Why Enroll in Kinesiology at MSU?
A recent five-year study of MSU Kinesiology Ph.D. graduates revealed that 68% completed their degrees in four (4) years or less. Every one of the Ph.D. students obtained work related to their degrees, with 89% employed at colleges, universities or medical schools.
Program of Study
- The KIN mission statement emphasizes disciplinary and interdisciplinary research focusing on physical activity and sport across the lifespan, with a special emphasis on youth.
- Doctoral concentrations include athletic training, exercise physiology, cognitive and motor neuroscience, and psychosocial aspects of sport and physical activity.
- Doctoral students develop the expertise needed to succeed as faculty members in higher education. Students have a variety of opportunities for conducting and publishing research, as well as developing and practicing the skills needed to teach college courses in the specialization area.
- KIN offers a flexible personal program of study.
Quality of Education
- KIN has great faculty mentors who take a personal interest in you and are motivated and excited about working with you.
- KIN houses the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, the Biomarkers and Genetics Laboratory, and other research/outreach centers.
- There are tremendous opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research associated with MSU’s 17 degree-granting colleges and the numerous campus research laboratories and centers. Ph.D. students often take advantage of opportunities for dual majors and the inter-campus exchange programs offered through MSU’s Graduate School (MIGS and BTAA).
- Many KIN students take advantage of opportunities for research and applied work with MSU athletic teams and Student-Athlete Support Services.
- KIN students are accomplished. A list of completed KIN dissertations demonstrates the nature of graduate student research projects. Also, more than 15 KIN graduate students have received MSU’s highly competitive Excellence-in-Teaching Citation, presented annually to six of MSU’s ~10,000 graduate students.
Funding for Graduate Study
- MSU offers impressive multi-year fellowship packages to well-qualified incoming doctoral students. Furthermore, our graduate assistantship compensation is very competitive with other major universities, especially with respect to tuition waivers and medical insurance benefits.
- Fellowships are available at the department, college, and university levels for continuing doctoral students, including summer research and dissertation completion fellowships.
- KIN supports participation at professional meetings through a competitive research fellowship, as well as travel funds available to every KIN graduate student.
- Please see the Financial Support section (below) for more details.
- MSU is Big Ten, world-renowned university.
- KIN is affiliated with the College of Education, which boasts several top-10 ranked programs, including elementary and secondary education programs which have been ranked #1 in the country for nearly three decades.
- Key Facts and Information about MSU
- The MSU campus is a beautiful park-like environment.
- The cost of living in the Lansing area is very reasonable.
Criteria for Admission to the Kinesiology Ph.D Program
KIN faculty members use the following criteria when judging applicants for admission and when determining which prospective doctoral students to nominate for fellowships. Sources of information include transcripts, GRE test report, professional goals statement, resume, letters of recommendation and writing/research sample. Students may submit additional materials if desired. Prospective students should make certain that all of these criteria are addressed in their admissions portfolios.
- Academic excellence – GPA, GRE scores and percentile ranks (removal of this requirement is being considered), reputation of department or program of study pursued, letters of recommendation
- Goals and their match to the department/program – statement of purpose, breadth and depth of professional/research experience, fit with faculty interests or department strengths, potential to benefit from and contribute to KIN.
- Leadership potential – academic/professional/community activities or employment, evidence of leadership potential, capacity to make a distinctive professional or scholarly contribution
- Contribution to a diverse educational community – consider personal history and experience, professional goals, and/or the promotion of understanding among persons of different backgrounds and idea.
- Record of overcoming obstacles – social, economic, personal
According to Michigan State University policy, all international students and students whose first language is not English must show proficiency of the English language as a condition of admission. Applicants must demonstrate their proficiency by meeting certain standards. More information can be seen at the English Language Competency site.
To be considered for regular admission, applicants must demonstrate and/or include the following in their application (below). More detail of these considerations is provided in the Graduate Education Application Portal section of this page. A committee of faculty members reviews each application. The review committee considers the following factors, in no particular order or weight, to asses applicants:
- A two-page professional goals statement in which you describe your interest and aptitude in one or more concentrations offered in the doctoral program, state your research interests and specify the faculty member(s) that you prefer as your mentor(s). It is recommended applicants state the relevant relationships between the program and their professional goals.
- A two-page personal statement in which you describe your personal background relevant to finding success in the fields of kinesiology. Note that this is not the same as the “professional goals statement” above.
