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 505Advances in Rehabilitation Sciences I3 hours
PT 506Advances in Rehabilitation Sciences II3 hours
OT 528Race, Culture and Health Disparities2-3 hours

Statistical and methodological courses

AHS 511Biostatistics I4 hours
AHS 512Biostatistics II5 hours
BHIS 504Methods in Qualitative Inquiry3 hours
BHIS 508Q Research Methodology ? Qualitative3 hours
BHIS 509Informatics for the Clinical Investigator3 hours
DHD 510Concepts in Interdisciplinary Research on Disability3 hours
DHD 546Qualitative Methods in Disability Research4 hours
OT 553/a>Program Evaluation: Documenting the Impact of Human Services3 hours
OT 570/a>Health Outcomes Assessments and Surveys3 hours
PT 563/a>Research Methods in Rehabilitation Sciences3 hours

Responsible conduct in research

KN 503Responsible Conduct of and Ethical Decision Making in Research2 hours
GC 501Scientific Integrity and Responsible Research1 hour