Rehabilitation Science

Degree Offered: Ph.D.
Director: Dr. William Thompson
Phone: (205) 975-2788

Program Information

Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science

The Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science program is an interdisciplinary  program offered by The Department  of Occupational Therapy and The Department of Physical Therapy at the School of Health  Professions. This exciting program is designed to prepare graduates to become*:

  • Academicians, scholars, scientists and researchers in education, health care, industry, and government institutions.
  • Consultants to individuals, communities, and governments.

The goal of the Program is to prepare graduates to have the following skills:

  • Design and implement research studies that will contribute to the knowledge base of rehabilitation science.
  • Design and deliver educational courses related to rehabilitation.
  • Translate innovative rehabilitation research findings into practice so as to advance the field of rehabilitation science.

Application Procedure

Received by UAB Graduate School

1720 2nd Avenue South
Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0013

  • Complete and submit online Graduate School application (
  • Submit application fee payment - Domestic: $50.00
  • Request one (1) official transcript to be mailed by the issuing institution to the UAB Graduate School
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. Please ask the individuals from whom you requested references to submit them online via the recommendation email request they receive. Electronic submission is the preferred method. However, if your referees prefer to mail a recommendation letter, it should be mailed to the address of the department or program to which you are applying.

Minimum Requirements for Admission

  • Note that each application will be reviewed by the Admission Committee to identify individuals with strong commitment and aptitude to perform research related to Rehabilitation Science, along with strong academic preparation and professional-leadership potential.
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree in occupational or physical therapy, engineering, exercise science, neuroscience, medicine, nursing, or other health related professions.
  • Recommended minimum Graduate Record Exam (GRE) score of 50th percentile for all categories.
  • Recommended minimum GPA 3.0/4.0 in all previous coursework
  • Three strong evaluation references, with at least one from a research lab mentor, and one from an academic source.
  • With the written essay, provide evidence of appropriate goals of study, professional growth and commitment to research, with special emphasis on interest in research that is being conducted at UAB.
  • Interview with faculty that shows passion and commitment to research and professional growth in Rehabilitation Science.

For further information contact:

William Thompson, Ph.D.
Department of Physical Therapy

Typical Program

(Course requirements are listed in semester credit hours)

First Year
First TermHoursSecond TermHoursSummer TermHours
RHB 7803RHB 7853RHB 7823
RHB 7833RHB 7843RHB 7892
RHB 7892RHB 7892RHB 7901
RHB 7901RHB 7901GRD 7173
EPR 6093EPR 7103Qualifer Exam 
 12 12 9
Second Year
First TermHoursSecond TermHoursSummer TermHours
RHB 7983RHB 7983RHB 7983
Electives6Electives6RHB 7461
  Dissertation Proposal 
 9 9 9
Third Year
First TermHoursSecond TermHoursSummer TermHours
RHB 7996-9RHB 7996-9RHB 7996-9
 6-9 6-9 6-9
Fourth Year
First TermHoursSecond TermHours 
RHB 7996-9RHB 7996-9 
 Dissertation Defense  
 6-9 6-9
Total credit hours: 90-105

*The degree plan will vary by the student's academic discipline and preparation upon entry to the PhD in Rehabilitation Science Program.

A Sample of possible Elective Courses Currently Offered at UAB includes:

Concentration Electives: These are electives in a specific disease, population, or content area of interest
Rehabilitation Sciences Clinical Project
Quantitative Biomechanics of Injury and Rehabilitation
Child Health Theories and Concepts
Acute & Continuing Care Pediatric Pharmacology
Body Composition and Energy Metabolism
Foundations in Low Vision Rehabilitation I
Academic Writing Electives: These are electives that focus on developing writing skills for scientific publications and/or preparation
Grants and Fellowships 101
Writing Successfully
Writing Fellowships
Writing Research for Broad Audiences
Writing Research for Academic Audiences
Writing & Reviewing Research
Professional Writing & Publishing
Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks
Research Methods Electives: These are electives in a specific research methodlogy or study design areas of interest
Empirical Methods for Health Research
Health Equity and Inclusion in Public Health Programs and Policies
Qualitative Research Methods
Responsible Conduct of Research: A Cross-Cultural Perspective
Introduction to Qualitative Methods in Educational Research
Simulation Models
Statistical Methodology Electives: These are electives in a specific statistical or data analysis methodolgy
Clinical Decision Making and Cost Effectiveness Analysis
Analysis of Case Control Studies
Database Systems
General Linear Models
Survival Analysis
Mixed Methods Approaches in Action Research
Mixed Methods Approaches to Educational Research


RHB 500. Introduction to Rehabilitation Science. 3 Hours.

Encapsulating science from the level of the cell and body structure to the person, family, community and society level, rehabilitation science serves as a foundation and the body of knowledge by which individuals may develop and evaluate current and emerging approaches to enhancing enablement and minimizing disability.

RHB 575. Special Topics in Rehabilitation Science. 1-4 Hour.

