Exercise Science Programs - Exercise Psychology

Program Description

The M.S. and Ph.D.  exercise science specializations in Exercise Psychology are research programs designed for advanced study and research related to psychological responses and adaptations to acute and chronic physical activity. The M.S. degree program prepares individuals for doctoral-level graduate work and may lead to careers in allied health professions, adult fitness/health promotion, teaching, coaching and research. The Ph.D. degree prepares individuals for careers in universities, government, private industry, or health sciences.


Dr. Rod Dishman, Dr. Pat O’Connor and Dr. Phil Tomporwoski are advisors for students in the program. Dr. Dishman’s research involves studies of the psychophysiological and neurobiological effects of acute and chronic exercise in humans and rodents and the determinants of exercise adherence in humans. Dr. O’Connor’s research has focused on sleep, circadian rhythms, anxiety, pain, and eating disorders. Dr. Tomporowski’s research evaluates the effects of acute and chronic exercise on information processing and cognition, particularly in older adults. Other faculty in the Department providing support for the program include: Drs. Lesley White, Kirk Cureton and Kevin McCully in exercise physiology, Dr. Ted Baumgartner in measurement and evaluation, Dr. Harry DuVal in adult fitness/cardiac rehabilitation, Dr. Elaine Cress in gerontology, Dr. Kathy Simpson in biomechanics and Dr. Michael Ferrara in athletic training.


Admission to the program is competitive and based on the student’s prior academic record, graduate record exam (GRE) scores, recommendations, and research interests. Minimum requirements include a GRE score (verbal + quantitative) of 1000, an undergraduate grade point average of 2.6 (master’s) or 3.0 (doctoral), a graduate grade point average of 3.5 (doctoral) and, in the case of foreign students, a score of 213 on the Internet Based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Applications from minorities are encouraged. Preference is given to students who have strong backgrounds in biopsychology and exercise science, and who have research interests compatible with ongoing research in the program. Students not admitted into the M.S. program may qualify for admission into the M.Ed. program in clinical exercise physiology. For students interested in an assistantship, admission applications should be completed before February 1.


Prerequisites for the specialization include a background in the behavioral and biological sciences, including biopsychology, chemistry through organic, biology and physiology. Students are expected to have an undergraduate or master’s degree in exercise science or an appropriate related field. Under most circumstances a Ph.D. applicant will have completed a master’s degree and thesis or equivalent before being admitted. Alternatively, a Ph.D. applicant can be admitted with a bachelor’s degree if he/she meets the following Graduate School criterion: undergraduate GPA x 1000 + GRE verbal + GRE quantitative > 4300.

Program of Study

M.S. degree. The program of study is developed by the student and major professor based on the student’s backgrounds, interests, and career goals. Requirements for the degree require a minimum of 30 semester hours consisting of at least 24 hours of course work and 6 hours of thesis and related research. Course work must include at least 12 semester hours, exclusive of independent study, in the Exercise Science Department, including two courses in exercise psychology and one in research methods (KINS 7150). A course in descriptive statistics (ERSH 6300) is also required. Completion of the program typically requires two years.

Ph.D. degree. The program of study is developed by the student and a three-person advisory committee based on the student’s background, interests, and career goals. A minimum of 30 semester hours of course work is required. The program is designed to provide in-depth knowledge in the area of specialization and proficiency in designing and conducting research. Students are expected to be involved in research throughout their Ph.D. program. The program requires approximately three to four years for those who have previously completed a master’s degree.

Course work required of all Ph.D. candidates in the Exercise Science Department includes: 4 hours of research seminar (KINS 8990), applied analysis of variance (ERSH 8310), applied correlation and regression (ERSH 8320), multivariate methods in education (ERSH 8350) or seminar in psychometrics (PSYC 8990), a minimum of 3 hours of doctoral dissertation (KINS 9300), and demonstration of proficiency in computer utilization. Courses taken as part of the master’s degree can be used to fulfill requirements.

Courses commonly taken in addition to those listed above are typically selected from:

KINS 6300 Physical Activity & Aging
KINS 6400 Exercise & Sport Psychology
KINS 6600 Measurement and Surveillance of Physical Activity
KINS 7210 Motor Learning & Control
KINS 7330 Metabolic & Cardiorespiratory Aspects of Exercise
KINS 7340 Exercise Psychology
KINS 8200 Meta-analysis in Health & Human Performance
KINS 8300 Advanced Topics in Exercise Physiology
KINS 8340 Advanced Seminar in Exercise Psychology
KINS 8410 Neuromuscular Mechanisms in Exercise
KINS 8420 Muscle Energetics and Oxygen Transport During Exercise
ERSH 8750 Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis
ERSH 8760 Structural Equation Modeling
ERSH 9210 Quantitative Design in Education
VPHY 6090 Comparative Mammalian Physiology
VPHY 6100 Comparative Mammalian Physiology
PHRM 8000 Advanced Cardiovascular Physiology
CBIO 6100 Immunology
PSYC 6100 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 6910 Biological Foundations of Behavior
PSYC 8330 Laboratory Apprenticeship in Physiological & Comparative Psychology
PSYC 8390 Seminar in Physiological & Comparative Psychology
PSYC 8520 Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology
PSYC 8610 Psychophysical Methods & Psychological Scaling
PSYC 8710 Theories of Attitude Structure, Formation and Change
PSYC 8730 Theories of Social Psychology
PSYC 8790 Advanced Seminar in Social Psychology
PSYC 8900 Psychopharmacology Seminar
HPRB 7920 Health Behavior

Descriptions of these courses may be found in the Graduate School Bulletin.

Laboratory Facilities

The Department of Exercise Science has a well-equipped Exercise Psychology and Cognition and Skill Acquisition Laboratories. The Exercise Psychology Lab is equipped for assessing psychophysiological phenomena including GSR, ECG, EMG, EEG, impedance electrocardiography, beat-to-beat blood pressures and polysomnography under controlled conditions. The Cognition and Skill Acquisition Laboratory is equipped for assessing human cognition, information processing, and learning. Interdisciplinary research is supported by the Aging and Physical Performance, Exercise Vascular Biology, Metabolism and Body Composition, Athletic Training, and the Neruromusular Physiology Laboratories of the Exercise Physiology program. Collaboration with laboratories in pharmacology, biopsychology, foods and nutrition, and medical microbiology permit collaborative studies of psychopharmacologic, neuroendocrine and psychoimmunologic responses to exercise and behavioral stressors. A Fitness Center conducts Adult Fitness, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Senior Adult programs for University faculty/staff and the Athens Community.


Assistantships are available on a competitive basis that require working in the Exercise Psychology Laboratory (research and lab instruction), or teaching in the Basic Physical Education Program. Graduate School research assistantships and out-of-state tuition waivers are also available to highly qualified applicants.

For additional information on this program contact:

Dr. Rod Dishman
706-542-9840 or 706-542-4138

Dr. Patrick O’Connor

Dr. Phillip D. Tomporowski
(706) 542-4183

Department of Kinesiology
University of Georgia
330 River Rd.
Athens, GA 30602-6554

For more information on admission please contact:

the graduate coordinator’s assistant
Department of Kinesiology
University of Georgia
330 River Rd.
Athens, GA 30602-6554
Phone: (706)-542-4378
Fax: (706) 542-3417
Email: kins@uga.edu

Application Procedures