Ph.D. students

Kinesiology Ph.D. students concentrate their studies in one of the following emphasis areas:
Biomechanics and neuromotor control
Exercise physiology
Perceptual-motor control and learning
Physical activity and sport science
  • Behavioral aspects of physical activity
  • Sport and exercise psychology
  • Sport sociology
Sport management

The Ph.D. requires 60-72 credits, including 36-48 course credits of 5xxx level or higher plus 24 thesis credits. Specifically, students will take 15 credits in the major program; 6-13 credits in a minor or supporting program; 6-9 credits in research skills; 9-11 credits of mentored research experiences; and 24 thesis credits. A 3.00 minimum GPA is required to maintain good standing and to graduate.

Biomechanics and neuromotor control refers to the application of the laws of physics to the motion of biological systems. Neuromotor Control refers to the neural substrates and processes that are involved in controlling biological motion. In this emphasis area, the study of the mechanical and electromyographic analysis of human motion is combined with neurophysiological knowledge about the various neuronal subsystems that are active during movement planning and execution. This synthesis between biomechanics and neuroscience provides the basis for understanding of how the brain controls bodily and limb motion. Students will gain important knowledge for application in areas such as physical therapy, rehabilitation medicine, robotics, general psychology or neuroscience.

The program is housed in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory, directed by Professor Jürgen Konczak, and has strong connections to the University of Minnesota’s program in physical therapy and the graduate program in neuroscience.

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Associated faculty

Jürgen Konczak, Ph.D., Professor

Exercise Physiology is the study of issues related to acute and chronic effects of physical activity on human physiological systems and health, and how fundamental concepts of human energetics and mechanics apply to exercise, sport, physical exertion, and health promotion. Students examine the role of physical activity and exercise in promoting optimal health/wellness and preventing and managing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, obesity, osteoporosis, and other common medical conditions. Graduate students learn to apply principles of physiology to solving problems related to functional responses and adaptations involved in human skeletal muscular activity.

Students gain laboratory experience in the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science  directed by Professor Li Li Ji; Clinical Exercise Physiology Laboratory directed by Professor Eric Snyder; the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology and the Human Performance Teaching Laboratory directed by Professor Donald Dengel. This emphasis area has strong interdisciplinary ties with many academic programs across campus, including medicine, nursing, physical therapy, public health, epidemiology, physiology, nutrition, and psychology.

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Associated faculty

George Biltz, M.D., Lecturer

Donald Dengel, Ph.D., Professor

Li Li Ji, Ph.D., Professor

Arthur Leon, M.D., Professor

Eric Snyder, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Perceptual-motor control and learning includes two related areas of movement behavior inquiry. Motor Learning is the study of the learning of movement skills and the factors that mediate learning, such as practice, perceptual guidance, or knowledge of results. Although a lifespan approach is emphasized, students may focus on one or more specific age periods, such as infancy, early childhood, adolescence, or later adulthood. Research in this area is carried out in the Human Sensorimotor Control Laboratory and the Affordance Perception-Action Laboratory, which are equipped with an array of movement analysis technologies. Research projects relating to perceptual-motor control and learning also are conducted in off-campus field settings, such as schools, hospitals, and ships at sea.

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Associated faculty

Juergen Konczak, Ph.D., Professor

Thomas Stoffregen, Ph.D., Professor

Michael Wade, Ph.D., Professor

Physical activity and sport science (PASS) centers on the broad context of human physical activity, defined as physical movement that results in the body working harder than normal through increased energy expenditure beyond resting levels. Specific physical activity contexts include competitive sport, fitness programs, lifestyle exercise, physical education, motor development, dance, outdoor recreation, and sports medicine and physical rehabilitation. Within these contexts, students will study physically active participants (such as athletes, exercisers, and rehabilitators), the professionals who work with them (such as coaches, fitness leaders, physical education teachers, and sports medicine professionals), and other social sources of influence (such as parents, family members, spectators, media, and communities), based on the core belief that physical activity is essential for--and should be attractive and accessible to--all participants in these contexts regardless of age, ability, or health status.

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Students can choose from three concentrations: Behavioral aspects of physical activity, Sport and exercise psychology, or Sport sociology.

Behavioral Aspects of Physical Activity examines behavioral interventions for physical activity adoption and maintenance; the epidemiology of physical activity; psychosocial theories related to physical activity promotion; understanding sedentary behavior; and the objective and subjective assessment of physical activity. Faculty research has focused on psychosocial mediators of physical activity behavior change, physical activity and mental health, physical activity interventions for pregnant and postpartum women, kilocalorie expenditure among students in school, physical activity interventions for children and adolescents, environmental influences on physical activity and diet, and racial/ethnic and gender differences in physical activity behavior. Interdisciplinary research is conducted with other departments including medicine, nursing, public health, epidemiology, physiology, nutrition, psychology, family social science, and population studies.

Multidisciplinary research and outreach is conducted in this area through the Physical Activity and Sport Science lab, which encompasses several lab and research groups.

Associated faculty

Sport and Exercise Psychology explores the thoughts, feelings and actions of participants in physical activity contexts such as sport, exercise, physical education, health and wellness, and sports medicine. Scholars studying sport and exercise psychology seek to understand the social, cognitive, affective and behavioral mechanisms underlying the reciprocal influence that occurs between the social psychological climates established in physical activity contexts and the personal development, health and wellness, and motor performance of participants in those contexts. Multidisciplinary research and outreach on sport and exercise psychology topics are conducted through the Physical Activity and Sport Science lab, which encompasses several lab groups including the Sports Medicine Psychology Lab (SMPL), the Youth Development through Physical Activity research group, and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.

Associated faculty

Sport Sociology is the scientific study of human behavior and social organization in the sport context with the primary objective to attempt to identify, describe and explain the role and relationship of sport in society. It focuses on the behavior patterns and social processes that occur in the sporting domain and explores the organizational and management systems and structures in which sport exists. The program is housed in the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport. Current research projects include media representations of women athletes, reducing physical inactivity in ethnic minority girls, and the influence of coaches’ and parents’ background anger on youth athletes.

Associated faculty
Minor option

Graduate minor in Prevention Science

Sport Management concentrates on the theoretical and practical dimensions of the management of athletic events, sports teams and facilities, and the sporting process. The management areas studied include those in the public sector (interscholastic and intercollegiate sport) as well as fitness and facility management. Sport management policy and ethics are also a focus of this emphasis area and research agenda.

The program provides academic excellence by combining theoretical instruction and practical experience to prepare tomorrow’s leaders for success in the sports industry and marketplace. Students develop the tools of research and learn core concepts through an interdisciplinary curriculum with an emphasis on cultivating new ideas and improving operations in the sport industry.

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Associated faculty

Rayla Allison, J.D., Senior Lecturer

Jo Ann Buysse, Ph.D., Senior Lecturer

Yuhei Inoue, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Lisa Kihl, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Tiffany Richardson, Ph.D., Lecturer

How to apply University catalog
Progress report

Each year, an annual progress report must be turned in with an unofficial transcript and the appropriate degree-level checklist below.
Annual Progress Report

The Annual Progress Report must be turned in with the checklist below.

Ph.D. Checklist