Degree Requirements

Iowa State University requires Ph.D. students to earn a minimum of 72 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree with at least 36 from Iowa State University. These requirements may be exceeded at the discretion of the Program of Study (POS) Committee. The Ph.D. in Kinesiology is awarded based on achieving a satisfactory level of expertise as judged by the major professor and POS committee.


Doctoral students identify a primary area of emphasis and a secondary area of emphasis within Kinesiology, and a cognate area outside Kinesiology. The secondary area of emphasis is used to identify breadth coursework and guide selection of the secondary teaching experience and secondary research experience.


  1. Kinesiology - 9 credits in a focused area
  2. Kinesiology - 6 credits that provide breadth, typically from the student’s secondary area of emphasis (must be outside student’s primary area of emphasis)
  3. Cognate - 9 credits in area related to but outside of Kinesiology (may include courses in areas such as food science and human nutrition, biochemistry and biophysics, biomedical sciences, biomedical engineering, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, physics, and zoology and genetics)
  4. Statistics - 9 credits in statistics and advanced research methods (typically including KIN 620). This will generally include both STAT 401 and 402, but a course in multivariate methods such as STAT 407 is recommended for some areas
  5. PhD Seminar - 1 credit each semester in the Ph.D. seminar during full-time enrollment (minimum of 6, no maximum)
  6. Ethics - 1 credit in research ethics fulfilled through the 1-credit Iowa State “ethics” seminars that have been approved by NIH and NSF
  7. Dissertation - 21 credits of 699
  8. Primary area of teaching – Teaching assistant for an academic course in which student has full responsibility to conduct the class
  9. Secondary area of teaching - 3 credits of 590 or a ¼ time teaching assistant in the student’s secondary area of emphasis
  10. Secondary area of research - 3 credits of 590 or a ¼ time research assistant focused on a research experience outside the student’s primary research lab

Other requirements

Successful Kinesiology Ph.D. student will have done all of the following:

  • Presented research papers at national and international conferences
  • Published research papers in peer-reviewed journals
  • Engaged in grant-writing
  • Demonstrated teaching skills


We accept only those who can devote themselves full time to the Ph.D. program. To enable this, any doctoral student accepted into the program is fully supported by the Department of Kinesiology in the form of assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships throughout the completion of their program. We also provide summer funding for Ph.D. students whenever possible because we consider Ph.D. study a year-round activity.