PhD in Rehabilitation Science

The PhD in Rehabilitation Science (PhD RS) program provides training for future rehabilitation scientists who seek to discover, integrate, and apply knowledge to improve the health and wellness of people with health conditions and disabilities.  The PhD RS program trains doctoral students to understand the theoretical bases of rehabilitation science, to identify areas in which theoretical foundations are still required, and to design and conduct research investigations aimed at answering those theoretical questions. It will provide breadth and depth of knowledge in each student's chosen area of research inquiry. Interested applicants will include clinicians in the professions of rehabilitation medicine (occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and audiology), physical medicine (physiatry and orthopedics), biomechanical and electrical engineers with special interests in rehabilitation technologies and assistive devices; persons interested in health care ethics, health policy, health systems, Indigenous health, rehabilitation and law, clinical service delivery and program management; persons interested in developmental issues across the life span; and individuals with special interest in spinal disorders, to name a few.

  • Admissions

    An eligible applicant must meet all Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) requirements (see the FGSR Graduate Program Manual), as well as the following Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine requirements:

    1. A master’s degree or the equivalent of an honours BSc degree in a rehabilitation discipline or a related field;
    2. a minimum GPA of 3.0 on the University of Alberta four-point grading system or an equivalent standing from another recognized institution during the last two years of full-time study;
    3. acceptable scores on an approved test of competency in the English language (see full Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine policies and procedures manual for details);
    4. identified faculty member within the FRM who has agreed to supervise the applicant;
    5. three reference letters from individuals who are knowledgeable about the applicant’s academic and research potential and capabilities;
    6. a current curriculum vitae; and
    7. a short description of the research interests you discussed with your potential supervisor. Explain how the proposed research relates to your career goals, listing your academic, research and professional plans. Talk about how your background (academic training and work experience) make you a suitable candidate to complete research in this field. Also, discuss why you’ve chosen to apply to the Rehabilitation Science program at the University of Alberta (word limit 500 words).

    The final decision regarding suitability/acceptability of the applicant for the PhD program in rehabilitation science lies with the RS-Graduate Programs Committee. The final decision regarding admission of an acceptable applicant to the PhD program lies with the FGSR.

  • Components of Program
    The program consists of course work (a minimum 18 credit units at the graduate level, including four mandatory courses), candidacy examination, and thesis (including proposal and defense of thesis research). Students also take training in ethics and scientific integrity. The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) has a professional development requirement designed to help you determine your career path, in both academic and non-academic settings. 
  • Courses
    There are three core mandatory courses (REHAB 600, 601, and 603). They are designed to help students understand the theories and issues specific to rehabilitation science as well as design considerations in rehabilitation research. Students also take a mandatory research analysis course and two electives are pertinent to their thesis research. 
  • Length of Program
    The optimal time period for completion of the doctoral degree is four years. Students must complete all program requirements (courses, candidacy, professional development, ethics), other than the thesis, within three years of the start of their program. 
  • Residency Requirement
    The residence requirement of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) is satisfied by full-time registration (9-credit hours/term) for two four-month terms of study and research at the University of Alberta.
  • Student Funding Opportunities

    The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research is working towards a policy that mandates a minimum level of funding for full-time PhD students. That policy is not expected to be in place for at least two years. In the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, we will work with supervisors and students to create a funding package that will support students throughout their programs. Funding packages typically include supervisor and faculty funding (research assistantship, teaching assistantship), as well as studentship funding (i.e., through tri-council awards).

    At this time, we guarantee some funding for PhD students in Year 1 and 2, and MSc students in Year 1.

    Scholarships and Awards:

    The Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine offers recruitment awards to highly competitive students (i.e., students who will be competitive for national funding through the tri-council agencies). The call for applications for this award goes out to supervisors on March 15 and August 15 of each year. Contact your supervisor about applying for a Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine recruitment award.

    PhD and MSc students are expected to apply, with the help of their supervisors, for studentships or fellowships from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), or the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), as well as provincial agencies (Alberta Innovates). In addition, the Graduate Program Committee may nominate eligible, newly admitted doctoral students for FGSR University of Alberta Recruitment Scholarships.

    Students and supervisors are encouraged to read the information about these and numerous other awards in the University of Alberta Calendar, on the FGSR website under “Awards and Funding” and in the FGSR Graduate Program Manual.