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PhD Program

Granted by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program has a strong focus on interdisciplinary and translational science. Coursework and research opportunities exist in partnership with graduate programs in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health.

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.

Admission Requirements

Candidates should have a degree in a rehabilitation-related field and have expressed a clear commitment to a career in rehabilitation and disability research.


  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). Previous clinical or healthcare experience.
  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score within the last five years. No waivers are granted.
  4. Review and approval by the Admissions Committee in Preventive Medicine and Community Health and the Rehabilitation Sciences Curriculum Admissions Committee.
  5. Test score for all applicants whose native language is not English.
  • Test of English as A Foreign Language (TOEFL) - Minimum requirement is 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, 80 internet-based, or the International.
  • 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 following the procedures below. Please note that your application will not be reviewed unless we have received both the SOPHAS and UTMB applications (#1 and #3). Applicants should also visit the UTMB Admissions website for additional information.

  1. Complete the SOPHAS application online at and pay the appropriate fee. Be sure to choose the University of Texas Medical Branch – Rehabilitation Sciences PhD. A personal statement should be uploaded and GRE scores must be submitted through SOPHAS using GRE Code 7012. Transcripts must also be sent to SOPHAS directly from each institution you have attended, regardless if a degree was obtained.
  2. To expedite the screening of your application, please upload unofficial transcripts in the SOPHAS application and any other supporting documents (excluding letters of reference). If you do not upload these items, review of your application may be delayed.
  3. Complete the UTMB Supplemental Application for Admission and pay the appropriate fee. You only need to complete the application form; you do not need to upload any files.
  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 in SOPHAS for individuals asked to write letters. Each referee will receive an email with instructions and link to submit the letter. You do not need to submit your referees in the UTMB supplemental application.

Additional Information for International Applicants

  1. Applicants from international institutions must use one of the credentialing services approved by UTMB to provide verification and a course by course evaluation of transcripts to be considered for admission to programs at UTMB. Applicants are no longer required to send official transcripts from the issuing institution to UTMB. For a list of credentialing services, visit the UTMB Admissions website.
  2. International applicants must submit official scores earned on the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System).



Course Requirements
Students will work with the PhD program director and their faculty advisor to develop an individualized curriculum plan. The curriculum plan will include core (required) courses, electives and research opportunities based on the student's background and interest. 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 full-time study (60-72 credits), plus a dissertation. Course Descriptions


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 able to apply for doctoral candidacy, and once admitted, will complete a dissertation. The dissertation will be original work examining an important question in rehabilitation science within one of the research focus areas: Aging & Geriatric Rehabilitation, Clinical and Community Rehabilitation Muscle Biology of Rehabilitation, or Population-based Health Services Rehabilitation.


Graduate Assistantships

Annual stipends are available for full-time students. Funding support through institutional endowments and research/training grants is also available. Support is based upon availability of funds and will be determined by program administration once an application has been recommended for acceptance.


Dual Enrollment

Students applying to or currently enrolled in the rehabilitation sciences PhD program are eligible to apply to the MPH program. Prospective students must complete the application requirements for both programs. Current students should consult with their PhD advisor before applying to the MPH program and should enroll by the fall of their 2nd year. The course of study for students enrolled in the PhD/MPH option includes a combination of integrated courses; some courses meet the requirement for both degree programs.

Students enrolled in the MD/PhD combined degree program are able to select the rehabilitation sciences PhD as their graduate option. MD/PhD students complete full-time graduate coursework during years three and four of the combined degree program.

Apply at SOPHASApplications Now Open


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

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