Curriculum & Degree Requirements

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.

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. 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).

Learning Outcomes

Our curriculum and degree requirements are guided by specific learning outcomes. At the completion of the program, students will:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to design, conduct, and evaluate research in rehabilitation sciences.
  2. Demonstrate advanced knowledge of theory and existing research in rehabilitation sciences.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to effectively disseminate original research findings to peers/colleagues.
  4. Articulate appropriate professional skills and ethical behaviors needed for successful academic and/or research careers.