Tips for Choosing a Graduate Biomechanics Program

By: Hillary Plummer, PhD, ATC

During the Inaugural ABBS Virtual Conference we had a panel discuss baseball biomechanics in academia. This topic proved to be extremely popular and many students had questions for the panel. Choosing a graduate school can be a stressful endeavor for students looking to jumpstart a career in baseball biomechanics. Baseball biomechanist can work in a variety of settings such as industry, non-profits, professional baseball, and academia. The education a biomechanist receives can help set them for whichever setting they are interested in pursuing following graduation.

Here are some tips for choosing a graduate school:

  • Choose a program that has a faculty member performing baseball biomechanics research. While some schools may offer more general biomechanics programs, gaining hands on experience performing baseball research is critical. Graduate school is a great time to gain as much experience as you can working with baseball player and learning about the various types of motion analysis equipment.
  • Motion analysis technology is rapidly advancing and choosing a program that has access to various types of equipment can set you apart from other job candidates’ post-graduation.
  • Talk to students currently in a biomechanics program you are interested in and get their opinions on the program. What are the expectations of your potential mentor? What projects are in progress and do they align with your interests? Are students able to develop their own research project or do they only work on the mentor’s projects? Do students get the opportunity to publish? What is a typical day like? Are there opportunities to collaborate with other labs? How many individuals work in the lab and how well does everyone work together? How are lab related conflicts resolved?

The insight gained from the current students can help you decide if a program is the right fit for you. Depending on if you are seeking a Master’s degree or a PhD, this will be anywhere from 2-5 years of your life. You want to make sure the school you choose is going to be the right fit.

  • See the settings where typical program graduates end up working. Has the program had graduate take jobs in the setting that you are interested in? For example, if you are interested in working in professional baseball then choosing a program that has a history of placing students with a professional organization may be beneficial. 
  • If you are interested in a career in academia or at a non-profit, then choosing a program that emphasizes grant writing and publications is important. In these settings, the ability to obtain funding is critical to being able to perform baseball related research. Choosing a mentor who has been successful in obtaining funding is something to consider. These individuals can help you develop skills with grant writing and successfully mentor you through the grant writing process. 

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