Graduate Academic Programs

Doctoral Degree Program (PhD)

Human Performance Major, Emphasis: Biomechanics

Description of Program

When a good performance is achieved in a sport, this is due in part to the athlete's physical condition. But in part it is also due to the athlete's technique: to the amount of skill in the athlete's motions. The main goal of sport biomechanics is to understand the cause-effect mechanisms that make some sport techniques better than others, and ultimately to find the optimum technique.

New graduate Biomechanics students (both M.S. and Ph.D.) are admitted only every other year.  They start attending classes in the Fall of even-numbered years; the application process should be started during the Fall Semester of the previous year.

Degree Requirements

Course requirements for this degree are prescribed by an advisory committee for each individual student. Degree requirements include:

  • A minimum of 90 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree are required.
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
  • A minimum grade of C is required in each course used to satisfy the requirements of the course prescription.

The following courses or their equivalents must be completed, either as prerequisites, or as required courses by all Ph.D. students in the School of Public Health - Bloomington.

  • SPH-E 651 Epidemiology (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, as described below.
  • SPH-Q 501 Introduction to Statistics in Public Health (3 cr.) This course or its equivalent may not be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree.
  • SPH-X 505 Principles and Foundations of Public Health (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, as described below. Students who have previously completed an MPH degree from an accredited school of public health or accredited public health program are exempt from this requirement. Students who are completing requirements for an MPH degree concurrent with the doctoral degree are also exempt.
  • SPH-X 590 Introduction to Research in Health, Kinesiology and Recreation (3 cr.) This course may be counted toward the 90 credits for the degree as a course in the major, minor, or electives, upon approval of the committee.

The 90 required credits are arranged as follows on a Ph.D. student's course prescription:

  • Research Skills (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework providing required skills to conduct research, such as advanced courses in biostatistics. These credits count toward the 90 credits for the degree. Courses counted in this area required a minimum grade of B.
  • Major Area of Study (30 credits minimum). A minimum of 30 credits in the major area of study. These courses must be taken within the School of Public Health. Courses transferred from previous graduate work outside the School of Public Health, if within the major area of study, can be used to fulfill the major areas of study requirement, contingent upon the committee’s approval.
  • Minor Area of Study (9 credits minimum). A minimum of 9 credits of coursework in a designated area outside the department in which the major is being pursued.
  • Electives (0 to 28 credits). Elective credits may range between 0 and 28. An optional second minor may be included in the elective credit hours.
  • Dissertation (20 – 30 credits)
Special Opportunities

The main research tool in sport biomechanics is motion analysis, in which the three-dimensional (3D) locations of a number of anatomical points are obtained through film, video, or other optical/electronic methods during a sports activity, and then used as input to computer programs for the calculation of other mechanical information.

At the Biomechanics Laboratory in the HPER Building, we develop new research methodologies for biomechanics, investigate the techniques used in a variety of sports, and apply the information obtained through this research to the improvement of the techniques of elite athletes.

Our work on methodology development has included 3D motion analysis methods, computer graphics, calculation of mechanical parameters of human motion, and computer simulation. We have analyzed the techniques used in running, jumping, and throwing in track and field, pitching and batting in baseball/softball, the tennis serve, and soccer kicking, among other sports activities. Our laboratory has received funding from USA Track and Field, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the International Olympic Committee to analyze the techniques of elite track and field athletes in various events and to provide advice to their coaches. For further information, see:

How to find the Biomechanics Lab (HPER 071): Turn left as you walk out of the School of Public Health - Bloomington Library. At the end of the hallway, turn right, and walk through the green doors. HPER 071 is the next-to-last door on the left.

  • Careers for the M.S. degree—Preparation toward Ph.D. programs; coaching
  • Careers for the Ph.D. degree—University researcher/faculty member; gait analysis; sport technique consultation

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