Earning your PhD requires several years of studying subject matter, learning best research practices, passing qualifying exams, and producing, presenting, and defending a research dissertation. It is a great accomplishment that, on average, less than 2% of Americans achieve. Why might someone go through the effort of earning their doctorate, and what opportunities does a PhD in kinesiology open up for you?

Become An Expert In The Field

A PhD is a terminal degree, in that there is no higher level of education you can achieve in the field. Those with a PhD are referred to as doctors and are generally recognized as experts in their chosen areas of study. A PhD is an academic doctorate rather than a professional doctorate, meaning it will prepare you for a career in research or academia, where you have the power to help shape the kinesiology field by conducting your own research in topics you’re passionate about. Kinesiology degree programs are a great way to use your passion for health sciences and physical education.

Increased Earning Potential

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2022 those with a doctoral degree on average annual yearly income of $108,316, compared to $86,372 and $74,464 for those with a master’s or a bachelor’s degree, respectively.

A PhD in kinesiology typically prepares students for careers in academia or research methods, but can also prepare students for leadership roles in additional industry settings. For those looking to get into research, the median annual pay for medical scientists is $99,930 according to the BLS. For those seeking to teach, the median annual pay for post-secondary instructors is $80,840 according to the BLS.

Transition Careers Within The Field

For those who have served in clinical roles within the field and are looking to transition out of their current career, a PhD in kinesiology allows them the flexibility to utilize their current knowledge while also transitioning to a different line of work. Some may be seeking an opportunity to conduct their own research and make breakthroughs in the field of topics they are most passionate about. Others may want to move to a professor or instructor role, serving to educate the next generation of experts within the field.

Concordia University, St. Paul offers a generous transfer credit policy for practicing chiropractors, physical therapists, or occupational therapists looking to pursue kinesiology degrees. Those who have already earned their DOT, DPT, or DC, or who have earned their Master of Science in Exercise Science at Concordia St. Paul, can transfer in credit covering nearly half the coursework for the kinesiology program.

Shape Future Professionals

As a professor or lecturer in academia, you have the opportunity to inspire and shape the next generation of kinesiology professionals. Teaching students about the science of movement, exercise, and physical activity can be incredibly rewarding. Your guidance and mentorship can have a lasting impact on their careers and the field as a whole.

Improve Public Health

Kinesiologists with doctoral degrees often engage in public health initiatives. They design and implement exercise programs aimed at promoting physical activity, preventing chronic diseases, and enhancing the quality of life for diverse populations. These initiatives can contribute to healthier communities and provide a deep sense of purpose.

Influential Research Positions

Those with a PhD in kinesiology often find themselves in influential research positions. Whether working in universities, research institutions, or private companies, your research can lead to groundbreaking discoveries. From developing new exercise interventions for clinical populations to optimizing athletic training techniques, your contributions can directly impact the health and performance of individuals and athletes.

Clinical Practice and Rehabilitation

For those interested in clinical practice, a PhD in kinesiology can open doors to rehabilitation and therapeutic roles. Kinesiologists in these settings work closely with patients to assess their movement patterns and develop tailored exercise plans to address specific issues, such as musculoskeletal injuries or neurological conditions. Witnessing patients regain mobility and improve their quality of life can be immensely gratifying.

Leadership and Advocacy

A doctorate in kinesiology can lead to leadership roles within sports organizations, healthcare institutions, government agencies, and fitness industry companies. These positions often involve setting strategic goals, influencing policy decisions, and advocating for healthier lifestyles and practices. Your expertise can make a significant difference in the organizations you lead.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Kinesiology Degree?

Earning a PhD in kinesiology opens up a wide range of career opportunities across various sectors for doctoral students. Here are some of the kinesiology jobs and career options you can pursue after completing a kinesiology PhD program:

University Professor or Lecturer: A common path for kinesiology PhD graduate students is to become a professor or lecturer at a university or college. In this role, you’ll teach courses related to kinesiology, conduct research, publish scholarly articles, and provide mentorship to students pursuing higher education in movement science or public health.

Research Scientist: Many kinesiology PhDs work as research scientists in academic institutions, research organizations, or private companies. They conduct studies on topics such as exercise physiology, biomechanics, sports psychology, or rehabilitation.

Clinical Kinesiologist: Clinical kinesiologists work in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers. They assess patients’ movement and functional abilities and develop exercise programs to improve physical health and mobility, often working with individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries.

Sports Scientist: Sports scientists work with athletes, teams, and sports organizations to optimize performance, prevent injuries, and enhance training programs. They may also be involved in sports research and may serve as athletic trainers.

Exercise Physiologist: Exercise physiologists design and implement exercise programs for individuals with various health conditions or fitness goals. They work in clinical settings, fitness centers, or wellness programs. These health and fitness instructors make a difference in the lives of others.

Rehabilitation Specialist: Rehabilitation specialists help individuals recover from injuries or surgeries by creating customized plans using rehabilitation science. These kinesiology graduates work in hospitals, physical therapy clinics, or sports medicine centers.

Public Health Specialist: Kinesiology PhDs can play a crucial role in public health by promoting physical activity, preventing chronic diseases, and designing community wellness programs. They may work in government health departments, non-profit organizations, or public health research.

Health and Wellness Consultant: Some kinesiology PhD graduates work as consultants for corporations, fitness companies, or wellness organizations. They provide expertise in designing workplace wellness programs or optimizing fitness and health initiatives.

Entrepreneur: With a kinesiology PhD, you can start your own business in areas such as personal training, fitness coaching, sports performance consulting, or wellness technology development.

Health Policy Analyst: Individuals with a kinesiology PhD can work in health policy and advocacy roles, influencing public legislation related to physical activity, sports, and health.

Corporate Wellness Manager: Large companies often hire kinesiology experts to manage their corporate wellness programs, focusing on employee health and fitness.

Strength and Conditioning Coach: Strength and conditioning coaches work with athletes to improve their physical performance, focusing on strength, endurance, and injury prevention. They are commonly employed by sports teams or training facilities.

Nutrition and Exercise Consultant: Combine your kinesiology expertise with nutrition knowledge to work as a consultant helping individuals and organizations with comprehensive health and fitness plans.

These are just some of the many career paths you can explore with a PhD in kinesiology.

About Our Program

Concordia University, St. Paul’s PhD in Kinesiology program is 100% online and features a research-centered program designed to prepare PhD students for expertise in the study of human movement, physical activity, and human anatomy. The program emphasizes relevant techniques for contributing to knowledge and applying advanced exercise and sports science-related principles in a variety of contexts.

Graduate studies consist of 61 total semester credit hours for the EdD program and 67 credit hours for the PhD program. The two routes cover coursework in subject matters such as: kinesiology, research, sports nutrition, sports psychology, exercise sciences, biomechanics, exercise physiology, exercise prescription and more. The dissertation is 12 semester credit hours, with dissertation milestones built into the curriculum, so you won’t have to wait until your coursework is completed before making progress on it.

Concordia University, St. Paul’s program is designed for working adults; because the program is fully online, doctorate students can earn their degree in kinesiology from anywhere in the country, while balancing a full-time job and their family lives.

Ready to earn your doctorate? Learn more about our programs, and when you’re ready, submit a free application.

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