Explore exercise science through research and become part of the next generation of research scientists and educators in the field.

Doctoral students in exercise science join an active community of scholarship and practice, and engage in a research-based exploration of the effects of exercise on human health, disease and performance.

Students work closely with exercise science faculty and collaborators on shared research interests in various dedicated laboratory facilities on campus. In addition to personalized mentorship from faculty who are widely published in numerous areas of scholarly inquiry, students are also supported by the Falk College Research Center, the university research community, and partner institutions including prominent area hospitals. Research design, methods and statistics are the foundation of required Ph.D. coursework, complimented by a wide variety of options for electives.

Doctoral milestones include a 45 hour review, successful completion of a qualifying exam at the end of coursework, a research apprenticeship project, developing and defending a dissertation proposal, a completed dissertation and a successful oral defense.

Why this degree makes a difference in society today…tomorrow…

Researchers in exercise science contribute to a body of knowledge that informs the practice of medicine, nutrition, public health, mental health and others. New discoveries in exercise science lead to improved health policies, patient treatment plans, nutritional recommendations, athletic training, community interventions, health access and equity initiatives, and beyond. Overall, the impact of exercise science researchers and educators is far-reaching and helps to build stronger, healthier people and communities.

Sample Courses

In addition to required coursework in research design, methods, and statistics, students choose electives from exercise science course offerings, or from university courses relevant to their professional goals. Such areas include advanced technical writing, biochemistry, bioengineering, neuroscience, public health, nutrition, and others. Here is a small sample of required courses:

  • Current Literature in Exercise and Sport Science
  • Systemic Physiology and Exercise
  • Research Methods in Exercise and Sport Science
  • Experimental Design and Statistical Methods I and II
  • Advanced Seminar in Quantitative Research Methods I
View all course requirements and electives

Our Facilities

The Department of Exercise Science houses several laboratories that support integrative research at the cellular, tissue, and whole organism level. Laboratories include:

  • The Human Performance Laboratory: Conducts non-invasive assessment of vascular structure and function to explore the impact of exercise on emerging markers of cardiovascular disease risk;
  • The Kinesmetrics Laboratory: Applies objective measurement tools to advance knowledge of physical behavior’s (sleep, sedentary behavior and physical activity) consequences on health;
  • The Clinical Research Laboratory: Utilizes metabolic testing facilities in conjunction with wet lab space to measure cardio-metabolic risk factors (e.g., insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes) in obese populations.

Syracuse University is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research community. Falk College’s dedicated Research Center supports faculty and student research activity through identifying funding sponsors and collaborators, internal and external proposal development and post award support, as well as navigating the University sponsored-project system.

Immersion Travel

Syracuse University students have access to one of the highest-quality international study programs in the country. The “Mount Everest Base Camp Trek: The Human Response to High Altitude” is a three-week, three-credit course and full-fledged research expedition designed for students interested in human environmental physiology, mountaineering, and adventure. The course brings together the Syracuse contingent with high-altitude experts and research teams from Mount Royal University in Canada, Mid Sweden University, and the University of Michigan. Abroad programs are subject to scheduling changes. For a precise schedule of when these programs offered, please contact the department directly. For more information, visit abroad.syr.edu.


The Ph.D. program prepares students for careers involving sport, health, and human performance-related biomedical research, such as:

  • Faculty positions in university departments where exercise and human physical activity have emerged as major focus areas, for example, kinesiology, nutrition, public health, and others;
  • Postdoctoral positions in a variety of settings (major universities, medical schools) for additional training in the area of expertise;

Research positions in other settings. For example, graduates are well-suited for research careers in applied human physiology and/or human health, as exemplified by the research priorities of Federal agencies such as NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Agency), and the NIH (The National Institutes of Health), and the USARIEM (US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine).

Financial Support

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program in Exercise Science will receive four years of graduate assistantship funding. The graduate assistantship will include a stipend and tuition scholarship credits. All graduate assistantships require service as a research assistant and/or teaching assistant.

Getting Admitted

Prospective students with a bachelor’s degree and the prerequisites listed below may apply to the Ph.D. program. These students will first complete Phase I of the program, which are the same requirements completed by master’s degree students, before moving on to Phase II (see curriculum information in the Course Catalog). Applicants who are not sure of their plans may decide to apply to the Exercise Science M.S. program, with the option to apply to the Ph.D. program toward the end of the master’s degree. Applicants should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, and transcripts that show successful completion of:

  • 8 semester hours of General Biology
  • 8 semester hours of Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • 3 credit hours of exercise physiology
  • 3 credit hours of general science

Those who already hold a master’s degree in Exercise Science may also apply, and, depending on review of past coursework, may begin with Phase II of the program (see curriculum information in the Course Catalog).

Apply Today!

Learn more:

For additional admissions information, contact the Office of Admissions at falk@syr.edu, or fill out our online form:

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