kinesiology

The Kinesiology department's mission is to research, teach, and apply knowledge related to movement, exercise, and human occupation with the ultimate goal of enhancing human health, productivity, and quality of life.

Students in this major take coursework grounded in the basic sciences (e.g., physiology, anatomy, biology) and in kinesiology. Kinesiology core courses examine how the body responds to physical activity, the role of physiology and psychological factors in exercise, mechanics driving movement, how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the lifespan, and the role of physical activity in the health of the U.S. population.

The curriculum includes coursework, laboratory research opportunities, and hands-on learning experiences. In addition, at least 11 credits of electives in exercise and movement science are required, giving students some flexibility to tailor the program to their specific interests. Examples of elective topics include strength and conditioning, leadership, health theory, and advanced courses in exercise physiology, exercise psychology, and biomechanics.

Kinesiology is a pre-professional program. This means that our students are well prepared for subsequent graduate or professional training in different health-related disciplines. The degree also prepares students for graduate programs in kinesiology and athletic training.  Kinesiology graduates also pursue entry-level careers in a wide variety of professions, including those in the area of fitness.

Graduating seniors have reported starting the following jobs: club coach, programming administrator, medical scribe, AmeriCorps, rehabilitation aide, personal trainer, research assistant/specialist, physical therapy aide, nursing home caregiver, nanny, group exercise instructor, certified nursing assistant, medical device sales, strength and conditioning internship, United Cerebral Palsy inclusion facilitator, financial counselor, EKG tech, behavioral technician, project manager, ranch worker, wellbeing intern, glacier guide.

Graduating seniors have reported acceptance into the following graduate programs: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Public Health, Doctor of Medicine, Chiropractic School, Clinical Exercise Physiology, Biomedical Engineering, Master in Physician Assistant Studies, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Exercise Science, Master of Science in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology, Dentistry.

Kinesiology Declaration Overview

Incoming freshmen typically enter UW–Madison as Pre-Kinesiology students (PKN), spend the first two years completing liberal studies, general education, and Kinesiology prerequisite requirements, and declare the Kinesiology major during their sophomore year for the final two years on campus.

On-campus students starting at UW-Madison in other majors can move to Pre-Kinesiology by completing a Pre-Professional Declaration. A GPA of 2.75, based on all UW–Madison coursework or the last 60 credits, is required to transfer into Pre-Kinesiology. It is not necessary to be a Pre-Kinesiology student before declaring Kinesiology.

Eligibility to Declare Kinesiology

Kinesiology currently accepts declarations once a year, from November 15 through March 1. The on-campus declaration form is located on the School of Education's Undergraduate Admissions page, along with information about the declaration period, deadline, and current eligibility requirements. Students should consult this site prior to submitting a declaration as this information may be modified from one declaration period to the next.

Off-campus students wishing to transfer directly into Kinesiology should complete the on-campus declaration and must also be admitted to UW-Madison. See Transfer Students and Students with a Bachelor’s Degree, below.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Complete the following prerequisite coursework by the end of the spring semester of the declaration year:
Biology Sequence
Complete one of the following Biology sequences:
BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  101
BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  102
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
5
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151
BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology 1
10
BIOCORE 381
BIOCORE 382
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
5
Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam score of 4 or 5 2
International Baccalaureate (IB) Biology exam score of 4 or 5 2
Chemistry Sequence
Complete one of the following Chemistry sequences:
CHEM 103
CHEM 104
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
9
CHEM 109 Advanced General Chemistry5
CHEM 115
CHEM 116
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
10
Physics Course
Complete one of the following Physics courses:
PHYSICS 103 General Physics4
PHYSICS 201 General Physics5
PHYSICS 207 General Physics5
Kinesiology Course
KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology2
1

Students who take BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 at UW-Madison or transfer it from another campus must also take BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  152 to complete the Biology sequence.

2

Students awarded credit for BIOLOGY/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  151 via an AP or IB Biology exam score of 4 or 5 have completed the entire Biology sequence.

