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 and kinesiology, 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. 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 and kinesiology 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. 

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

Our curriculum is designed to prepare researchers, teachers and professional leaders to address critical issues in the field by developing research skills, engaging in reflective teaching and expanding knowledge.

Students complete research in the following areas

Adapted Physical Education/Activity

This area of focus addresses teaching and scholarship advancing the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in school-and community-based physical education/activity contexts. Our faculty and graduate students are members of a multi-institutional Adapted Physical Education Mentoring Consortium funded by a doctoral training grant from the U.S. Department of Education. As members, our doctoral scholars have opportunities to collaborate on high-quality research projects, multi-institutional seminars, and summer training with APE faculty at nine leading institutions of higher education across the nation. Our faculty are engaged in several multidisciplinary research and service projects related to adapted physical education/activity, teacher education, health disparities, motor development, and motor skill interventions.

Applied Sport Science

Our doctoral students studying applied sport sciences conduct research focused on long-term athlete monitoring and performance assessment. This research better informs coaches as to how their athletes are responding to the training and recovery cycle. As a doctoral student in this area, you will engage in a variety of hands-on learning opportunities with our many campus partners including the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute Human Performance Innovation Center; an applied sport science laboratory. You will have access to the innovative technologies and professionals who are working on the cutting-edge of applied sport science.

Coaching Leadership

This area of focus addresses research on the foundational scientific and sport-specific knowledge structures that underlie effective coaching practice. Additional areas of study include the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills needed for organizational leadership in sport settings. As an emerging research concentration, coach development and education affords doctoral students multiple pathways to pursue a focused and impactful line of research. Our faculty engage in a wide range of international and national service opportunities in coach development that many doctoral students contribute to as well.

Physical Education Teacher Education

Physical education teacher education enjoys a long-standing tradition with doctoral students completing research studies in educational policy development, comprehensive school physical activity programming, curriculum and instruction, instructional technology use, teacher preparation, and many other areas. Collectively, our research in this area targets the improvement of learners in K-12 settings with an overarching goal of facilitating the development of physically active lifestyles. Our faculty are engaged with several large-scale, multidisciplinary research projects involving healthy food and physical activity access in rural communities, state-wide surveillance of cardiovascular risk in school-aged children, and policy and accountability systems in school physical education.

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 assigned reading lists.

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

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

The dissertation is the culmination of the research efforts of the student. The program coordinator 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 dissertation committee and work with the student to select a committee based on expertise specific to the related 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.

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 and Volunteer (throws) Coach for WVU Track and Field  
    • 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
  • Portrait of Michael Ryan outside

    Michael J. Ryan

    Professional Highlights

    • Program Coordinator for Athletic Coaching Education, CPASS 
    • 10 years of undergraduate and graduate teaching experience in Exercise Science and Kinesiology
    • National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) State and Mid-East Sectional Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year
    • 20 years of coaching experience at the Division 1 and high school levels
    • Coached seven WVSSAC State Championship Teams in cross country and track
  • 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
  • Portrait of Samantha Ross outside

    Samantha Ross

    Professional Highlights

    • Research emphasis: The impact of disability on participation in community-based physical activity across the lifespan
    • American Kinesiology Association, National Writing Award 2018
    • Recipient of U.S. Department of Education Graduate Training Grant. OSU Leadership Personnel in Adapted Physical Education (PI: Yun). 2016-2019. 
  • 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


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.

Graduate Assistantships

The WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and many WVU campus departments offer various graduate assistantship opportunities. These assistantships vary, from WVU Athletics, the WVU Student Recreation Center, University Advising Center, to Teaching Assistantships in the College’s Basic Instruction Program (BIP). In addition to Graduate Assistantships, graduate programs are awarded Meritorious Tuition Waiver hours to be distributed to those students not receiving a GA. These tuition waiver hours are provided based on need and availability.

Highlighted Graduate Assistantships

More information and other opportunities for graduate assistantships are available on the CPASS Graduate Funding Portal

Career Preparation

After Graduation

Our graduates have a 100% job placement rate in diverse fields throughout the nation and beyond.

Example employers and job titles of graduates

  • Adam Katchmarchi, Assistant Professor and Aquatics Director, Indiana University of Pennsylvania 
  • Brooke Towner, Assistant Professor, Appalachian State University
  • Josh Nelson, Assistant Athletic Director for Applied Health and Performance Science, Penn State University
  • Kiel Illig, Assistant Superintendent, Lackawanna City School District
  • Renee Brown, Asst Women's Basketball Coach and International Services Dir, Univ of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
  • Tony Pritchard, Associate Professor of Pedagogy, Georgia Southern University
  • Tyler Goad, Assistant Professor, Emporia State University

Common career focuses among alumni

  • Athletic coaching and administration
  • Coach education and development
  • College and university faculty
  • Higher education leadership
  • Non-profit sport management
  • Sport association directorship
  • State and district school administration
  • Strength and conditioning
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 program in Coaching and Teaching Studies 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 
  • Transcripts from all previous institutions
  • Official GRE scores
  • Personal statement (1-2 written pages on professional background, goals, and reasons for pursuing doctoral degree at WVU, and rationale for potential faculty advisor)
  • Letters of recommendation (2)

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.

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: Apply by December 1 for priority consideration. Applications that are incomplete or are submitted after the deadline may be reviewed if openings remain. 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

Following the priority deadline, program faculty will evaluate applicant credentials based on the materials submitted. After that initial review, a limited number of applicants will be invited to a personal online and/or on-campus interview with the program faculty prior to a final admission decision.

Learn more

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Reach out

Portrait of Lindsay Augustine
Lindsay Augustine
Assistant Dean for Student and Enrollment Services
Eloise Elliott
Ware Distinguished Professor