The Right Doctoral Degree

Online PhD in Exercise Science

Grow your career with a Doctoral degree in Exercise Science at Concordia University Chicago. Request information today.

Become an Expert in Health & Fitness

Learn how our 100% online programs can help you get ahead in the exercise science field.

Application Deadline: Jan. 3, 2024
Classes Start: Jan. 8, 2024

Online PhD in Exercise Science Program Details

Our 100% online Doctorate in Exercise Science is designed for working adults, with asynchronous classes so you can learn anytime, anywhere. We keep health sciences class sizes small, so you can connect with your classmates and professors.

What Will I Learn in an Online Exercise Science Degree Program?

A PhD in Exercise Science is a research-intensive degree program that focuses on advanced study in the field of exercise physiology, biomechanics, exercise psychology, motor control and related areas. Here are some areas you can expect to learn about and conduct research in during a PhD in Exercise Science.

Research Methods: You will learn advanced research methodologies and statistical analysis techniques used in exercise science research. This includes experimental design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation of results.
Exercise Physiology: You will study the physiological responses and adaptations to exercise, including cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic changes. Topics may include exercise testing and prescription, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism and the impact of exercise on various physiological systems.
Biomechanics: This area covers the analysis of human movement and the forces involved. You’ll learn about kinematics, kinetics and how biomechanics can be applied to improve athletic performance or prevent injuries.
Motor Control and Learning: Understanding how the nervous system controls and coordinates movement is crucial in exercise science. This area explores how individuals learn and develop motor skills, as well as how these skills can be optimized through practice and feedback.
Exercise Psychology: This field examines the psychological aspects of exercise and physical activity, including motivation, adherence to exercise programs and the psychological benefits of exercise on mental health and well-being.

Nutrition and Exercise: You’ll explore the relationship between diet and exercise, focusing on how nutrition can impact performance, recovery and overall health.

Exercise and Chronic Disease: This area investigates the effects of exercise on various chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and cancer. It may also cover exercise interventions for managing and preventing these conditions.

Public Health and Exercise Promotion: Understanding how to promote physical activity at the population level is important for combating sedentary lifestyles and promoting overall health and well-being.

Advanced Topics: Depending on the program and faculty expertise, you may have the opportunity to delve into more specialized areas within exercise science, such as sports performance, aging and exercise, exercise immunology or environmental physiology.

Dissertation Research: The core component of a PhD program is the original research conducted for your dissertation. This research should make a significant contribution to the field of exercise science and demonstrate your ability to conduct independent research.

Why Pursue a Doctorate in Exercise Science?

The PhD in Exercise Science is an interdisciplinary degree program designed to prepare students to pursue academic, clinical, leadership and/or research roles in the fields of health promotion, exercise science, kinesiology, human performance and other related disciplines. This 100% online doctorate program has a strong research orientation and aims to develop outstanding scholars and researchers who create and disseminate new knowledge about issues arising out of the intersection of physical activity, health promotion and human performance.

The 69-credit-hour program, which varies based on research course selection, includes coursework in leadership, health, exercise science, research, statistics and a nine-credit-hour dissertation requirement.

Pursuing a Doctorate in Exercise Science offers numerous benefits and opportunities for individuals passionate about advancing their careers in the field. Here are some reasons to consider pursuing a PhD in Exercise Science.

Research Expertise: A PhD program in Exercise Science provides in-depth training in research methodologies, data analysis and critical thinking. Graduates emerge as experts in their chosen areas of research, capable of conducting original investigations that contribute to the body of knowledge in the field.

Academic and Teaching Careers: For those interested in academia, a PhD is often a prerequisite for tenure-track faculty positions at universities and colleges. With this degree, you can teach undergraduate and graduate courses in exercise science, mentor students and shape the future of the field through education.

Leadership Opportunities: The knowledge and skills gained during a PhD program prepare graduates to pursue leadership roles in various settings, including research institutions, government agencies, healthcare organizations and sports organizations. Graduates can become directors of research programs, exercise physiology labs or health and wellness initiatives.

Advancement in Health and Fitness Industry: A Doctorate in Exercise Science can open doors to higher-level positions in the health and fitness industry. Graduates may find opportunities to work with professional sports teams, corporate wellness programs or elite athletic training facilities.

Contributing to Public Health: The research and discoveries made during a PhD program can have a profound impact on public health. By studying the effects of exercise on chronic diseases, mental health and overall well-being, graduates can help develop evidence-based interventions to improve population health.

