Jul 22, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

Exercise and Health Sciences, PhD

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The PhD provides comprehensive training in exercise and health research, with core coursework in research methods, biostatistics, and measurement and evaluation. A student’s primary area of research will align closely with the research area of a specific faculty advisor in the department.

Prior to applying, each student will identify a major faculty advisor to chair their dissertation committee and supervise his or her research. This advisor will help the student identify or expand on an area of focus, advise the student on relevant coursework for elective credits, and guide and mentor the student on an original research project that forms the basis of the dissertation requirement.

While the primary faculty advisor helps guide the student’s dissertation research, degree candidates will also have options to explore other areas of interest in the form of independent studies and elective courses, preparing them to be well-rounded researchers.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program is designed to take 4 years of full-time study for students entering with the required master’s degree. Students are required to complete 60 graduate credits in the following sequence of courses and other milestones.

Third Semester

Pass Written Qualifying Exam
Each student must pass a written qualifying examination, which is taken after the third semester, but not later than the end of the student’s fourth semester. Content covered in the exam is agreed upon by the major faculty advisor and the student. The exam will be completed over the course of several days within a two-week period. Students must pass all areas on either the first or second try before being allowed to continue in the program and work on their dissertation proposal.

Fourth Semester

  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Elective

Form Dissertation Committee
After the student passes the written qualifying examination and advances to candidacy, the faculty advisor will help the candidate identify at least two additional EHS faculty members to comprise the dissertation committee. A fourth member, external to the EHS Department, with expertise in the candidate’s research area, is also required to join the committee. The committee, once approved by the graduate program director and the dean of graduate studies, will guide and advise the student regarding the requirements of the dissertation proposal, details related to the design and completion of what is considered an original research project, and the final dissertation document that presents all components of the completed research project.

Fifth Semester


Defend Dissertation Proposal
Once students are advanced to candidacy, they will develop their dissertation research questions and write a proposal for their intended research project. The proposal will consist of an introduction, rationale and hypothesis, review of the literature, and proposed methods. Precise requirements for the proposal will be developed in consultation with the dissertation committee, and will be based on the focus of the intended research. Candidates will write their proposal and present it orally (“defend”) to their dissertation committee no later than the end of the fifth semester.

Sixth–Eighth Semesters

Sixth Semester

Seventh Semester

Eighth Semester

Final Defense of Dissertation
Each student’s original research project culminates in completion of a dissertation document and oral defense. The dissertation document will include an introduction, rationale and hypothesis, review of the literature, description of methods, presentation of results, and discussion of the relevance of the study’s findings to the field at large. The results of the research will be presented in manuscript-ready format, including two or more separate papers that are ready to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals. The student will be required to submit at least one of these papers to a journal prior to orally defending their dissertation; the paper must be under peer review to meet this requirement.

Admission Requirements

Typically, PhD program applicants will have a master’s degree in exercise science, nutrition, or a related field from a nationally accredited college or university or its international equivalent. The review committee will admit applicants with degrees in other disciplines at their discretion. The graduate program director and/or graduate program committee will review coursework from other graduate programs on a case-by-case basis to determine transferability of credits up to a maximum of 6 credits. Preference will be given to all applicants whose transcripts show completion of the following courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0, taken within the past seven years: one year of anatomy and physiology with lab, exercise physiology with lab, chemistry with lab, fitness assessment, and statistics. Students may be required to address deficiencies as a condition of acceptance.

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