- A professional resume or CV.
- Completion of a master’s degree. Although a completed master’s degree is typically required, in cases of exceptional scholarly promise, a student may enter the doctoral program following the completion of an undergraduate degree. KIN does consider applicants who do not have undergraduate or master’s degrees in kinesiology. However, applicants with limited background in kinesiology will be required to complete collateral work.
- A competitive cumulative grade point average displaying academic experience and performance. The department prefers GPAs of 3.3 or higher.
- Competitive scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The department prefers a minimum score of 150 points on the verbal test, a combined score of 300 points or higher on the verbal and math tests, and a score of 4.0 points or higher on the analytical writing test. (Removal of this requirement is being considered.)
- Demonstration of English Language Proficiency through a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score (and/or other assessments) that meets the MSU Graduate School requirements.
- Conformity with university and college admission requirements
- Research experience such as a master’s thesis, master’s project or collaborative work with a faculty member.
- Three strong letters of recommendation, with preference given to letters from individuals that can speak to your ability to succeed in academic settings.
- Official transcripts (Note: all transcripts must be translated into English if not already done).
The committee may recommend acceptance or denial of admission to the program, or it may recommend holding an application and requesting more information. If the decision is to admit the applicant, the program coordinator assigns a temporary faculty advisor. Applicants are notified of the department’s decision by mail and/or email as soon as possible after the review.
Note: Some applications may be held in a waiting cue, pending student acceptance of initial admissions offers. Notification to students in the cue will come at a later date.
A student who does not satisfy the requirements for regular admission may be considered for provisional admission with approval of the Dean of College of Education. If accepted, the conditions of provisional admission (e.g., academic performance, completion of designated courses) will be specified in the student’s letter of acceptance. Provisional status will be removed when the student has successfully fulfilled those conditions.
Letters of Recommendation
The purpose of the letters of recommendation is to show the review committee the qualities the applicant could bring to the program that are likely to make him or her successful in advanced graduate study. In addition to the letter of recommendation, the recommender will be asked to assess the probability of your success in meeting the programs standards in a variety of areas, including for example, oral and written expression, likelihood of scholarly and professional achievement, etc. through supplemental questions asked when the recommender follows the link they are sent. As a result, it is most helpful to solicit recommendations from individuals who best know the applicant’s academic and professional skills. Letters from instructors who taught the candidate at the undergraduate level are particularly effective for this purpose, while letters from workplace supervisors may be less so.
International applicants have specific requirements that must be addressed during the application process.
- Demonstration of English Language Proficiency
- Transcripts that are translated from first language to English
- Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support
Communication with Faculty of Interest
Students interested in the Kinesiology Ph.D. program are strongly encouraged to communicate directly with faculty members that align with their academic, research, and professional interests. To review faculty in the Department of Kinesiology, please see the Faculty Bios page.
Application deadline is January 15
University Application Form and Fee
The first step to applying to Michigan State University and your desired graduate program is to complete the University’s Graduate School application (with payment). For applicants seeking admissions to the Kinesiology Ph.D. program at MSU, you must apply online through the Graduate School. The MSU program code number for the Ph.D. program in Kinesiology is 2284. The application fee (payable in U.S. dollars) must be paid for applicants to be considered. The MSU Office of Admissions website also includes considerable information about related issues at the university, including possible application fee waivers.
Note: On the University Application, place the following statement into the Personal Statement and Academic Statement boxes. “Please see my statement in the Graduate Education Application Portal”
Graduate Education Application Portal
After you have completed the University Application and paid your application fee, you will be sent an email inviting you to complete the program’s supplemental application through the Graduate Education Application Portal. The email will be sent to the e-mail address you listed on your University graduate school application. To log in, you will need your Applicant ID number and the password you created during the application process. The Portal will serve as an electronic depository for your student- and recommender-generated application materials.
Logging into your unique portal will allow you to monitor your application materials. Follow the instructions below for content, formatting, and submission protocol for supplemental application documents.
Submission Letters of Recommendation
By clicking on the “Letters of Recommendation” tab in the Graduate Education Application Portal, you can add your recommenders’ information. You will be asked to waive or not waive access to the letters of recommendation you solicit. If you do not waive your access, it is likely that your letter of recommendation will have little impact on your evaluation for the program.
