Kinesiology Ph.D. program ascends to #11 in nation

January 16, 2024

Michigan State University’s Kinesiology Ph.D. program is ranked #11 in the nation by the National Academy of Kinesiology (NAK) — improving its position by 12 spots since the last time rankings were announced in 2020.

“I am very proud of our dedicated faculty, students and collaborative community who have propelled us forward 12 positions in just a short time,” said Dean and MSU Research Foundation Professor Jerlando F. L. Jackson. “This accolade is a testament to the passion and hard work of all those who contribute to the success of our Kinesiology Ph.D. program.”

The Department of Kinesiology is housed in the IM Circle building.

According to the methodology published by NAK, the Department of Kinesiology showed growth in areas such as faculty publications, postdoctoral research positions, federal funding and book chapters published. The rankings, which are a result of data collected during the 2020-2022 calendar years, evaluated 35 doctoral programs across the United States. Professor Nicholas Myers is a co-author on the report.

Graduate student success

In recent years, notable student achievements have underscored the excellence of the department:

  • In 2021, Jullian Kochanek received the American Kinesiology Association Doctoral Scholar Award, which recognizes one scholar each year for their distinguished academic, leadership and service record. Recent graduate Aaron Zynda received the same award in 2023.
  • In Feb. 2022, graduate students within the Department of Kinesiology coordinated the annual Midwest Sport and Exercise Psychology Symposium. Presentations topics at the conference included sport programs for youth within the justice system, athlete activism, body inclusiveness in exercise spaces and girls’ voices in sport.
  • In 2023, doctoral program students Darice Brooks and Meredith Wekesser received the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) Outstanding Student Paper Award — the first Spartans to do so since 2018. Wekesser also received a 2023 MSU Excellence-in-Teaching Citation for demonstrating exceptional dedication and proficiency in fulfilling their classroom duties with attentiveness and expertise.
  • Doctoral students also engaged in exciting research. For example, doctoral and undergraduate students are engaging in the first ever NASCAR grant to research exercise physiology. In addition, Chelsi Ricketts, a doctoral candidate, was featured in MSUToday after a March 2023 study publication in the Psychology of Sport and Exercise Journal, which explored the topic of body image and athletic performance.

Embracing a new leader

In 2022, the College of Education welcomed internationally renowned exercise psychology scholar, Paddy Ekkekakis as chair of the Department of Kinesiology. His research examines affective responses to exercise, or the psychological responses and state of an individual during and after physical activity.

“It is an exciting time for our department,” he said. “Our faculty and student scholars continue to push boundaries, advance research and cultivate excellence in the study of human movement, which has been reflected in these rankings.”

Related news

Three-time Kinesiology alum Bill Burghardt is the director of sports sciences for Michigan State University; read about his career journey in the New Educator.

Burghardt and master’s program student Benjamin Klein, among other Kinesiology Spartans, were featured in MSUToday in 2023 for their work with sport science.