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What is a Program Plan

An M.S. program plan is a written document that specifies the course work that the student must complete as part of his or her degree requirements. Although there are certain university, college, and departmental requirements, program plans are personalized for individual students.

  1. The student develops a draft program plan to share with his or her advisor. The program plan should specify the student's choice of capstone experience: (a) thesis; (b) project; (c) internship; or (d) course work only. Sample Program Plans can be seen below.
    *** Note that all capstone experiences require a final certifying examination , with the format of the examination depending upon the choice of capstone experience.
  2. The student and advisor collaborate and reach consensus.
  3. The student asks the KIN graduate secretary to prepare a copy of the program plan using the approved MSU form.
  4. The student shares the program plan with members of his or her guidance committee in advance of a guidance committee meeting. The student should also share: (a) a proposed timeline for completing the proposed course work capstone experience, and final certifying exam; (b) a current curriculum vita; (c) a current transcript from StuInfo - ; and (d) a summary of professional development or research plans.
  5. A meeting of the guidance committee is conducted. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the student's program plan and progress toward degree, as well as to approve the program plan.
  6. If the program plan is approved, the guidance committee members sign the form and the student takes the signed form to the KIN graduate secretary.
  7. If the program plan requires revision, the student asks the KIN graduate secretary to make the revisions, then obtains signatures from guidance committee members, then takes the signed form to the KIN graduate secretary.

Students should give attention to Department of Kinesiology and Michigan State University requirements when constructing their program plans. Note that students are required to complete a minimum of 6 semester credits in residence on campus (more is recommended).

M.S. students have a variety of course-taking options when developing the program plan. However, the selected courses must be (a) appropriate to the student's academic program and (b) completed within the time limit for earning the M.S. degree at MSU, as judged by the student's guidance committee.

  • Graduate-level courses.
    • At MSU, 900-level courses are designed specifically for doctoral students, and 800-level courses are designed for for both master's and doctoral level students. The M.S. program plan may include any 800 or 900 level graduate courses offered by any academic unit at MSU. Usually an override is needed for enrollment by a master's degree in a 900-level course, with the onus on the student to demonstrate that she or he is prepared for the advanced-level course.
  • Undergraduate-level courses
    • Master's students may include 400-level courses on the program plan if the course is essential to the program of study, especially for students who enter the KIN graduate program from other disciplinary areas. However, 400-level courses should be the exception rather than the rule in an M.S. program plan, especially within the student's area of concentration.
    • In almost all cases, 100, 200, 300 level courses are considered remedial and should not be included on the student's program plan. However, if the guidance committee approves, an M.S. student may enroll in KIN 890 - Independent Study with a plan to complete the undergraduate course requirements plus added work that reflects graduate-level expertise and competence.
  • Transfer credits
    • Students may transfer credits from other accredited colleges or universities, the MSU Lifelong Education Program, MSU graduate certificate programs, or the MSU post-BA teacher certification program if approved by the student’s guidance committee. Consult the transferring credits page for more information.


Two sample M.S. program plans are provided in this section, one for a student in the Athletic Training concentration who completed a thesis, and another for a student in the Student-Athlete Development concentration who completed an internship. Notice how these program plans were personalized for the students. Also notice how courses are grouped by degree requirements.

Example 1: Athletic Training Concentration
with thesis (33 credits)

Concentration: Athletic Training
KIN 820 - Advanced Clinical Evaluation - 3 credits
KIN 821 - Management of Structural Pathologies - 2 credits
KIN 822 - Rehab Techniques for Musculoskeletal Dysfunction - 3 credits
KIN 894 - Field Experiences in Kinesiology - 1 credits

KIN Breadth Requirement
KIN 860 - Growth and Motor Behavior - 3 credits
KIN 862 - Neural Basis of Human Movement - 3 credits

Required Course
KIN 871 - Research Methods in Kinesiology - 3 credits

Elective Courses
KIN 810 - Physiology of Physical Activity - 3 credits
KIN 840 - Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Activity - 3 credits

Additional Statistics Course
STT 421 - Statistics I - 3 credits

Capstone Experience
KIN 899 - Master's Thesis Research - 6 credits


Example 2: Student-Athlete Development Concentration
with internship (30 credits)

Concentration: Student Athlete Development
KIN 853 - Athletic Administration in Higher Education - 3 credits
KIN 858 - Student-Athlete Development - 3 credits
KIN 854 - Legal and Administrative Issues of Coaching - 3 credits

KIN Breadth Requirement
KIN 840 - Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Activity - 3 credits
KIN 860 - Growth and Motor Behavior - 3 credits

Required Course
KIN 871 - Research Methods in Kinesiology - 3 credits

Elective Courses
EAD 871 - Collegiate Contexts in Teaching and Learning - 3 credits
KIN 845 - Sociocultural Practices in Sport - 3 credits

Capstone Experience
KIN 893 - Internship: SASS program in Intercollegiate Athletics - 6 credits

KIN master's degree students are expected to submit an approved program plan within 18 credits following admission to the M.S. program, preferably sooner.