  • Students may complete no more than three of the prerequisite courses during the spring semester of the declaration year. For this purpose CHEM 109 satisfies the full general chemistry requirement and constitutes one course. BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  101 and BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  102 are counted as two courses in determining eligibility for the program.
  • Earn a minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA or a 2.75 cumulative GPA based on the Last 60 Credits Rule by the end of the fall semester of the declaration year.3
3

Last 60 Credits Rule - Two grade point averages may be calculated to determine a candidate's eligibility to declare Kinesiology. A GPA may be calculated using (1) UW-Madison and all other all transferable college level coursework attempted and (2) the last 60 credits attempted. The higher GPA of these two calculations will be used for determining eligibility. Once declared, students must earn a semester GPA of 2.75 each semester after declaration. More information on this rule is available here.

Students will be provisionally admitted in the spring, pending the completion of all prerequisite courses and GPA requirements by the end of the spring semester.

Transfer Students and Students with a Previous Degree

Transfer students and second degree candidates (students who already hold a Bachelor’s degree) must be admitted to UW-Madison to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to the campus has its own application, admission process, and application deadlines; see Office of Admissions and Recruitment for campus application information.

Students wishing to transfer directly into Kinesiology should complete both the on-campus Kinesiology declaration and the UW-Madison application. All eligibility requirements must be met. Other transfer and second degree candidates will be admitted to UW-Madison with the Pre-Kinesiology designation.  

Second degree candidates in the School of Education are changing their academic direction and wish to complete a degree that is unrelated to their first. A large number of credits are usually required to complete the new degree requirements and a second undergraduate degree is awarded upon its completion; more information is available here.

Off-campus students are strongly advised to meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office in advance of their declaration. Consultations with advisors are available in person, virtually, or via telephone; email soeacademicservices@education.wisc.edu or call 608-262-1651 to schedule an appointment.

Advising After Declaration

The Kinesiology department holds mandatory spring orientation sessions for new majors, led by a departmental advisor. The sequencing of coursework and enrollment in Kinesiology courses are addressed at these meetings. Students will be authorized to enroll in Kinesiology courses after the orientation meetings are completed.

After declaration, advising about the major will be provided by the Department of Kinesiology. Majors are required to meet with the departmental advisor at least once per semester. All questions about School of Education and university requirements should be referred to an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs and Kinesiology have unique requirements in this category.

Science

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Program Structure

The Kinesiology program has five components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Science core coursework offers in-depth study of the basic sciences and mathematics.
  • Kinesiology core courses look at how the body responds and adapts to exercise, the role of psychological factors in sports and exercise, mechanics applied to biological systems, and how movement is controlled, learned, and developed over the life span.
  • Advanced coursework in Kinesiology requires at least 11 credits of Kinesiology electives, thus giving students some flexibility to tailor the program to their specific interests.
  • Elective classes are generally related to the student's area of study and are taken to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

Science Core

Select one of the following:5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Select one of the following:4-10
AP or IB Biology score of 4 or above
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
PSYCH 202 Introduction to Psychology3-4
Select one of the following:0-5
Placement into Calculus
Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Select one of the following:3
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Basic Statistics for Psychology
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology5
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy3
ANAT&PHY 338 Human Anatomy Laboratory2

Kinesiology Core

KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support 1 22
KINES 119 Introduction to Kinesiology 12
KINES 300 Practicum in Kinesiology 33
KINES 314 Physiology of Exercise4
KINES 318 Biomechanics of Human Movement3
KINES 330 Research in Kinesiology2
KINES 350 Introduction to Exercise Psychology 13
KINES 361 Motor Learning and Performance3
Select one of the following: 3
Socio-Cultural Aspects of Physical Activity
Physical Activity and Health
Advanced Exercise Psychology
1

KINES 116, KINES 119 and KINES 350 may be taken prior to admission into the professional part of the undergraduate program.

2

Students may exempt from KINES 116 First Aid and Basic Life Support by completing American Red Cross First Aid AND one of the following: 1) American Red Cross Basic Life Support, 2) American Red Cross Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers, or 3) American Red Cross CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers.

If a student wishes to request that a different course (or courses) be considered, contact the Department of Kinesiology undergraduate office PRIOR to enrolling.

