Academics / Academic Programs / PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences

Curriculum & Degree Requirements

PhD Program Director:

Gael Orsmond, PhD617-353-2703

Students take a common core curriculum designed to provide a strong foundation in rehabilitation science and research methods. In addition, students participate in doctoral seminars with their peers and faculty to explore professional aspects of their future careers (e.g., publishing, manuscript review, grant review, project management), as well as to share the development of their line of research as it advances in the program.

The program beyond the core requirements is flexible, and necessary coursework is determined on an individual basis by the student’s area of concentration. Note that prerequisites for entering the program will depend on the area of research that the student chooses.

This course provides an overview of the field of rehabilitation science and an introduction to the social constructs of disability with an emphasis on bio-psycho-social-environmental models of the enabling-disabling process across the life course. The historical, philosophical and theoretical foundations of Rehabilitation Science and the evolution of laws and policies related to rehabilitation that inform the ethical, funding, and social implications of rehabilitation research are analyzed. The course will also provide an in-depth understanding of person-environment interactions and the link between biomedical factors and community participation. (Credits: 2)

This course serves as an introduction into research designs relevant to rehabilitation science. The first set of sessions provides the background and framework for understanding the reasoning behind different research designs. The remaining sessions focus on various categories of research designs, the types of research questions these designs address, and the types of data analyses that are appropriate to the designs. The course content is integrated with the content students received in Philosophy of Rehabilitation Science. Format of sessions are lecture, discussion, and experiential. Student assignments are individualized to student areas of mentored research. Student presentations are integrated into the topics presented according to the class schedule. (Credits: 4)

The role of the researcher as teacher is highly valued but seldom emphasized in graduate education. This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice sound teaching and learning principles and mechanics into the teaching of College-level students. Students will be required to present a class four times during the semester. Following presentations, the student will be critiqued by the instructor and by peers. Students will also be given a number of readings around which discussion will take place. Discussion will emphasize how students might incorporate the lessons from their readings into the next presentation. Finally students will be required to develop a detailed course outline and schedule and a sample lesson. Ideally this will be preparation for a class that the student may eventually teach. The primary emphasis will be on teaching of medium to large classes using the lecture method. (Credits: 2)

This seminar allows for a discussion of topics of interest to doctoral-level students in the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences, and is designed to provide insight in 1) curricular aspects of the PhD program, 2) mentor-mentee relationship, 3) skills necessary for PhD graduates entering the field of rehabilitation sciences with a research doctorate, and 4) interdisciplinary nature of the field of rehabilitation. This course enhances the student's ability to successfully complete the PhD program by working on skills needed to write and critically review IRB proposals, research manuscripts and research grant proposals, to outline ethical dilemmas in research, to formulate and disseminate a line of inquiry, and to distinguish various career paths. Literature addressing these issues will be used throughout to illustrate the arguments. (Credits: Var)

For students in the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences who are working on the comprehensive examination. RS900 should be completed with a grade of P. (Credits: Var)

Continuing registration for PhD students in Rehabilitation Sciences, used after passing the comprehensive exam and prior to beginning the final dissertation research. RS 920 should be completed with a grade of P. (Credits: Var)

Continuing registration for PhD students in Rehabilitation Sciences who are completing the dissertation. RS 930 should be completed with a grade of P or waived by petition. (Credits: Var)

Elective Courses

Because the resources of Boston University and the surrounding area are extensive, doctoral students may take courses in various schools and colleges of the University and benefit from unique partnerships with many other universities and training programs in the surrounding area. Electives are selected in consultation with the student’s mentor. Students take a variety of elective courses, such as psychology, statistics, computer science, engineering, disability law, and public health.

Degree Requirements

The number of credits required will depend on the student’s area of concentration and extent of previous education, including a completed master’s degree or completed prerequisites. The exact sequence of courses, comprehensive examination, and dissertation research is determined by the mentor, in consultation with the individual student. The requirements for the degree must be completed within five years of initial matriculation.

All students in the PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences must take one comprehensive examination. The examination process commonly begins during the spring semester of a student’s second year. Before beginning this process, students will have completed at least three semesters of coursework and have worked closely with their mentors to discuss areas of interest and to select a comprehensive examination committee of research faculty. The comprehensive examination will be completed during the fall of the student’s third year.

The program also requires completion of a dissertation. Student mentors help students select a topic that fits their interests and career goals. For example, some recent dissertation topics have focused on the rehabilitation of individuals with neurological conditions, visual spatial perception in Parkinson’s disease, and families of adolescents and adults with autism. To successfully complete the dissertation, students will need to have one research paper already published or submitted for publication and another that has been submitted or is in draft form and ready for submission. Students should also review Boston University’s Guide for Writers of Theses and Dissertations as well as the FAQ on Embargoes & Electronic Theses & Dissertations (ETD).

PhD questions

For questions about the Boston University PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program or the application process, please contact PhD Program Director Gael Orsmond at (email preferred) or 617-353-2703.