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How Do I Choose the Best Graduate Kinesiology Program?

Erik J.J. Goserud
Erik J.J. Goserud

If you wish to become a graduate kinesiology student, there are a number of factors to take into consideration in choosing the best program. Some things to consider are cost, reputation, which field of study you are pursuing, and the location of the program. Although there are sources that rank graduate kinesiology programs, this decision is best made considering a number of possibilities rather than choosing one strictly on its ranking.

Kinesiology is the study of human movement and all of the things involved — this may include anatomy, physiology, and aspects of psychology, biomechanics, or athletic training. Many kinesiology majors who obtain their bachelor's degrees go into physical therapy, medicine, teaching, or coaching. Other students, however, wish to apply for graduate kinesiology degrees in the realm of academia. The field of kinesiology is very broad, so these individuals need to narrow down which aspect of kinesiology most interests them. A few possible options include exercise physiology, biomechanics, the philosophy of sport and movement, or sports psychology.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The source you use to determine the best program is likely to contradict others, so to find a top-notch program you should consider schools that regularly appear atop the lists regardless of source. A few noted schools in the field have been the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Chicago — Illinois. Along with a short list of others, these schools have consistently ranked highly according to different reputable sources on graduate kinesiology programs.

There also may be disparities between particular subject areas of kinesiology and the overall school ranking. What is meant by this is that a biomechanics department, for example, at a high-ranking school may be inferior to that of a lower-ranking school that specializes in biomechanics. For this reason, it is important to identify a particular field of study when considering programs.

Also important to consider are cost, region, and adviser. Advisers work closely with graduate students and can make or break a student's experience. The cost or potential benefit of a program are also important considerations.

Location can by key, perhaps more to some than others. Ask yourself if you want to be close to family, near an ocean, in a city, or out in the country. All of these contribute to different lifestyles that can affect happiness, hence productivity. If you take all of these things into consideration, it is likely that you will end up at the graduate kinesiology program best suited to you.

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