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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 Population 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. Review and approval by the Admissions Committee in Preventive Medicine and Community Health and the Rehabilitation Sciences Curriculum Admissions Committee.
  4. Test score for all applicants whose native language is not English. See additional information below.
  5. Optional: Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score within the last five years.

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. Failure to comply with these instructions may result in processing delays or denial of the application. Additional information can be found at the UTMB Admissions website.

*Note: The UTMB application is not required. All materials should be submitted through SOPHAS, as outlined below.

  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.
  2. A statement of purpose and objectives is required with your application, including interest in obtaining a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences. This should be uploaded in SOPHAS.
  3. A statement of research is required, highlighting your interest and potential match with Rehabilitation Sciences research efforts.
  4. A writing sample is required, including publications, term papers, or Master’s thesis.
  5. Official transcripts are required and must be sent to SOPHAS directly from each institution you have attended, regardless if a degree was obtained.
  6. 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.
  7. To expedite the screening of your application, please upload (unofficial) copies of your transcripts in the SOPHAS application. If you do not upload these items, processing of your application may be delayed.
  8. Optional: Official GRE score - have ETS submit scores to SOPHAS using GRE code 7012 U Texas Med Branch Galveston.

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. These evaluations must be submitted through SOPHAS directly from the credentialing service. For a list of accepted 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).
    • TOEFL minimum requirement is 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, 80 internet-based, or the International.
    • IELTS minimum requirement is 6.5.



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.


Following the 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.

Essential Functions

The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program is granted through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) and is one of the Population Health Sciences (PHS) programs granted through GSBS. Please see the GSBS policies web page for more information.

The following description details essential functions (abilities) needed to complete any of the PHS programs. The PHS graduate programs support the opportunity afforded individuals with disabilities by The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and encourage potential students to explore their interests and consider the match between their abilities and the job requirements for careers in population health, public health, clinical science or rehabilitation sciences. If accepted into any of the programs, students requiring accommodations for successful achievement are encouraged to identify their needs as soon as possible to enable instructors to provide reasonable accommodations. Guidelines for establishing a disability and requesting accommodations are contained in Students with Disabilities: An Institutional Policy (1997).

For a copy of the policy and assistance with this process, students should contact the UTMB Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities (CSSD) at 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0106 or call (409) 772-1463.

Any information regarding a disability is considered confidential; only those individuals responsible for assuring the reasonable accommodations will have access to this information.

Student Job Description

According to Students with Disabilities: An Institutional Policy (1997, p. 8), all candidates for degrees at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston must be able to perform the following essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations:

  1. Observation (to include the various sensory modalities)–accurately observe close at hand and a distance to gather data and learn skills.
  2. Communication–communicate effectively and efficiently; process and comprehend written material; proficient in English (written and oral).
  3. Psychomotor Skills–execute the various tasks and any physical maneuvers that are required within each curriculum or course.
  4. Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities–measure, calculate, reason, analyze, synthesize, integrate, remember, and apply information; comprehend three dimensional relationships; and understand the spatial relationships of structures. Creative problem solving and scientific reasoning require all of these intellectual abilities.
  5. Professional and Social Attributes–exercise thoughtful judgment and promptly complete all responsibilities required of each curriculum or course; develop and maintain mature, sensitive, and effective professional relationships with others; function effectively under stress; adapt to changing environments; display flexibility; and function in the face of uncertainties and ambiguities. Express concern for others; interpersonal competence and motivation are requisite for all curricula or courses.
  6. Ethical Standards–demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors; perform in an ethical manner in dealings with others. All PHS curricula require personal integrity and the adherence to the highest standards of professional conduct.

In addition, students in any of the PHS programs will need to perform the following essential cognitive, affective, and psychomotor functions, with or without reasonable accommodations:

  1. Process, retain, and integrate information from the following types of sources: oral delivery by instructor(s) or student(s); blackboard data and diagrams; printed material (handouts, journals, manuals, books, medical records, computers, computer printouts); PowerPoint presentations; overhead transparencies; slides; film and video segments; audio recordings; live demonstrations; one-to-one and group interactions in the classroom; internet-based or teleconferences; lab, equipment, and machinery; evaluation and intervention tools; and community-based preventive activities.
  2. Complete coursework that may require independent mobility to various locations on and off campus and other geographic areas; individual, partnered, or group efforts; satisfactorily following written or oral instructions; recording personals opinions, knowledge, or ratings; verbalizing personal thoughts, feelings, and other opinions; instruction of others; presenting oral reports; facilitating group discussions; role playing; managing time effectively; exposure to hazardous materials; working with individuals with infectious diseases and terminal illnesses; and working in potentially life-threatening situations or with such agents.
  3. Take and pass in a timely fashion scheduled and pop quizzes, exams, practical demonstrations, or other field assessments in a variety of formats.

During the PHS educational experiences, the student may be required to attend class or other learning sessions that meet at times other than conventional workday hours such as during the evening hours or on weekends. Students must be able to physically attend classes of up to three hours duration. Required learning experience may also involve relocation to other sites in Texas or surrounding states at the student’s expense.

Lecture Essential Functions

  1. Process, retain, and integrate information from the following types of sources: a. oral delivery/ reading by instructor(s) or student(s) b. blackboard data and diagrams c. printed material (handouts, manuals, texts) d. overhead transparencies e. slides f. film and video segments g. audio recordings h. live demonstrations i. computerized records
  1. Respond to questions asked or problems formulated. Ask questions pertinent to topic.
  2. Participate in large- and small-group discussions and tasks in a fashion that recognizes others’ need to understand.
  3. Complete in-class exercises/activities that may require: a. recording personal opinions, knowledge, or ratings b. following written or oral instructions
  4. Present oral reports (planned or impromptu) or do role-plays or other active learning strategies.
  5. Take and pass tests in a timely fashion in a variety of formats, both written and computer-generated.
  6. Demonstrate the following professional behaviors: a. arrive punctually b. notify faculty if circumstances prevent attendance c. satisfactorily make up missed assignments d. assume responsibility for personal actions e. demonstrate functional level of self-confidence and assurance f. demonstrate the ability to be a cooperative and contributing member of the group g. tolerate the views of others h. state own opinions assertively i. establish priorities relative to assignments j. demonstrate honesty and personal integrity k. handle personal anxiety l. respect the rights of others m. handle numerous assignments and responsibilities simultaneously



Apply at SOPHAS


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

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Dissertation Paper Selected Editor's Choice

Pain as a predictor of frailty over time among older Mexican Americans was selected Editor's choice in the Journal of Pain in October 2019. Authors: Jaspreet Sodhi, Amol Karmarkar, Mukaila Raji, Kyriakos Markides, Kenneth Ottenbacher, and Soham Al Snih.

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