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Exercise Science (M.S., Ph.D.) Overview

The Exercise Science graduate program focuses on training proficient, knowledgeable, and technically experienced leaders in the field of Kinesiology. It specifically develops competency in four distinct areas: academic fluency, scientific proficiency, practical application, and professionalism. The rigors and time commitment of the graduate program rewards and requires a high level of maturity, personal initiative, drive, passion, and responsibility.  While the time commitment is high, most of the students attracted to this program are interested in investing a significant amount of time learning about and gaining experience in the field.

In the exercise science community, research is the foundation of our knowledge base.  It creates the basis for an effective and positive impact on performance and health outcomes.  Our program is centered on laboratory experience to ensure that each student understands and appreciates this foundation.  This provides a valuable background for all students, regardless of their future career.

Master’s Program

The master’s program is designed to give students a broad-based exposure to the essential knowledge in the field.  Students with different backgrounds and career aspirations and are tightly integrated into the research process and are part of their advisor’s research team.  Students learn laboratory skills while building an appreciation for the scientific basis of the field.

Commitment and dedication are important for each student’s continued development as a professional.  As described in the Residence Requirements section of our Requirements page, the academic and research-oriented components of the graduate experience should be approached in a full-time capacity.

Doctoral Program

While both the master’s and doctoral programs in Exercise Science are research-oriented, doctoral students tend to take on tasks requiring a higher degree of accountability and responsibility.  Doctoral responsibilities may include helping to manage or run studies or other projects, supervise master’s and undergraduate students, analyze data, and prepare manuscripts for publication.

Senior doctoral students often are presented with different types of projects from their advisor.  The doctoral student then works with the project team to:

  • Arrange meeting times;
  • Develop a plan for the execution of the project;
  • Present the plan to the team and work to refine and build consensus on the plan with the team (such as standard exercise procedures, the order of tasks, or when forms are to be updated);
  • Guide students through mock trials of each aspect of the project to ensure consensus and consistency in each step of the subject training or data collection process;
  • Assign students to complete various aspects of the project (such as ensuring materials are prepared for each day, scheduling, or small tasks);
  • Regularly monitor projects to ensure smooth progress and to ensure that standards for all aspects of each project are met.

Throughout, the student is closely and personally supervised by their advisor for guidance, confirmation, correction, and advice. As described in the Residence Requirements section of our Requirements page, the academic and research-oriented aspects of the graduate experience should be approached in a full-time capacity. The doctoral program trains students to become competent professors and investigators – a strong preparation for any avenue they may take.

Professional Development

While the graduate program at the University of Connecticut is educational in nature, it is considered by the advising faculty to be a professional appointment. Beyond academic knowledge, graduates from this program build the skills, maturity, and competency necessary for the professional world. The ability to work with others in a professional setting is a large part of the experience of graduate school. Students are active in a laboratory that works with human subjects, a responsibility which requires a significant level of maturity and professionalism.

Over the course of the program, students learn how to:

  • Plan an approach to a project that accounts for and anticipates a broader scope of factors than they may have considered as undergraduates
  • Gain the confidence to develop a plan on their own, but the humility to confidently present their ideas to the team to build consensus and pilot ideas before finalizing procedures
  • Ask for assistance and assign tasks to others while remaining engaged in the research process
  • Check-in with others and ensure accountability while learning to maintain a positive, trusting, and respectful environment
  • Maturely work with those in different departments or professionally interact with those of opposing interests and needs
  • Address sources of conflict in a timely, professional, and neutral manner
  • Conduct and present themselves in a professional manner in terms of conduct, communication, and attire

Finally, experienced students learn to operate from a position of seniority while still engaging and respecting all members of the team.

Students learn the value of their character and contributions to the laboratory, rather than their academic background alone.  These professional, interpersonal, and managerial skills are invaluable and necessary for success in future professional endeavors.  However, the skills and professional benefits of the program cannot be achieved without the active presence and engagement of each student, regardless of the task in question.  It is for these reasons that the residence requirements are in place.

Experience and Seniority

In both the master’s and doctoral programs, experience with the Human Performance Laboratory is paramount to gaining and maintaining higher-level responsibilities.  While experience elsewhere is highly valued, to ensure consistency in data collection it is important for all students to demonstrate competency on fundamental skills prior to engaging in higher-level skills.  All students are expected to work hard, but may do so in different ways or with different projects.  All responsibilities are valued and students are asked to take the steps necessary in order to accomplish a given task.

Academic Courses

For more information on the academic program and courses, please see our Graduate Requirements page.

Who should I contact with additional questions?

We encourage you to fully explore the details of each program through this website and read more about the individual professors and their research.  Finally, please review the information on the How To Apply to Graduate Programs page to select an advisor who best matches your research interest.  Please contact that professor personally to express interest in their program.  We recommend telephone contact instead of email correspondence.