The study of sports performance is fascinating, and for people who work in the many fields associated with human movement and health, getting an online PhD exercise science degree is the best way to take that knowledge to the highest levels. From sports to physical rehabilitation, applying the skills and knowledge you gain in an online exercise science degree can expose you to the latest skills, most applicable research, and in-depth mentoring from top-notch professional in kinesiology, physiology, athletic training, and other related professions.
What is an Exercise Science Degree?
Exercise science is the broad field of study that includes kinesiology and physiology, and it looks at how the human body reacts to movement and exercise. Kinesiology is the study of movement of the human body. Physiology is field within biology that studies the normal functioning of living creatures. Therefore, exercise physiology is the biological study of exercise as a normal function of humans. Human performance refers to how humans behave when performing activities within an environment, and it can refer to work activities or performance in physical activities like sports.
An online PhD exercise science degree may include portions of all these fields of study. For instance, you might get a PhD in Kinesiology, yet study physiology and human performance subjects. There could be a PhD strength and conditioning online program that incorporates a lot of exercise science and kinesiology. A human performance degree could refer to peak athletic performance or it could be a less related degree in methods of improving work performance. A PhD in physiology online may have a concentration in athletic training or exercise science. Exercise physiology PhD programs can come in various flavors, with slightly different focuses or styles of exploring the material, but they all include many of the same types of courses, similar sets of skills, and an underlying study of human movement and its impacts on the body.
The differences in degrees between a PhD exercise physiology program and another type of doctoral program in exercise science or athletic training is that the PhD will have a slightly more research-oriented focus, while other degree may focus on applying the research in clinical settings. Exercise physiology PhD programs will almost all have a written dissertation for their final project, while other types of human performance degrees may have a capstone project that is more applied in nature. However, a dissertation can have a strong applied research component, and a capstone may have a very strong written research emphasis. The differences in these degrees may be smaller than the different names of the degrees would imply. However, you should carefully look at the online PhD exercise science program that you choose to make sure it aligns with your goals and career interests. Every PhD in physiology online will have different courses that may make the difference in being able to study exactly what you want to apply in your career or may not be the perfect match. That is why when looking at a kinesiology PhD vs. a PhD in strength and conditioning online, you may find the programs similar, but with just enough differences for you to choose one over the other.
Popular Online Exercise Science Degrees
- Liberty University Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences / Exercise & Sport Science
- Temple University Doctorate of Athletic Training
- A T Still University of Health Sciences Doctor of Athletic Training
What Can I Do with a PhD in Exercise Physiology?
The benefits of getting a PhD in physiology online are that you can continue in your current job while you study, applying the new skills and knowledge in your current occupation. The PhD exercise physiology degree will give you the advanced clinical and applied research capabilities to be the best you can be in your field, while helping others to get to the pinnacle of fitness, athletic performance, or recovery from injury. Many people who consider the online PhD exercise science route have a master’s degree in a related field like physical therapy, athletic training, health sciences, or exercise physiology. They may be working already as coaches, athletic trainers, fitness instructors, nutritionists, or any one of the fields related to human health and fitness. A PhD in kinesiology or athletic training can help graduates reach the highest levels of expertise in their chosen job in the field, or advance to higher clinical, leadership, or training positions.
There are many possible applied physiology and kinesiology jobs. For those with a PhD strength and conditioning online degree, there are positions as exercise physiologists, athletic trainers, coaches, scouts, fitness trainers and instructors, recreation and fitness post-secondary teachers, and other positions within the sports and fitness industry. For those with an online exercise science degree who are more interested in the allied health aspect of this degree, they may look to work as dietitians or nutritionists, health educators, or in sports rehabilitation. Less traditional positions might include becoming a biological sciences teacher or a human performance specialist. On a more academic path, some may wish to become college professors or sports scientists. People who decide to get their PhD in exercise physiology online degree may also have degrees or certifications in related fields and seek to use the advanced knowledge to inform their profession in another health or physical exercise career.
