earned a Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology may want to seek board certification through the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. In order to be able to sit for the exam, which includes practical and written portions, applicants must meet certain educational and experiential requirements and apply for membership. After candidates pass the exam, their certifications remain in effect for five years. For certification renewal, continuing education requirements must be met.

Students with a science background and an interest in physical education and physical fitness can look into an exercise physiology Ph.D. program. These programs will allow students to build their own specialized program and prepare for careers in health fields and physical education.

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