Coaching and Teaching Studies ()

The mission of our Doctoral programs is to guide future professionals in becoming knowledgeable and skillful leaders, educators and researchers who will be prepared to assume roles within the fields of physical education teacher education, physical activity and coaching in universities, associated agencies and organizations and in other related settings. Our programs provide a high-quality and meaningful education that will allow each student to succeed in their chosen educational goals and will further promote their abilities in becoming analytical thinkers who are confident in application of the scientific method and who can excel professionally as educators and researchers.

The Doctoral degree in Coaching and Teaching Studies is designed to prepare researchers, teachers and professional leaders to address critical issues in physical education teacher education and sport pedagogy by developing research skills, engaging in reflective teaching and expanding knowledge. Doctoral programs at West Virginia University include a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) and a Doctorate of Education (EdD), both in Coaching and Teaching Studies.

The PhD program of study focuses on developing future professionals who will address critical issues in physical education, physical activity and coaching, and develop focused lines of research. Students will work collaboratively with faculty mentors to enhance their critical thinking, knowledge and skills to succeed as productive researchers within university settings, national sports organizations and other settings.

The EdD program of study prepares future professionals for a productive career as educators in the field of physical education teacher education or sport education (EdD), teaching and research positions in universities, as well as leadership positions in professional associations/agencies. The EdD students are encouraged to select an applied research specialization designed to enhance success as an academic and professional leader. 

There are four doctoral-level seminars required of all students focused on the following forms of scholarship: Discovery (original research that advances knowledge), Integration (synthesis of information), Engagement (sharing of disciplinary expertise), and Teaching and Learning (instructional effectiveness). The remaining plan of study is negotiated by the doctoral student and their committee, including electives in research methods and statistics, cognate area, and research/dissertation. Students also complete required benchmarks throughout the process and engage in multiple related learning opportunities in advance of their dissertation defense. These formative opportunities include supporting faculty research, presenting at conferences, writing grants, teaching college-aged learners, supervising and field placements. Many students work 20 hours/week during the semester as a graduate assistant either teaching, providing a service or conducting research. In return for this service, graduate assistants receive a tuition waiver and stipend.

What our alumni have to say:

  • Josh Nelson portrait

    "My time at WVU changed the way I coach, shaped the way I study sport, and greatly impacted how I work to develop athletes. Dr. Dieffenbach and the entire CPASS faculty pushed me to challenge common beliefs and to be able to identify most effective practices in the field. Because of my studies in the Athletic Coaching Education program, I also gained valuable skills pertaining to teaching and coaching athletes on and off the field of play. ”

    Josh N.

    ED.D. CaTS, 2017
  • Kacey D

    "The WVU Kinesiology- PETE doctoral program is one of the best in the country. I know that the faculty have prepared me to handle situations and problems in my field in a way that other doctoral programs can't compare."

    Kacey D.

    Ph.D. CaTS, 2010
  • Luciana braga

    “I am very grateful for the years I spent at WVU as a doctoral student. At CPASS I received an excellent education and met caring professors. When I took my first position as an assistant professor I felt fully prepared and confident to perform in the areas of teaching, research and service. WVU will always be dear to my heart and I will always be proud to be a Mountaineer.”

    Luciana B.

    Ph.D. CaTS, 2014

What you'll study

Four doctoral-level seminars are required of all doctoral students. The four seminars are completed in sequence during the first four semesters of the plan of study. The elective courses in research methods and statistics, cognate courses and coaching and teaching studies electives (EdD only) should be selected in cooperation with the dissertation committee.

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

The dissertation is the culmination of the research efforts of the student. The CATS Department Chair will work with students during their first year of study to designate an appropriate adviser to oversee and mentor their research. The advisor will chair the student’s dissertation committee whom the student and advisor will select based on expertise and ability to guide the student in his/her line of inquiry. Once the committee is in place, they will convene to discuss and approve the student’s Plan of Study and designate each member’s role in mentoring the student in designing and carrying out his/her dissertation research. Once proposed to and approved by the committee, the student may complete his/her research study and prepare to defend the findings to the committee. The final dissertation must be defended in a public forum and approved by the committee.