Career Outlook for Online PhD Exercise Science Graduates
The job outlook for people in applied physiology and kinesiology jobs like exercise physiologists is much faster than average, at an expected job growth ofbetween 2019 and 2029. The median PhD in exercise science salary is , which is not higher than for those with lesser degrees. But the salary for those employed as post-secondary fitness and recreation instructors is higher, at an average of , and the top 90th percentile of these professions average over $120k per year. A PhD in Kinesiology salary would be around the same as a PhD in exercise science salary, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts kinesiotherapists under the exercise physiologist category. But the jobs that one may get with the additional training of a doctorate could allow you to rise to management levels that may pay more. However, PhD in Kinesiology salaries are still very good, though the salary is not the primary reason to get the degree. The love of movement and science, and the enjoyment of understanding how exercise affects the human body, plus the idea of helping people are all the main motivations for getting a doctorate.
Top 4 Online PhD Exercise Science Programs
A T Still University of Health Sciences
Degree: Doctor of Athletic Training
Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $35,630
The doctoral program in athletic training from A T Still University of Health Sciences brings the highest levels of critical thinking into the applied field of athletics, producing graduates poised to become leaders in this highly specialized field. Housed in the health sciences school, the degree brings medical sciences aspects of athletic training into a program geared for real-world applications rather than academics. Students in the program can customize their degree by choosing graduate certificate programs that align with their interests and professional goals, including concentrations in rehabilitation, clinical decision-making, orthopedics, leadership and education, and sports neurology and concussion. Courses in this 69-credit program include Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Athletic Injury Epidemiology, Implementing and Evaluating the Solution, and Health Information Technology. The program is entirely online except for the 5-credit Winter Institute, which is called Innovation to Advance Athletic Health Care and is held for one week on-campus in Arizona. This degree program is oriented towards clinical applications of evidence-based solutions in sports medicine and athletic training practice.
Applicants need to have a master’s degree or higher with a 2.75 GPA, certification as an athletic trainer, state licensure if required, and evidence of English language proficiency if English is not the applicants first language. There is a phone interview as part of the application process, but no GRE scores are required. Alumni of the school with an MS in athletic training can waive 24% of the coursework and graduate about 12 months sooner. Students will also need to have a high degree of computer literacy for this distance education program. The normal program can be completed in about three years. There are four different possible start dates per year, making it very convenient to get started in this program. With affordable tuition, customizable specializations, flexible start dates, and a focus on practical applications, the AT Still athletic training doctorate is a perfect choice for those dedicated to their athletic training careers and who want to reach the highest levels of the profession.
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Degree: Doctorate of Athletic Training
Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $36,340
Temple University’s DAT program meets on Monday nights from 7 to 9 pm Eastern Time, for synchronous distance classes and seminars, with additional asynchronous elements to the program. However, this online exercise science degree is 100% online with no need to ever travel to campus. Students enroll in six credits each of three terms per year to complete the 36-credit program in two years. Classes include Clinical Rounds I: Lower Extremity, Evidence Based Decision Making in Athletic Training, Advanced Sport Concussion, Leadership and Cultural Considerations in Athletic Training, and Rehabilitation Methods and Techniques for Sports-Related Injuries. There are two slots for students to take elective courses and these can be drawn from the many courses available through the college of public health. Students will work on their evidence-based capstone project throughout their program, with the final summer devoted to completing the project and applying it to clinical settings. There is an advisor assigned to work with each student on their capstone. Students must maintain a B- in all classes to successfully graduate from the program.
Applicants must be certified athletic trainers, though people interested in this program can take the MS in Kinesiology with a concentration in Athletic Training if they want to get their certification. Also required on application is a master’s degree in a related subject and an interview will be conducted. Applications to start in the fall term are due by August 1, and international applicants are welcome with the additional step of showing a TOEFL score of 79 or higher if their native language is not English. Temple participates in the SARA system, or state reciprocity, so the training is recognized in all SARA states which include all except California. Temple University is a research university with the highest ranking, and department faculty are involved in research in topics like biomarkers associated with subconcussive cerebrovascular injury; shoulder injury, particularly in professional baseball; human balance and locomotion; adaptation of tissues to stress and overuse; and neural mechanisms of muscle coordination in human upper extremities. With the same low online tuition rate for all online students, the 100% online format, excellent faculty within a respected department, and the mentorship and collaboration of the program, the doctor of athletic training from Temple University is a very attractive option for students from near and far.
Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA on post-baccalaureate work. Three years of professional experience in public health is preferred but not required. Those with credits to transfer to their doctor of public health can apply for a transfer credit evaluation, which could help them reduce costs and time to complete the degree. Students need to complete their DrPH program within eight years from their start date. Walden University has a social change orientation, which is attractive to students who want to help the world through public health administration. There are tuition discounts for military and law enforcement professionals, plus grants and financial aid to make the program easier to pay for. In addition, Walden offer multiple payment options, including credit card, monthly billing, or third-party payments. With multiple start dates per year, some courses allowing for self-paced timing, and maximum flexibility for working adult students, Walden University’s program makes for a very attractive distance DrPH program.
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Degree: Doctorate in Education in Kinesiology
Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $37,515
The EdD in Kinesiology from Concordia University-Saint Paul is entirely online, with 49 credits of coursework and 12 credits of dissertation work. Concordia is a Lutheran-affiliated institution within a multicultural community, and the school seeks to help students find their calling while offering high-quality educational experiences that align with Christian values. The kinesiology program integrates research and applied human movement science to help individuals prevent and recover from injuries while performing at their highest capacity. Faculty in the program are experts with extensive academic publications and professional certifications to their credit, and students from all walks of life are welcome in this intensive and well-designed program. Graduates are prepared for careers in academic, clinical, or leadership roles in health-related fields. The student body is diverse, with differing backgrounds, cultural heritage, and ages, and the program is not only academically strong, but provides a caring and energetic environment to pursue the doctoral degree.
Courses in the program include Medical Aspects of Exercise and Disease Prevention, Action Research in Kinesiology, Neuromuscular Aspects of Exercise Physiology, Advanced Exercise and Sports Nutrition, and Applied Measurement and Evaluations Techniques in Kinesiology. Students can choose three electives from advanced courses in biomechanics, exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, exercise prescription, or mechanisms of skilled neuromuscular behavior. The dissertation follows the Carnegie Model for applied research. Applicants need to have a 3.0 GPA from their master’s degree or doctoral program, show graduate-level writing samples with AP citations, letters of recommendation, and a resume with professional goals statement. Courses from other programs are highly transferable, and the school will evaluate up to 24 transfer credits for this program. For students seeking an industry-relevant curriculum, this action-oriented program makes an excellent choice. When you add the fact that tuition is very affordable, and that generous transfer credits are available, this kinesiology PhD program is great for cost-conscious students and students with credits from other programs alike.
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Degree: Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences / Exercise & Sport Science
Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State): $39,970
Liberty University’s online PhD exercise science program is just getting off the ground, with the first students entering in Spring 2022. But the respected online education experts at Liberty University have been successfully translating programs of all types into the online format that is most convenient for adult students, and this promises to be a well-run program with high academic quality, well-adapted for online study, and with a Christian perspective expressed throughout. Applicants should have a 3.0 GPA from their master’s degree for admission in good standing. Up to 50% of the credits for this 60-credit degree can be transferred from another institution or program, with transfer of credits from a different earned degree from Liberty University possible. International students whose native language is not English must submit a TOEFL or similar test to prove proficiency in English.
The courses are delivered in convenient 8-week format, and there are multiple start dates per year, with the first one being in January of 2022. Classes will include Physiology of Sport Performance and Conditioning, Physiological Interaction of Performance Enhancing Substances, Cultural Competency in Health Sciences, Leadership in Professional Practices, and Advanced Sport Biomechanics. The final 15 credits of the degree will be devoted to the dissertation. Students need to earn at least a B- in all courses in the program and must complete the degree within five years. Once in the dissertation phase, students must maintain continuous enrollment three semesters per year until the dissertation is complete. The Liberty University program has many benefits, including low tuition that has remained the same for six years, military tuition discounts, and the school’s long experience delivering online education. In addition, the program is 100% online and asynchronous, with no requirement for coming to campus. With the integration of ethical and professional education in kinesiology, exercise science, and athletic training, this program is an affordable and accessible option for those who want careers in this allied health specialty.
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Start an Online PhD Exercise Science Today!
Now that you have read about some great exercise physiology PhD programs, you are probably excited about all the fascinating things that you will learn when you get an online PhD exercise science degree. Getting a PhD in exercise science salary is one reason to pursue this degree. But the true reason to get a doctorate in exercise science is your passion for human movement— you have the potential to understand and help people reach their highest levels of fitness, performance, and physical resilience.