Applicants should solicit three recommenders, who will each submit a recommendation letter and answer some program specific questions attesting to the applicant’s academic ability or their professional qualifications — e.g., professors with whom courses were taken, undergraduate degree advisor or a professional supervisor. When an applicant adds the required information about each recommender, the system will automatically send a link through email (from the firstname.lastname@example.org email address) where the recommender can evaluate the candidate and submit a letter of recommendation.
- Applicants need to be prepared to enter the following information into the Portal for each of their three recommendation writers:
- First Name
- Last Name
- Email address
Please be certain that you have a mutual agreement and understanding with your recommenders prior to submitting their information into the system. You are responsible for ensuring that the proper number of recommendation letters are submitted on your behalf. The Graduate Education Application Portal will keep you apprised of the status of your requests for letters of recommendation. You may need to follow up with your recommenders regarding missing letters to complete your application. If they do not recall receiving an email, have them search for a message from email@example.com. We advise giving your recommenders ample time before the deadline to submit their letters.
Ensure the resume/vita is in PDF format before entering the portal. Upload the PDF by selecting Resume from the drop-down menu.
Statement of Professional Goals (Goal Statement)
From an autobiographical perspective, applicants should discuss their reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree in kinesiology. This statement is a very important part of the file for the review committee. Candidates should present a thoughtful and extended written portrait, approximately two pages long, single-spaced, of their reasons for pursuing advanced graduate study, the match between their goals and the program’s characteristics, and the major issues of scholarly and professional interest that they wish to explore during their graduate career. It is important to mention shared interests with specific MSU Kinesiology faculty members. Applicants should respond to the following questions:
- How have my experiences and intellectual growth shaped questions that an advanced graduate program might help me to explore?
- What sorts of academic and professional leadership roles would the program and degree help me to assume?
- What obstacles to educational achievement for professional growth have I overcome?
Ensure the Goals statement is in PDF format before entering the portal. Upload the PDF in the Graduate Education Portal by selecting “Goal Statement” or “Personal Statement” from the drop-down list.
Applicants submit one or more examples of academic or professional writing, e.g., something that they have published, a master’s thesis or a paper they might have submitted to fulfill course requirements. The applicant must have authored at least one sample exclusively. The purpose is to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to write analytical English prose in order to give the review committee a clear idea of how well the candidate will be able to carry out the kind of analytical writing that is a central component of advanced graduate study.
It may be a good idea to submit several such papers. International students in particular need to see this sample as a way to demonstrate their command of English. Toward this end, a translated abstract of a master’s thesis is of no help. If a student does not have an appropriate extended piece of analytical prose in English that can be submitted along with the application, the program coordinator will be glad to work out a paper topic with the student so that he or she can write an original piece for this purpose.
Copies of the writing sample(s) should be uploaded through the Portal by select Writing Sample from the drop-down menu.
Any additional materials that you deem relevant to your application need to be uploaded to the Portal by clicking the “Upload File” text link and selecting “Supplemental Application” from the “Select Document Type” drop-down menu.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Applicants need to submit their official results of the GRE General Test (taken within the past five years). Official test results need to be sent to institution code 1465. It is best to select MSU at the time you take the exam; otherwise there may be a fee to have your scores sent. GRE scheduling is quite convenient and results are immediate, when taken on the computer. You can explore the GRE website for testing and scheduling information. To expedite the application process, particularly if the application deadline is drawing near, upload a copy of your student issued results (must include raw scores and percentiles for all 3 tests) to the Portal or email the report to the program secretary.
Update 09/15/23: Removal of this requirement is being considered.
NOTE: The Graduate Education Application Portal will display a date when MSU has received your official scores.
Applicants must have their official transcripts sent directly from all universities attended, except MSU. Transcripts can arrive in two official ways: 1) as a sealed envelope directly from your institution or 2) as an email from the institutions registrar’s office. If you request electronic transcripts, they need to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copies need to be mailed to:
Michigan State University
Kinesiology Doctoral Program, Program Secretary
308 W. Circle Drive Room 134
East Lansing, MI 48824
If obtaining an official copy will delay review of your application materials beyond January 15, an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) may be uploaded into the Portal to be used for consideration only. Official copies must also be received by the university, if you are recommended for admission.
If you are currently working on a degree at an institution other than MSU, and you are selected for admission to our program, once your degree has conferred, you must provide the Office of Admissions an official transcript showing that your degree was conferred. Please have your official transcript, showing your conferred degree, mailed directly to the address stated above.
