Rehabilitation Sciences Program



Rehabilitation science, as defined by the Institute of Medicine, encompasses “basic and applied aspects of health services, social sciences, and engineering as they are related to restoring human functional capacity and improving a person’s interaction with the surrounding environment.”1 As such, rehabilitation science is by definition interdisciplinary and extends beyond the boundaries of traditional academic departments.



1. Brandt EN, Pope AM. Enabling America: Assessing the Role of Rehabilitation Science and Engineering. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997. 



The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program includes an emphasis on the Institute of Medicine's Enabling–Disabling Model of rehabilitation and health. This model focuses on the need for outcomes research to reduce and prevent disability, and to advance evidence-based health care in rehabilitation. Through interdisciplinary experiences, including a solid theoretical and methodological foundation in clinical and community health-related rehabilitation services, students are provided with advanced training in rehabilitation sciences, including assessment, development, restoration, and maintenance of independent function in persons with physical and cognitive impairments. Rehabilitation Sciences also include methods to prevent disability and the examination of adaptation to functional impairment, and social limitations resulting from a disability.

The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program is intended for individuals who have a degree in a rehabilitation-related field and have expressed a clear commitment to a career in rehabilitation and disability research.

Degree Requirements

The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program includes a set core requirements, and research projects and elective courses are tailored to meet individual student’s interests and career goals.

Degree requirements include:

  • Completion of 55-72 credit hours
  • Courses in the core knowledge area of rehabilitation sciences
  • Intro to Rehabilitation Science
  • Evidence-based Rehabilitation
  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Research Design
  • Elective courses
  • Ethics of Science course (MEHU 6101)
  • Written and oral qualifying examination
  • Completion of an original research project resulting in a written dissertation and oral defense
The typical PhD curriculum plan includes two years of course work, with completion of the qualifying exam in the third year. Students will work on mentored research projects during these academic years and will be advanced to candidacy following approval of the dissertation proposal.


Rehabilitation Sciences research is interdisciplinary and examines methods of prevention, intervention, and recovery associated with disabilities and chronic disease that limit a person's ability to engage in meaningful personal, community, recreational, and vocational activities.

Research programs are focused in four areas – Aging and geriatric rehabilitation, Clinical and community rehabilitation, Muscle biology of rehabilitation, and Population-based health services rehabilitation. The Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program includes faculty members from multiple clinical and basic science departments providing students with access to numerous facilities across campus.

Core facilities and programs/projects include the Interdisciplinary Predoctoral and Postdoctoral Training Programs, the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences, the Sealy Center on Aging, the Rehabilitation Research Career Development Program, the Center for Rehabilitation Research using Large Datasets, the Hospital Readmission and Medical Rehabilitation project, the Claude D. Pepper Independence of Older Americans Center, and the Hispanic Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly, among others.

List of Graduate Courses

GSBS PHS Courses

Steps for Graduation

PhD Students
  • Complete your final draft of your dissertation
  • Set up a date for your oral defense. You must complete a Request for Final Oral Exam form. (You can find this on the GSBS website,, by clicking Current Students, Ready for Graduation, Request for Final Oral Exam). This form must be completed and turned in to the Graduate School 2 weeks prior to the defense date.

  • On the day of your defense you will have to have the members of your committee sign the signature page (in black ink) for your dissertation, as well as sign a Report of Final Oral Exam Form (this form can be found following the instructions above.)
  • After your defense, you will make any changes to your dissertation required by your committee and then submit it to Dr. Peek as a word document so that she can run it through the ithenticate software.
  • Once approved, you will submit the dissertation to Dr. Joan Nichols in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Nichols will review the document and let you know if there are changes, or if you can go ahead and upload it to the Electronic Thesis Dissertation (ETD) website.
  • Complete the Graduation Packet. This can be found on the GSBS website -, by clicking Current Students, Ready for Graduation, Graduation Packet. You should make sure that all items on the checklist are complete and then turn them in to the Program Coordinator. They, in turn, will keep a copy for your file and turn it in to the GSBS for you.


Preventive Medicine Graduate Programs
University of Texas Medical Branch
301 University Boulevard
Galveston, Texas 77555-1110

p. (409) 747-1637


James Graham, PhD
Director, Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program

Beth Cammarn
Coordinator, Rehabilitation Sciences Graduate Program
p. (409) 747-1637

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