May 19, 2024  
2020-21 Graduate Catalog 
2020-21 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Human Performance, Ph.D.

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Dr. Chandra Story, Graduate Director
(615) 898-2812

The Department of Health and Human Performance  offers the Ph.D. in Human Performance with specializations in Exercise Science (for further information contact Dr. Sandra Stevens,; Health (for further information contact Dr. Andrew Owusu,; Leisure, Sport, and Tourism Management (for further information contact Dr. Steven Estes,; and Physical Education (for further information contact Dr. Don Belcher, The Ph.D. degree is offered for the purpose of developing doctoral level expertise in research (both applied and theoretical) and as preparation for teaching at the collegiate level.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.

Admission Requirements

Admissions decisions will be made after reviewing all materials and determining the applicant’s capacity, suitability, and preparation for doctoral study. Admission decisions are based on consideration of a number of criteria that are believed to predict success in the Ph.D. program.

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Human Performance program requires

  1. an earned bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited university or college with an acceptable grade point average (GPA) in all college work taken. Successful applicants typically have a grade point average (GPA) on the last 60 hours of academic work of 3.00 or above on a 4.00 scale.
  2. completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with acceptable scores. Successful applicants to the Ph.D. program typically have scores that exceed 297. The Analytical Writing Assessment score is also considered.
  3. research skills. Successful applicants typically have statistical and research methodology skills as evidenced by coursework in both areas.
  4. coursework in a related field. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree will be expected to have completed at least 18 hours of coursework in a related field. Applicants with a master’s degree are expected to have completed at least 20 graduate hours in a related field.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Applications for Summer/Fall admission must be complete by February 1, and applications for Spring admission must be complete by October 1. Late applicants who meet the admission criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants must submit

  1. application with the appropriate application fee (online at Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
  2. official scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE);
  3. official transcripts of all previous college work;
  4. three letters of recommendation from persons who can address their academic qualifications and potential for success in doctoral study and teaching ability;
  5. a 400-500 word statement of purpose giving their reasons for applying to the Ph.D. program, academic interests, professional goals, and area of specialization.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Human Performance requires completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours.

Candidates must

  1. complete 60 credit hours past the master’s degree (see Curriculum section below for specifics). A maximum of 12 hours from the master’s degree may be transferred in from an accredited program. Two-thirds (40 semester hours) of the program must be at the 7000-level. Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree will complete the requirements for an M.S. (thesis option) in addition to the Ph.D. requirements. 
  2. complete a thesis or scholarly equivalent prior to admission to candidacy.
  3. successfully complete preliminary examinations to advance to candidacy.
  4. be enrolled in full-time study (9 semester hours) for at least one semester to fulfill residency requirements.
  5. complete a dissertation and successfully defend it in the final oral examination.


The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements.

Research Tools (9 hours)

 Choose three courses from statistics, research design, and data analysis in consultation with advisor.

Specialization (24 hours)

A total of 24 hours coursework and independent research is to be selected in consultation with the graduate program advisor.

Dissertation (12-24 hours)

Program Notes

Pre-dissertation Advising - Upon admission to the Ph.D. program, the candidate will be assigned an advisor who (in cooperation with the graduate coordinator) will advise the student on an appropriate program of study and of any deficiencies to correct.

Preliminary Examinations - Upon completion of coursework, the candidate will be eligible to take preliminary exams. The written exams will be structured to test the student on the three content areas (research methodology and data analysis, Ph.D. socialization area, and area of research interest). All exams are to be taken within one calendar year.

Advancement to Candidacy - No more than six credit hours of C grade will count toward the Ph.D. degree requirements. D and F grades will not count toward degree requirements but will be computed in the GPA. The student must have a GPA of 3.25 for the program of studies to advance to candidacy.

Dissertation Committee - Upon advancement to candidacy, students will formally construct their dissertation committees. The committee should include at a minimum three faculty members; two must be from the department, and one must be from outside the department. All members of the committee must have graduate faculty status.

Time Limit - There is a ten-year limit for completing all Ph.D. degree requirements, i.e., all doctoral coursework taken at MTSU, as well as the dissertation, must be completed within ten years of the first semester of enrollment.

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