Exercise Science and Performance Nutrition - Doctor of Philosophy

Students working in exercise lab with one student in chair with testing equipment.


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program in Exercise Science and Performance Nutrition provides trainees with a blend of formal coursework and the mastery of laboratory skills in order to design and implement high-quality research within the broad scope of exercise and nutritional sciences. The Ph.D. degree is awarded to students who demonstrate the ability to be independent researchers involving nutrition and/or exercise as they relate to human performance improvement and sport, exercise adaptations, and preventing disease.



Exercise and Nutrition Research Group

Program Requirements

About the Program

Evaluation of candidates includes a comprehensive examination consisting of foundational knowledge of topics essential to success within the profession. Additionally, each candidate develops and completes a formal dissertation involving a research problem that contributes new knowledge to the field. The candidate serves as the principal investigator in an independent capacity with oversight from a research mentor and committee.

The Ph.D. program in Exercise Science and Performance Nutrition emphasizes experiential learning in laboratory and classroom settings to foster the development of well-rounded graduates capable of effective teaching, mentorship, and ethical research practices leading to preparation for a wide variety of positions, which may include academia, industry, and/or government entities.

Course of Study

Requirements for Admission

To apply to the Ph.D. in Exercise Science and Performance Nutrition degree program, please visit the University of South Alabama (USA) application management portal.

▼   Admission requirements for the Exercise Science and Performance Nutrition Ph.D. program
  1. A master’s degree in a related field (i.e., exercise science, kinesiology, nutrition, physiology, or similar) from an accredited institution of higher education. Students with a degree outside of the discipline and/or deficiency in relevant coursework may be required to successfully complete additional prerequisite courses prior to admission.
  2. GPA Requirement: A minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale on all graduate coursework.
  3. A brief personal statement (1 to 2 pages) describing the applicant’s research experience, related skills, and academic and career goals.
  4. One letter of recommendation (faculty advisor preferred) attesting to the applicant’s potential for developing into an independent researcher and contact information for three references (may include the letter writer).
  5. A writing sample (thesis/manuscript preferred) as evidence of the candidate’s capacity for scholarly written communication.
  6. Commitment from a program faculty member to serve as a mentor to supervise the applicant’s doctoral training and research.
  7. A GRE score is not required. Voluntary submission of GRE scores will be accepted and considered with the application materials. An overall GRE score of 310 or greater along with an Analytical Writing score of 4.0 or greater can be used to replace the writing sample requirement.
  8. International Students: If the applicant does not have a master’s degree from a U.S.-accredited institution of higher education, a GRE score is required. Any additional admission requirements set forth by the USA Graduate School for international applicants must be met.
  9. An interview with one or more program faculty member.


Admission is competitive and the decision is based on a review of all submitted admission materials. 

Program Faculty & Research Interests

Ryan Colquhoun

Ryan Colquhoun, Ph.D., CSCS*D, USAW-1
Interests: Function and adaptations to the nervous system and skeletal muscle following exercise, nutrition/supplement interventions, and fatigue.


Geoffrey Hudson

Geoffrey Hudson, Ph.D., CSCS
Interests: Prevention of obesity and type II diabetes; utilization of optical body fat scanners for digital anthropometry; effects of exercise training, nutritional interventions, and aging on physiological adaptations and biochemical mechanisms.


Joshua Keller

Joshua Keller, Ph.D., CSCS*D, CISSN
Interests: Sex differences under a wide range of physiological conditions; peripheral vascular function; healthy aging; maintenance of cognitive health. 


Neil Schwarz

Neil Schwarz, Ph.D.
Interests: Effects of exercise and nutrition/supplementation on gene expression, signaling cascades, hypertrophy, and function; myokines/circulating biomarkers in response to exercise/nutrition; high-throughput single muscle fiber typing and analysis.


Matthew Stratton

Matthew Stratton, Ph.D., CSCS, CISSN, EP
Interests: Specialty diets - primarily intermittent fasting - to improve health parameters, body composition, and exercise performance; efficacy of emerging dietary supplements and their potential uses to aid in improvements in body composition and muscular performance.