Physical Culture and Sport Studies

Doctoral Program

Department of  Kinesiology and Health Education

Pursue a Ph.D. in Physical Culture and Sport Studies to prepare for an academic career as a faculty member in Kinesiology and Health Education or another academic field with a research focus in sport and physical culture history, sport policy, and/or sport management. This program brings together the disciplines of sport history, history of physical culture and exercise science, sport and international relations, and sport economics. 

Students admitted to the doctoral program take the basic core courses for the degree and then choose additional courses to develop the research methods and subject knowledge needed to become an academic expert in their research area.

The relationship between you and your doctoral advisor is crucial to your success as it is expected that you will be engaged in research during your time in the program. Finding an advisor who understands and can assist you with your research interests is, therefore, important. Our PCSS faculty have slightly different skill sets and research interests so please take a look at our faculty profiles and publications before contacting us about pursuing this degree. Faculty members Jan ToddThomas M. Hunt and Brian Mills all direct doctoral students. You are welcome to email all of us or to direct your query to only one of us. Please include

  • a brief statement of research interests
  • GRE scores (if taken)
  • undergraduate and master’s GPA 
  • your major(s)
  • a brief description of other kinds of post-undergraduate academic work such as law school or other professional or military training

We encourage you to write and discuss your interests even if you have not yet taken the GRE. You do not have to have a completed master’s degree to apply.  

Doctoral students are expected to work closely with their adviser and other core faculty on research projects that enhance our understanding of sport history, physical culture history, sport management, Olympic studies, cultural studies, sport sociology, race and gender studies, law, political science, and ethics/philosophy. Access to the archival and book collections at the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center provides students with unparalleled resources for primary research in sport and physical culture studies.

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall

Deadline to Apply:
Priority: December 1
Final: May 1

GRE Required? No

Location: On Campus

Length of Program: 60 months, 66 hours 

Candidates for admission to the Ph.D. Program in Sport Studies should have identified an area of scholarly interest that they would like to pursue in their doctoral work before applying for admission. Candidates are encouraged to contact either Dr. Jan Todd or Dr. Thomas M. Hunt by email before completing the official on-line application. Applicants should include in that email a brief statement of research interests, GRE scores, undergraduate GPA and major, and they should also describe any post-undergraduate academic work (master’s, law school, etc.) and GPA. Applicants should also indicate if they require financial assistance to pursue doctoral work at UT. Students who have not yet taken the GRE are also encouraged to write and discuss their interest in the program.

Please note that the Ph.D. Program in Physical Culture and Sport Studies is a doctoral-level program. Most applicants have a completed master’s degree in an affiliated discipline (Sport Management, History, American Studies, Sociology, Exercise Science) or have had some form of post-professional training such as law school. Possession of a master’s degree is not required for admission, but is recommended. Because the Sport Studies program is small and selective, applicants should possess a solid record of academic achievement. The GRE must be taken and full transcripts will be required for the on-line admission process.

Based on whether the student’s research interests match with those of the faculty in the program, whether the prospective student’s academic credentials are of an acceptable standard, and if space and funding (if needed) are available, applicants will then be instructed to complete the on-line admission forms located on the Graduate School Website. Three letters of reference, official transcripts, and a full research statement will be required for the on-line application.

Anyone applying to our must submit a writing sample. We suggest submitting either a chapter of your master’s thesis or an academic paper. You will receive an email directing you to a website where you will upload your sample after you complete the application.

The Physical Culture and Sport Studies (PCSS) program is designed for students who are interested in:

  • Sport History
  • History of Physical Culture
  • Sport Law
  • Sport and Politics
  • Sport Philosophy
  • Organization and Management of Sport
  • Sport Economics

Our Ph.D. students come from a wide variety of preparatory programs including: Kinesiology, Health, History, American Studies, Journalism/Communications, Law, Women and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Exercise Science, and Sport Management.

Students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program in Physical Cultural and Sport Studies should first contact the faculty affiliated with the program to discuss research interests and determine if a faculty member is willing to sponsor them.  Students must be accepted by a faculty member before admission.  While prior training in either Kinesiology, History, American Studies, Sport Management,  Sociology, or Philosophy is preferred, students are welcome to apply from all disciplines. A completed masters’ degree is not required for admission. Doctoral candidates without a Master’s degree, however, may be required to take additional coursework.   

