What to Expect

Prospective students are expected to have backgrounds in physical therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiology, speech and language pathology, prosthetics & orthotics, nursing, medicine, engineering, mental health or other fields related to rehabilitation science.

The ideal applicant should have a strong interest in rehabilitation research, completed preparatory coursework in biology, physiology, anatomy, physics and mathematics, psychology, and statistics as well as a master’s degree in an area related to rehabilitation science.

The exceptional applicant with a bachelor’s degree, a sufficient number of credits of relevant graduate course work, and/or compelling clinical/research experience in rehabilitation science will be considered. For other applicants, conditional acceptance may be granted with the understanding that by enrolling in appropriate prerequisite courses missing areas will be addressed before PhD program courses may commence.

Our PhD program is an advisor-driven program, which means that you’ll decide on your courses with guidance from your primary advisor.

The program requires 96 hours past the baccalaureate, including:

  • At least 24 credit hours of 400- and 500-level
  • A minimum of 9 credit hours of 500-level courses that must be letter-graded courses (A to F)—not project, thesis, or independent study, or seminar courses that are graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U)
  • At least 32 hours of AHS 599 PhD Thesis Research

We also expect all PhD students to participate on some level in the teaching programs at AHS.

Preliminary exam

All students take a preliminary examination prepared individually by an examination committee.​ This exam evaluates your knowledge of the broad area of rehabilitation sciences, as well as your specific content area, after you’ve completed your coursework and are getting ready to start preparing your dissertation.

This exam is generally taken during the third or fourth year, at least one year before your anticipated dissertation defense.


You’ll need to complete a dissertation. The proposal for your dissertation has to be defended in written and oral form before your dissertation committee. The dissertation itself must be defended at a public session before the dissertation committee and other members of the academic community.


  • Required rehabilitation sciences courses: 12+ hours
    • At least two theoretical courses
    • At least two statistical and methodological courses
    • At least one responsible conduct in research course
  • Minimum of 18 hours of electives from within the college
  • Additional electives to reach 96 total hours

Theoretical courses

PT 505 Advances in Rehabilitation Sciences I 3 hours
PT 506 Advances in Rehabilitation Sciences II 3 hours
OT 528 Race, Culture and Health Disparities 2-3 hours

Statistical and methodological courses

AHS 511 Biostatistics I 4 hours
AHS 512 Biostatistics II 5 hours
BHIS 504 Methods in Qualitative Inquiry 3 hours
BHIS 508 Q Research Methodology ? Qualitative 3 hours
BHIS 509 Informatics for the Clinical Investigator 3 hours
DHD 510 Concepts in Interdisciplinary Research on Disability 3 hours
DHD 546 Qualitative Methods in Disability Research 4 hours
OT 553 Program Evaluation: Documenting the Impact of Human Services 3 hours
OT 570 Health Outcomes Assessments and Surveys 3 hours
PT 563 Research Methods in Rehabilitation Sciences 3 hours

Responsible conduct in research

KN 503 Responsible Conduct of and Ethical Decision Making in Research 2 hours
GC 501 Scientific Integrity and Responsible Research 1 hour