3

Criminal background investigations may be conducted for some students, based on the site of the practicum assignment. The cooperating agency to which the student has been assigned will determine if a background check is necessary.

Advanced Coursework in Kinesiology

This requirement was previously listed under the Exercise and Movement Science option; it has not changed.

Select a minimum of 11 credits from the following:

KINES 312 Technology for Physical Activity and Health Professionals2
KINES 325 Group Development and Behavior Management3
KINES 360 Lifespan Motor Development3
KINES 387 The Young Athlete: Considerations for Exercise, Medicine, and Activity2
KINES 390 Principles of Exercise Leadership2
KINES 427 Fitness Testing and Exercise Prescription3
KINES 501 Theory-Based Health Education and Health Promotion Programs3
KINES 508 Workshop in Kinesiology (Topic: Theories and Strategies for Behavioral Change)3
KINES/​NURSING  523 Clinical Exercise Testing & Training3
KINES/​NUTR SCI  525 Nutrition in Physical Activity and Health3
KINES 527 Principles of Strength and Conditioning3
KINES 531 Neural Control of Movement3
KINES 555 Sports Science & Athlete Monitoring3
KINES 614 Biological Factors Influencing Exercise Performance3
KINES 615 Laboratory Techniques in Exercise Physiology2
KINES 618 Biomechanics2-3

Elective Coursework

Select additional courses to reach the minimum of 120 credits.

Continuation Requirement: Department of Kinesiology

All students admitted to undergraduate programs in the Department of Kinesiology, including Physical Education, must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75, based on all UW–Madison campus coursework. Consult the School of Education's Academic Policies and Procedures for additional information about the Continuation requirement.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

These requirements are based on UW-Madison coursework.

  • Must earn a minimum 2.50 cumulative grade point average. Graduation GPA may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • Major residency: Students must complete a minimum of 15 credits from the Department of Kinesiology while enrolled on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Must complete a minimum of 120 credits.

Degree Audit (DARS)

UW–Madison uses “DARS” to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree, including any additional majors and certificates. A DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System) report shows all the requirements for completing a degree and, against courses that are planned or completed, shows the requirements that have been met, and those that are unmet. A report can offer suggestions about courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning and enrollment process. Students can access a DARS report in the Course Search & Enroll app or Student Center via My UW.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program, major or certificate. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE), or Pre-Kinesiology should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

More information on how to request a DARS report is available on the registrar’s website.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is used as the document of record for degree program, major and certificate completion in the School of Education.
 

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. (Knowledge) Define and explain major concepts across the breadth of kinesiology.
  2. (Application) Apply their knowledge related to movement and physical activity techniques and approaches in clinical and applied settings to enhance human health and quality of life.
  3. (Critical Thinking) Demonstrate competence in the scientific research process, which includes the ability to consume, analyze, interpret and critically review scientific literature.
  4. (Communication) Develop appropriate styles of written and oral communication to use both within and outside of the scientific community.

Kinesiology: Sample Four-Year Plans

A four-year sample graduation plan is designed to guide your course selection throughout your academic career; it does not establish a contractual agreement. Use it along with your DARS report, the Guide, and the Course Search and Enroll app to create a four-year plan reflecting your placement scores, incoming credits, and individual interests. Consult with an academic advisor to develop a personalized plan of study and refer to the Guide for a complete list of requirements. You will likely revise your plan several times during your academic career here, based on your activities and changing academic interests.

Two plans are presented below. The first is for students testing into MATH 112 Algebra , followed by a plan for students testing into MATH 211 Calculus or MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1

