University of Southern California
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Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy

Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology

The graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology is designed to prepare candidates for research and teaching at the university level. Actual programs of study will be designed with a degree of flexibility directed toward individual students who seek to become independent scholars.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet all general admission requirements of the university. Admission requirements include a superior grade point average in cumulative undergraduate and graduate course work (if applicable). In addition, applicants should score at least 600 in each area of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and have some research experience. Students admitted for the Master of Science degree are not automatically admitted to the Doctor of Philosophy program. The Master of Science is not required as a prerequisite to the Ph.D. but may be advised.

Applicants must have a personal interview with the program faculty. A student can be considered for admission only when a member of the full-time Ph.D. faculty has agreed to serve as the student’s Ph.D. advisor. Three letters of recommendation and duplicate transcripts must be sent to the division for preliminary evaluation, although final acceptance is based upon the official USC application procedure.

Prerequisites (Ph.D. Program)

The prerequisite for applicants to the Ph.D. 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, cell biology, exercise physiology, kinesiology, biochemistry, neuroscience, trigonometry, analytical geometry and computer programming.

Candidates should be computer literate. International applicants will be considered upon evaluation of credentials by the USC Office of Admission.

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 subject will not be part of the required 60 units for the Doctor of Philosophy.

Screening Procedure

A screening procedure will be offered twice each year for qualified students. It must be taken prior to the completion of 24 units at the 500-level or higher. The purpose of the screening procedure is to assess the progress of the Ph.D. student and to determine whether that progress is sufficient to continue in the Ph.D. program. Passing the procedure is a prerequisite for continuation in the Ph.D. program.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 60 units is required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Required course workUnits
BKN 550Neurobehavioral Basis of Movement4
BKN 551Musculoskeletal and Biomechanical Basis of Movement4
BKN 552Physiological Basis of Voluntary Movement4
BKN 790Research1-12
BKN 794abcdzDoctoral Dissertation2-2-2-2-0
INTD 500*Ethics and Accountability in Biomedical Research1
PM 510L**Principles of Biostatistics4
PM 511aL**Data Analysis4

*Or equivalent graduate ethics course.

** Or equivalent graduate level statistics.

Ph.D. students must complete three core courses (BKN 550, BKN 551, BKN 552) before participating in the screening procedure. 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.

Other course requirements (to complete 60 units) will vary according to the specific needs of each student. Course work other than departmental offerings is encouraged and may be required by the student’s guidance committee.

Courses available for M.S./Ph.D. studentsUnits
BKN 559Readings in Biokinesiology1-4, max 8
BKN 563Biomechanics2
BKN 566Neurobiology of Locomotion2
BKN 567Advanced Topics in Biomechanics2
BKN 573abAdvanced Dissection Anatomy2-2
BKN 575Principles of Musculoskeletal Imaging2
BKN 585Systematic Research Writing3
BKN 587abPhysiological Correlates of Therapeutic Exercise4-4
BKN 588Physiology and Biomechanics of Resistance Exercise4
BKN 590Directed Research1-12
BKN 593Behavioral Basis of Motor Control and Learning3
BKN 594abzMaster’s Thesis2-2-0
BKN 599Special Topics2-4, max 8
BKN 615Principles of Skeletal Adaptation4
BKN 617Modeling the Motor System: An Introduction2
BKN 618LModeling the Motor System: Laboratory1
BKN 621Electromyography in Research and Practice3
BKN 623Neuroplasticity and Neural Repair3
BKN 672Advanced Independent Study in Biokinesiology1-4, max 8
BKN 790Research1-12
BKN 794abcdzDoctoral Dissertation2-2-2-2-0

Foreign Language Requirement
There is no foreign language requirement.

Guidance Committee
Upon successful completion of the screening examination the student and the major advisor will select a guidance committee for continuing course work and independent study. The guidance committee comprises five members: three to four full-time faculty from the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, one whom serves as committee chair, and one or two faculty members outside the division.

The guidance committee will recommend course work, independent study and readings in the major and cognate areas.

Qualifying Examination
The Ph.D. qualifying examination is offered during the fall or spring semesters. The qualifying examination concentrates on the student’s ability to demonstrate knowledge in the major academic area chosen and its relation to other areas of study offered in the department. The qualifying examination has both written and oral components. A student failing any part of the examination may be allowed one additional opportunity to pass that portion at the discretion of the guidance committee, within the regulations of the Graduate School governing the repetition of qualifying examinations.

