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Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology (PhD)

PhD scholars work with some of the best researchers in the world to make an impact in human movement, sport, health and wellness. For a brief glimpse of the program, see the PhD program overview or see the important deadlines and a checklist (PDF) of what you will need to complete a PhD. 

PhD requirements

A typical PhD program is completed within four years of full-time study, and six years maximum. You become more independent as the program progresses by demonstrating that you can design, conduct and critically report original research. A PhD should be made up of two to three individual studies that build upon previous work in complexity, scope and sophistication. You also have the opportunity to present your work at national and international conferences specific to your field of study. Funding is available to help you attend conferences. See the following steps to completing a PhD. 

Secure a supervisor

Before admission is granted, you must find a supervisor who agrees to oversee your research. Review the research interests of our faculty members. 

Visit faculty members

Prepare a research proposal

Prepare and defend a research proposal early in the program in consultation with your supervisor and supervisory committee (the proposal is critically reviewed by the supervisory committee).

Take three half courses

Complete a minimum of three graduate level half courses with input and approval from your graduate supervisor and the supervisory committee. See the courses below. 

Complete written & oral exams

Complete your Doctoral Field of Study exam, which includes both a written and oral exam.  Areas of study and questions are established by the supervisory committee. 

Doctoral candidacy requirements (PDF)

PhD courses

Required courses

  • A PhD student must take a minimum of three graduate-level 3 credit courses as selected by the student and graduate supervisor.  The graduate supervisor/supervisory committee may require additional coursework in the student’s area of research.  
  • Thesis-based students may take only one half-course at the 500-level to meet course requirements.
  • Only one special topics or directed study (603/703 or 604/704) can be used to meet the course requirements.
  • Students are encouraged to take as many courses as necessary to get the basic knowledge required for their research, with the following being the minimum requirements of the training program.

NOTE:  The candidacy examination is normally held after all required coursework has been completed and the supervisory committee has approved the student’s Doctoral thesis research proposal. No further coursework may be required of a student who has successfully completed the candidacy examinations. However, a student that wishes to undertake additional coursework after a successful candidacy examination may do so.


Changing courses

To register for a course in another faculty, or to take an undergraduate course, please complete the Change of Course registration form (PDF) and do the following: 

  1. Have it initialed by the course Instructor
  2. Have it signed by your supervisor
  3. Submit the form to the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate) for approval. 

*Please note a student may be assessed additional tuition for any course(s) that are not at the graduate level.

Candidacy examination

The Candidacy Examination applies to doctoral students only. The rules and procedures follow those outlined by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. You must prepare for the exam weeks in advance. To help you complete the exam, we have prepared the following guideline. 

Doctoral students who enter the program already holding a Master of Science degree must attempt this examination NO LATER THAN 28 months after initial registration.

Students who transfer from an MSc to a PhD program must attempt this examination NO LATER THAN 36 months after initial registration. 

Normally, the Candidacy Examination Committee consists of the Supervisory Committee plus two additional members selected by the supervisor and approved by the Associate Dean (Graduate) who shall ensure that no conflict of interest exists between the student or the Supervisor and the additional members of the examination committee. For more information, see Faculty of Graduate Studies Conflict of Interest policy .

  • The examination committee must have at least five voting examiners, however, depending on the supervisory committee membership, may exceed five. In cases where there is a supervisor and co-supervisor, their votes count as one vote. 

The details for the form entitled Notice of Candidacy Oral Examination must be submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate) at least five weeks before the scheduled date of the Oral Candidacy Examination. This includes date, time and location of the oral candidacy examination; examining committee composition and specialization of student’s research.

  • Approval of the Notice indicates the candidate has satisfactorily completed all course work requirements and the student is sufficiently qualified to proceed with the conduct of the doctoral research, upon successfully completing the Oral Candidacy Examination.

The Candidacy Examination consists of two components: written and oral. Both the written and oral components must be found acceptable by the Candidacy Examination Committee in order to grant a passing grade.

The Supervisor is required to meet with the student and members of the Supervisory Committee to discuss the scope of the examination approximately 90 days before the proposed date of the Oral Candidacy Examination.

At least six weeks before the scheduled Oral Candidacy Examination, the candidate should be informed as to the expected area(s) of expertise.

The Candidacy Examination Committee should meet before this time to set five written questions and to determine the relevant and appropriate knowledge base for each student. 

There are two formats for the written portion of the Examination of which the student and supervisor will select one of the options below.

