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Kinesiology and Sport Studies Doctoral Programs

Each student in this program will have a major in kinesiology and sport studies. Students will have a concentration in either kinesiology or sport studies, then a specific specialization. Students must have completed all requirements for a master’s degree in kinesiology, physical education, psychology, sport studies, or a related field prior to beginning the PhD program. The program consists of 15 hours within the concentration, 18 hours of research courses, 9 hours within the specialization, a minimum of 6 hours in an outside or cognate area, and 24 dissertation hours. A specific breakdown of requirements can be found on our PhD requirements page. For more information, please visit the Graduate Catalog. Check out our Faculty and Staff page for more information about the faculty members.


Kinesiology Concentration

The PhD major in kinesiology and sport studies offers a concentration in kinesiology, which deals with the study of human movement. Emphasis is placed on the acquisition of skills needed for high quality research and innovative teaching. Students are expected to become proficient in research methods within their respective areas of specialization. The program prepares students for postdoctoral or faculty positions in higher education, or positions in applied sport and clinical settings and has specializations in biomechanics, exercise physiology, physical activity epidemiology, and sport psychology and motor behavior.

This specialization focuses on mechanisms, prevention, and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. Doctoral students in the biomechanics specialization receive research training under the direct supervision of a faculty member in the areas of lower extremity injury mechanisms, rehabilitation, and prevention, effects of impact loading to lower extremity joints during dynamic movements, gait mechanics following total joint replacement, gait retraining using real-time feedback, and evaluation of medical orthoses and footwear. They gain instructional experience by teaching laboratory sections of undergraduate biomechanics and anatomy courses. Students take courses in biomechanics, biomedical and mechanical engineering, statistics, and/or mathematics.

This specialization focuses on applied human physiology and uses a systems approach to study the acute responses to exercise and the chronic adaptations to physical training. Doctoral students in the exercise physiology specialization gain hands-on experience in research by working under the direct supervision of a faculty member in the areas of physical activity assessment, metabolism, the health benefits of exercise, and body composition assessment. They also gain experience in instruction by teaching undergraduate laboratories under the mentorship of a faculty member. The supporting coursework (i.e. cognate) can be taken in a number of areas, including nutrition, statistics, or nursing. Students in the Exercise Physiology Specialization typically take a minimum of 4 years to complete the degree (2 years of classes and 2 years of research).

This specialization examines how the burden of chronic disease at the population level can be impacted through the frequency, intensity, type, and duration of physical activity. Doctoral students will receive training in physical activity assessment techniques, research designs, field-based skills, and secondary data analysis. In addition, doctoral students will have the opportunity to learn geographic information system and statistical techniques as well as design community-based interventions to promote physical activity across the lifespan.

Sport psychology and motor behavior derive its primary intellectual identity from the disciplines of kinesiology and psychology. Students in our program learn about a variety of performance-enhancement interventions and the social/psychological factors that affect performers’ experiences. Examinations of these topics occur in our coursework and research, providing opportunities for students to consider how concepts apply in a range of settings (e.g., sport, military, artistic, health care, and exercise). Our core courses focusing on performance enhancement cover topics such as ethics, imagery, practice design, goal setting, feedback scheduling, self-talk, virtual/augmented reality, and focusing attention. Other core courses focus on social/psychological considerations related to  such as gender, race, class, moral development, and group cohesion. The option to take a range of elective courses offered in the department and across campus provides students with opportunities to pursue other topics relevant to career goals.

Sport Studies Concentration

The concentration area of sport studies offers specializations in socio-cultural studies and sport management. The program stresses an interdisciplinary approach to coursework and research and expects students to become proficient in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Students are expected to obtain a significant grounding in the allied, parent disciplines. The program prepares students to obtain faculty or administration positions in higher education.

This specialization derives its primary intellectual identity from the disciplines of history, philosophy, and sociology. The program draws upon perspectives from cultural studies, feminist theory, global studies, ethics, and other specialized forms of inquiry in critically examining all levels of competitive sport and other organized movement activities. We teach students to forge connections between theoretical considerations and potential solutions to a wide variety of real-world challenges. We are committed to the principles of diversity and social justice and to the provision of positive sport and movement experiences for all people. The majority of PhD students pursue careers as faculty in higher education after completing their degree. However, some have obtained positions outside of academia, for example in diversity services for major corporations.

This specialization prepares graduates for positions as faculty members in higher education. The coursework for the program is developed between the student and the faculty advisor to meet the educational goals of the student. Students have the flexibility to develop a program that allows them to focus on the area of sport management in which they have an interest. Doctoral students will receive training in research design and methodology and are expected to conduct research outside the requirements of the classroom.

