UTMB Aerial Image

Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition
The Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition, formerly the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences

RRCD Logo: Click to visit Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program

CLDR Logo: Click to visit the website for the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation

Contact us

Division of Rehabilitation Sciences & Center for Recovery, Physical Activity and Nutrition (CeRPAN)



Campus Map

« Back

PhD Program

Program Description

Through interdisciplinary experiences, including a solid theoretical and methodological foundation in clinical and community health-related rehabilitation services, students are provided with advanced training in rehabilitation sciences, including assessment, development, restoration, and maintenance of independent function in persons with physical and cognitive impairments. Rehabilitation sciences also include methods to prevent disability and the examination of adaptation to functional impairment, and social limitations resulting from a disability. The rehabilitation sciences PhD program is intended for individuals who have a degree in a rehabilitation-related field and have expressed a clear commitment to a career in rehabilitation and disability research. The PhD is granted through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS).

Admission Requirements
  1. Degree in a rehabilitation-related field: rehabilitation medicine/science, physical and occupational therapy, nursing, neuroscience, exercise sciences, kinesiology, bioengineering, human factor engineering/design, and rehabilitation/clinical psychology. Applicants with backgrounds in other areas may be considered if their education, experience and interests are suitable to program faculty.
  2. Preferred minimum grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
  3. Previous clinical or healthcare experience.
  4. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score within the last five years.
  5. Review and approval by the Admissions Committee in Preventive Medicine and Community Health in cooperation with the Rehabilitation Sciences Curriculum Admissions Committee.
  6. Test score for all applicants whose native language is not English.
    1. Test of English as A Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Minimum requirement is 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, 80 internet-based, or the International.
    2. Test of English Language Testing System (IELTS) - Minimum requirement is 6.5, for all applicants whose native language is not English.

Knowledge in rehabilitation science

  • Development of scientific theories focusing on the underlying mechanisms of impairment, disability and societal limitation;
  • Systematic examination of appropriate prevention, intervention and adaptation strategies strategies based on scientific theories;
  • Construction and validation of measurement tools to evaluate impairment, disability and societal limitation; and
  • Systematic evaluation of the effectiveness of existing prevention, intervention and adaptation strategies - the study of rehabilitation outcomes.
Application Process

Applications must be submitted to the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences following the standard procedures below. Additional information is available at the UTMB Admissions website.

  1. Application form and personal statement should be submitted online, along with the appropriate fee.
  2. Transcripts should be requested and submitted directly from each college level institution.
  3. Scores from the GRE, TOEFL or IELTS must be submitted directly from the testing agency.
  4. Three letters of recommendation are required from individuals who can attest to the applicant's potential for graduate education. Applicants will need to provide email addresses for individuals asked to write letters. Each will receive an email with instructions and link to submit the letter.


Fall: April 1
Spring: September 1

*Application and all materials must be received by deadline.


Applications are reviewed at three levels - Rehabilitation Sciences Admissions Committee, Graduate Policy Committee, and the Graduate School Admissions Committee. Three primary areas are considered:

  1. General qualifications (e.g., professional background, experience, academic record, GRE scores, statement of career plan);
  2. Fit with existing research programs; and
  3. Willingness of a core faculty member to work with and supervise the applicant.

Course Requirements

Students will work with their faculty advisor to organize a plan of study that will provide the student with the assessment and research skills needed to advance knowledge in rehabilitation sciences. There are no specific requirements in terms of total course credits. Students are required to enroll in didactic course work equivalent to two years of study (55-72 credits), plus a dissertation.

Click here for a list of required and recommended courses


Following completion of course work, students must pass written and oral qualifying examinations that test current knowledge regarding rehabilitation healthcare, preventive and community health, and the ability to design and conduct independent, outcomes focused research.


Upon successful completion of the qualifying exam, the student will be advanced to doctoral candidacy and complete a dissertation. The dissertation will be original work examining an important question in rehabilitation science related to the prevention or remediation of disability, and/or the systematic examination of adaptation to functional impairment or societal limitation resulting from a disability.

Graduate Assistantship

Students enrolled full-time in the rehabilitation sciences PhD program may qualify for an annual stipend. Support is based upon availability of funds and will be determined by program administration once an application has been recommended for acceptance. Funding is provided by the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences and various research grants and university endowments

Dual Enrollment

Students applying to the School of Health Professions (SHP) professional programs in occupational therapy (MOT) and physical therapy (DPT) are eligible to concurrently apply to the PhD curriculum in rehabilitation sciences through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Students must complete the application requirements for SHP and the graduate school.

Students currently enrolled in the MOT and DPT programs are also eligible for the dual enrollment option. These students must apply to the graduate school and should consult their academic advisor for additional information.

The course of study for students enrolled in the MOT/PhD or DPT/PhD option includes a combination of integrated courses. Some courses meet the requirement for both degree programs. The curricula will be individualized to meet the clinical, academic, and research interests of participating students and faculty.

Sample MOT/PhD curriculum

Sample DPT/PhD curriculum

Limited stipends are available for dual enrollment students. For additional information, please email rehab.info@utmb.edu.


  1. Field M, Jette AM, Martin L (eds). The Future of Disability in America. Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2007.
  2. Frontera WR, Fuhrer MJ, Jette AM, Chan L, Cooper RA, Duncan PW, Kemp JD, Ottenbacher KJ, Peckham PH, Roth EJ, Tate DG: Rehabilitation medicine summit: Building research capacity. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2005;84:9 13-917.
Program Accreditation

Council on Education for Public Health Master's/Doctoral Accredidation Logo

The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program is accredited through the Council on Education for Public Health.