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PhD in Kinesiology, Health and Exercise Science

Health and Exercise Science at The Ohio State University provides a curriculum designed to enhance both the breadth and depth of knowledge and the basic and applied laboratory and field-based research skills of students. Research in Health and Exercise Science encompasses the description and explanation of structural, functional, psychological, and behavioral responses to acute and habitual participation in physical activity and exercise.


The Ohio State University's program in Health and Exercise Science includes a physiologically or behaviorally based approach to exercise science.

The exercise physiology track prepares you to understand and to critically analyze the current literature, develop research hypotheses, design hypothesis-based experimental research, apply sound measurement techniques, and utilize appropriate statistical analyses related to exercise physiology.

You will cover many issues related to exercise science, including: a.) exercise assessment; b.) adaptation of skeletal muscle structure, function, and metabolic processes during the aging process; c.) design and delivery of exercise programs; and d.) treatment and prevention of chronic lifestyle and degenerative diseases.

In the health and physical activity behavior track, you will learn to apply principles of behavioral science to identify determinants and consequences of physical activity adoption and maintenance in a variety of populations and settings.

Students will gain the skills necessary to design, implement, and evaluate programs to promote health and physical activity behavior change. Students will also develop skills in the application of behavioral sciences to answer questions related to exercise adoption and maintenance.

The behaviorally based approach to exercise science uses contemporary behavioral science to study: a.) determinants of physical activity adoption; b.) effective methods for maintenance of physical activity in varied populations and settings; and c.) the psychological consequences of participating in exercise on a regular basis.

Typical applications of the knowledge gained during the Ph.D degree include the:

  1. research-based improvement of education conducted in schools, hospitals, clinics, community agencies, and various work sites that are designed to enhance physical activity and health behavior;
  2. appropriate use of physical activity and exercise in the prevention and treatment of chronic lifestyle diseases;
  3. improvement of exercise and sport performance for recreational and elite athletes; and
  4. examination of the psychological and biological consequences of physical activity to determine the effects of exercise on mental health.

Career Paths

Graduates may engage in postdoctoral research or they may seek faculty appointments in college or university settings. They also have opportunities for employment in cardiac rehabilitation, adult fitness, corporate fitness, military fitness, research, sales, and management in corporate fields such as sports nutrition, athletic footwear, fitness equipment, sports clothing, and weight control programs. They are well prepared for research-focused careers in these areas. Graduates may assume health and exercise promotion positions in: wellness centers, worksite programs, health care settings, private consulting, or with state and local community health agencies.


Deadline to Apply: 
December 1 – to be considered for funding. Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions beginning in late January and rolling admissions continue until the cohort is filled. Contact the program if you need to request review of a late application.
Program Start: 
Autumn semester
Prerequisites/Pre-major Requirements: 
Master's degree
Minimum Program Hours: 

Application Materials: Online application, Transcripts, Statement of Purpose, CV/resume, 3 Letters of Recommendation, GRE scores, Test of English scores (if applicable)
Time to Degree: 3 years
Location: While a limited number of courses may be completed online, in-person learning on the Columbus campus is essential to degree completion.
Degree requirements: 3 department core courses (9 hours), 4 research core courses (12 hours), specialization courses (9 hours), concentration courses (12/13 hours), dissertation (6 hours), breadth requirement (6 hours)
Academic opportunities: Graduate associateships, scholarships, university fellowships, EHE Research Forum, Hayes Research Forum

PDF iconDoctoral Appendices PDF iconGraduate Program Handbook

View the Curriculum Sheet


Brian Focht, PhD, Associate Professor
William Kraemer, PhD, FACSM, Professor
Carl Maresh, PhD, Professor
Rick Petosa, PhD, Professor
Carmen Swain, PhD, Senior Lecturer
Jeff Volek, PhD, FACSM, Professor


Human Sciences
PAES Building, First Floor
305 Annie and John Glenn Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43210

Graduate Student Services