Kinesiology PhD Program Information

A Ph.D. program in kinesiology provides students with the opportunity to apply research methods used in the field of exercise science. Learn how these programs can prepare graduates for careers in the academic and fitness industries.

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Essential Information

A kinesiology Ph.D. degree program typically lasts four years and focuses on a scientific approach to human movement. Many of the classes feature a laboratory component and require students to conduct experiments on methods of rehabilitation, motion modeling and physical performance. A dissertation and a comprehensive examination are required to complete the requirements of the degree. Some program specializations may include sports psychology, exercise physiology, ergonomics, sport sociology and sport management.


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

Ph.D in Kinesiology

Kinesiology is a specific field of exercise science that focuses on human movement and physical activity. Core courses in performance, anatomy, physiology and biomechanics are completed before a student chooses an emphasis area, which can vary from school to school. Once a student has chosen an emphasis area, he or she will be required to take two or three classes that support research interests and offer some ideas for student research in the field. Some courses could include:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Research methods
  • Exercise and cardio-respiratory functions
  • Human movement
  • Homeostasis and control
  • Respiratory physiology

Popular Career Options

A Ph.D. in Kinesiology qualifies graduates to work in many different careers. Some enter into research and teaching, while others choose careers in the sports and fitness industries. Possibilities include:

  • Sports psychologist
  • Corporate fitness instructor
  • University professor
  • Research scientist (kinesiology)

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The number of employed postsecondary teachers is projected to increase 13% between 2014 and 2024, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which is faster than average. According to the BLS, college teachers who specialized in recreation and fitness studies earned an average of $66,090 annually as of May 2015.

Graduate students pursuing a kinesiology Ph.D. are usually able to concentrate on an area of study most relevant to their interests. Graduates of these programs may continue into careers as sports psychologists, fitness instructors, teachers, researchers, and more.

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