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Cutting-edge Research, Innovative Clinical Approaches

UNC has a national reputation for training outstanding Sport and Exercise Science researchers and educators. You’ll get exceptional preparation for an academic career in our Sport and Exercise Science Ph.D. program with Exercise Physiology emphasis. The department is known for its collegial atmosphere, with superior faculty who excel both as researchers and mentors. You’ll also enjoy first-rate research opportunities at UNC, with the chance to conduct studies at the ground-breaking UNC Cancer Rehabilitation Institute.

Our exercise physiology program stands out for its integration of pure science with clinical practice. Work across silos and collaborate with laboratory researchers and hands-on practitioners in medicine, rehabilitation, athletic performance and other specialties. This interdisciplinary approach yields outstanding career benefits, providing you with an adaptable skill set and broad perspective. Alumni of the Exercise Physiology Ph.D. program have earned faculty placements at institutions across the United States.

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Ph.D. in Sports and Exercise Science: Exercise Physiology

In UNC’s Exercise Physiology Ph.D. program, you’ll examine how the body adapts to exercise, with particular emphasis on heart, muscle tissue and metabolism. Focus your studies on either basic science or clinical practice. The program offers comprehensive research training that includes lab techniques, computer applications, statistics and both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In addition, you’ll gain classroom experience as the teacher of record for an undergraduate course.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Degree Requirements

Greeley Campus Program

Your Future in Exercise Physiology

Exercise physiology holds very high research currency, thanks in part to its implications for emerging practices such as clinical exercise. As a faculty researcher and educator in exercise physiology, you'll have the ability to influence future trends in cancer treatment, cardiac rehabilitation, healthy aging and other highly relevant areas. Job openings and research dollars are on the rise in this growing academic field.

Consider UNC's Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology if you want to:

  • Earn a faculty appointment in Sport and Exercise Science
  • Integrate clinical research with basic science research
  • Conduct research in a one-of-a-kind cancer rehabilitation facility
  • Develop a well-rounded academic skill set that stands out in the job market

You’ll learn:

  • Design of applied research studies for clinical therapies
  • Extensive teaching skills, including classroom management, pedagogy, curriculum development and assessment
  • Physiology at multiple levels, from individual cells to whole organisms
  • How exercise affects disease recovery, rehabilitation, aging and overall health

Sample courses:

  • Metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Physiology
  • Neural Aspects of Kinesiology
  • Advanced Sociological Kinesiology

Beyond the Classroom

UNC offers extraordinarily robust research venues in exercise physiology. The UNC Cancer Rehabilitation Institute is nationally recognized for its ground-breaking therapies and unique clinical approaches. You’ll be able to conduct investigations at UNCCRI that no other U.S. facility can support. In addition, we have a fully equipped Biomechanics Laboratory on campus which supports an active research program. The public health program and nursing school offer additional partnership opportunities.

Where can your degree take you?

  • College or university professor
  • Basic science research
  • Biomedical research
  • Clinical research

Current Research in Exercise Physiology

Found in Translation

Groundbreaking UNC research melds scientific lab work with real-world clinic to reveal benefits of exercise for cancer patients

Sitting in a small, instrument-packed lab in Ross Hall is a squat, benign-looking gray tank that contains liquid nitrogen. It also contains a spectrum of cancer cells from various lines. But this is one instance where cancer cells are helping make cancer patients’ lives better. These cells are used in animal research that helps doctors understand exercise’s effect on cancer patients during and after chemotherapy treatment.

Read full article

UNC Cancer Rehabilitation Institute Director Reid Hayward

UNCCRI Director Reid Hayward, Ph.D.

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