What to Expect

Our PhD program is designed primarily as a full-time course of study. You’re expected to maintain a course load of at least 9 hours per semester. 

The program requires 96 hours past the baccalaureate, including:

  • At least 24 credit hours of 400- and 500-level
  • A minimum of 9 credit hours of 500-level courses that must be letter-graded courses (A to F)—not project, thesis, or independent study, or seminar courses that are graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U)
  • At least 32 hours of KN 599 PhD Thesis Research

Although it’s not required, many of our applicants already have a Master of Science degree in a related area. We’ll often accept that degree as 32 of the hours required for your PhD. The Director of Graduate Studies makes the decision to accept some or all of the 32 hours when you’re admitted, after consulting with your potential advisor. You need to complete a minimum of 64 hours beyond the masters level at UIC.

If you’re a post-bacc student, you must complete the program within 9 years from your date of entry. If you’re entering with a master’s degree, you must complete it within 7 years.​

Each student will have an advisor chosen from the faculty of the program who will serve as chair for the dissertation committee.

Preliminary exam

All students take a preliminary examination prepared individually by an examination committee.​ This exam exam evaluates your knowledge of the broad area of kinesiology and nutrition, as well as your specific content area, after you’ve completed your coursework and are getting ready to start preparing your dissertation.

We recommend you take this exam towards the end of your second year. It must be taken at least one year before your anticipated dissertation defense.


You’ll need to complete a dissertation. The proposal for your dissertation has to be defended in written and oral form before your dissertation committee. The dissertation itself must be defended at a public session before the dissertation committee and other members of the academic community.