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. ”

    James 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

  • Guy Hornsby

    Guy Hornsby

    Professional Highlights

    • Professional experience as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the D-1 Collegiate level and within U.S. Special Operations
    • Head Coach of West Virginia Weightlifting, a USAW registered club and a WVU sport club
    • Coordinates Monongalia County, High School Strength and Conditioning, Graduate Assistant Program
    • Involved in sport science / athlete monitoring efforts through collaboration with WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute
    • Oversees ACE strength and conditioning minor
  • 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 run grants and contracts with the USOC, USA Cycling, USA Hockey, USADA and other sport organizations.
    • Over 20 years professional coaching experience with athletes from the youth through Olympic level, specializing in working with long term athlete development
  • Valerie Wayda

    Valerie Wayda

    Professional Highlights

    • National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education 2015 Distinguished Service Award
    • Fellow of the North America by the North American Society (NAS) of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals.
    • Vice-President for National Association for Kinesiology and Physical Education in Higher Education (2011-2012)
  • Taliaferro

    Andrea Taliaferro

    Professional Highlights

    • Research interests include the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in physical activity with an emphasis on physical educator/instructor preparation and self-efficacy toward teaching students with disabilities, adapted aquatics, motor skill assessment, and community based physical activity. 
    • NCPERID Nationally certified adapted physical educator (CAPE)
    • Director of the Friday Adapted Physical Education Program
    • Teaches courses related to adapted physical education, motor development, and effective teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • elliot 

    Eloise Elliott

    Professional Highlights

    • Ware Distinguished Professor in the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences since 2009
    • Appointed member of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition (2015-2018)
    • Chair of the Active2015: The WV Physical Activity Plan
    • Director of Interventions for the WV Coronary Artery Risk Detection in Appalachian Communities (CARDIAC) Project
    • Develops web-delivered instructional modules for school children, and web-delivered teacher resources to provide physical activity opportunities in the elementary classroom
  • Emi Tsuda portrait

    Emi Tsuda

    Professional Highlights

    • Research focuses are in (a) examining a role of motor skills to facilitate physical activity engagement in early to middle childhood and (b) investigating a role of content knowledge of teachers to develop their task selection and instruction skills. 
    • Teaches classes in elementary and early childhood physical education methods. 
    • Has done 20 international and national presentations. 
  • James Wyant

    James Wyant

    Professional Highlights

    • Research interests include integration of technology into physical education teacher education.
    • Recent grant-funded project regarding state-level accountability systems in physical education.
    • Coordination of student teaching experiences in K-12 settings. 
  • Portrait of Jeremy Yeats

    Jeremy Yeats

    Professional Highlights

    • Six years of experience as an assistant professor
    • Two years of experience as a graduate coordinator for an online M.A. program
    • Several active lines of inquiry
  • bulgerBulger

    Sean Bulger

    Professional Highlights

    • Fitness education and physical activity promotion for school-aged children
    • Introductory and capstone courses in physical education and related fields 
    • Physical activity programming for children and adolescents
    • Field placements, internships, and experiential learning
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

Interested students must submit the WVU Graduate Admission Application online. 

Applicants must submit official copies of transcripts and GRE test scores directly to the WVU Office of Admissions, PO Box 6009, Morgantown, WV 26506. 

In addition to the general application, applicants must also submit the following:

      • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale)
      • Minimum master’s degree GPA of 3.0 (4-point scale)
      • Current resume or curriculum vitae
      • Three letters of recommendation
      • GRE scores: preferred percentiles at or above 50th percentile for verbal and quantitative, at or above the 60th percentile for analytical writing
      • Professional goal statement: 1-2 written pages on professional background, goals, and areas of research interest
      • On-campus or online interview for those invited

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements .

All graduate students must achieve and maintain a 3.0 GPA or better (4-point scale) prior to graduation.

Prerequisites and requirements

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.

Additional program admission information

Admission application form deadline: December 15 for early admission and scholarship/fellowship consideration, accepting admissions on a rolling basis after that date pending available space. International applicants are encouraged to submit their materials no later than June 1 due to increased processing time.

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

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