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Frequently Asked Questions


Questions for the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program/ Questions for the Graduate School


Specific Questions for the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program

How is a PhD different than a DPT degree?

A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree prepares students for clinical practice as a physical therapist. A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Rehabilitation Science prepares students to design, conduct, interpret, and present original research to advance the scientific foundation of rehabilitation practice. Rehabilitation scientists have a strong background in the health sciences, but are not necessarily licensed health care providers.

How long does it take to complete the PhD program?

The time required to complete a PhD degree in Rehabilitation Science varies according to the individual coursework and dissertation project selected by each student. All required coursework and qualifying examinations are typically completed within the first two years of enrollment. Dissertation research and the thesis examination typically require an additional 2-3 years to complete. The total time needed to fulfill all requirements of the PhD degree ranges from 4-6 years.

Is financial aid available?

Although we cannot guarantee financial assistance, tuition and living expenses for the majority of our students are supported by a combination of faculty research grants, institutional training grants, foundation scholarships, and teaching/research assistantships. Financial support is only available for US citizens who are eligible to apply for federal grants while enrolled in the Program.

Please contact the Program Administrator to learn more about funding opportunities for Rehabilitation Science PhD students.

Additional information on Fellowships and Assistantships for graduate students can be found on the Graduate School website.

Is there an option for part-time enrollment in the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program?

No. The Rehabilitation Science PhD Program only accepts students for full-time enrollment, with the expectation that students will take no longer than six years to complete all program requirements. The Clinical Science Program at the University of Colorado provides MS and PhD degree options for working clinicians who wish to pursue part-time graduate studies.

What is the application deadline?

Online applications for Fall admission are due January 1st. Applications received by January 1st will be considered for scholarship opportunities. Late applications will be considered up to June 1st or until all positions are filled. If you require an extension of the application deadline for the current year, please contact the Program Administrator  for more information.

Am I eligible to apply if I am not a PT?

Yes. Although many of our PhD students are physical therapists, applicants to the PhD Program are not required to have a professional clinical degree (PT, OT, MD, RN, etc.). Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university in a science, health, or engineering related discipline.

Are there specialized areas of study?

Yes. Students may select coursework and research mentors from one of five specialized areas of study within the broader field of Rehabilitation Science:

  • Applied Cellular Physiology
  • Exercise and Cardiopulmonary Physiology
  • Motor Control
  • Biomechanics
  • Lifespan Studies

See Required Core Coursework.docRequired and Elective Course Options for examples of specialization electives that are available through this program. See Faculty Research Interests for research mentors within each area of specialization.

How do I select a research mentor?

The Rehabilitation Science PhD Program is affiliated with highly qualified research mentors from a wide range of specialized disciplines located across three University of Colorado campuses. Prospective students should review the Faculty Research Interests to locate potential research mentors in their selected area of specialization. During the first year of enrollment, students complete two research practicum courses with potential faculty mentors to determine the best fit between students and faculty. Students then select a primary faculty mentor for their dissertation studies in consultation with the faculty. Potential faculty mentors must be identified by students upon applying for admission to the PhD Program. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact potential mentors prior to submitting their application.

General Questions for the Graduate School

Find the answers to general admission requirements, application process, and additional information for international applicants on the Graduate School's website.