The PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program is carefully designed to prepare individuals for careers in research. The program is built around a mentorship model reflecting our belief that preparation for independent research and scholarship can best be achieved by guided participation in an ongoing program of research conducted by a faculty member. The student begins by assisting the faculty mentor with a specific inquiry and gradually, as expertise builds, identifies a related line of investigation that the student will pursue for the dissertation. The work of the doctoral student contributes to and is enriched by the larger research program that the faculty member has initiated. Students must commit to a full-time, consistent involvement in their mentor’s research program. To the extent that research programs of faculty members differ in focus and methodology, students’ research activities may vary. The mentor serves as a professional role model throughout the program and guides the student in developing and achieving individualized professional and academic goals.
Students are accepted into the doctoral program to work with a particular faculty member in an identified area of research. While students may choose to switch research focus after a period of time in the program, the ability to do so will depend, first, on the identification of another line of ongoing research in which they will now participate and, second, on the ability and willingness of the identified faculty member to accept another student into his/her current load. Early in the student’s first semester, a mentorship plan for the first year specifying learning goals, performance expectations, and required tasks is developed with the mentor. For example, the mentorship relationship is likely to involve the student working on the mentor’s research project, and the mentorship plan would indicate work schedule, responsibilities, and supervision format. Typically, the first two years of the mentorship experience will include collaboration on a publication.