University of Wisconsin–Madison

Non-Thesis Track

Synopsis: All other tracks within the MS in Kinesiology degree are essentially a precursor to PhD-level training, and thus require extensive research experience as part of the degree. The Non-Thesis MS track is designed for students who are interested in graduate-level training in Kinesiology, but who are not necessarily interested in a career doing research in the field. Non-Thesis MS students:  will take graduate-level courses that cover the breadth of the field of Kinesiology;  will take additional electives from Kinesiology or from any departments across campus that the students see as fitting their personal educational goals;  and may complete a final project of their own design as mentored by consenting faculty.

Purpose of MS: The MS in Kinesiology Non-Thesis track is designed to provide broad, graduate-level training in Kinesiology.  Students will take advanced coursework in each of the traditional disciplines within the field and also focus on their individual interests by selecting courses as electives.  A thesis is NOT required in this track.  Students in the Non-Thesis track often express interest in obtaining graduate-level training to support their goal of coaching/teaching in team or individual settings, personal training or fitness instruction, or as a supplement to a practice in physical therapy, athletic training, or some other allied health profession, or for other purposes.  We emphasize here that we don’t intend the non-thesis track to prepare students for eventual PhD study (although it could, depending on the student and the PhD). Students who want a laboratory-based research experience as part of their MS degree, along with experience in academic writing (MS thesis as a  traditional precursor to a PhD dissertation), may wish to consider pursuing their MS degree through one of the other tracks within Kinesiology.

The following courses are required for admission to the Non-Thesis MS in Kinesiology: Separate introductory courses in Anatomy and Physiology, or a combined introduction to Anatomy/Physiology course.

Applicants who have not completed an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology can be admitted to the graduate program, but must complete a breadth requirement of a minimum of six credits at the undergraduate level from at least two different tracks within the Kinesiology program:

  • Physiology of Exercise
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise Psychology
  • Motor Control and Behavior
  • Exercise Epidemiology


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. Students admitted with deficiencies retain eligibility for financial aid consideration.

Fall A (2015, 2017, 2019, etc.) Credits
KINES 721, Neural Basis for Movement 3
KINES 773, Cardiorespiratory Adaptations to Environment and Exercise 3
KINES 991, Research in Physical Activity – Theory and Design 2
Spring A
KINES 700, Psychological Effects of Exercise 3
KINES 791, Physical Activity Epidemiology 3
Elective* 2
Fall B (2016, 2018, 2020, etc.)
KINES 618, Biomechanics 2
KINES 713, Neural Basis of Normal and Pathological Movement 3
Elective* 3
Spring B
KINES 774, Metabolic Response to Exercise and Environmental Stress 2
KINES 861, Principles of Motor Control and Learning 3
Elective* 3

*Electives (student chooses, based on personal interests/goals, from this list or any other 500-level or higher numbered courses on campus)

KINES 521, Physical Activity and Health 3
KINES 523, Clinical Exercise Testing and Training 3
KINES 614, Biological Factors Influencing Exercise Performance 3
KINES 779, Human Muscle Function in Health and Disease 2
KINES 785, Human Occupation and Health 3
KINES 900, Seminar in Kinesiology 1
C&I 744, Perspectives in Multicultural Education 3
C&I 746, The Adult Learner: Implications for Curriculum and Instruction 3
NUTRI SCI 625, Advanced Nutrition: Obesity and Diabetes 1
GEN BUS 310, Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance for Non-Business Majors 3
GEN BUS 311, Fundamentals of Management and Marketing for Non-Business Majors 3
PHYSIOL 725, Muscle Biology 2

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