For Students Testing Into MATH 112 Algebra

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Communication A (fall or spring semester)3Communication A (fall or spring semester)3
MATH 112 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning A)3KINES 1192
Liberal Studies course work9-12BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1013
 CHEM 1034
 Ethnic Studies3
 Liberal Studies course work0-3
 15 15
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1022PHYSICS 1034
CHEM 1045STAT 371 or PSYCH 210 (also meets Quantitative Reasoning B)3
MATH 1133KINES 1162
PSYCH 2023Liberal Studies or General Elective course work6
Liberal Studies course work3-6 
 16 15
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
KINES 330 or 3612-3KINES 361 or 3302-3
KINES 350 (or Advanced Kines Elective)13KINES 3144
ANAT&PHY 3355ANAT&PHY 3373
Advanced Kines Elective13ANAT&PHY 3382
 KINES 350 (or Advanced Kines Elective)3
 14 14
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
KINES 318 or 3003KINES 300 or 3183
Communication B - Select one of the following in the fall or spring semester3Communication B - Select one of the following in the fall or spring semester3
Advanced Kines Elective2Advanced Kines Elective3
Liberal Studies, Advanced Kines Elective or General Elective course work8-11Liberal Studies, Advanced Kines Elective or General Elective course work6-9
 16 15
Total Credits 120
1

A total of 11 credits of Advanced Kines Electives are required. Elective course options are 2-3 credits.               

For Students Testing Into MATH 211 Calculus or MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1 (Quantitative Reasoning A met)

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Communication A (fall or spring semester)3Communication A (fall or spring semester)3
CHEM 1034KINES 1192
Liberal Studies course work8-11CHEM 1045
 Liberal Studies course work0-8
 15 15
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1013STAT 371 or PSYCH 2103
BIOLOGY/​ZOOLOGY  1022KINES 1162
PHYSICS 1034PSYCH 2023
Ethnic Studies 3Liberal Studies or General Elective course work7
Liberal Studies course work4 
 16 15
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
KINES 330 or 3612-3KINES 361 or 3302-3
KINES 350 (or Advanced Kines Elective)13KINES 3144
ANAT&PHY 3355ANAT&PHY 3373
Advanced Kines Elective13ANAT&PHY 3382
 KINES 350 (or Advanced Kines Elective)3
 14 14
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
KINES 318 or 3003KINES 300 or 3183
Communication B - Select one of the following either in the fall or spring semester3Communication B - Select one of the following either in the fall or spring semester (KINES 600 is not offered in the spring)3
Advanced Kines Elective3
Advanced Kines Elective2Liberal Studies, Advanced Kines Elective or General Elective course work7-10
Liberal Studies, Advanced Kines Elective or General Elective course work7-10 
 15 16
Total Credits 120
1

A total of 11 credits of Advanced Kines Electives are required. Elective course options are 2-3 credits.               

Exercise and Movement Science Advising

Students not yet admitted to Kinesiology: Exercise and Movement Science meet with an advisor in the School of Education Student Services office, see below. Once admitted to the professional program, students are also advised in the Department of Kinesiology.

School of Education Advising

Dedicated to supporting and promoting student success, the School of Education Student Services staff is here to assist students with the adjustment to college, understanding their degree and career goals, and connecting to resources.  ESS supports prospective and current School of Education students in all programs through:

  • academic and career advising
  • mentoring and advocacy for underrepresented and international students
  • requirements monitoring
  • interpreting academic policy
  • and more!

Students in the School of Education are encouraged to make Student Services a vital part of their academic and employment journey.

To schedule an appointment: Current students can schedule an appointment online through the Starfish app in MyUW. Appointments can also be made through email at soeacademicservices@education.wisc.edu, by calling 608-262-1651, or in person.

Career Advising in the School of Education

The School of Education Career Center provides students with the knowledge needed for connecting their classroom experiences with real-world application. Through individual appointments, events, and online resources, the Career Center provides students and alumni with the tools needed to be successful in their career development. From building resumes, conducting job and internship searches, developing interview skills, and negotiation strategies, the Career Center provides a foundation for developing the essential skills for the ever-changing world of work.

Students can set up their profile on Handshake, the campus online career management system, to find open internships, jobs, and career events. In addition to Handshake, there are many other job search sites to consult, such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and some that are industry-specific. Students majoring in Kinesiology have searched for titles such as Health Education Specialist, Health & Fitness Manager, and Kinesiologist.

Current School of Education students can make an appointment with a Career and Internship Advisor by logging into Starfish from the MyUW dashboard and selecting a day and time that works best with their schedule.

School of Education Alumni can schedule an appointment by completing the appointment request form.

For more information, visit the School of Education Career Center website or reach out at career-center@education.wisc.edu

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Kinesiology can be found on the department's website.

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.