Not just for jocks: Kinesiology majors work hard for degrees, too

PHETE majors train to to teach, avoid physical education stereotype in classes

When students hear the word “kinesiology,” images of high school gym class and kickball games often come to mind. The stigma that kinesiology majors get to slack off while enjoying four years of sports and fun could not be further from the truth.

Tim Bech gets angry when his friends make jokes about him going to school to be a “gym teacher.”
“It’s really frustrating to hear people say it’s the easy way out, and if they knew the program, they’d be impressed,” the sophomore kinesiology major said.

The kinesiology department includes a physical education and health teaching certification degree program, known as PHETE. It also offers degree programs in athletic training, exercise and sports science and a pre-professional program, which serves as the precursor for students who plan to attend medical or dental schools after graduation. Athletic training and exercise and sports science majors often pursue careers in personal training and physical therapy.

The department was previously called physical education, but since only 12 percent to 13 percent of its students at the time were PHETE majors, the new title, kinesiology, made more sense.

Students who choose to enter the PHETE program are encouraged to be mentally prepared for the workload and expectations required of them. The program teaches students physical education as well as health.

Students in a Human Anatomy and Physiology II lecture diligently take notes. Some students say they often feel underappreciated by other majors (Roman Krivitsky/TTN).

Although there are some gym-like courses like Basic Movement, Introduction to Aquatics and Basic Games included in the curriculum, students are also required to take several demanding math and science courses.

Associate professor of kinesiology Dr. Rick Swalm said many of the science classes have intensive labs and can be very difficult for unprepared students. Kinesiology majors must take two courses in anatomy and physiology, which involve memorizing every bone and muscle in the human body in addition to learning the inner workings of all of bodily systems.

“Kinesiology is as rigorous as any major, but it’s the only subject at Temple that involves the total person,” Swalm said.

Justin Fithian, an adviser in the School of Communications and Theater, remembers his experience as an undergraduate in the biological anthropology program, which required him to take two kinesiology courses.

“I loved it when I took them, but next to organic chemistry, they were probably the two most difficult classes that I have ever taken – including my graduate classes,” Fithian said. “The lab portion was great. You get to play with all sorts of plastic models of the human body and all of its parts.”

PHETE majors must also pass an annual Praxis test before moving on to the next grade level. The Praxis is a series of general knowledge tests in subjects like science, math, reading and writing, which are required of teaching majors nationwide. Students who fail to get the required B- can retake the test as many times as necessary, as long as they pay the testing fee.

Jennifer Hastings, a senior kinesiology major who plans to teach physical education in middle school, said many students do not make it through the PHETE program because of the strenuous curriculum, Praxis tests and the required minimum GPA of 3.0 for those entering their junior year.

The current senior kinesiology class consisted of 43 students, but is now down to only 10 or 12 students.

PHETE majors must also participate in the Practicum, a program in which sophomores begin student teaching under the supervision of teachers.

Even if a student can keep up with the demands of the program, many are uncomfortable with the teaching requirement, said Hastings, who was fortunate enough to “love teaching physical education.”
“We deal with the social, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical aspects of a person,” Swalm said. “Most people do not understand the magnitude of what we do.”

Jennifer Klimowicz can be reached at


  1. This article has not been relieved of the fact that Kinesiology is a joke.
    The math and sciences are high school difficulty, and is comprised of essentially only memorization.
    The equivalence of a kinesiology program would be reading a textbook for the necessary content, and of course, memorizing it cover to cover.
    Good luck persuading yourself that it is a “hard work” degree. HAHA.

  2. Mr. Engineer,

    If Kinesiology is a joke, then please inform me why I had to take organic chemistry, anatomy and physiology, physics courses, calculus courses, exercise physiology, gross anatomy, microbiology, and biomechanics (to just name a few difficult classes) in order to graduate with this major?

  3. “We have to memorize every bone in the body in 2 yrs” –Kinesiology person
    “We have to memorize every bone in the body in 2 hours!” –Biology major

    Kinesiology is pussy science. And most of the kids who take those classes are usually the jocks. Pussy science for those who are too pussy to take any real science

    From what I have been told, it is one of the easiest majors out there. It doesn’t require much many. Most people I know that are kinesology major takes those remedial math classes, which only teach basic 7th-grade algebra. So I can see why so many jocks take them. In Kinesiology, there is just memorization. Us physics & engineers actually have to solve problems.

    So I’m siding with Mr. Engineer in this argument. You Kinesiologists are just useless

  4. To be honest, some majors probably have harder requirements than others… but this does not mean that people in “less difficult majors” take the easy way out. Any major can be as hard as you make it. Just because you take a major that requires only one year of calculus, doesn’t mean that you can’t take a second year of it if that is what your interest is.

    I consider myself much more of a nerd than a jock, but I like the kinesiology major because it would address more issues of how the human body responds to activity (more than a biology major would.) It would be a good precursor to physical or occupational therapy school. And if you go into a good program, Kinesiology can definitely be a vigorous major.

    But that’s not even the point I want to make. Even if someone doesn’t even go to college at all, they shouldn’t be seen as stupid or weak. Sometimes life takes people on different paths. Sometimes people decide that they don’t need to do the hardest thing to be happy and productive. If you hate organic chemistry then why major in it? Just because it would impress people the most?

    People get way too competitive…

  5. I agree with Interested in Kinesiology all the way! I love science period! But to become a physical therapist is not easy work. Some Pre-Pts take the kinesiology course to become a physical therapist and that is not easy work & they make great money so who cares what they had to take to get there! To be in college, and to be doing something with your life period is GREAT!

  6. REALLY!!!!!!!!!!?????? This article must be a joke. Come to MSU and we will show you how much of a joke it is compared to other science majors to get into PA, PT, DPM school.
    Physiology Major at MSU: Advanced Physio 1 and 2, Advanced BioChem 1 & 2 (both of which are actually more challenging than actual med schools Physio and BioChem), Orgo 1 & 2 (both actually kinda easy but not required for KIN majors), Physical Chem, MicroBio, Human Anatomy (one step higher than Anatomy required for KIN majors), Bio 1 and 2.
    KIN Majors: Chem 1, Physics 1 (don’t even need Chem or Physics 2), INTRO to Physio (what my Physio class goes over in 3 weeks of our Adv. Physio class they cover in 15 weeks), Anatomy (less challenging than my anatomy class), then a bunch of EASY KIN classes.
    I have a 3.33 GPA in a major that is considered one of the more challenging majors amongst med students, but I know for a fact that if I was a KIN major I would have at least a 3.6 GPA. Half the classes that are KIN classes are easy at least 3.5 classes.
    KIN major is the easiest major to take to get into PA, PT, or DPM school

    In my mind, a 3.5 GPA as a KIN is equivalent to a 3.2 GPA in a high science major. People that barely finish above a 3.0 as a KIN major don’t deserve to go to DPM school

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