By Published On: May 13, 2022

For those in the exercise science field interested in earning their doctorate, there are a variety of programs you can pursue to get you to where you want to be in your career. Some, like a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT), allow you to serve as a physical therapist in hospitals, clinics, or in sport settings. Others, like a PhD, allow you to conduct your own research in the field and teach at the collegiate level. Depending on your career goals, you may choose to pursue one or more doctorate degrees.

Professional Doctorate vs. Academic Doctorate 

A professional doctorate, also known as a clinical doctorate, prepares individuals for specific practices upon graduation. Some professional doctorate programs may require additional state licensure in addition to completing the program. For those seeking careers as physical therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, or athletic trainers, a professional doctorate is the one you will complete. An EdD is also considered a professional doctorate, as it prepares you to apply research in leadership roles, rather than conducting research in an academic setting. 

An academic doctorate is for those interested in working in academia and research. Many with a PhD will teach at the collegiate level, in addition to working to advance the field by designing and conducting their own research. Those who have previously earned a professional doctorate may choose to pursue an academic doctorate if they would like to transition into academia after serving in a clinical role. 

Those seeking a doctorate in the exercise science field have a number of programs to choose from. 

PhD in Health and Human Performance

A PhD in Health and Human Performance will prepare you to enter academia, and conduct your own research within the exercise science field. With this degree, you can help shape the future of exercise and sport science. Within the program, you will typically complete courses that dive deep into exercise science topics, research courses, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation. Individuals will need a master’s, typically in an exercise science field, before applying to the PhD program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual pay for medical scientists is $95,310.

Concordia University Chicago’s PhD in Health and Human Performance is an interdisciplinary degree program that is 100% online, and has a strong research orientation that 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.

EdD in Health and Human Performance

An EdD in Health and Human Performance prepares you to apply research to real world problems and to work directly with clients in a variety of settings. The EdD is ideal for those seeking leadership roles within the field and for those wanting to teach at the post-secondary level but not conduct their own research. Individuals will need a master’s, typically in an exercise science field, before applying to this EdD program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual pay for post secondary instructors is $79,640.

Concordia University Chicago’s EdD in Health and Human Performance is a 100% online,  interdisciplinary degree program designed to prepare students to pursue academic, clinical, leadership, and research roles in the fields of health promotion, exercise science, kinesiology, human performance and other related disciplines. The program emphasizes a rigorous application of evidenced based research, assessment, and scholarship as the basis for identifying and addressing issues arising out of the intersection of physical activity, health promotion, and human performance.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

A Doctor of Physical Therapy degree allows individuals to pursue careers as physical therapists in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. In order to enter a program and earn a DPT, individuals typically need at minimum a bachelor’s degree in an exercise science field before entering a DPT program. After completing the program, individuals will need to obtain licensure and can then pursue residencies or fellowships to develop their practice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for physical therapists is $95,620.

Doctor of Athletic Training (DAT)

A Doctor of Athletic Training degree allows athletic trainers to advance their knowledge and practice in athletic training. In order to enter a program to earn a DAT, individuals typically will need to have earned their master’s degree, and must be board certified athletic trainers, with state licensure if applicable. Since the industry standard is updating in 2022 to require athletic trainers to have earned a master’s in athletic training as a minimum, individuals coming into practice as athletic trainers and who get the necessary certification and licensure to practice will meet qualifications for a DAT program. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for athletic trainers is $48,420. 

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

A Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree prepares individuals to practice as occupational therapists in a variety of settings, from hospitals and clinics to private practices. In order to enter an OTD program, individuals will need to have earned a bachelor’s degree, typically in an exercise science or related field. After completing the program, individuals will need to get certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, and receive state licensure, if applicable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for occupational therapists is $85,570.

Doctor of Chiropractic (DC)

A Doctor of Chiropractic degree prepares individuals to practice as chiropractors. In order to earn a DC, individuals typically must complete some undergraduate eduation or a full bachelor’s degree before entering a DC program. Upon completion of the program, individuals will need to have passed the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ exam, and receive state licensure, if applicable. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for chiropractors is $75,000.



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