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There are two Exercise Science Ph.D. specializations in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion: Exercise Science with a specialization in biomechanics,and Exercise Science with a specialization in exercise physiology. Each program requires 36+ credit hours prior to sitting for the qualifying exam, followed by the completion of a dissertation. Determination of a student’s particular course plan is made in consultation with the student and his or her approved advisory committee. The dissertation is guided and ultimately approved by the student’s dissertation committee.

The Exercise Science Core includes 20 hours, and provides the student with a broad understanding of the various disciplines involved in this field. Each student is also required to take a minimum of 7 hours in research/statistic coursework and 3 hours of computer programming or demonstrate proficiency in programming. Beyond this minimum of 30 hours, the structure and content of the doctoral program are set by an advisor and committee in consultant with each student. The number of formal courses within each area of specialization may vary. It is expected that the depth of knowledge in each area of study comes from independent study and research experiences, in addition to the dissertation, which are under the direction of the faculty. Each student will demonstrate their depth of knowledge by their qualifying exams. Typically, it will take from 3-5 years for the student to complete the degree requirements including the dissertation.


Biomechanics Curriculum Ph.D. (PDF) Exercise Physiology Curriculum Ph.D. (PDF)


Biomechanics Exercise Physiology
Ben Johnson, Ed.D. Mark Abel, Ph.D.
Fan Gao, Ph.D. Haley Bergstrom, Ph.D.
Mike Samaan, Ph.D. Stuart Best, Ph.D.
  Lance Bollinger, Ph.D.
  Jody Clasey, Ph.D.

Affiliated Faculty

Biomechanics Exercise Physiology
Tim Butterfield, Ph.D., ATC Tim Butterfield, Ph.D., ATC
Carl Mattacola, Ph.D., ATC Darren Johnson, M.D.
Brian Noehren, PT, Ph.D. Carl Mattacola, Ph.D., ATC
Tim Uhl, Ph.D., ATC Art Nitz, Ph.D., PT
  Tim Uhl, Ph.D., ATC


Each student will be expected to develop an in-depth understanding in one of the offered disciplines of biomechanics, exercise physiology or motor control. The coursework taken in this area will be developed in conjunction with faculty members with expertise in that area and will take into account the student’s background. Coursework will include appropriate advanced professional disciplinary topics and electives in related areas.

In order to assure a thorough understanding of the instructional and research issues in exercise science, each student’s research and instructional competencies will be assessed. Students who lack prior research experience will be required to complete a research project under the supervision of a faculty member, which will serve as preparation for the dissertation. In addition, in order to prepare students for their future roles as faculty members, a supervised teaching experience will be provided. This experience may be fulfilled by formal seminars or in other supervised teaching arranged by the supervisor.

The Ph.D. program in exercise science uses a mentor-based admission process. What this means is that students are admitted into the program under the direct supervision of a specific faculty member. Other programs may admit students without a faculty mentor, and then allow the students to decide on their primary advisor over a period of time. Our program makes this link between the student and the faculty mentor from the beginning. This link can occur during the application process, or the student could identify the faculty member with whom they wish to work prior to applying to the program. The ultimate decision then lies with each faculty member within a given specialization (i.e., biomechanics or exercise physiology). Therefore, even though a student might qualify for the program based on the admission criteria, they might be denied admission because they do not have a faculty member willing to accept them as a student. It is our belief that this system provides the greatest benefit to the development of both the graduate student and faculty advisor.

With this system, it is advantageous for the student to initiate conversations with a potential faculty advisor well before applying to the program. We encourage you to contact potential advisors and initiate one-on-one conversations to discuss research interests and potential dissertation areas. If you are attending national conferences, you might be able to schedule a meeting with them there.