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Human Movement Science Curriculum

Enhancing Physical Well-Being and Quality of Life

Our mission is to prepare scholars to be exceptional interdisciplinary researchers, educators, and leaders in the field of human movement.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are to:

  1. Prepare doctoral research scholars who will create and disseminate knowledge in Human Movement Science. Program graduates will excel as independent researchers and future leaders in addressing scientific problems related to human movement in a global, integrated manner for the benefit of society.
  2. Employ interdisciplinary human movement research approaches focused on diverse healthy and impaired populations. Research conducted through our program will reflect the complexity and interdependence of the multiple systems underlying movement, and ultimately will promote health and physical well-being.

To meet these goals, our objectives are:

  1. To prepare doctoral research scholars who will create and disseminate knowledge in Human Movement Science by:
    • Seeking excellent students and supporting them in all aspects of doctoral training.
    • Responding to the growing health care needs of the state and nation through innovative research, training, and outreach.
    • Fostering mentored professional development via publication, presentation, grantsmanship, networking, and teaching.
  2. To conduct applied and translational research using interdisciplinary approaches focused on healthy and impaired human movement by:
    • Engaging the participation of innovative and productive faculty.
    • Providing excellent, state-of-the-art facilities.
    • Providing financial resources to support student research.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Human Movement Science Curriculum at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill supports the University’s core values encouraging diversity, equality, and inclusivity throughout our community. We unequivocally denounce racism and other forms of hateful and discriminatory behavior with regard to culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and age, among others. We are strongly committed to promoting diversity in our program as we consider an ideal scientific community to be one that includes a diverse representation of individuals at all academic levels. We are especially committed to training doctoral students of diverse backgrounds, and we encourage students from all backgrounds to reach out to potential faculty mentors if interested in our program. Our views reflect University policy as reflected the UNC Non-Discrimination Policy and the policy of Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Curriculum Overview

The Department of Allied Health Sciences in the School of Medicine offers an interdisciplinary program of study in Human Movement Science leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree.  The intent of the program is to develop research and teaching scholars who are capable of producing and disseminating new knowledge in the field of Human Movement Science.

A unique focus of the program is on maintaining health, preventing disability, and improving movement ability in persons with movement problems.  The program provides training through a rigorous research curriculum of didactic and research experiences, and an interdisciplinary emphasis provided by faculty, coursework, and students.  The curriculum combines core requirements for all students in the program while allowing for considerable flexibility in designing programs of study to meet the needs of a specific area of concentration and the students’ interests. The program is committed to developing leading researchers, teachers, and scholars in academe who will interweave the cutting edge of scientific knowledge with clinical practice for maintaining and improving human movement.

A key feature of this program is the interdisciplinary orientation of the combined efforts of several successful programs on the UNC – Chapel Hill campus.  We believe that the advancement of the science of human movement can best be accomplished with methods and researchers across disciplines. Human movement is inherently complex and dynamic and is the product of biological, mechanical, behavioral, and environmental systems.  The dynamic and complex nature of human movement provides an organizational perspective for the curriculum.  Specific features of this organizing perspective include:

  • An emphasis on developing and testing theory of normal and dysfunctional human movement;
  • Applying these and other theories of movement to maintaining and improving human movement;
  • Recognizing the multifactorial nature of human movement;
  • An interdisciplinary approach to solving problems of human movement;
  • Studying movement at multiple levels of analysis; and
  • Addressing the unique movement problems associated with injury, disease, development and aging.

Program Overview

Students of varied academic disciplines are accepted into the program. The program has core requirements, but also is flexible and allows individualized student study plans. Students in our program study several areas of interest in human movement, including:

  • Biomechanics
  • Brain injury / concussion
  • Exercise physiology
  • Injury prevention
  • Neuromuscular control and motor learning
  • Rehabilitation (musculoskeletal, neurological)

To develop one (or more) of these areas of interest, students may choose courses and research experiences from a wide variety of classes offered in various departments at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or at other universities.


Additional Information

Additional information concerning the program can be obtained by contacting the following:

Erik Wikstrom, PhD, ATC, FNATA, FACSM
Associate Professor & Katherine Smith Gunter Fellow
MOTION Science Institute
Human Movement Science Curriculum PhD Program
Department of Exercise & Sport Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
311 Woollen Gym, CB#8700
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
office: 919-962-2260