Networking and Collaborations: Pursuing a PhD offers opportunities to collaborate with established researchers, professors and experts in the field. These connections can lead to joint research projects, publications and presentations at conferences, enhancing your professional network and reputation.

Intellectual Challenge and Personal Growth: A PhD journey is intellectually stimulating and requires perseverance and dedication. It provides a chance for personal growth as you overcome challenges, develop resilience and cultivate strong problem-solving skills.

Contribution to the Community: As a PhD holder in Exercise Science, you can become a prominent figure in your community, promoting physical activity, health and wellness. You may engage in public outreach, workshops and initiatives that encourage healthier lifestyles.

Global Impact: The research conducted in Exercise Science often has implications beyond local borders. Your work can contribute to global efforts to combat sedentary lifestyles, obesity and other health-related issues.

Lifelong Learning: A PhD program fosters a love for lifelong learning and continued curiosity about the latest advancements in the field. Graduates stay up-to-date with current research and contribute to the ongoing evolution of Exercise Science.

Overall, a PhD in Exercise Science is an intellectually rewarding and professionally fulfilling path for individuals dedicated to advancing knowledge, improving public health and making a positive impact in the realm of physical activity, health promotion and human performance.

Institutional Accreditation

Concordia University Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to award baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees.

Exercise Science Career Outlook

A variety of career paths are attainable with a PhD in Exercise Science. A doctorate from Concordia University Chicago can open many doors in numerous fields.

Many of our students pursue careers in exercise science fields such as these areas:

  • University Professor
  • Research Scientist
  • Exercise Science Educator
  • Physical Health Policy Advocate
  • Exercise Physiology Research Scientist
  • Biomechanics Specialist


Fewer Breaks, Finish Faster

100% Online

Anytime, anywhere learning on your schedule

Tuition Guarantee

Your tuition rate is locked in while continuously enrolled

Admission Requirements

Free online application

Master’s degree in exercise science or related field

3.0 minimum GPA

Objective statement

Letters of recommendation



An introduction to the quantitative analysis of data; including data coding and entry of data. SPSS will be used to explore descriptive and inferential statistics: using both non‐parametric and initial parametric techniques.

An examination of qualitative research approaches with a focus on research design, the role of the researcher, data collection and analysis, and writing from a qualitative perspective.

This course explores the theory and practice of mixed methods research in program evaluation and applied research. Prerequisite: B or higher in RES-7605 and RES-7700

An introduction to advanced statistical concepts including multivariate analysis, linear models, hierarchical linear models, factor analysis and data management will be covered in this course. Students will use published software packages and will learn to write basic syntax for custom analysis. Prerequisite: B or higher in RES-7605.

Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation

Written comprehensive exam questions to be completed by students in a set period of time, assessed by reviewers, and revised by students if first attempt was not proficient in all areas. Students who do not pass their comprehensive exam initially or upon revision cannot progress to the dissertation courses and will be required to take the Remediation Course (HHP-7910) prior to re-taking COMP-7100. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7100. Pass/Fail only.

A remediation course for students who do not pass their Comprehensive Exam (COMP-7100). A review of scientific writing, critical analysis of literature, and writing comprehensive literature reviews. Must be completed with Pass before re-enrollment in COMP-7100. Pass/Fail only.

Scholarly work on a dissertation as approved by the dissertation committee. Pass/Fail only.

Scholarly work on a dissertation as approved by the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: P in COMP-7000 or COMP-7100, and DISS-7010. Pass/Fail only.

Scholarly work on a dissertation as approved by the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: P in DISS-7020. Pass/Fail only.

Taken by doctoral candidates who have completed the required semester hours of dissertation. Doctoral candidates must use this course to maintain continuous enrollment while working on their dissertation and will be charged the equivalent of one semester hour of tuition for each registration in the course until the candidates have successfully defended their dissertation. This course is not credit bearing. Prerequisite: P in DISS-7030. Pass/Fail only.

Exercise Science Specialization Courses

This course examines cardiovascular adaptations to acute and chronic exercise. The course will provide an in-depth analysis of metabolic, systemic and hormonal responses to the stress of exercise and the adaptive changes that occur with training, as well as the underlying mechanisms. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7005 and HHP-7900.

Effective communication in scientific writing. Emphasis on professional scientific language and field-appropriate stylistic convention.

This course examines neuromuscular adaptations to acute and chronic exercise. Students will engage in an in-depth analysis of neuromuscular structure and function, motor unit recruitment during different types of movement, and muscle adaptations to resistance and endurance training. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7005 and HHP-7900.

