Our PhD in biokinesiology — ranked 12th in the nation by the National Academy of Kinesiology — prepares you with the advanced skills needed to become a productive research scientist in biokinesiology in an academic or corporate setting. USC’s biokinesiology PhD graduates conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research and become leading scholars and innovators in the field.
Our curriculum provides a breadth of knowledge from core courses, a deep dive into your area of concentration through electives and a dissertation project conducted with mentorship from a biokinesiology faculty member.
Areas of concentration include motor control and learning, muscle physiology, biomechanics, motor development and exercise physiology.
Curriculum and Training
Completing the PhD requires 60 course units.
- BKN 550 Neurobehavioral Basis of Movement (4 units)
- BKN 551 Musculoskeletal and Biomechanical Basis of Movement (4 units)
- BKN 552 Physiological Basis of Voluntary Movement (4 units)
- BKN 553 Experimental Methods for the Analysis of Human Movement (4 units)
- BKN 790 Research (1-12 units)
- BKN 794 Doctoral Dissertation (2 units/semester; up to 8 units)
- 2 semesters of graduate-level statistics
- 1 ethics course
PhD students complete the four core courses, then participate in a screening procedure, offered twice each year, to assess your progress and determine whether you may continue in the program. Once you successfully pass the screening, you and your advisor select a guidance committee made up of five faculty members who recommend coursework, independent study direction and essential reading.
Course substitutions may be allowed with approval from the biokinesiology committee prior to the beginning of the semester. Other requirements vary according to the specific needs of each student. Coursework other than divisional offerings is encouraged and may be required by the student’s guidance committee.
Students are required to attend USC full time to complete the PhD program, and typically complete the PhD degree in four to five years.
Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Defense
The PhD qualifying exam, offered during the fall or spring semester, focuses on your ability to demonstrate knowledge in your major academic area and its relation to other areas of study offered in the division. The qualifying exam includes written and oral components.
Once you pass the qualifying exam, you will be required to complete a dissertation based on original research. It must demonstrate technical mastery of a specialized field, capacity for independent research and scholarly ability. The dissertation, and your oral defense of its merits, must receive unanimous approval from your dissertation committee and must be completed within three years of the approved date of your dissertation proposal.