University of Southern California
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Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy

Master of Science

Graduate study for the Master of Science in Biokinesiology is open to individuals who have a bachelor’s degree and who have a strong interest in movement science.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements include a superior grade point average in cumulative undergraduate and graduate course work (if applicable). Applicants should score at least 600 in each area of the Graduate Record Examinations. Applicants are to provide the department with three letters of recommendation. The faculty may request a personal interview before making a decision on admission. Admission will be considered for the fall semester only. The application deadline is January 15. All applicants should contact the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy for advisement.


The prerequisite for applicants to the Master of Science program in biokinesiology is either: (a) a bachelor’s degree or higher with a science major or equivalent; or (b) a bachelor’s or master’s degree in physical therapy with appropriate basic science content. Courses completed at the time of application must include work (with appropriate laboratory study) in chemistry, calculus, physics and biology. Highly recommended is course work in anatomy, physiology, histology, kinesiology, trigonometry, neuroscience, analytical geometry, exercise physiology, biochemistry and computer programming. Applicants with no background in cellular or molecular biology may be required to take PT 509 in the entry-level D.P.T. program. Candidates should have some degree of computer literacy. International applicants will be considered on a special evaluation of credentials.

Students deficient in certain prerequisites may be admitted subject to completion of requirements within two years after admission. An additional year may be granted upon review of the student’s program by a faculty committee. Work in any prerequisite subjects will not be part of the required units for the Master of Science.

Degree Requirements

Completion of the degree requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 32 credits of course work at the 500 level or above, a research project (BKN 559 and BKN 590), and a comprehensive examination administered with the chair of the Biokinesiology Committee acting as the examination advisor.

Required coursesUnits
BKN 550Neurobehavioral Basis of Movement4
BKN 551Musculoskeletal and Biomechanical Basis of Movement4
BKN 552Physiological Basis of Voluntary Movement4
BKN 559Readings in Biokinesiology1-4, max 8
BKN 590Directed Research1-12
PM 510LPrinciples of Biostatistics4

Students must complete the three biokinesiology core courses (BKN 550, BKN 551, BKN 552) before sitting for their comprehensive examination. Substituting a course for one of the core courses may be allowed after receiving approval from the Biokinesiology Program Committee prior to the beginning of the course.

In order to fulfill the research project requirement, the following plan is suggested; however, each plan can be individualized based on the needs of the student and/or advisor:

1. Select a research professor (from the department) whose work interests them. This should be done by the end of the first year of study.

2. After receiving the professor’s approval, sign up for BKN 559 (4 units) and complete a semester reading the literature pertinent to the professor’s work.

3. The following semester, sign up for BKN 590 (4 units) and participate in an ongoing research project that is being conducted by the professor. The research paper must be completed within the semester for which BKN 590 units are being given.

See the Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology section for a list of courses available to M.S. students.