Health and Rehabilitation Sciences PhD

Major: Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 48.0
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 51.2314
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-1099

About the Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is designed to prepare PhDs to be leaders as research scientists and educators in health and rehabilitation sciences.

Program Objectives

On completing the Doctor of Philosophy degree, graduates will be prepared to:

  • Create innovative mechanisms, methods, interventions, and approaches for service delivery for health promotion and rehabilitation
  • Establish a research agenda that will impact health and rehabilitation sciences
  • Collaborate, integrate expertise, and conduct research within interprofessional teams
  • Write research proposals that are competitive for grant funding
  • Disseminate and translate research through presentations, publications, and contemporary media
  • Teach effectively and contribute to the academic community
  • Institute a plan for continued professional development as a research scientist

Admission Requirements


For bachelor’s degree entry:
Degree: a STEM or health related bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the United States or equivalent international institution. Must have a GPA of 3.0 or above.

For graduate degree entry:
Applicants must provide proof that they have earned a master’s, DPT, or other advanced degree from an accredited U.S. college or university, or an equivalent degree from a non-U.S. university or college. A degree in physical therapy is not required. Applicants from all health- or rehabilitation-related backgrounds (e.g., kinesiology, occupational therapy, exercise science, biomedical or rehabilitation engineering, etc.) are welcomed.

Standardized Tests

Submit standardized test scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

International applicants: International applicants, as well as immigrants to the United States and United States permanent residents whose native language is not English and who have not received a bachelor's degree or higher in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom, must show proficiency in English speaking as well as listening, writing and reading. Applicants must meet one of the following requirements: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL minimum scores: 90/577/233), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS minimum Overall Band Score: 6.5), or the Pearson Test of English (PTE minimum score: 61)


  • Official transcripts must be sent directly to Drexel from all the colleges/universities that you have attended. Transcripts must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the college/university seal over the flap. Please note that transcripts are required regardless of number of credits taken or if the credits were transferred to another school. An admission decision may be delayed if you do not send transcripts from all colleges/universities attended.
  • Transcripts must show course-by-course grades and degree conferrals. If your school does not notate degree conferrals on the official transcripts, you must provide copies of any graduate or degree certificates.
  • If your school issues only one transcript for life, you are required to have a course-by-course evaluation completed by an approved transcript evaluation agency.
  • Use our Transcript Lookup Tool to assist you in contacting your previous institutions.


Submit three recommendations, including at least one from a previous supervisor and one from a mentor or advisor.

You may use our electronic letter of recommendation service.

If a recommender prefers to submit an original, hard copy letter, please remind them that it must include an ink signature and be submitted in a sealed envelope.

Personal Statement/Essay

Your essay should address the following points:

  • Introduction
    • Tell us why you want to earn a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel University.
    • What knowledge and skills do you want to learn?
    • What career path are you planning to pursue with a PhD?
  • Research Experience and Interest
    • What research experience do you have?
    • What is your research area of interest?
    • How did you become interested in this area?
    • Briefly indicate a gap in knowledge in your area of interest that might be addressed in dissertation research.
    • Based on having identified and communicated with a potential PhD mentor, how does your area of research interest match the research of one of the PhD faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at Drexel?


An interview is required. A scholarly writing sample may be required.




Applicants with clinical degrees may be required to have a Pennsylvania license to practice depending on proposed research activities.

Clinical/Work/Volunteer Experience

For some areas of research, it is preferred that applicants with clinical degrees (PT, OT, etc.) have two years of relevant clinical experience beyond that required to complete the professional degree.

International Students

International applicants must have their transcripts evaluated and sent to us by one of the following agencies:

Degree Requirements

Research Foundations *9.0-15.0
Foundations of Health and Rehabilitation Research
An Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research
Foundations in Quantitative Research
Scientific Writing
Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
RSCH 720Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
RSCH 721Intermediate Statistics in Health I3.0
Choose one of the following:3.0
Qualitative Research Methods I
Qualitative Research Methods II
Intermediate Statistics in Health II
Interpretation of Data
Research Practicum I
Research Practicum II
Research Practicum III
Research Practicum IV
Health Professional Education
Teaching Practicum
Dissertation **6.0-72.0
Dissertation Research I
Dissertation Research II
Dissertation Research III
Dissertation Research IV
Electives ***12.0-48.0
Total Credits48.0-186.0

BS entry students must complete HRSC 541 and RSCH 519 during the first year of study as part of the Research Foundations sequence.


Student must complete each course in the dissertation sequence. Minimum of 6.0 credits.


In consultation with their advisor, students complete a minimum of 48.0 (BS entry) or 12.0 (MS entry) credits of electives (courses with subject codes IPS, NHP, RHAB, RSCH at 500-level or greater), including independent study, practica, and dissertation, to support their individualized research plan of study. 

Sample Plan of Study

The student and faculty advisor collaboratively design an individualized plan of study based on common research interests. Prospective students are encouraged to explore our faculty research areas and information on our PhD faculty mentors on our program website.

