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 formal written summary (1-2 pages, single-spaced) of personal, professional, and research objectives during their PhD program. The student (not the proposed supervisor) must write the summary.

     

    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 statistics 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

    Financial assistance is available from several sources, and students should work with their supervisors to create a funding package that will support them throughout their programs. Funding is not guaranteed by the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. The following are common sources of financial support for PhD students:

    Graduate Research Assistantships 
    A limited number of Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) are available to support doctoral students. These funds are designed to provide temporary financial support until students receive scholarships and awards to fund their PhD programs. 

    Scholarships and Awards 
    PhD students are expected to apply, with the help of their supervisors, for provincial and national funding with agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), and Alberta Innovates. Students and supervisors are encouraged to read the information about these and numerous other awards in the University of Alberta Calendar, on the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) website under “Awards and Funding” and in the FGSR Graduate Program Manual.

    Supervisor Funding 
    Some supervisors provide funding to their PhD students through research grants. Students are encouraged to explore such options with their supervisors upon admission and throughout their programs.