Other Requirements

Qualifying Exam:

During the first semester of coursework, all doctoral students will be required to take and pass an oral qualifying exam based on PET 735 Readings course.

Comprehensive Exam:

Prior to proposing their dissertation to their committee, students must take and pass a Comprehensive Exam to assess their ability to synthesize and critically reflect on the literature related to their research area of interest related to physical education, physical activity, or athletic coaching education. The faculty members on the students’ committees from the CATS faculty will adjudicate the quality of a presentation, the written document and the student’s ability to respond to questioning.


Students focused on the PhD in Coaching and Teaching Studies submit two research papers as part of their doctoral benchmarking processes. Both PhD and EdD students submit their final dissertation/thesis manuscript for publication.

Program faculty

Who you'll learn from

  • Image of Guy Hornsby in front of WV flagImage of Guy Hornsby in front of WV flag

    Guy Hornsby

    Professional Highlights

    • Head coach of West Virginia Weightlifting, a USAW registered club and WVU sport club 
    • Coaching Science Coordinator at WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, Human Performance Innovation Center 
    • West Virginia State Director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association 
  • Kristen Dieffenbach

    Kristen Dieffenbach

    Professional Highlights

    • United States Center for Coaching Excellence (USCCE) - President
    • International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE) - Research Committee
    • Research emphasis on coach development, professionalization of coaching and moral reasoning in coaching
    • Written and managed grants and contracts with USOC, USA Cycling, USA Hockey, USADA and other sport organizations
    • More than 20 years professional coaching experience with athletes from youth through Olympic level, specializing in long term athlete development
  • Valerie Wayda

    Valerie Wayda

    Professional Highlights

    • West Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 2018  Recreation/Leisure Leadership Award
    • National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education 2015 Distinguished Service Award
    • North American Society (NAS) of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals Fellow
  • Taliaferro

    Andrea Taliaferro

    Professional Highlights

    • Research interests include minimizing health disparities for individuals with disabilities through the improvement of inclusive physical activity opportunities in school- and community-based settings. 
    • West Virginia University 2019 Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching 
    • APENS Certified Adapted Physical Educator, National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities 
    • Vice President - National Consortium for Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (2019-2021) 
  • elliot 

    Eloise Elliott

    Professional Highlights

    • Ware Distinguished Professor in the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences since 2009
    • Co-Author of the book, Teaching Children and Adolescents Physical Education (Graham, Elliott, Palmer, 2016) 
    • Recent Honors: Research Fellow, Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) America (2017), Outstanding WVU CPASS Grantsperson Award (2019), Chair, U.S. President’s Council for Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition Science Board (2017) 
  • Emi Tsuda portrait

    Emi Tsuda

    Professional Highlights

    • Research emphasis on teachers' content knowledge, motor skills and physical activity engagement, and policy in physical education
    • Teaches classes in introductory of pedagogy and elementary and early childhood physical education methods
    • Has conducted 35 international and national presentations
  • James Wyant

    James Wyant

    Professional Highlights

    • Teacher of the Year Award, WVU, CPASS award for excellence in teaching for the 2018-2019 academic year. 
    • WV Department of Education Teacher Credentials: Physical Education PreK-Adult, Health Education grades 5-12. 
    • Coordinator of the physical education teacher education student teaching capstone experience. 
  • Portrait of Jeremy Yeats

    Jeremy Yeats

    Professional Highlights

    • Program Coordinator for Physical Education and Kinesiology, CPASS
    • Research emphases in education policy, the use of music in sport, physical activity breaks, and social justice
    • Seven years experience as a Teaching Assistant Professor or Assistant Professor
  • Outdoor portrait of Sean Bulger

    Sean Bulger

    Professional Highlights

    • Received the 2016 Ray O. Duncan Award from the state HPERD association for outstanding service and leadership. 
    • Co-authored more than 60 books, chapters and journal articles on physical activity promotion and best teaching practices.
    • Collaborated on over $5 million in external funding to support physical activity in school, community, and family settings. 
    • Delivered over 130 presentations at state, regional and national conferences/conventions. 
Beyond The Classroom

Field Experiences and Research


Graduate teaching assistantships are available. Responsibilities include teaching six credit hours a semester in at least one of three areas with the Department of Coaching & Teaching Studies (CATS) - Athletic Coaching Education (ACE), Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) and/or the Basic Instruction Program (PE). GTAs are required to prepare syllabi, lesson plans and assess students' learning across the different learning domains. 