Sample Plan of Study (BS Entry)

First Year
HRSC 5413.0HRSC 8223.0BMES 5313.0VACATION
HRSC 8213.0RHAB I8993.0HRSC 8233.0 
RSCH 5193.0RSCH 7413.0RHAB I8993.0 
 9 9 9 0
Second Year
HRSC 7613.0HRSC 8223.0NHP 7623.0 
HRSC 8213.0RSCH 7003.0RSCH 7223.0 
RSCH 7203.0RSCH 7213.0RSCH 7233.0 
 9 9 9 
Third Year
HRSC 8313.0HRSC 8324.0HRSC 8336.0 
NHP 7673.0NHP 8222.0RSCH 7433.0 
NHP 8221.0RSCH 7423.0  
RHAB I8992.0   
 9 9 9 
Fourth Year
HRSC 8349.0   
Total Credits 90

Sample Plan of Study (MS Entry)

First Year
HRSC 7613.0HRSC 8221.0-3.0NHP 7623.0
HRSC 8211.0-3.0RSCH 7003.0RSCH 7223.0
RSCH 7203.0RSCH 7213.0RSCH 7233.0
 7-9 7-9 9
Second Year
HRSC 8313.0-4.0HRSC 8321.0-4.0HRSC 8334.5-9.0
NHP 8221.0NHP 8222.0 
RHAB I8991.5-4.0RSCH 7423.0 
 5.5-9 6-9 4.5-9
Third Year
HRSC 8344.5-9.0HRSC 8344.5-9.0 
 4.5-9 4.5-9 
Total Credits 48-72

Note: International students are required to maintain 9.0 credits per term except for summer term. 

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Faculty

Benjamin Binder-Markey, PT, DPT, PhD (Northwestern University, University of Delaware). Assistant Professor. Skeletal muscle adaptations after injury and disease; muscle adaptation effects on physical function; musculoskeletal computational models; neurological rehabilitation.
Lisa Ann Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, FAPTA (Hahnemann University) Director, Doctor of Health Science in Rehabilitation Sciences and Certificate in Advanced Practice in Pediatric Rehabilitation Programs. Professor. Pediatric community-based practice; family-centered care; determinants of outcomes; and participation of children with physical disabilities.
Margaret Finley, PT, PhD (University of Maryland). Associate Professor. Upper extremity movement patters in persons with chronic neuromuscular disorders.
Kevin E. Gard, DPT, OCS (Temple University) Vice-Chair, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and Director, Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Clinical Professor. Orthopedics; sports medicine.
Robert Maschi, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS (Temple University). Associate Clinical Professor. Orthopedics, musculoskeletal disorders, lower extremity biomechanics and movement analysis.
Clare Milner, PhD, FACSM (University of Durham, University of Leeds) Director, Graduate Programs in Health Rehabilitation Sciences. Associate Professor. Biomechanics of lower extremity injury, injury prevention, and rehabilitation; overuse injuries in runners; gait in people with knee pathology.
Lynette Montgomery, PT, PhD (University of Queensland, The Ohio State University). Assistant Professor. Motor Control and rehabilitation after neurological injury, mechanisms of neuroplasticity and recovery of locomotion following neurological injury.
Annalisa Na, PT, DPT, PhD, OCS (University of Delaware). Assistant Research Professor. Interactions of multimorbidity diseases on functional outcomes in older adults
Stephen Samendinger, PhD (Michigan State University). Associate Teaching Professor. Psychosocial aspects of physical activity and healthy lifestyles, motivation: group dynamics, identity, physical activity determinants and responses.
Sara Tomaszewski, PT, DPT, OCS (Duke University). Clinical Instructor. Orthopedics and sports physical therapy, injury prevention, and return-to-sport decision making.
Sarah Wenger, PT, DPT, OCS (Arcadia University; Temple University) Coordinator, Professional Practice Lab. Assistant Clinical Professor. Health, wellness and fitness, models for preventative physical therapy, dance medicine.
Glenn Williams, PT, PhD, ATC (University of Delaware) Chair, Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences. Associate Professor. Neuromuscular plasticity after joint injury, orthopaedic-sports rehabilitation, human performance, post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

Emeritus Faculty

Margo Orlin, PT, PhD, FAPTA (Drexel University). Associate Professor Emeritus. Walking and running biomechanics and participation in children with developmental disabilities, evaluation of enhancing participation for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.
Robert J. Palisano, PT, ScD, FAPTA (Boston University). Distinguished Professor. Classification and prognosis for gross motor function in children and youth with cerebral palsy; interventions to improve activity and participation in children with physical disabilities; transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities.
Patricia Rubertone, PT, MPT, MSW, EdD (Widener University) Director of Experiential Learning. Associate Clinical Professor Emerita. Student learning; course design; judgment of physical therapy student clinic performance by novice vs. experienced clinical instructors.
Susan Smith, PT, PhD (University of Connecticut, Texas Woman's University). Associate Professor and Dean Emerita. Geriatrics: health promotion and interventions for manifestations of low bone mass; assessment of fall risk and fall prevention interventions for older adults
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