NOTE: All applicants pursuing or who have earned degrees from universities in China must follow the procedure listed below for international applicants when submitting transcripts.
The application process for international students is slightly different. International applicants must apply online and use the International application found on the MSU Graduate School website. Your application fee should be paid by credit card. If you must submit payment in the form of a check or money order, please make it payable to Michigan State University and mail it to
Office of Admission
Michigan State University
Hannah Administration Building
426 Auditorium Road, Room 250
East Lansing, Michigan 48824-2604, U.S.A.
Be sure to reference your application ID number on the check or money order. Checks drawn outside the U.S. must be payable in U.S. funds through a U.S. bank. Checks drawn on foreign banks that do not have a correspondent U.S. bank may be returned. Do not send cash or international coupons. Paying by check may delay access to the Portal.
Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support and Bank Statements
As part of the international application process, you need to fill out a Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support form and upload a bank statement(s) showing adequate funds (refer to the Statement of Financial Proof for current requirements). Visit http://grad.msu.edu/internationalapplicants/ and select the resource called Information about Affidavit of Support (Financial Proof) The statement must originate from your source of support and must be an original statement with stamp and original signature. You will need to upload both your bank statement(s) and Affidavit of Support into the Graduate Education Application Portal.
English Language Proficiency
- Applicants for whom English is not their primary language are required to show proof of their English language proficiency. Several tests are the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A). The test must be taken within two years of the application. The university’s minimum on the Internet-based Test TOEFL is 80 with no subscore below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking and no writing subscore below 22. Our program expects applicant scores to be higher than the university’s minimum requirements. Our program will assess all section scores when reviewing applicants for admission. No international candidates will be considered for admission review until they have taken an English Language Proficiency test and achieved the necessary scores. Some international candidates ask to be admitted provisionally, with the idea that they will take courses in English after arriving on campus. The program will not accept students on this basis. We require that international candidates demonstrate adequate skill in English before being admitted to the program. Your results should be sent electronically to Michigan State University’s school code of 1465. To expedite application review, unofficial scores can be uploaded into the Graduate Education Application Portal discussed above.
- If the applicant has completed a degree program in an English speaking country, he or she can request a waiver of the English Language Proficiency requirement. Once the program admissions committee is convinced of the student’s English language skills based on past program completion and other evidence, it will ask the university to waive the requirement. This waiver is usually granted, but the university may require the student to take the English proficiency test upon arrival at MSU.
Transcripts from Chinese Institutions
- All applicants pursuing, but who have not yet earned, undergraduate or graduate degrees from universities in China may submit official transcripts (in sealed envelopes directly from the university) to be used for admission consideration. Please mail them to the address listed in the summary section below. If the program recommends that the applicant be admitted, the applicant will be required to send all official transcripts and certificates, showing degree conferral, to the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) to obtain verification of these documents, before formal admission the Michigan State University will be granted.
- Applicants who have already completed graduate and/or undergraduate degrees from Chinese institutions need to submit their transcripts and certificates directly to the CDGDC at the time of application. So that the application review process is not delayed, they may also submit official transcripts (in sealed envelopes directly from the institution) to the program secretary, to be used for admissions determination. Again, formal admission the Michigan State University will not be granted until documents and verification arrive from the CDGDC.
CDGDC operates underneath the Ministry of Education for the purpose of verifying the authenticity of transcripts and degrees granted at the post-secondary level. They do this not only for overseas universities, but for employers and organizations within China as well.
The process is straightforward:
- Students in China send copies of their official documents to the CDGDC along with payment. More information on the CDGDC website.
- CDGDC verifies grades and degrees (depending on what is requested) by accessing national and provincial databases and contacting universities directly.
- CDGDC then sends via courier service directly to the U.S. University stamped copies of the verified documents along with a statement noting in English what the degree is and whether the university and program is recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
An acceptable CDGDC Packet will include the following (an example is linked):
- Institutional recognition and confirmation of program completion.
- Confirmation that the bachelor’s and/or master’s degree was conferred.
- Copy of transcript in Chinese/English or English.
Institutional recognition and confirmation of program completion
If you need more information about CDGDC please refer to the website: http://www.chinadegrees.cn/en/.
Sources of Information for International Students
If you have questions about how to fill out the international application, you can reference the MSU Office of Admissions – Graduate Admission website, contact them through instant messaging, use the online “Ask Admissions a Question” section of the website, or by calling (517) 355-8332.
