Synopsis: Exercise Psychology is the study of psychological responses and adaptations to acute and chronic physical activity. The graduate program at UW-Madison focuses on the psychobiological aspects of physical activity in both healthy and diseased populations.
Purpose of MS and Ph.D.: Applicants for graduate study with specialization in exercise psychology are ordinarily only accepted where there is an interest in pursuing the Ph.D. In most cases where an applicant does not possess an MS degree, it is customary to obtain the master’s degree as formal evidence of progress toward the Ph.D. If a candidate for the Ph.D. has not completed a master’s degree, or in those instances where a non-thesis master’s degree has been completed, it is necessary to publish a manuscript in a refereed journal as evidence of satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. Students in this area are trained in the theory and methods required for understanding the psychological and biological bases of behavior. The Department of Kinesiology requires that all candidates complete KINES 991 (Research in Physical Activity – Theory and Design) or its equivalent, but with this single exception, there are no specific courses required of candidates for the Ph.D. with specialization in exercise psychology. Candidates must complete a minimum of 54 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree in accordance with Graduate School policy, but most students in the exercise psychology program elect to take additional credits beyond this minimum. Emphasis is placed upon the demonstration of competence in general psychology, exercise psychology, exercise science, statistics and research design rather than completion of specific courses. Each candidate’s program of formal course work and independent study is tailored in a personalized manner to accommodate the individual’s research and career goals.
This program is committed to providing graduate students with the best available training to prepare them for a variety of careers in academic, clinical, research, government, and other settings. Emphasis is on both extensive academic training in quantitative methods, kinesiology, and general psychology along with extensive research training in the area of exercise psychology. Students are expected to become creative scientists and to exhibit early and continuing commitment to research and scholarship. Most students have several publications in refereed journals to their credit before receiving their Ph.D.’s. While most of the graduates of this program are currently teaching and conducting research at the university level, some have elected to pursue clinical, administrative, and research careers in government, university, and commercial settings.
Laboratory Facilities and Research Paradigms: The Exercise Psychology Laboratory includes two sound-dampened chambers for use in conducting experimental research, and testing facilities are supported by state-of-the-art hardware employed in gathering psychophysiological data. A MRI simulator, located in the adjacent Sensory and Motor Control Laboratory is available for MRI training and behavioral testing. Research in the Exercise Psychology Laboratory has been generally concerned with quantifying the psychophysiological responses to exercise. Numerous behavioral methods have been used to determine affective and perceptual responses to exercise including the use of biofeedback, hypnosis, imagery, meditation, and traditional relaxation interventions such as autogenic training. More recently, the laboratory’s focus has been on the psychophysiological aspects of pain, fatigue, and perceived exertion during and following exercise. These studies are being conducted in both healthy participants and patients with chronic pain and fatigue, and are aimed at understanding the psychophysiological mechanisms that underlie the perceptual experience. Neuroimaging experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are also being conducted to determine neural responses related to pain, fatigue, and exercise.
Graduate faculty sponsorship is necessary for admission to all MS and PhD research tracks in Kinesiology. Faculty reviewers and the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee consider the nature of previous college work, level of achievement, performance on standardized graduate exams, experience, congruence of the program with an applicant’s stated goals, and advising and teaching load of faculty in the identified emphasis area when making admission decisions.
Interested students should contact faculty in their desired track to determine their eligibility for the program.
In addition to the above, for admission to the Exercise Psychology PhD track:
A Master’s degree, with completion of a thesis or a published research paper in a refereed scientific journal, is required.
As part of the admissions process, prospective faculty advisors will look to insure that students’ previous coursework has prepared them for success in our graduate program. Students may be required to take specific prerequisite courses if there is a perceived gap in preparation. In some cases, with advisor approval, this prerequisite coursework can be completed after admission to the program.
Students lacking certain prerequisite courses may still be considered for admission to the Kinesiology graduate program. These students are said to be admitted with “deficiencies”, and these deficiencies must be made up as a part of the student’s graduate coursework. The admitting advisor or the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee will notify the student of a requirement to take specific prerequisite in the admission letter. Students admitted with deficiencies retain eligibility for financial aid consideration.
|A. Required courses||Credits|
|KINES 991, Research in Physical Activity – Theory and Design||3|
|KINES 990, Research or Thesis||*|
|KINES 900, Seminar in Kinesiology1||1|
*sufficient to meet graduation requirements, chosen in consultation with major advisor
1All Kinesiology MS and PhD students in Exercise Psychology are required to register for Seminar in Kinesiology (KINES 900) each semester they are enrolled in the program.
B. Elective Courses: chosen in consultation with advisor
There are no specific courses required of candidates for the MS with specialization in Exercise Psychology. In accordance with Graduate school policy, a minimum of 30 credits is required for the MS degree. Electives courses to meet the degree requirements are chosen in consultation with the advisor. Each candidate’ program of formal course work and independent study is tailored in a personalized manner to accommodate the individual’s research and career goals.
|A. Required Courses||Credits|
|KINES 991, Research in Physical Activity – Theory and Design*||3|
|KINES 900, Seminar in Kinesiology (1 cr)||**|
*PhD students needn’t take 991 if their MS degree included it or an approved equivalent
**All Kinesiology MS and PhD*** students in Exercise Psychology are required to register for Seminar in Kinesiology (KINES 900) each semester they are enrolled in the program
*** includes Dissertations unless registered, instead, for specialization seminar Kines 951; or unless expressly exempted via advisor request to Grad Studies Committee
Department Seminar: All Kinesiology MS and PhD students in Exercise Psychology are required to register for Seminar in Kinesiology (KINES 900) each semester they are enrolled in the program, including Dissertations unless registered for specialization seminar, KINES 900, or unless expressly exempted via advisor request to Grad Studies Committee.
|B. General Field Requirement||Credits|
|At least 2 graduate level courses of at least 2 credits each in Kinesiology, at UW-Madison, outside of the Exercise Psychology area.||4-6|
With the exception of the requirements above, no specific courses are required of candidates for the PhD in Kinesiology with specialization in Exercise Psychology. For the PhD, candidates must complete a minimum of 51 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree in accordance with Graduate School policy, but most students in the exercise psychology program elect to take additional credits beyond this minimum. Emphasis is placed on the demonstration of competence in general psychology, exercise psychology, exercise science, statistics and research design, rather than on completion of specific courses. Each candidate’s program of formal course work and independent study is tailored in a personalized manner to accommodate the individual’s research and career goals.
The department has worked with the Graduate School and effective September 2015, Kinesiology PhD students are exempt from a Minor requirement. This is based on the following principles: Disciplines within Kinesiology span the study of cells (e.g. physiology, neuroscience) to behavior (motor control, biomechanics, and exercise psychology) to populations (Exercise epidemiology). As such, students in our program are exposed to broad areas of inquiry. Breadth in the Kinesiology program is achieved via the General Field Requirement, described above.
PhD students may choose, however, in consultation with their advisor, to pursue a minor. Students wishing to obtain a Minor should reference the Graduate School Minor policy.
A minimum of nine credits of coursework are required for a minor. The Graduate School policy includes two variants of the minor: one including two or more departments (a “distributed” minor) and the other a minor within a single department. NOTE that some departments place limits on the format or content of their minor. If you pursue a single-department minor, we urge you to seek specific guidance in advance from the minor-granting department about how to meet any requirements for its minor.