Prospective Graduate Program Applicant FAQ

How are the topical areas of study within the graduate program organized?

Kinesiology is a broad field of study focused on movement or physical activity. Based on the interests and expertise of our faculty, we identify six areas of study within our graduate program:

  • Athletic Training and Sports Medicine
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise Physiology
  • History & Philosophy of Sport
  • Motor Control
  • Psychology of Physical Activity.

Most faculty affiliate with a single area but some affiliate with more than one area because their interests cross multiple areas. Applicants should determine the appropriate area of study in consultation, perhaps in consultation with a prospective mentor, prior to submitting an application.

How do I get selected for admission to the program?

We have a mentor-based program, which means that one of our graduate faculty members must select you from among the qualified applicants in order for you to be admitted to the program. That person then acts as your advisor. This model of graduate training involves students working closely with their advisor to develop customized programs of study around their individual background, professional interests, and training goals. Therefore, it is essential that applicants target their application toward specific faculty who they believe can best mentor them in pursuing their scholarly, professional, and/or scientific goals.

Should I contact a prospective faculty mentor prior to applying?

Yes. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact prospective faculty mentors prior to submitting an application. The purpose of this contact is to determine whether that faculty member is planning to admit a new student for the upcoming year, identify the appropriate area of study within our graduate program, learn about work planned within that research group, determine whether your academic background is appropriate for working on that research, and initiate discussion about how your interests and goals fit within the scope of the faculty member’s research focus. It is suggested that you start with an email discussion, with further interaction by phone if there is mutual interest.

What should I know before contacting a prospective advisor?

Before contacting a faculty member, please review the departmental website and publications of prospective faculty mentors. Recent publications will indicate the nature of research in which the faculty member is engaged and will give you an indication of the types of research experiences you might expect in working with that mentor. The strongest applicants typically read and are prepared to discuss recent publications by a faculty member with whom they are interested in working.

What are the standards for admission?

Admission is competitive and based on demonstrated relevant experience and motivation, as well as your GPA and GRE scores. The vast majority of our students have GRE verbal and quantitative test scores above the 50th percentile, and many have scores well above those minimum levels. We prefer a minimum 3.4 GPA. Please keep in mind that these are only guidelines and your entire application package is taken into consideration.

What financial support is available?

We have a limited number of departmental assistantships available that cover tuition and provide a stipend. These half-time positions normally require 10 hours/week of teaching duties and 10 hours/week of research duties. Additionally, some faculty support students with research assistantships from their grants. These half-time positions involve research responsibilities only. There are also some college/university fellowships available for the very best students and for students who will enhance the diversity of our student population. These fellowships are competitive and have no formal responsibilities attached so students are able to immerse themselves in their studies and research.

How do I apply for funding?

Applicants should note in their personal statement that they are interested in being considered for funding from the advisor, department, or university. Please note that different funding sources have different requirements. For example, departmental graduate assistantships have teaching responsibilities so students must be proficient in English if that is not their first language. Some funding agencies have their own policies restricting the eligibility of funding to US nationals or permanent residents and those policies can limit funding opportunities for some students.

When do I need to apply?

Graduate assistantships and fellowships are normally allocated early in the spring semester. To be considered for one of these you should endeavor to complete all of the paperwork before the end of the fall semester if you are planning to commence your studies in the following fall.

Should I apply to the Masters (M.S.) or Doctoral (Ph.D.) program?

The mission of the graduate program in Kinesiology emphasizes doctoral training. Some students enter the Ph.D. program directly after their undergraduate studies whereas others enter the M.S. program first. Completion of a Masters degree typically requires two years of study beyond the bachelor’s degree, and another three years beyond the Masters are typically required for the Ph.D. (although completion ultimately depends on research progress and accomplishments). Please discuss with prospective mentors whether you should apply to the M.S. or Ph.D. programs based on your background and goals.

How important is it to have research experience as an undergraduate?

Applying to graduate school is a little like applying for a job as a research apprentice. An applicant with previous research experience (and a positive letter of recommendation from an undergraduate research advisor) will have a decided advantage over an applicant without such experience. However, it is not uncommon for new graduate students to not have any formal research experience.

What if my undergraduate degree is not in Kinesiology or Movement Science?

We have many graduate students in our program whose first degree is not in Kinesiology, Movement Science, or similar area. Regardless of your undergraduate degree title, each area of study has required undergraduate coursework that is considered important for your chosen specialization (ask prospective mentors for their guidance on this topic because the relevant background varies by area).

What should I include in my personal statement?

Your personal statement is an important part of your application. It should be a concise, 1-2 page, well-written statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how our graduate program would help you meet your career and educational objectives. It should be as specific as possible about your rationale for pursuing graduate studies, what you want to study and how specific faculty mentors could facilitate your educational and professional advancement. Writing from a well-informed perspective is helpful.

It should focus on your educational background, training, and experiences and how those mesh with your future research and scholarly interests. It should not be emotive or overly personal. Tying your knowledge, skills, and interests directly to the scholarly/research interests of one or more faculty mentor is a good strategy.