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PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is designed to prepare physical therapists and other professionals to be leaders as research scientists and educators in health and rehabilitation sciences.

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 three decades. Our graduates are prepared within the contextual paradigm of health and 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. The curriculum has a 48 quarter credit minimum for students entering with a graduate degree or 90 quarter credits with BS entry. The curriculum includes coursework in research and teaching. Interprofessional core courses prepare students for collaborative interdisciplinary research. Additional courses are selected based on the student's area of interest, objective for doctoral study and dissertation research. Courses are available through a mix of traditional, independent studies and practica formats. Students work individually with a faculty mentor to complete the required research and teaching practica.

On completing the Doctor of Philosophy degree, graduates will be prepared to:

  • Create innovative mechanisms, methods, interventions and approaches for service delivery for health promotion and rehabilitation.
  • Establish a research agenda that will impact health and rehabilitation sciences.
  • Collaborate, integrate expertise and conduct research within interprofessional teams.
  • Write research proposals that are competitive for grant funding.
  • Disseminate and translate research through presentations, publications and contemporary media.
  • Teach effectively and contribute to the academic community.
  • Institute a plan for continued professional development as a research scientist.

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. 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 Health and Rehabilitation Sciences program unique?

  • Experiential learning using state-of-the-art technology in our extensive research space.
  • Extensive academic, clinical and community research partnerships.
  • Faculty advisors and mentors committed to your success in the program.

Program Fact Sheet (downloadable PDF)

PhD Faculty Mentors

Application deadline for full consideration for all applicants is March 15 for September enrollment. *International applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible to ensure ample processing time of all requirements.


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.

Admission Requirements

Applicants can apply for either bachelor's degree entry or graduate degree entry..

  • Bachelor's degree entry:
    Applicants must provide proof that they have earned a STEM or health related bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. university or college. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • Graduate degree entry:
    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.

Standardized Tests:
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. Drexel’s GRE & TOEFL school code is 2194.


  • 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:

Your essay should address the following points:

  • Introduction:
    Tell us why you want to earn a PhD in Health and 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 required.


Applicants with clinical degrees may be required to have a Pennsylvania license to practice, depending on proposed research activities.

Clinical/Work/Volunteer Experience:
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 Students:
International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and United States permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. Applicants must meet one of the following requirements: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL minimum scores: 90/577/233), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS minimum Overall Band Score: 6.5), or the Pearson Test of English (PTE minimum score: 61).

International applicants must have their transcripts evaluated and sent to us by one of the following agencies:

Tuition and Fee Rates:
Please visit the Tuition and Fee Rates page on Drexel Central.

Application Link (if outside organization): N/A


MSA: Accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.


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:
  1. Analyze the impact of movement dysfunction from multiple perspectives including body function activity and participation;
  2. Analyze theory, research, and healthcare policy relevant to individuals with movement dysfunction to promote transfer of knowledge into clinical practice;
  3. Develop and evaluate innovative models of service delivery and interventions for individuals with limitations in motor function;
  4. Communicate oral information effectively through professional presentations and written information through grant proposals and publications in peer-reviewed journals;
  5. Develop an ongoing area of research that is competitive for grant funding;and
  6. Apply innovative teaching methods to a wide variety of situations including education of physical therapists and physical therapy students.

The Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences has extensive laboratory space. Learn more here.