The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Rehabilitation Sciences program is designed to prepare physical therapists and other professionals to take leadership roles as researchers and educators in rehabilitation sciences, and to conduct research that will ultimately impact the quality of life for individuals with limitations in motor function.
The field of rehabilitation sciences has become more exciting, more complex, and more demanding. By integrating clinical and basic sciences, Drexel's faculty members educate high quality rehabilitation research scientists with a background that is both broad in scope and rigorous in depth.
Through this program, Drexel faculty have prepared exceptional research scientists and educators for more than two decades. Our graduates are prepared within the contextual paradigm of disability research to expand the body of knowledge in rehabilitation sciences through understanding the mechanisms of movement impairments, preventing and reducing mobility limitations and disability, and promoting health, physical performance, and participation in people across the lifespan.
What you'll learn
This PhD program’s curriculum offers considerable freedom in structuring an individualized program. Courses are available through a mix of traditional, online, independent studies and practica formats. Onsite courses are scheduled on two designated weekdays, for scheduling ease. The curriculum is condensed from the conventional 60-semester hour requirement to an enhanced 48 quarter credit minimum.
The program prepares individuals for research, teaching, and leadership roles in rehabilitation sciences. The interprofessional core courses prepare students for collaborative interdisciplinary research. On completing the Doctor of Philosophy degree, graduates will be prepared to:
- Analyze the impact of movement dysfunction from multiple perspectives, including body function, activity, and participation;
- Analyze theory, research, and health care policy relevant to health promotion and rehabilitation to translate knowledge into clinical practice;
- Develop and evaluate innovative mechanisms, methods, interventions, and models of service delivery for health promotion and rehabilitation;
- Effectively communicate information orally through professional presentations and in writing through grant proposals and publications in peer-reviewed journals;
- Develop an ongoing area of research that is competitive for grant funding;
- Apply innovative teaching methods to a wide variety of situations, including the education of physical therapists and physical therapy students;
Students collaborate with their faculty advisor to design an individualized plan of study based on common research interests. Prospective students are encouraged to explore information on our PhD faculty mentors and their research areas, and the types of dissertations completed by our PhD graduates. To view our PhD graduate history chart, download the PDF. Based on a review of this information, prospective students should identify and communicate with a potential PhD mentor.
What makes the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Rehabilitation Sciences program unique?
- Experiential learning using state-of-the-art technology in our 9,000 square foot research space.
- Convenient part-time study options.
- Extensive academic, clinical, and community research partnerships.
- Faculty advisors and mentors committed to your success in the program.
- Flexible on-site residency depending on research plan.
Program Fact Sheet (downloadable PDF)
Lisa Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, FAPTA
David Ebaugh, PT, PhD
Margaret Finley, PT, PhD
Clare E. Milner, PhD, FACSM
Margaret O'Neil, PT, PhD, MPH
Margo Orlin, PT, PhD, FAPTA - not currently accepting new PhD students
Robert Palisano, PT, ScD, FAPTA
Sheri Silfies, PT, PhD
Susan Smith, PT, PhD - not currently accepting new PhD students
The College of Nursing and Health Professions has a compliance process that may be required for every student. Some of these steps may take significant time to complete. Please plan accordingly.
Visit the Compliance pages for more information.
Applicants must provide proof that they have earned a master’s, DPT, or other advanced degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. university or college. A degree in physical therapy is not required. Applicants from all health- or rehabilitation-related backgrounds (e.g., kinesiology, occupational therapy, exercise science, biomedical or rehabilitation engineering, etc.) are welcomed.
Submit standardized test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). International applicants must also submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score.
- Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
- Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
- If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency
- Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions
Submit 3 recommendations, including at least one from a previous supervisor and one from a mentor or advisor.
Personal Statement/ Essay:
- You may use our electronic letter of recommendation service
- If a recommender prefers to submit an original, hard copy letter, please remind them that it must include an ink signature and be submitted in a sealed envelope.
Your essay should address the following points:
Tell us why you want to earn a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel University. What knowledge and skills do you want to learn? What career path are you planning to pursue with a PhD?
- Research Experience and Interest:
What research experience do you have? What is your research area of interest? How did you become interested in this area? Briefly indicate a gap in knowledge in your area of interest that might be addressed in dissertation research.
Based on having identified and communicated with a potential PhD mentor, how does your area of research interest match the research of one of the PhD faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel?
Interview may be required.
Applicants with clinical degrees may be required to have a Pennsylvania license to practice, depending on proposed research activities.
It is preferred that applicants with clinical degrees (PT,OT, etc.) have 2 years of relevant clinical experience beyond that required to complete the professional degree
International applicants must have their transcripts evaluated and sent to us by one of the following agencies: World Education Services (www.wes.org) International Consultants of Delaware (www.icdel.com)
Tuition and Fee Rates:
Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central
Application Link (if
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is designed to prepare physical therapists and other professionals to contribute to the knowledge of rehabilitation science through excellence in scholarship, research and education. The focus of the curriculum is on the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to effectively serve as a university faculty member, a research investigator, and a leader within professional and health care organizations.
Upon completion of the Doctor of Philosophy degree graduates will be prepared to:
- Analyze the impact of movement dysfunction from multiple perspectives including body function activity and participation;
- Analyze theory, research, and healthcare policy relevant to individuals with movement dysfunction to promote transfer of knowledge into clinical practice;
- Develop and evaluate innovative models of service delivery and interventions for individuals with limitations in motor function;
- Communicate oral information effectively through professional presentations and written information through grant proposals and publications in peer-reviewed journals;
- Develop an ongoing area of research that is competitive for grant funding;and
- Apply innovative teaching methods to a wide variety of situations including education of physical therapists and physical therapy students.