Exploration of current topics in Rehabilitation Sciences.

RHB 590. Quantitative Biomechanics of Injury and Rehabilitation. 3 Hours.

Material, mechanical, electrophysiological and energetic principles of human movement. Comparison of non-impaired verses impaired systems in relation to injury/disability.

RHB 740. Teaching Practicum. 1-3 Hour.

Individually designed, directed teaching experience in focus area appropriate to student's background, needs, and goals under guidance of faculty preceptor.
Prerequisites: RHB 780 [Min Grade: C] and RHB 781 [Min Grade: C] and RHB 782 [Min Grade: C] and RHB 783 [Min Grade: C] and RHB 784 [Min Grade: C]

RHB 746. Rehabilitation Science Journal Club. 1 Hour.

Student-led, facilitated discussion of current, impactful published research in rehabilitation science. Interaction with scientists and clinicians from multiple disciplines contributing to the rehabilitation science.

RHB 775. Special Topics in Rehabilitation Sciences. 1-4 Hour.

Exploration of current issues in Rehabilitation Sciences.

RHB 780. Principles of Rehabilitation Science: Movement Science. 3 Hours.

Interdisciplinary discussion of concepts, theories, principles, and research literature underlying the understanding of neural control, biomechanics, motor learning, and motor development and how purposeful and functional body movements are accomplished under a variety of health conditions and disease processes.

RHB 781. Principles of Rehabilitation Science: Exercise Science. 3 Hours.

Interdisciplinary discussion of concepts, theories, principles, and research literature underlying the understanding of cardiac and pulmonary physiology, exercise physiology, and health behaviors and how important activities are accomplished under a variety of health conditions and disease processes.

RHB 782. Principles of Rehabilitation Science: Occupation Science. 3 Hours.

Interdisciplinary discussion of concepts, theories, principles, and research literature underlying the understanding of occupation science and how work and play activities are accomplished under a variety of health conditions and disease processes.

RHB 783. Research Design/Measurement in Rehab Sci. 3 Hours.

A detailed overview of research design and methodologies used in rehabilitation science, including quantitative and qualitative methods.

RHB 784. Res Design/Measure Rehab Sc II. 3 Hours.

A detailed overview of research design and methodologies used in rehabilitation science, including quantitative and qualitative methods. A continuation of Research Design and Measurement in Rehabilitation Science I.

RHB 785. Principles of Behavior Change in Rehabilitation Science. 3 Hours.

Scientific and theoretical principles underlying health behavior change in the context of rehabilitation science; health behavior from an ecological perspective; seminal behavior change theories; key elements required for design, implementation, and analysis of rigorous health behavior change research.

RHB 789. Rehab Science Seminar. 2 Hours.

Varied discussion of rehabilitation science topics to help students explore research questions in preparation for their dissertation.

RHB 790. Rehabilitation Science Research Project. 1 Hour.

Research experience where the student rotates through a variety of clinical research areas related to Rehabilitation Science.

RHB 791. Rehabilitation Sciences Clinical Project. 1 Hour.

Working with clinicians in a variety of clinical settings, the student develops a project to help solve a Rehabilitation Science-related problem.

RHB 798. Non Dissertation Research. 1-9 Hour.

Development of research proposal.

RHB 799. Dissertation Research. 1-9 Hour.

Dissertation Research.
Prerequisites: GAC Z


Barstow, Elizabeth A., Associate Professor and Program Director, Graduate Certificate in Low Vision,, 2004, PhD (UAB), Low-Vision Rehabilitation, Environmental Accessibility Physical Activity and Disability Driver’s Assessment
Hurt, Christopher, Assistant Professor, 2015, Ph.D. (University of Illinois Chicago), Mechanisms for reduced mobility by individuals with neurological disorders.
Jenkins, Gavin, Associate Professor and Chair Occupational Therapy, 2008, PhD (England),, Assistive Technology The Built Environment//Green Spaces
Lein, Donald, Associate Professor; Director of Continuing Education & and Community Outreach, 2010, Ph.D.(UAB), Physical therapy education and health promotion; osteoporosis intervention
Lowman, John, Associate Professor, Director of Residencies, 2005, Ph.D..,(Virginia Common Wealth), Skeletal muscle changes associated with cystic fibrosis, as well as other chronic cardiac and pulmonary diseases
Mehta, Tapan, Associate Professor and Director of Research, 2013, PhD (UAB)
Morris, David, Professor; Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, 1991, Ph.D.(UAB), Constraint induced movement therapy, health promotion, aquatic rehabilitation
Vogtle, Laura, Professor, 1995, PhD (Virginia), OTR/L, FAOTA, Developmental Disability, Downs Syndrome
Wingo, Brooks, Associate Professor, 2013, PhD (UAB),, Behavioral interventions, dietary behaviors in neurodegenerative diseases
Yueen, Hon, Professor and Director of Research, 2010, PhD (Florida), Arts and Health, Urban Parks and Health.