Additional Information

You must begin your application online through the Graduate Admissions office. All materials should be included in this online application. This involves the submission of the following materials:

  • Online graduate application.
  • There is a $60 application fee for new applicants and a $30 fee for students who were previously enrolled as graduate students at UT. This must be paid online using a credit card.
  • Unofficial academic transcripts from every institution you have attended. International students should submit official or attested university records with certified translations if the records are not in English, along with degree confirmation. Official transcripts are required only after admission to the program.
  • GRE scores are determined by specialization—see chart below. Any GRE score submitted must have been taken within five years of application date.
    Program Concentration Specialization GRE requirement
    Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies PhD Kinesiology Biomechanics Not Required
    Exercise Physiology Not Required
    Physical Activity Epidemiology Not Required
    Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior Optional
    Sport Studies Socio-Cultural Studies Optional
    Sport Management Optional
    NOTE: GRE score requirements are for 2022-23 academic year admissions only.  Future admissions requirements may change.
  • TOEFL scores (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are only required if you are not a native English speaker or if your undergraduate degree is not from an accredited US institution. UT school code is 1843.
  • International students must also submit financial documentation as required by the Graduate Admissions office and the Center for International Education (CIE). Contact their offices for more information about requirements.
    • NOTE: International students have deadline dates by which applications MUST be received in order to be considered for admissions. Confirm these dates with the Graduate Admissions office and the CIE.
  • Supplemental application questions are included in the online application and are specific to our department. Your answers to these questions will be reviewed carefully by the admissions committees. The departmental assistantship application is included in this section, so if you want to be considered for a teaching assistantship in our Physical Education Activity Program (PEAP), you must answer all questions. If you do not want to be considered for our departmental assistantships, you can skip these questions. See the Costs & Funding section below for more information.
  • An updated resume is required with the online application.
  • A writing sample consisting of all or part of your thesis and/or a published work is required with the online application.
  • Three ratings forms should be submitted with or without letters of recommendation. The process of these forms being sent to your raters and submitted by your raters is done entirely online. Two forms should be completed by academic references and the third can be completed by a professional reference.

For priority consideration, all materials should be received no later than January 1 preceding the desired fall of admission. Applications completed after the January 1 priority deadline will only be considered if any spots remain open. It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm all materials have been received. Applicants should check with both Graduate Admissions (and the CIE if you are an international student) and the KRSS department’s graduate admissions coordinator. An applicant’s status with the Graduate Admissions office does not necessarily reflect his status with our department. Applications completed after the January 1 priority deadline will only be considered if any spots remain open, except for the SPMB program, which will not consider applications received after January 1. The Graduate School’s admissions deadlines are later than those required by our department, therefore please follow our January 1 deadline instead of those posted by the Graduate School. All materials should be in to the Graduate School and our department by January 1. International students are recommended to complete their application no later than December 1 to ensure adequate time for your materials to be processed.

We usually admit one to four doctoral students each year to each specialization. Our doctoral programs admit students in the fall semester only. Each specialization has anywhere from ten to thirty-five applicants each year. The majority of admissions decisions are made from mid-February to late March. Admissions to our PhD programs are made after a holistic review of the complete application. The following are considerations:

  • PhD applicants need to have completed a master’s degree in a related field to enter our program.
  • Most students admitted to the PhD program have completed a master’s thesis.
  • For specialization requiring GRE scores, competitive GRE scores are at or above the fiftieth percentile for the verbal and quantitative portions and a score of 4.5 or higher on the writing portion.
  • PhD candidates must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their graduate and undergraduate work.
  • We then look at the applicant’s writing ability and answers to supplemental application questions (research interests, for one) in considering students who might be a good fit for our program.
    • PhD applicants are admitted to work with a specific professor based on the applicant’s expressed career goals and research interests.
    • Potential PhD students are strongly encouraged to arrange a campus visit during the fall semester prior to applying. This visit should be coordinated by contacting a professor with whom you would like to work. Visit our Faculty and Staff webpage for contact information.
  • Ratings forms and letters of recommendation are also given serious consideration.

We typically bring in PhD students under a graduate assistantship position with a specific professor. An assistantship is a financial award to a graduate student for part-time work in teaching, administration, or research while pursuing an advanced degree. Appointments are normally on a one-fourth to one-half time basis, usually requiring ten to twenty hours of service per week. The annual stipend is payable in either nine or twelve monthly installments. In addition to the stipend, graduate teaching assistants (GTA), graduate teaching associates (GTAssoc), graduate assistants (GA), and graduate research assistants (GRA) with appointments on a one-fourth time basis or higher, are entitled to a waiver of maintenance fees and tuition for the period of appointment in accordance with university policy. These appointments also include a benefit of health insurance for the student.

The current tuition and fees can be viewed on the university’s One Stop website.

Here are some additional helpful websites regarding costs and funding:

Financial Aid
Graduate Fellowships
Other Funding Sources
Student Residency Classification

Specific questions about curriculum, career options, scheduling a visit to UT, or additional details should be addressed to a faculty member in your area of interest. Please visit our Faculty and Staff page for more information.