Exercise Physiology (Doctoral)

APK Doctoral Programs – Exercise Physiology

The mission of the Ph.D. program in exercise physiology is to train individuals for careers in research and teaching. A strong emphasis is placed on laboratory and research experience. We take pride in preparing students for academic and professional positions in both exercise physiology and medical physiology. Primary coursework and training includes the study of the acute and chronic cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, muscular and neuromuscular responses to exercise, athletic training and environmental stress. Coursework within the Department at the Ph.D. level includes lectures, workshops and laboratories. A wide spectrum of additional advanced coursework is offered which involves the application of principles of basic exercise, organ systems, integrative and cellular physiology to clinical situations, the prescription of exercise and the evaluation of health and physical fitness. Students trained in the Ph.D. program in exercise physiology have opportunities for learning a wide spectrum of specialties and have access to state-of-the-art, in house technology for studying human exercise responses, animal physiology, both in vivo and in vitro vascular responses, cell culture, confocal imaging, molecular biology, laser therapy and many other new and emerging technologies.

Graduate Faculty


The philosophy of the program is to make the curriculum as flexible as possible in order to meet the needs of the student’s specific career goals and yet make sure the fundamentals are covered. Therefore, every student works closely with his or her advisor and committee to design a unique curriculum that will provide the best opportunity to emerge from the program as a well-trained scientist in their field and also to be able to teach the next generation of undergraduate and graduate students. Students entering the program with advanced graduate training may request substitutes or waivers for some required courses.

Required Concentration Area

(18 total credits minimum). Every Student is required to accumulate a minimum of credits in Concentration Area Courses. These must include minimums of 12 credits of required CORE Department courses, 6 credit hours of Basic or Medical School Courses in Physiology or Biochemistry. In some cases, other advanced courses offered within the University may be substituted for these required courses with approval of the major adviser and supervisory committee.

Required CORE Department coursework

(12 credits minimum)

3 APK 7117 Exercise Metabolism*
3 APK 7107 Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology&
3 APK 6118 Neuromuscular Adaptations to Exercise
3 APK 5936 Advanced Exercise Physiology+

&GMS 6400C (below) or equivalent, highly recommended prerequisite
*BCH 6206 (below) or equivalent, highly recommended prerequisite
+APK 5936 listing is under revision, registrar titles it under “Current Topics in Exercise and Sports Science.

Required Basic Science/ Medical School Courses

(6 credits minimum)

6 GMS 6400C Principles of Physiology (Medical School Physiology)
3 BCH 5413 Mammalian Molecular Biology and Genetics
3 BCH 6206 Advanced Metabolism (Metabolic Control Analysis)*
4 GMS 6421 Cell Biology
3 BCH 6415 Advanced Molecular and Cell Biology
1-4 GMS 6000 6000 series (A large number of advanced courses are available in general medical sciences that may be suitable, pending approval of your advisor/committee.

*BCH 4024; Introduction to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or equivalent is a required pre requisite undergraduate course for BCH 6206. Students matriculating without extensive biochemistry prior to admission must take this course or equivalent. With approval of your supervisory committee BCH 4024 can count towards your PhD degree as an “elective” (see below)

NOTE: Additional biochemistry, nutrition, cell biology, immunology courses are possible alternatives to these courses pending adviser oversight. Many of these are listed in section 1c.

Additional ELECTED COURSES in concentration area

(12 credits minimum)

Note: A maximum of six undergraduate credits (3000-4999), outside the college (HHP), may be used for support course work when taken as part of an approved graduate program and must be approved by the supervisory committee. Courses outside the list below, may qualify as credit to pending formal approval of the student’s adviser and Committee.

Elective Courses offered within Department:

Note, many high level courses are taught under these headings can, with approval of the student’s committee, substitute for some required courses .

3 APK 7108 Environmental Stress and Exercise
3 APK 7124 Free Radicals in Aging Exercise and Disease
3 APK 6126 Cardiopulmonary Pathologies
3 APK 6116C Physiological bases of Exercise and Sports Science
3 APK 6128 EKG Interpretation
1-5 APK 5936 Current Topics in Exercise and Sports Sciences
        a) Molecular Signaling in Skeletal Muscle
        b) Cellular Physiology and Biophysics
        c) Pharmacology of Exercise Science
        d) Professional Skills and Grant Writing
        e) Scientific Publication Writing
        f) Statistical Applications using SPSS

Possible Elective Courses offered outside the Department (Committee/Advisor approval)

3 GMS 6140 Principles of Immunology
3 GMS 6181 Integrative Physiology of Aging
3 GMS 6410 Circulation of the Blood
3 HUN 6331 Vitamins in Human Nutrition
3 PCB 5235 Immunology
3 PHT 6718 Neuroplasticity
4 VME 6650 Mammalian Pharmacology
3 BME 5500 Biomedical Instrumentation

Required Research Methods and Statistics

(7 credits minimum)

*Additional credits cannot be counted towards concentration area

Department of APK

3 HLP 6535 APK Research Methods*

* Highly recommended, early in the research program (semesters 1 or 2), depending on previous courses in statistics and experience.

