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Degrees Offered

  • Master of Science (M.S.) Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

KINES Graduate Program OverviewKinesiology (KINES) Graduate Program Overview

The Department

The Department of Kinesiology at Penn State is committed to providing outstanding instruction and educational opportunities for students; discovering and disseminating new knowledge about physical activity, exercise, and human movement and its relationship to human health and disease; and providing outstanding service and outreach to the field of kinesiology and to the community. Faculty teaching and research interests touch on biomechanical, historical, medical, neuromotor, philosophical, physiological, and psychological perspectives of human movement, physical activity, and exercise.

The Programs

The graduate program in Kinesiology emphasizes multi-disciplinary research and scholarly activity. Specifically, it aims to recruit, advise, and mentor top-quality graduate students, especially Ph.D. candidates, with the goal of developing future outstanding scholars and researchers and to create and disseminate new knowledge through research and related scholarly activity. The program is the top-ranked program of its kind, according to the National Research Council and the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education.

The Penn State Difference

Penn State is one of the leading research universities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, it consistently ranks among the top 15 major U.S. universities in research expenditures in science and engineering fields. Its graduate programs attract students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and from more than 100 countries all over the world.

Penn State has an enrollment at its main campus–University Park–of nearly 45,000 students, some 7,000 of which are graduate students. The University invites students to consider its graduate programs, whether they aspire to conduct research that will contribute to global knowledge or to hold a leadership position in their field with government or industry.

Areas of Study

Master’s (M.S.) and doctoral (Ph.D.) programs are focused on six areas of study:

  • Athletic training and sports medicine
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise physiology
  • History and philosophy of sport
  • Motor control
  • Psychology of Physical Activity

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

The M.S. degree is a research degree; therefore, students are required to complete a master’s thesis project. In addition, students must take graduate-level courses and seminars that focus on research and research findings.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

General requirements of the Ph.D. degree include, sequentially, the candidacy examination, core requirements, courses in the program of studies, comprehensive examination, proposal of dissertation topic, production of dissertation, and final oral examination. Doctoral students seek insight into fundamental questions about kinesiology. They must attain broad understanding of the research methodologies that will help to answer these questions, as well as the ability to analyze and interpret research results.


Graduates of the program progress to a variety of positions in academia and industry. In particular, they may become researchers at sport nutrition or apparel corporations, athletic trainers, exercise physiologists, professors at colleges/universities, or clinicians in research or allied health settings.


Graduate assistantships are available through the department to cover tuition costs and to provide a stipend. These assistantships normally require some teaching duties. In addition, some faculty members support students from their grants, and some fellowships are available for the very best students. The assistantships and fellowships are normally allocated early in the spring semester, so to be considered applicants should endeavor to complete all of the application paperwork before the end of the fall semester with a goal of commencing studies the following fall.


The Department of Kinesiology is home to around two-dozen tenure-track or tenured graduate faculty members. This core is supplemented by a number of affiliate and adjunct faculty members. Several faculty members also have faculty appointments in other programs, including Biobehavioral Health, Bioengineering, Human Development and Family Studies, Mechanical Engineering, Medicine, Neurology, Nutrition, and Physiology.


Graduate training is enhanced by the availability of excellent laboratory facilities and the considerable success of faculty members in generating external funding–more than $3 million annually–in support of their research and graduate training agendas. The department has a rich history of research, scholarly accomplishments, and scientific training in a wide array of specializations that span the physical, life, behavioral, and social sciences, together with the humanities as they relate to human movement and physical activity. The department continues its tradition of research and scholarly excellence in the domains of athletic training, biomechanics, exercise physiology, history and philosophy of sport, motor control, and psychology of Physical Activity. The Biomechanics Lab and Noll Lab, two of the department’s oldest research entities, have both made abundant contributions to human biomechanics and exercise physiology since they were established in the mid-1960s.

How to Apply

The process of applying for admission to Penn State’s Graduate School requires the following application materials, some of which are submitted to the Graduate School (Part 1) and others of which are sent directly to the Kinesiology graduate program (Part 2):

Part 1 - Apply to the Graduate School at Penn State

Every applicant is required to submit an online application to the Graduate School.

Information about fees and programs of study can be found on the Graduate School website at

If you are ready to proceed to the application but have NOT read the Graduate School requirements, please visit that website at

If you have read the Graduate School and program requirements and are ready to apply, you may proceed to the application at

Part 2 - Apply to the Kinesiology Graduate Program

In addition to applying to the Graduate School, formal admission to the doctoral program requires:

  1. Two official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended, both undergraduate and graduate
  2. Graduate Record Examination (GRE), general test scores
  3. Three letters of recommendation for those applying to study for a Ph.D., and two for those applying to study for a masters degree
  4. Statement of background and professional goals, including specific research interests.
  5. The name(s) of any faculty member(s) with whom applicants are interested in working
  6. Contact the perspective mentor that you are interested in working with.


Department of Kinesiology
The Pennsylvania State University
276 Recreation Building
University Park, PA 16802