  • The written examination will be a closed book, six hour exam (2-three hour blocks) administered by the graduate supervisor, held one week prior to the date of the Candidacy Oral Examination.
  • The Written Examination will be based on questions from the Candidacy Examination Committee. The student will choose four of the five questions during this time period. In advance of circulation of the Written Examination, the supervisor (or student) should contact the Candidacy Examining Committee regarding their preference on how they wish to receive the Written Examination ( i.e., hard copy, or electronic version, or both). The Candidacy Examining Committee must have a minimum of one week to review the Written Examination prior to the date of the Candidacy Oral Exam. 
  • Exactly four weeks before the scheduled Oral Candidacy Examination, the five written questions should be provided to the student by the supervisor. The scope of the questions should be fairly specific so the student has the opportunity to answer, in depth, in a specific area.
  • It's recommended that one of the five questions submitted is in the form of a research problem requiring the answer to be provided in the form of a grant proposal.
  • If applicable, this should be made clear to the student when the questions are provided.
  • The student MUST prepare a written paper for four of the five examination questions and circulate these to all members of the Candidacy Examination Committee NO LATER THAN ONE WEEK before the scheduled Oral Candidacy Examination. This allows the student three weeks to prepare the four written responses.
  • Answers to each question should be typed double-spaced, in no less than 12 point font, and should not exceed 20 pages excluding references, figures and tables. The Candidacy Examining Committee must have a minimum of one week to review the Written Examination prior to the date of the Candidacy Oral Exam
  • The student will be examined by members of the Candidacy Examination Committee.
  • The four written answers provided by the student should serve as the basis around which questioning during the Oral Candidacy Examination will be structured, although questions on general knowledge in related areas may also be included.
  • Recommended that rounds of questioning be employed to give each examiner an early opportunity to question the candidate. The committee should evaluate the background knowledge of the student on specific topics in which he/she has answered questions or presented a research proposal.

*Please note, in the Faculty of Kinesiology Graduate Program, the supervisor and co-supervisor may participate in questioning, deliberating and voting during the candidacy examination.

Thesis examination

The thesis examination committee for the PhD degree shall consist of a total of five voting members including the student’s Supervisor(s), Supervisory Committee and at least two other examiners: One who is external to the Faculty of Kinesiology Graduate Program known as the “Internal” External and one who is external to the University of Calgary known as the External Examiner. There must also be a Neutral Chair, appointed by the Graduate Coordinator. Please read the following steps to complete your thesis exam. 

  • A minimum of six weeks before the proposed examination date the supervisor should provide a copy of the prospective external examiner’s current curriculum vitae to the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate). The Graduate Coordinator will generate an approval form to be sent to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  The designated External Examiner must be approved by the Associate Dean (Graduate) and the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  • Both the internal and external examiners normally must:
    • have well-established research reputation
    • have expertise in the area of the student’s research
    • have experience in evaluating theses at the graduate level
    • have experience in supervising to completion at the graduate level
    • not be a close personal friend of the supervisor
    • not have collaborated with supervisor in past five years
    • not be closely related to, or have worked with the candidate
  • In addition, the external examiner normally
    • must not have been a supervisor in the candidate’s graduate program in the past three years
    • must not have served as external examiner in candidate’s program in the past two years.
  • If there are any exceptions to the above your supervisor may send an email to knesgrad@ucalgary.ca disclosing the conflict and providing rationale regarding the appropriateness of this examiner. This will be considered by the Associate Dean (Graduate) and upon recommendation to Faculty of Graduate Studies, considered by the Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies.

A form entitled Notice of Doctoral Thesis Oral Examination is prepared by the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate).

Information for this form MUST be submitted to the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate) at least five weeks before the scheduled date of the examination. Email knesgrad@ucalgary.ca for more information.

Information required: 

  • Date, time and location of examination
  • Doctoral thesis title 
  • Specialization
  • Committee composition. Please note in cases where this is a Supervisor and Co-Supervisor, their vote counts as one vote. 

The committee composition is as follows:

  • Neutral Chairperson – Confirmed by the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate)  (Non-Voting Member of Examining Committee) 
  • Supervisor
  • Supervisory Committee Member
  • Supervisory Committee Member
  • 'Internal' External* - UofC Faculty member outside KNES
  • External - Outside UofC TBA 

*The Internal/External examiner is subject to the same criteria as the External Examiner.

  • The thesis must be distributed by the Student and received by each examiner no less than 21 days before the oral examination date. This deadline is extremely important.
  • The 'Examiner's Report on Thesis' will be sent to the examiners after Faculty of Graduate Studies has approved the examination. This is the report on which each examiner will complete his/her written report of the thesis.
  • Students should make sure to review the processes and forms required to submit the thesis to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in electronic Thesis Submission and Forms

*Please note: students must bring the Thesis Approval Form (PDF) to their defence. 

  • Apply to graduate (the Application for Degree is on your Student Centre) by the following deadlines:
    • September 15th for November Convocation
    • January 15th for February Conferral of Degree
    • March 31st for June Convocation
  • Submit your dissertation and all required forms* to the Faculty of Graduate Studies by the following deadlines:
    • Fall Fee Deadline (approximately September 30th) for November Convocation
    • Winter Fee Deadline (approximately January 27) for February Conferral of Degree
    • End of Winter Term (approximately April 30) for June Convocation

The above deadlines are subject to change and can be confirmed on the graduate calendar.

*Please leave yourself enough time to get the signatures you will need to graduate. The Thesis Approval form must be signed by the entire examining committee, and the Notice of Completion form must be signed by the supervisor and the associate dean, graduate.  

So you do not pay fees for the next term, all program requirements must be completed by the next term's registration deadline. This includes defending, revisions and submitting required paperwork to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Review important candidacy exam requirements.