Department of Statistics and College of Public Health & Health Professions

Credit Title
3 STA 6166 Statistical Methods in Research 1
3 STA 6167 Statistical Methods in Research 2
3 STA 6176 Introduction to Biostatistics
2 STA 6200 Fundamentals of Research Design
3 STA 6201 Analysis of Research Data
3 PHC 6052: Introduction to Biostatistical Meth (SAS based)
3 PHC 6050 Statistical Meth for Health Sci (SPSS based)

Responsible Conduct of Science (1 course required)

2 GMS 6931 Ethical and Policy Issues in Clinical Research
1 GMS 7003 Responsible Conduct of Research

Directed Research

(23 credits minimum)

1-6 PET 6900 Directed Independent Study (grade assigned) *
<6 PET 6910 Supervised Research (S/U grade) *
1-6 HLP 7979 Advanced Research (Pre-candidacy Ph.D. Research)
15 (min) HLP 7980 Dissertation Hours (after admission to candidacy)

*Report, paper and/or data needs to be communicated with mentor; Mentor will advise.

Examples of APK 6900 Directed Independent Study:

        a) Muscle biopsy Techniques
        b) Mechanisms of Muscle Atrophy
        c) Muscle Physiology
        d) Muscle Regeneration
        e) Tonometry
        f) Cardiovascular Techniques
        g) Carotid Imaging Link
        h) Vascular Imaging Link

¥Students are required to show evidence of a master’s thesis or acceptable research project (one publication accepted by a peer reviewed Journal) prior to embarking upon a dissertation.

Doctoral Program Summary of Course Requirements

Area Credit Hours
Concentration Area (18 required and 12 additional) 30
Directed Research Credit Hours 23
Statistical Area 7
Total Minimum UF Doctoral Credits 60
Total Credits for Ph.D Required 90*

*NOTE: A minimum of 90 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree is required for the Ph.D. degree. A maximum of 30 credit hours of graduate course work from another institution may count towards this 90-hour minimum, pending approval by the student’s advisory committee. All courses to be transferred must be letter graded with a grade of B or better and must be demonstrated to relate directly to the degree being sought. All credits obtained from a master’s degree must have been earned within the last seven years prior to transfer of credit.

Qualifying Examinations

Students are eligible to take their qualifying examinations following four semesters of study and upon approval of their supervisory committee. It is highly recommended that the exam be completed prior to the end of the third year of Ph.D. training and preferably after the 2nd year. The purpose of the Ph.D. qualifying exam is to evaluate the student’s potential for advanced scholarly work at the Ph.D. level and is a necessary pre-requisite for continuing in the Ph.D. program. The supervisory committee is comprised of four faculty, a chair (usually the dissertation adviser), two additional members of the APK graduate program and one outside faculty who is also a member of the graduate faculty of the University of Florida. Members outside of the graduate faculty, e.g. at other universities, can be added to the committee, but they must be in addition to these four members. The qualifying examination is unique to each graduate program in the University. For example, the rules that apply to the exam in Exercise Physiology do not necessarily apply to Biobehavioral Science or other graduate programs.

a) Written Component: The members of the supervisory committee meet with the student several months before the examination and both student and faculty agree upon the areas to be covered by each faculty member. This should be done in writing to avoid misunderstandings. These topics should not overlap between committee members. The topics may be defined by specific course material, general areas of exercise science (e.g. cardiovascular physiology, metabolism, cell biology, etc.) or specific sets of reading material that cover broad areas of applied physiology. Prior to the examination, the members of the committee confidentially submit one or more (usually 2-3) written essay questions on their topics to the chair of the supervisory committee or the graduate program administrator. The test is administered in a closed book fashion, generally over a two day period depending on the committee’s instructions, and under direct supervision. The exam questions are graded by the committee members as “Pass” or “Fail” and a decision is made as to whether the student a) is allowed to continue on to the oral component of the exam, b) fails the exam or c) is allowed to retake the examination.

b) Oral Component: The oral exam is required by the University as part of the qualifying exam and usually takes place within 2 weeks of the written component. It is important that students allow plenty of time to schedule the oral exam and it is recommended that this be done in conjunction with the scheduling of the written exam. The length and content of the exam is determined entirely by the supervisory committee. The purpose of the oral component is 1) to allow the student the chance to clarify any weak components of the written exam or to answer any components of the exam that were not previously addressed. 2) To evaluate the ability of the student to think on his or her feet and carry on an intelligent scientific dialogue with other scientists. 3) To evaluate whether the student has sufficient breadth of knowledge in physiology, exercise and life science to move on to a specialized area of research.

Admission to Candidacy

A graduate student does not become a candidate for the doctoral (PhD) degree until granted formal admission to candidacy. Such admission requires approval of the student’s supervisory committee, the department chairperson, the college dean, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Approval will be based on (1) the academic record of the student, (2) the opinion of the supervisory committee concerning overall fitness for candidacy, (3) an approved dissertation topic, and (4) a successful qualifying examination. Application for admission to candidacy should be made as soon as the qualifying examination has been passed and the student’s supervisory committee approves a dissertation topic. A student may not register for HLP 7980 (Research and Dissertation) until he or she is admitted to candidacy for a doctoral degree.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is not a formal University of Florida requirement, but is a requirement of the Applied Physiology Graduate Programs. The format of the proposal is determined by the student’s supervisory committee but generally takes the form of a presentation of the proposed content of the dissertation and the data collected thus far, at either a private meeting of the committee or more commonly at a formal public presentation. The proposal should be completed sometime between the admission to candidacy and the dissertation defense. A document summarizing the content of the proposed work is submitted to the graduate program administrator along with the appropriate form, approved and signed by the committee members.

Dissertation Examination

Prior to graduating, each student must successfully complete their research project and present the written dissertation to the supervisory committee, meeting the guidelines of the University of Florida Graduate School. The committee will evaluate the dissertation and once their standards are met, the document is approved. At this time the student may schedule the verbal defense before the supervisory committee in an open public forum.