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

With an emphasis on student-faculty mentorship and the practical application of theory, the Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities Ph.D. program 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.

“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

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.

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    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:
    Achievement-based Curriculum in Physical Education
    Kinesiology for Children with Developmental Disabilities
    Kinesiology for Children with Physical and Sensory Disabilities
    Kinesiology for Children with Severe Disabilities
    Seminar in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities 

    Selected elective courses in Physical Education:
    Technology in Physical Education
    Motor Development
    Elementary and Secondary Methods
    Youth Sports
    Selected elective courses in Special Education:
    Behavior Management
    Positioning and Handling Children with Severe Disabilities
    Characteristics of Children with Mental Retardation or Learning and Emotional Disabilities
    Families with Special Needs Infants
    Collaborative Teaming
    Consulting Techniques

    Other courses in Research Methods you might be interested in include the following:
    Qualitative Research I and II
    Single Subject Research
    Educational Research and Design
    Statistics I, II, III, IV, and Advanced 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