Apr 17, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Biokinesiology (PhD)

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology is designed to prepare graduates to address important research questions to improve the health and well-being of society. Graduates develop expertise in a focused area of Biokinesiology as well as the requisite technical skills to make meaningful contributions to the field. The PhD in Biokinesiology program prepares graduates to be educators and scientists in Biokinesiology, capable of directing an interdisciplinary research program that is innovative, collaborative and sustainable.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet all general admission requirements of the university. Admission requirements include a superior grade point average in cumulative undergraduate and graduate course work (if applicable). In addition, applicants should have previous research experience or applicable clinical training. Students admitted for the Master of Science degree are not automatically admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy program. The Master of Science is not required as a prerequisite to the PhD but may be advised.

The application package consists of applicable transcripts, curriculum vitae, a personal statement, three letters of recommendation. International students whose first language is not English should submit scores from the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Competitive applicants will participate in an interview with the program faculty. A student can be considered for admission only when a member of the full-time Ph.D. faculty has agreed to serve as the student’s Ph.D. adviser.

Prerequisites (PhD Program)

The prerequisite for applicants to the PhD program in Biokinesiology is either: (a) a bachelor’s degree or higher with appropriate basic science content or (b) a doctor of physical therapy degree (DPT). Courses completed at the time of application must include work (with appropriate laboratory study) in chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology. Highly recommended is course work in anatomy, physiology, histology, cell biology, exercise physiology, kinesiology, biochemistry, trigonometry, analytical geometry and calculus. Candidates should be computer literate.

Students deficient in certain prerequisites may be admitted subject to completion of requirements within two years after admission. Work in any prerequisite subject will not be part of the required 60 units for the Doctor of Philosophy.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units is required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.


*Or equivalent graduate ethics course.

**Or equivalent graduate level statistics.

PhD students must complete two of the three core courses (BKN 550 , BKN 551 , BKN 552 ) before participating in the screening procedure. Substituting a course for one of the core courses may be allowed after receiving approval from the Biokinesiology Program Committee prior to the beginning of the course.

Other course requirements (to complete 60 units) will vary according to the specific needs of each student. Course work other than departmental offerings is encouraged and may be required by the student’s qualifying exam committee.

Courses Available for MS/PhD Students

Additional Requirements

Foreign Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement.

Screening Procedure

A screening procedure will be offered twice each year for qualified students. It must be taken prior to the completion of 24 units at the 500-level or higher. The purpose of the screening procedure is to assess the progress of the PhD student since admission and to determine whether that progress is sufficient to continue in the PhD program. Passing the procedure is a prerequisite for continuation in the PhD program.

Guidance Committee

Upon successful completion of the screening examination the student and the primary adviser will select a guidance committee for continuing course work and independent study. The guidance committee comprises five members. The committee chair (primary adviser) and at least two additional members must have an appointment in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

Qualifying Examination

The PhD qualifying examination is offered during the fall or spring semesters. The qualifying examination evaluates the breadth and depth of a student’s chosen area of research and ensures that the proposed dissertation represents original investigation with appropriate scientific rigor. The qualifying examination has both written and oral components. A student failing any part of the examination may be allowed one additional opportunity to pass that portion at the discretion of the guidance committee, within the regulations of the Graduate School.  

Dissertation Committee

After the qualifying examination has been passed and a dissertation topic approved, the guidance committee shall be known as the dissertation committee and may be reduced to three members. One of the three members must be from outside the major department. The chair of the dissertation committee will be the principal research adviser.

Dissertation and Oral Defense

An acceptable dissertation based on original investigation is required. The dissertation must show technical mastery of a special field, capacity for independent research and scholarly ability. The dissertation and the defense or final oral must have the unanimous approval of the dissertation committee. The dissertation should be completed within three years of advancing to candidacy

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