The purpose of this course is to provide the student with a framework for evaluating current information on exercise recommendations for special populations. Students will engage in an in-depth analysis of the implications for exercise in preventing and managing obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma, neurological conditions and musculoskeletal conditions. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7005, HHP-7900, and RES-7605.

This course examines the latest evidence-based principles and recommendations on meal, energy and nutrient timing for optimal fueling and performance. Topics include principles of nutrient timing, regulation of metabolism by micronutrients and macronutrients and their role in weight control in athletes, safety and validity of supplements and ergogenic aids, and nutritional aspects of optimal performance. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7005, HHP-7900, and RES-7605.

This course examines planning and organization of health programs. Students will investigate, contrast, develop and evaluate a variety of intervention activities. Theories regarding techniques to enhance behavior change and instructional design strategies to meet the health needs of a diverse population will be explored. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP 7000, HHP-7010, and RES-7605.

This course examines the ethical conflicts and challenges around autonomy, liberty, individual rights, and the common good in regard to healthful living and quality of life. Human rights, civil rights, influence of race, social class, and gender/sex will be examined in the context of health issues, such as social determinants of illness, health promotion and behavior modification, social justice, and research equity. Ethical considerations will center on the program design, evaluation and research aspects related to Health and Human Performance with special attention to inclusion.

This course is designed to provide an opportunity for the students to study a specific topic/area of interest within the field and develop an academically sound project with the aid of an advisor. Topics/area of interest will be approved by the Program Director. Independent study should be related to specific program design of Health & Human Performance interventions, grant proposals for agency submission, or academic manuscript preparation for professional presentation and/or publication. This course will culminate in an independent study that will directly demonstrate program competencies. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7020, HHP-7030, HHP-7050, HHP-7090, HHP-7500, HHP-7520, RES-7620, RES-7700, and RES-7800.

Application of mechanics to biological systems including tissue mechanics, human performance, and limb dynamics. Investigation of biomechanics in healthy, aging, and pathological populations. Applying tools of engineering analysis to biological systems from cellular to whole body. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7010 and RES-7605.

Advanced concepts in exercise physiology related to cardiovascular, pulmonary, kidney, and immune system pathologies. Implementation and interpretation of clinical exercise tests with a special focus on ECG and pulmonary function. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7000 and RES-7605

Principles of research theory, methods, inquiry, problem formulation, data collection, literature searches, and ethical considerations. Emphasis on how to design a doctoral-level research study in the field of Health and Human Performance.

Cognate Courses
Select 12 hours from the following:

In-depth study of selected advanced topics in human movement science. Prerequisite: B or higher in AES-6520.

In-depth study of selected advanced topics in sports performance training. Prerequisite: B or higher in AES-6620 or division chair consent.

Reviews major types of gerontological theory within the context of theoretical paradigms. This course explores the differences and commonalities within the various theoretical strands of knowledge construction within gerontology.

Presents an in-depth analysis of the biology of aging, building up from changes occurring at the molecular and cellular level and analyzing the consequences at the organism level. Examines the influence of these age-related changes in what are commonly considered a disease of aging.

Examines psychological development and change across the adult lifespan. Using frameworks of developmental psychology, this course reviews and explores adult development in the broad domains of cognition, personality and socio-emotional functioning. Issues related to normative and optimal adult development and aging are considered.

Explores fertility, mortality and global aging; distribution of health and illness within a population; age-based migration and its impact on locations of origin and destination; variations in health and mortality by gender, race, ethnicity and social class; impact of health and mortality patterns for individuals, society and public policy.

Explores the development, implementation and analysis of social policy in the United States on major issues affecting older people. Considers the determinants of aging policy. The policymaking process and development of legislation are analyzed as factors related to the making of policy for older adults.

Exploration and application of teaching and learning strategies for communicating gerontological knowledge. This course addresses teaching gerontology in classroom settings as well as in public settings to a variety of audiences in applied and policy settings.

Examines the ethical dilemmas of leadership, the foundations and context of moral choice, and the moral implications of decision-making as they relate to gerontological leadership. Considers the ethical challenges and decision criteria facing leaders, the role of politics and power in organizations and the leader’s ability to promote and infuse organizational ethics and integrity in an aging and globalized world.

Explores how ethnicity, race and gender structure the lives of individuals throughout the life course and how other factors such as age, cohort and class intersect with these realities. This course considers how the lives of people differ across diverse strata and how social policies shape individuals’ lives.

