Ph.D. in Education - Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities


With an emphasis on student-faculty mentorship and the practical application of theory, the Ph.D. program in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities prepares graduates for a range of careers both in and out of academia.


When Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819, he envisioned a new institution of higher learning: a place that would break down barriers to bring the brightest minds together. The University is now considered one of the top tier-one research institutions with nearly 22,000 students and 12,000 faculty across 12 schools. UVA is living the 21st century model of Jefferson's vision. The University is consistently ranked as one of the country’s most prestigious top-tier research universities. Rankings include #2 best public nationally ranked university and #24 best national university when considering both public or private universities (US News and World Report).

The Curry School of Education and Human Development has received similar national rankings including #10 public grad schools of education and 16th overall (when considering public and private universities (US News and World Report). At the Curry School, interdisciplinary work is built into every one of our programs. We draw on the strength and resources of our community, partnering with scholars all across Grounds to develop innovative programs, conduct cutting-edge research, and drive change within our community and our world.

At the Curry School, the Department of Kinesiology offer a multitude of programs at the undergraduate and graduate level designed to advances the discovery, development, interpretation, dissemination and application of knowledge that relates the study of human movement and physical activity to human well-being. The department fosters innovation and diversity across many dimensions and prepares students to engage in projects that address the needs of our increasingly complex and diverse society. All programs in the department provide a unique blend of direct instruction by top faculty, field and clinical practice, and various research opportunities. USA Today recently ranked the undergraduate kinesiology program as one of the pop 10 colleges to major in health and physical fitness.

With an emphasis on student-faculty mentorship and the practical application of theory, the Ph.D. program in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities prepares graduates for a range of careers both in and out of academia. This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only. The doctoral program is designed to prepare future college/university professionals and public officials in adapted physical education. The emphasis at this level is on developing research skills and applying these skills to current questions in the field. Past graduates of the program have had an impact on adapted physical education through employment in higher education in the United States and abroad, as well as in public school administration. All PHD students are fully funded through the department including payment of all tuition and fees, health insurance and a stipend. Many students serve as teacher assistants providing additional funding.

“Curry has empowered me to proceed with confidence, tenacity and creativity to contribute to shaping the society I envision a society with equal physical activity opportunities for all.”

– Sean Healy, Ph.D. Candidate, Kinesiology - Adapted Physical Education

Program Details


  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    The GRE is not required for applicants applying to begin in 2021.  Due to test center closures related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic applicants may apply without submitting GRE scores.

    Doctoral applicants should possess a Master's Degree in physical education or related discipline from an accredited college or university and a minimum of two years teaching experience. Students also must meet the admission standards outlined in the Curry School's Admission Policies which includes a high standard of achievement during their undergraduate and graduate work (minimum of 3.0 GPA), competitive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (152 or higher for the verbal, 152 or higher for quantitative, and a writing score of 4.0 or higher), a goal statement (1-2 pages), and two outstanding letters of recommendation with at least one from a faculty member.

    Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts and test scores when applying. However, official transcripts showing degree conferral and official test scores (taken within 5 years) are required prior to matriculation.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    December 1

    Decisions will be released by February 15th.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    Doctoral students complete a program of study of coursework in adapted physical education, physical education, special education, and research that consists of 72 credit hours above their Masters degree with a minimum of 36 credit hours of real courses (excludes independent study, internships, or supervised research). Upon completing their coursework students must pass a written comprehensive examination as well as an oral defense of their comprehensive examination. Upon completion of the comprehensive examination students must then complete and orally present and defend their dissertation.

  • Funding Opportunities

    Doctoral students have the opportunity to receive full funding from the Curry School of Education and Human Development.

  • Typical Length of Study

    The Doctoral Program is three to four years depending on the candidate’s educational background and teaching experience.

    Full or Part Time:

    We currently only offer a full-time Doctoral Program.

  • Course Overview

    Students in the Ph.D. Program in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities take an individually determined, interdisciplinary course of study with internationally-known faculty in regular and adapted physical education, special education, early childhood special education, technology, and research methods. The students Program of Study Committee tries to examines each individual students background and interests, and then designs a program of study that will help the student meet his/her unique goals. The following provides an example of some of the courses offered in the Curry School of Education and Human Development:

    Courses in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities:
    KINE 5220 Program Planning and Assessment in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities
    KINE 5240 Kinesiology for Children with Developmental Disabilities
    KINE 5250 Kinesiology for Children with Severe Disabilities
    KINE 5260 Kinesiology for Children with Physical and Sensory Disabilities
    KINE 5270 – Physical Education for Children with Autism

    Selected elective courses in Physical Education:
    KINE 5100 Assessment in Kinesiology
    KINE 2200 Motor Development
    KINE 5110 Elementary
    KINE 5120 Secondary Methods

    Selected elective courses in Special Education:
    EDIS 5011 Classroom Management and Behavior Assessment
    EDHS 5100, EDIS 5110, EDIS 5111, 5120 Characteristics of Children with Intellectual,Learning, Attention and/or with Special Needs Infants
    EDIS 5150 Collaborative Teaming
    EDIS 5700 – Positive Behavioral Support
    EDLF 6020 – Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in Higher Education

    Other courses in Research Methods you might be interested in include the following:
    EDLF 7404 Qualitative Research Methods
    EDLF 7330 Single Subject Research
    EDLF 7300 Foundation of Educational Research
    EDLF 5330 Quantitative Method and Data Analysis I
    EDLF 7420 Quantitative Statistics II – General Linear Models
    EDLF 8350 Multivariate Statistics

    In addition to coursework, doctoral students also have the opportunity to work as supervisors for our exemplary field-based Masters Program in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities. In this capacity our doctoral students learn systematic methods (including the use of computer-assisted techniques) for observing and providing feedback to our masters students who serve as adapted physical educators in our local public schools. Doctoral students also participate in research projects with Dr. Luke Kelly and Dr. Martin Block as well as other Curry School faculty in areas such as inclusion in physical education, consultation, national standards, technology, and early childhood education.

  • Sample Jobs After Graduation

    Doctoral students work as professors at colleges and universities or work in administrative and advocacy positions for local, state, and national organizations.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.