Perseverance prevailed for UCF College of Education and Human Performance’s Sport and Exercise Science’s doctoral program. The Ph.D. program was ranked sixth in the nation by the National Academy of Kinesiology in September.

NAK promotes the study and educational applications of the art and science of human movement and physical activity, and conducts a doctoral program review every five years.

Fifty-two academic programs participated in NAK’s 2015 Doctoral Program Review. The organization used metrics to conduct an objective evaluation of the faculty’s productivity, funding and visibility and analyzed student admissions, graduate assistant support, doctoral publications and employment rates during a five-year span from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2014.

CEDHP’s Department of Educational and Human Sciences chair and Sport and Exercise Science professor Jay Hoffman has been building the exercise physiology doctoral program for the past five years. He was ecstatic about the NAK doctoral program review ranking.

“There wasn’t a sport and exercise science program when I first came to UCF. I built the program from scratch. We went from zero to sixth in the nation by submitting four years of data to the National Academy of Kinesiology’s five-year doctoral program review. This is a big accomplishment for our faculty and students.”

Hoffman recruited professor Jeffrey Stout from the University of Oklahoma three years ago. He had participated in the NAK doctoral program review during his employment at the University of Oklahoma. The university was number 26 when he first came onboard, and helped raise its NAK doctoral program review ranking to 17. He was blown away by the results of the recent CEDHP rankings.

“UCF has never been on this list, so to be ranked in the Top 10 in our field, and higher than Penn State, Florida State University and some of the other big-name schools in the country is quite an accomplishment for a university that is barely over 50 years old.”

CEDHP Dean Pamela Carroll is proud of the sport and exercise science’s exercise physiology doctoral program’s ranking.

“The sport and exercise science faculty is exceptionally talented and hard working. They not only push the field forward, but ensure that their graduate students have meaningful and funded research experiences and publish and present their research. The program is an excellent example of a group who sets high standards and works together to achieve them.”

The NAK doctoral program review also ranked CEDHP’s program number one in faculty publications and presentations. The program’s Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness, one of the most advanced exercise performance and lab facilities in the country, provides the faculty and students with a hub for research in its body composition, strength and conditioning, exercise biochemistry and human performance labs at CEDHP and another lab at the UCF College of Medicine.

Doctoral candidate Jeremy Townsend obtains hands-on experience in the labs and is honored to be a part of this high ranking.

“The ranking is a real testament to the hard work my advisers and fellow lab teammates have accomplished over the years. The ranking also benefits future doctoral program graduates because it shows that they’re from one of the top-tier labs in the country.”

During the past five years, the sport and exercise science program’s undergraduate program has grown from 400 to more than 1,300 students, and there are nearly an additional 100 students in the graduate program.

Doctoral students must have a high GRE score, strong work ethic, letters of recommendation and undergo an interview process with Hoffman and Stout.

The doctoral program, which Hoffman says “has a 100 percent success and hiring rate with tenure-track positions” is providing students with a chance to be principal investigators on grant studies, write and publish papers, teach and conduct presentations at national meetings and for prospective employers, and is giving them real-world experience.

The program’s doctoral alumni are making a mark in their careers. Georgia Southern University’s assistant professor of exercise science and alumnus Adam Wells ’15 feels the exercise physiology doctoral program prepared him for his future and is proud of its NAK doctoral program review ranking.

“The program set me up for success from day one. The guidance and opportunities provided by Dr. Hoffman and the Institute of Exercise Physiology and Wellness’ faculty enabled me to develop expertise in a number of areas related to exercise physiology. I was able to enter the job market with a highly desirable skill set and a competitive publication record. I’m delighted that the program has been recognized at such a high level and am proud to be one of the first doctoral students to graduate from the program.”