Dissertation Committee
After the qualifying examination has been passed and a dissertation topic approved, the guidance committee shall be known as the dissertation committee and may be reduced to three members upon unanimous recommendation to the dean of graduate studies. One of the three members must be from outside the major division. The chair of the dissertation committee will be the principal research advisor.

Dissertation and Oral Defense
An acceptable dissertation based on original investigation is required. The dissertation must show technical mastery of a special field, capacity for independent research and scholarly ability.

The dissertation and the defense or final oral must have the unanimous approval of the dissertation committee. The dissertation should be complete within three years of the date the proposal is approved.

Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy

The graduate program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy offers an opportunity for highly qualified students to prepare for careers in academic health care. The curriculum is designed for individuals who envision a career that combines training for physical therapy practice and scholarly research.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree with a superior grade point average as well as Graduate Record Examinations scores. A personal interview with program faculty is required. Prerequisite course work must include: four courses in the biological sciences with labs (including human anatomy, human physiology and cell or molecular biology); one year of college physics with lab; one year of college chemistry with lab; one semester of college mathematics; two courses in psychology; one course in composition and writing; one course in literature or history. Courses that are highly recommended include: biochemistry, calculus, kinesiology, exercise physiology, neuroscience, genetics and a cross-cultural course in sociology.

Application for admission to the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy requires submission of two sets of materials: special division application and university application forms. Students are admitted for study in the Ph.D. in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy program beginning in the fall semester of each academic year. Both sets of applications must be submitted by December 1 of the previous year. At the time of admission to the program, the student must identify a faculty member who will serve as an advisor throughout every phase of study.

Degree Requirements

This degree is under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations.

Years 1, 2 - required coursesunits
PM 510LPrinciples of Biostatistics4
PM 511aLData Analysis4
PT 507Professional Practice: Therapist Perspective2
PT 509Cellular and Systems Physiology3
PT 514LMusculoskeletal Anatomy4
PT 516Principles of Disease2
PT 521LBasics of Patient Management4
PT 529Life Span Motor Control3
PT 534LNeuroanatomy3
PT 536Pathology of Cardiopulmonary Disease and General Medical Conditions3
PT 539Clinical Pharmacology1
PT 546Neuropathology3
PT 547Professional Practice: System Perspective2
PT 549LClinical Exercise Physiology4
PT 551LTherapeutic Applications of Physical Agents2
PT 554LAnalytical Anatomy3
PT 557Professional Practice: Patient Perspective2
PT 566Disorders of the Musculoskeletal System3
PT 569Fundamentals of Neuroscience4
PT 571LClinical Management of Cardiopulmonary Dysfunction4
PT 574Clinical Biomechanics3
PT 581LClinical Management of the Patient with Neurological Dysfunction5
PT 582Mechanics of Human Gait2
PT 583LClinical Electrophysiology3
PT 600abcdezClinical Clerkship1-3-1-1-3-0
PT 621LClinical Management of the Patient with Musculoskeletal Dysfunction5

Years 3, 4, 5 - required coursesunits
BKN 790Research1-12
BKN 794abcdzDissertation2-2-2-2-0

Year 6 - required coursesunits
PT 630Integrated Management of the Upper and Lower Extremities3
PT 631Integrated Management of the Axial Skeletal System and Related Movement Disorders3
PT 632Integrated Patient Management Seminar5
PT 660Advanced Clerkship with Academic Integration5
PT 665Advanced Clinical Clerkship8

A minimum of 116 units is required for completion of this program.

Estimated Calendar of Study

Basic and Clinical Science Foundation Courses (Years 1, 2)
The student will enroll in all required course work and clinical experiences excluding BKN 790, BKN 794abcdz, PT 630, PT 631, PT 632, PT 660, PT 665.

Qualifying Exam (Year 3)
The student will select a guidance committee and begin preparing a research proposal (register for BKN 790). During this time, the student is encouraged to enroll in key elective courses, both inside and outside the division, which will enhance research proposal development. The expectation is that the student will sit for the qualifying exam and achieve doctoral candidacy at the end of year three.

Research and Dissertation Preparation (Years 4, 5)
The student will complete the research project and prepare a dissertation (register for BKN 790 and BKN 794). The expectation is that the student will successfully defend the dissertation by the end of year five.

Completion of Internship Requirement (Year 6)
The student will complete the required internships to achieve clinical competency (register for PT 630, PT 631, PT 632, PT 660 and PT 665).