Students in the Movement Science Program complete core coursework, electives, original laboratory research, and a dissertation.

Degree Requirements

Students must complete 48 credits:

  • 28 credits of required coursework
  • 20 credits of elective coursework
  • Students with a Masters or Doctorate degrees can receive up to 12 transfer credits.

In addition to completion of coursework, the following elements are required of all students:

  • Completion of Qualifying Exam after the second year
  • Development, implementation, and completion of original laboratory research
  • Oral defense of dissertation proposal
  • Completion of written doctoral dissertation
  • Oral defense of doctoral dissertation


Movement Science Core Courses

Instrumentation Theory and Application

This course is designed for the student to have a greater understanding of computer hardware, software, and biological signal transduction and processing. Computer architecture and operating systems are discussed and students gain a basic understanding of software programming logic and structures. Basic knowledge of circuits, signal capture and transduction with relevant hardware is reviewed.  Students apply course content to solve practical problems, relevant to their individual research experiences.  [3 credit hrs]

Movement Science I – Bioenergetics

This course provides comprehensive knowledge of skeletal muscle bioenergetics: structure, function, physiologic regulation of substrate utilization, and physiological/pathological adaptation (mutability) to external and internal stimuli. Course content will include skeletal muscle histology, function of intracellular & extracellular muscle proteins, mechanisms of contraction, myogenesis, utilization of fuel substrates including hormonal control, and the effects of exercise, mechanical properties of muscle, and the response of muscle to training, disuse, and selected pathologies. [3 credit hrs]

Movement Science II – Biomechanics

The focus of this course is on understanding mechanical principles as they relate to the study of movement. The course uses an integration of quantitative principles and published literature to explore methods to study biomechanics and also to learn how the human body responds to mechanical stimuli in healthy and selected disease conditions. [3 credit hrs]

Movement Science III – Biocontrol

The goal of this course is to better understand how the nervous system controls movement and how human movement is affected after pathology to the nervous system. Each class session consists of an introductory lecture followed by student-led discussions of selected papers. During the course, students gain insight into how the enormous repertoire of human movements (e.g. gait, posture, voluntary hand movements) is controlled by a distributed motor system (e.g. spinal cord, basal ganglia, motor cortex), how pathology to the system alters movements, and how various structures in the system may or may not be able to compensate for each other. [3 credit hrs]

Statistics Series

Students choose 3 courses (minimum of 9 credit hrs) from the following choices:

  • Quantitative Methods I
  • Quantitative Methods II
  • Applied Multivariate Analyses
  • Hierarchical Linear Models
  • Introduction to Statistics for Clinical Research
  • Intermediate Statistics for the Health Sciences
  • Epidemiology for Clinical Research
  • Designing Outcomes and Clinical Research

Each course is 3 credit hrs.  Specific course choices are made based on the student’s prior statistical background and training needs, after consultation with the mentor. 

Teaching Practicum

The teaching practicum provides an opportunity for the doctoral student to engage in a focused, mentored teaching experience. The student’s teaching should be in a content area relevant to the student’s area of interest. Students are expected to provide at least six hours of student experiences, with a minimum of 4 hours of lecture presentation to an appropriate educational audience. [2 credit hrs]

Program Seminar

Program Seminar is a 1 credit hr course.  Students are required to enroll for 4 semesters [4 credit hrs total].  The Program Seminar series is designed to fulfill a variety of training needs that may not be covered, or not covered with sufficient depth, in formal scientific coursework or with individual research training within the laboratories. Topics rotate across semesters and include: individual development career plans, scientific rigor, grantsmanship, obtaining positions beyond the PhD, and other career and science topics of interest as they arise. 

Ethics: Responsible Conduct of Research

Students receive formal training in the responsible conduct of research via a 1 credit hr course, and informal training throughout their educational experience. The formal course complies with the NIH training standards and consists of 2-3 hours of online modules, followed by 8 or more hours of face-to-face sessions that may be lectures, panels, case discussions, or role playing.  Some aspects of course content are required by all, and other aspects allow students to choose topics that are of interest or are most relevant to their research experiences. 


Electives are an important part of the Movement Science education.  Our students come from a variety of educational backgrounds and pursue a variety of questions related to movement.  Thus, an essential part of the student’s education is to tailor elective coursework to meet their scientific interests and their training needs. 

There is an abundance of elective courses across the Medical and Danforth campuses available to our students.  Elective courses provide a great opportunity for our students to engage with the outstanding faculty and graduate student body available at Washington University.  The elective courses most often taken by our students include: Neural Systems; Cellular Neurobiology; Cells, Systems, & Disease I and/or II; Orthopedic Biomechanics of Bone, Joints, Cartilage, and Tendons; Human Anatomy; The Psychology of Aging; Genetics & Genomics of Disease; and Scientific Writing & Publishing. 

Students work with their mentor and the Movement Science Program Director to identify the elective courses that will optimize their educational experience.  Elective coursework may be taken either before or after qualifying examinations, which occur after the second year of study.