The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is able to assist with the following items:
- Visa types and requirements
- International student immigration matters
- Travel to the U.S.
- Finances for international students
- International student orientation
- Support services for international students
International students now go back up to the Required Application Materials section above and submit their remaining application materials in accordance with the instructions listed.
Summary of Application Process
- Apply Online (with payment)
- Submit the following items into the Graduate Education Applicant Portal (supplemental application system):
- Statement of Professional Goals (uploaded as “Goal Statement” or “Personal Statement”)
- Writing Sample(s) – minimum 1
- 3 Letters of Reference (submitted directly from the recommender through the portal)
- Unique materials (submitted as “Supplemental Application” through the portal)
- For International Applicants Only:
- Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support
- Official Bank Statement
- Submit the following by mail to
Kinesiology Ph.D. Program Secretary
308 W. Circle, Room 134
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
or by email direct from your institution.
- Submit electronically, directly from Electronic Testing Services (ETS) to school/institution code 1465:
- GRE results
- English Language Proficiency results (International applicants only)
- If the application deadline is near and you do not believe that we will receive your official results in time, please submit unofficial copies of the following via an upload to the Portal or by emailing them to email@example.com:
- GRE scores
- English Language Proficiency results (international applicants only)
- Unofficial transcripts
UPDATE 09/15/23: Removal of the GRE results requirement is being considered.
Several multi-year fellowships are designed to help recruit prospective doctoral students with outstanding academic credentials. Each of these highly-competitive multi-year awards includes some combination of a fellowship stipend, tuition or partial-tuition waiver, health insurance and graduate assistantship position.
- University Distinguished Fellowships (UDF)
- University Enrichment Fellowships (UEF)
- Dean’s Scholar Awards
- Erickson Research Fellowships
Students who wish to apply for the multi-year fellowships and scholarships must submit the all materials required for admission by December 1. Students should give particular attention to the personal goals statement and the selection of a writing sample (not more than 20 pages). In addition, the department strongly recommends that students communicate with their likely departmental mentors about their qualifications for the multi-year awards.
Fellowships and Scholarships
The Department of Kinesiology, in concert with the College of Education and the MSU Graduate School, offers a variety of fellowships, scholarships and graduate teaching and research assistantships for both entering and continuing graduate students
Graduate Assistantship Positions
The Department of Kinesiology offers a number of graduate assistantship (GA) positions each year. Typical annual stipends for a half-time GA position are competitive and depend upon the student’s qualifications and experience. In addition, GAs receive multiple other benefits. For more information, consult the GA information on the Graduate School website.
Other Financial Aid
The Office of Financial Aid provides information about loans, work study, scholarships and grants. etc.
Transfer Credit Policies
Incoming graduate students may transfer credits from:
- Other accredited colleges or universities – a maximum of 9 semester credits of graduate level work (excluding research and thesis credits)
- MSU Lifelong Education Program – a maximum of 9 semester credits of graduate work
General limitations on transfer credits
Credits will be transferred only if: (a) the course is appropriate to the student’s academic program; (b) the course was completed within the time limits for earning of the degree desired at MSU; and (c) the student earned a grade of at least 3.0 in the course. Check the current MSU Academic Programs catalog for the most comprehensive and current information. (Click here for Academic Program)
The majority of transfer credits requests are handled directly with a student’s academic advisor. Certain transfers for credit to key Kinesiology courses may require an additional review. Decisions about transfer credits are not made until the student has been admitted to the graduate program. If you wish to request a transfer of credits from a previous institution, provide your advisor with the course syllabus, samples of your work product from the course, and a copy of the transcript that reflects your grade in the course. You may request the copy of the transcript from firstname.lastname@example.org if you used said transcript during your application process.
The Lifelong Education program provides prospective students with an opportunity to enroll in MSU courses before entry into a KIN graduate program. Some prospective students enroll in courses with lifelong education status so that they can: (a) begin to take credits before formal admission to the program or (b) prove that they are prepared for graduate study.
Living in Lansing
- Kinesiology Graduate Student Organization: Twitter/X, Instagram, Facebook
- Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU)
- Office of Spartan Experiences
- Living the Spartan Life in East Lansing
- Campus Life
- University Housing
- Visitor and Destination Information (MSU)
- Sports and Recreation (MSU)