Provides an overview of key components of the grant process. Identifying priorities, utilizing grant databases and distinguishing various giving sources such as foundations, corporations, government agencies and individuals. Strategies for proposal development, researching, identifying and cultivating partnerships.

This course develops skills for the selection, development and implementation of various types of instruments and techniques for measuring and evaluating health and human performance interventions. Evaluation of these interventions includes general health behaviors, health-related fitness, nutritional and dietary intake, body composition, and other areas related to an individual’s quality of life. Students will learn methods for developing/choosing psychometric and biometric tools, choosing appropriate evaluation designs, procedures for data collection, and describing evaluation results. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7005 and HHP-7900.

The course examines the process of disease prevention and control through the education and advocacy of health promotion. Students will examine the physiological and medical factors associated with common diseases/conditions including asthma, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other metabolic disease states. Students examine various topics while utilizing methods of health communication for prevention/control of chronic diseases. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7050.

This course examines the latest evidence-based principles and experiential recommendations on the professoriate in higher education. Topics include principles and strategies of teaching and learning; professional relationships; philosophy of education; issues of race and gender, promotion and tenure, and the scholarship of teaching, research and service.

Review of hormonal regulation and function of endocrine systems at both a molecular and whole-species level, as well as endocrine & exercise interactions related to key metabolic pathways. Emphasis on hormones that regulate growth, stress, metabolism, and reproduction, as well as diseases associated with these processes. Prerequisite: B or higher in HHP-7000 and HHP-7010.

This course provides advanced introductions to a representative range of qualitative methods. It is designed to familiarize doctoral and advanced master’s students with the commonly used qualitative research methods. The course will prepare them to further understand philosophies and concepts of qualitative methods, to utilize these methods in their own research, or to evaluate the qualitative work that others have done. This course also teaches how to use qualitative software as an analytic tool to analyze qualitative data. Prerequisite: B or higher in RES-7700.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Students should apply online by clicking here.

Applicants will have required documentation such as official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other materials to supply in order to complete their application. To view our application checklist with all requirements, click here.

In addition to the online application, for the master’s programs, students must submit an objective statement, all academic transcripts, and two letters of recommendation. Additionally, for the Doctoral programs, students must submit a current (within the past 3 years) Graduate Record Exam or Millers Analogies Test scores, a résumé, and a writing sample.

For full admission requirements, please visit here.


For Doctoral programs, students can either take the GRE or the Millers Analogies Test. Test scores will be accepted if taken within the past 3 years.

At the master’s level, Concordia University Chicago does not require a GRE score for admission.

No. Concordia’s online PhD in Exercise Science is 100% online.

Applicants who possess a cumulative grade point average of 2.84 or lower or who have earned a master’s degree with a GPA lower than 3.0 may receive provisional or probationary admission. Please see the admission requirements for a full description.

International students must meet all standards for the program they wish to enter, as well as fulfill additional requirements covering English and transcripts.

Students do not need to be admitted to their master’s degree program in order to register for their initial semester. Students may be placed on Pending Status until all required documentation has been received and may attend classes for one semester. Pending Status status does not apply to doctoral or international students.

Concordia University Chicago allows guest students in our Bachelor’s and Master’s Applied Exercise Science programs. This option allows students who may only want to take a limited number of classes to enroll.

Tuition rates may vary for guest students. For more information, please contact us.

Technology and Online Learning

No. Online students will complete all coursework and discussions through Blackboard, which is a web-based program that includes file posting, discussion boards, a calendar, and grade posting, among other tools.

Students with technology problems or questions should call CougarNet. CougarNet is a collective group of technology services on Concordia University Chicago’s campus serving faculty, staff, and both residential, off-campus, and online students. Contact the CougarNet Helpdesk at 708-209-3131 if you need personal assistance.

Students should be able to use whatever home computer they already own, whether a Mac or PC. You do not need to purchase a specific type of computer. You will need to have reliable access to the internet.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Currently, there are no university scholarships available for students in master’s and doctoral programs. Students are sometimes able to obtain scholarships from an outside party.

Yes. Our financial aid advisors will be happy to discuss your options and go over the application process with you. Contact one of our advisors for more information or see our financial aid options for graduate students.

Click here to learn about the steps involved in financial aid for graduate students.

Graduate students should contact Ethan Muench (, 708-209-3234).


Payment is due before the start of each class.

Deadline to Apply

January 3, 2024

Start Date

January 8, 2024

Cost Per Credit