Why choose a PhD in Movement Science?

Many of our applicants wonder about a Movement Science PhD vs. more traditional PhD programs, such as Neuroscience, Biomechanics, Exercise Science, Kinesiology, or Rehabilitation Science. Movement Science incorporates all those disciplines in our core courses. Thus, our students develop foundational knowledge about the neural control, mechanics, and physiology of movement. Elective courses in specific disciplines allow our students to build their educational experience to suit their interests and career goals. By its nature, Movement Sciences is interdisciplinary. Training with us prepares students for success in the future in collaborative, impactful science in academia and industry.

How do I identify potential mentors?

The Movement Science PhD program has a talented group of mentors. Mentors range from basic, to translational, to clinical scientists. A list of mentors and their research interests can be found here. We encourage applicants to reach out directly to mentors to discuss current research projects, mentoring styles, and lab environments.

Do I have to have a mentor agree to take me prior to the application submission?

No. While many PhD programs require this, the Washington University Movement Science Program does not. We accept the most qualified students, help them identify potential mentors when asked, and then formally match accepted students to mentors at the end of the admissions process (see “What is the application timeline?” below).

I am interested in learning more, who can I contact?

We encourage applicants to learn as much as possible about our Program in order to make informed decisions. Potential applicants may reach out to the Program Coordinator (Jennifer.Brown@wustl.edu) to ask questions, request, and/or schedule an informational visit, either via Zoom or in person (as public health conditions permit). An informational visit usually involves meeting with the Program Director, faculty that you might share a research interest with, and one or two current students. The current students come from a wide variety of educational and career backgrounds and provide a great perspective on what life is like as a Movement Science PhD student, the Washington University environment, and life in St. Louis, MO USA.

Are there any prerequistes or requirements?

Potential applicants need to have earned, at minimum, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and have prior research experience of at least two semesters in the basic or clinical sciences. There is no specific required coursework, but most competitive applicants have a strong interest in studying movement along with some mix of knowledge and skills derived from undergraduate or graduate courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, computer science, human anatomy, physics, physiology, and/or statistics.

What is the application timeline?

The Graduate School application system opens around the first of September each year. The due date for the Movement Science PhD Program applications is December 1, for matriculation in the fall of the following year.

Submitted applications are reviewed by a 3-4 members of our Movement Science Program Steering Committee. The most competitive applications are then selected for an interview, with notification usually by the third week in December. All invited applicants interview on the same day, typically a Friday in mid-to-late January. The interview can be via Zoom or in person (as public health conditions permit) and usually lasts most of the day. During the interview, applicants meet with 6-8 faculty members and current students. We view the interview as a chance to get to know the applicants, and equally importantly, as chance for the applicants to get to know us. Sometime in February, the top candidates are offered admission slots and matched to mentors/labs based on mutual interests. Applicants that were not offered slots are often placed on a waiting list, in case a slot opens later in the spring.

How long does it typically take to complete the Movement Science PhD?

Nearly all of our students finish in four to five years. Our current average from matriculation to completing all the requirements for the degree is 4.3 years.

Do the students in your program receive funding?

Yes. Students receive a stipend, tuition remission, and health insurance. Our stipend is set to match the yearly NIH predoctoral stipend levels. We cover your tuition and pay for your student health insurance. These benefits are guaranteed for the duration of your studies, as long as you are making adequate yearly progress.

What is your graduation rate?

Our graduation rate is better than 97% over the past 30 years. This means that nearly every applicant that is admitted goes on to earn the PhD. We are serious about selecting strong candidates and assuring that they have a top-notch training experience in Movement Science.

Do the Movement Science students and graduates publish scientific papers?

Yes! Our graduates are extremely successful publishing their results. Our graduates average 6.8 ± 2 total publications, of which 4.2 ± 2 are first-author publications, from their PhD training. The publications are in a wide variety of well-respected, highly-ranked interdisciplinary scientific journals related to movement science and rehabilitation.

Where do the Movement Science graduates end up?

Our graduates are extremely successful earning academic or industry positions, obtaining future research funding, and becoming nationally and internationally recognized leaders. Over the past 15 years, 91% of are graduates are pursuing research-intensive or research-related careers, with 81% of all graduates in academia. Our graduates in industry have pursued diverse experiences with medical device, pharmaceutical, and other biotech companies.