  • KIN 349 History of Sport and Physical Activity or a(n) equivalent sport history course from a prior university that gives you a basic understanding of the history of ancient and modern sport from a global perspective.  This prerequisite can be taken either at UT-Austin in the first semester if missing from the student’s transcript; it must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill prerequisite requirements.  
  • HIS 355N/AMS 355 Main Currents in American Culture to 1865 (Must be taken in year one if you do not have comparable coursework. One of these may be counted in the Concentration Area) 
  • HIS 360N/AMS 360 Main Currents in American Culture Since 1865 (Must be taken in year one if you do not have comparable coursework. One of these may be counted in the Concentration Area) 
  • KIN 395 Critical Issues in American Sport History 
  • KIN 395 History of Physical Culture and Alternative Medicine 
  • KIN 395 Physical Cultures of the Body: Race, History, and the Quest for Body Perfection
  • KIN 395 History of the Sport Industry in America
  • Three Hours from KIN 395 Sport Policy, KIN 395 Sport and International Relations, KIN 395 Sport Development, KIN 395 Sport Economics, or an additional KIN class approved by your advisor. 
  • KIN 386 Qualitative Research Methods for Physical Culture and Sport Studies 
  • KIN 395 Directed Research: Archival Research Methods for Sport Historians
  • KIN 396T Directed Research-Comprehensive Exam
  • KIN 396T Directed Research-Historical Essays- Research and Writing
  • 3 Hours of Statistics or Experimental Design Coursework as Approved by the Advisor 

6-12 Hours of Graduate Coursework from a discipline outside Kinesiology and Health Education.  You may elect to do hours in two fields, or 12-15 hours in one field, depending on research needs.  These courses must be approved by the Advisor.  American Studies and History are highly recommended for these outside courses. 

  • KIN 999R and 999W Dissertation Research and Writing     

No Two Programs Are the Same. All Ph.D. programs vary depending on the research interests of the student and prior training. While there is a common core of knowledge that we want all students to possess, beyond that core doctoral students are encouraged to build their expertise in specialist areas by taking courses in their concentration that will enhance both their dissertation and their future career.  

Our faculty views research as a collaborative forum for learning and the dissemination of new knowledge and all doctoral students are expected to work on articles for scholarly journals, present their research at meetings of learned societies, and be actively engaged in research while a student in the program. To understand more about the program and the kind of research our students participate in see the Profiles of our current students.

Photo of faculty member Thomas M Hunt
Associate Professor

Examines the intersection of sport and international political history.

Photo of faculty member Brian M Mills
Associate Professor

Studies managerial economics in sport relating to the market power of pro sports leagues under three primary branches: industrial organization, labor markets, and public policy and economic development.

Photo of faculty member Charles  Stocking
Associate Professor

The History and Philosophy of the Body, Sport, and Physical Culture from Ancient Greece to the Present

Photo of faculty member Janice (Jan) S Todd
Department Chair

Specializes in the history of strength and conditioning, doping, women and sport, and history of physical culture.

Photo of faculty member Kimberly A Beckwith
Assistant Professor of Instruction

Teaches courses on sport history and strength and conditioning. Research focuses on physical culture history.

Photo of faculty member Matthew Bowers
Associate Professor of Instruction

Examines the management of systems for athlete development, including how different sport settings influence performance and participation over the lifespan. Focuses on re-imagining the youth sport experience, with a specific interest in the developm...

Photo of faculty member John D Fair
Adjunct Professor

Focuses on the history of sport culture, particularly Olympic weightlifting, and its impact on society.

Photo of faculty member Tolga  Ozyurtcu
Associate Professor of Instruction

Studies the historical, philosophical, sociocultural, and political dimensions of sport and physical culture.

Photo of faculty member Jason Shurley

The history of physical culture, strength and conditioning, and sports medicine.

The H.J Lutcher Stark Center

Students have access to unique resources available for studying sport and physical culture at The University of Texas. The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports includes the largest and most complete archive in the field of physical culture in the world. In addition, the Stark Center is recognized as an official Olympic Studies Center by the International Olympic Committee. The Stark Center is also the official repository of the UT Intercollegiate Athletic Department Media Relations Archives. The Center is recognized as one of the premier sport repositories in the world giving undergraduate and graduate students in our programs great advantages not available at other universities.

Additional Libraries and Museums

The holdings of the general libraries at the University of Texas are among the best in the world. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History contains the archives of the University Interscholastic League and the records of the women’s physical education program at UT among other athletic resources.

The LBJ Presidential Library, the Jamail Center for Legal Research, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection are located on the UT-Austin campus and provide additional research opportunities.

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