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Department of Kinesiology

Kinesiology Doctoral Program

What is a Grad Plan?

A Ph.D. grad plan is an electronic document that specifies the course work that the student must complete as part of his/her degree requirements. Although there are certain university, college, and departmental requirements, grad plans are personalized for individual students.

Steps in Developing a Grad Plan

  1. The student develops a draft program plan to share with his/her advisor.
  2. The student and advisor collaborate and reach consensus.
  3. After the guidance committee fully approves of the courses selected and other timelines, the student will create their first grad plan.   Go to (

Required Elements of a Ph.D. Grad Plan

Students should give attention to the following departmental, college, and university requirements when constructing their grad plan.
  • KIN requirements
    • Minimum of 60 semester credits, including the dissertation.
    • Categories of required course work: (a) area of concentration; (b) KIN cognate/breadth requirement; (c) supporting area cognate; (d) research cognate.
        • Concentration Courses:  A minimum of four courses at the 800–900 level totaling at least 12 credits in one of the six major areas of study referenced above.  At least 6 of the 12 credits must be in Kinesiology courses. Courses in the student's concentration must be approved by the student's guidance committee.  Courses that are used to satisfy the research requirements referenced may not be used to satisfy this concentration requirement.
        • Core courses:  Students who have completed a previous degree in kinesiology, or similarly named program such as physical education or exercise science, must complete a minimum of 6 credits of kinesiology courses at the 800-900 level outside of the student’s major area/concentration.  Students who have not completed a previous degree in kinesiology must complete a minimum of 9 credits of kinesiology courses at the 800-900 level representing at least two different disciplinary areas (adapted physical activity, athletic training, biomechanics, exercise physiology, growth and motor development, psychosocial aspects of sport and physical activity) outside of the student’s major area/concentration.
        • Cognate courses:  A cognate that consists of a minimum of three courses at the 400–900 level totaling 9 credits.  All 9 of the credits must be in courses outside the Department of Kinesiology and must be related to the student's concentration.  Both the cognate and the related courses must be approved by the student's guidance committee.
        • Research requirement courses:  Consists of a minimum of 9 credits at the 800-900 level research methods courses approved by the student's guidance committee.  In addition to the 9 credits mentioned above, each student must complete a 1-3 credit Research Practicum (KIN995).

    • Comprehensive examinations (written and oral).

Course-Taking Options

Ph.D. students have a variety of course-taking options when developing the grad plan. However, the selected courses must be (a) appropriate to the student's academic program and (b) completed within the time limit for earning the Ph.D. degree at MSU, as judged by the student's guidance committee.

  • Graduate-level courses. At MSU, 900-level courses are designed specifically for doctoral students, and 800-level courses are designed for for both master's and doctoral level students. The Ph.D. grad plan may include any 800 or 900 level graduate courses offered by any academic unit at MSU.
  • Transfer credits. Graduate students may transfer up to 9 semester credits from other accredited colleges or universities. Credits will be transferred only if the student earned a grade of at least 3.0 in the course.
  • Courses from earlier degrees at MSU. Doctoral students may apply graduate credits from earlier degrees at MSU to the doctoral program plan, but only if those credits were not formally included in the master's degree program plan.

Sample Grad Plan

The following sample grad plan was approved for a doctoral student in the exercise physiology concentration whose research interests focused on the effects of exercise in pregnancy. Notice how the grad plan was personalized for this student. In fact, the student created a KIN cognate that corresponded with research interests. Also notice how courses are grouped by degree requirements. There are 77 credits in this grad plan (53 credits of course work plus 24 credits of dissertation).

Concentration: Exercise Physiology
KIN 810 - Physiology of Physical Activity - 3 credits
KIN 811 - Physiological Evaluation and Exercise Prescription - 2 credits
KIN 812 - Cardiovascular, Respiratory, and Metabolic Responses ... - 3 credits
KIN 813 - Neuromuscular and Endocrine Responses to Exercise - 3 credits
KIN 890 - Independent Study: Portable Analyzer - 1 credits
KIN 890 - Independent Study: Exercise in Pregnancy - 1 credits
KIN 894 - Field Experiences: Crew Data/Paper - 3 credits
PSL 432 - Medical Physiology II - 2 credits

KIN Cognate/Breadth Requirement: Exercise Behavior
KIN 482 - Exercise Psychology - 3 credits
KIN 841 - Stress Management in Athletes - 3 credits
KIN 870 - Physical Activity and Well-Being - 3 credits

Supporting Area Cognate: Epidemiology
EPI 810- Introduction to Descriptive and Analytical Epidemiology - 3 credits
EPI 812 - Causal Inference in Epidemiology - 3 credits
EPI 815 - Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease - 3 credits
EPI 816 - Perinatal Epidemiology - 3 credits
LCS 829 - Design and Conduct of EPI Studies and Clinical Trials - 3 credits

Concentration: Exercise Physiology
KIN 895 - Research Ethics - 1 credits
KIN 995 - Research Practicum: Portable Analyzer - 3 credits
PHM 980 - Problems in Biostatistics - 3 credits
PSY 815 - Multivariate Statistics & Inference - 4 credits
CEP 932 - Waived by PHM 980 - - credits

Doctoral Dissertation
KIN 999 - Doctoral Dissertation Research - 24 credits


KIN doctoral students are expected to submit an approved grad plan electronically within 24 credits following admission to the Ph.D. program.