Find out more about graduate assistantships


In addition to a student’s own dissertation research, opportunities are provided for graduate students to engage with faculty on various projects, for experiences in data collection, writing empirical or practitioner-focused research papers, or being part of program assessment and/or evaluation.


Students are expected to engage in the local, regional and national community through teaching, service and scholarship in various ways. These include on-campus teaching, attending accreditation meetings, conducting professional development with teachers and/or coaches, attending/presenting at conferences, engaging in faculty-led school and/or community interventions, etc.

Career Preparation

After Graduation

Upon completion of the doctoral program, our graduates gain employment at a range of academic institutions and settings within and outside of the USA.

Example employers and job titles of graduates

  • Junhyung Baek, 2016 (PhD), University of Maine
  • Luciana Braga, 2014 (PhD), Chico State University, CA
  • Rachel Gurvitch, (EdD), Georgia State University, GA
  • Lindsay Hammond, 2015 (PhD), California University of Pennsylvania
  • Jason Langley, 2011 (Ph.D.), University of Southern Indiana
  • Phil Liversedge, 2016 (PhD), Technical and Youth Academy Director of Fury Soccer, Leesburg, VA
  • Meghan Phillips, 2013 (Ph.D.), Private Business owner (Kidematics)
  • Tony Pritchard, (EdD), Georgia Southern University, GA
  • Drue Stapleton, 2012 (Ph.D.), Rider University
  • Scott Townsend, (EdD), Appalachian State University, NC
How To Apply

The Admission Process

How to apply

Apply online at the WVU Graduate Admissions website. Incomplete applications (those without all required materials and documentation) will not be accepted.

Students may be admitted to the program with either a bachelor’s or master’s degree. If a master’s is not held upon admittance, the student will earn a master’s degree along with the doctoral course of study.

Prerequisites and requirements

Applicants can seek admission to the doctoral in Coaching and Teaching Studies program with either a baccalaureate degree or master’s degree. To be considered for admission, applicants must upload the following documentation within the graduate application:  

  • Resume or curriculum vitae 
  • Personal statement (1-2 written pages on professional background, goals, and reasons for pursuing doctoral degree at WVU)
  • Letters of recommendation (3)

In addition to the above documentation, applicants must submit official GRE scores.

You will not be able to submit your application until the above documents are uploaded. Once the application is submitted and (unofficial/official) transcripts are received, your application will be reviewed for an admission decision. International applicants will not be reviewed with unofficial transcripts. Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 (4-point scale) for regular admission.

Please contact the Office of Student Success at (304) 293-4800 for more information about the application process.

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline: December 15 for early admission, accepting applications on a rolling basis after that date pending available space. Admission is limited to fall start only.

Applicants are encouraged to submit their application with unofficial transcripts from all previously attended institutions. Submitting unofficial transcripts speeds up the application review process as most graduate programs make admission decisions using unofficial transcripts. 

If you are offered acceptance, you are required to submit official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to be fully admitted into your intended graduate program. You will not be able to register for classes until the official transcripts are received. The preferred method to submit your official transcripts is through a secure, online service such as eScript, The National Clearing House, or Parchment,

Alternatively, if you are unable to submit an electronic version of your official transcript, the physical, sealed, un-tampered with documents can be mailed to:

WVU Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 6510, Morgantown, WV 26501


WVU Graduate Admissions,  1 Waterfront Pl, 2nd Fl Morgantown, WV 26505

Directions for submitting International, official transcripts

International applicants must submit proof of English language proficiency.

Review process

In mid-January, an admissions committee will evaluate applicant credentials. Based upon review, a limited number of applicants will be invited to the WVU campus for a personal interview with the admissions committee and current students. Applicants who are unable to attend will be asked to participate in an online interview. 

Important Note: Before completing the application process, please contact a program representative to confirm program capacity.

Learn more

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Reach out

Lindsay Augstine Portrait
Lindsay Augustine
Student Services Specialist
Eloise Elliott
Ware Distinguished Professor