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The Doctor of Philosophy in Human Functioning and Rehabilitation Science degree program examines relationships among biomedical and psychosocial factors to develop interventions that can improve the health and well-being of individuals with disabling conditions.

Program Overview

Students benefit from customized interdisciplinary research and teaching opportunities and gain a broad understanding of the ways health science impacts the functioning of individuals and society.

The program’s dynamic-systems approach to evaluate functioning in individuals with disabilities and develop interventions to enhance health is modeled after the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. The degree prepares graduates for opportunities that include postdoctoral fellowships, faculty appointments, or leadership careers in health sciences, sports and bioengineering, industrial health and wellness or health care. Get information >>

Opportunities to engage in research to improve outcomes for patients with chronic conditions and disabilities are part of the program.

  • Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Human Functioning and Rehabilitation

    Our Faculty

    Our faculty expertise involves clinical populations representing national and global health epidemics, including movement disorders associated with neurodegenerative disease, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic conditions such as osteoarthritis and chronic low back pain, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and Down syndrome, pediatric and adult obesity, and aging and fall risk.

Admission Requirements and Tuition

Students with at least a master’s degree or the equivalent in a health-related field (e.g. kinesiology, exercise physiology, exercise science, movement sciences, communication sciences and disorders, rehabilitation science, nursing, biomedical science, laboratory science, etc.) may apply.

In rare circumstances, students with a Bachelor of Science degree may be considered if their research experience, mentor recommendations, undergraduate grade point average, and/or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores show exceptional promise.

Tuition and Fees

Up to five competitive, 12-month graduate assistantships are available to doctoral students enrolled in the program annually. Stipends will be provided for assistantship recipients for two years, after which students are expected to be funded through faculty or doctoral student research or training grants, supplemental teaching, and/or clinical practice or clinical supervision opportunities. Awardees receive tuition support for the duration of the program as long as they remain in good academic standing.

Contact Student Financial Services for current program tuition and fees.

Professional Outcomes

Students are expected to achieve competencies in areas of research, interprofessional content, teaching, and policy.

Research Competencies

  • Apply research methods
  • Demonstrate skill in scientific inquiry in research rotations
  • Communicate scientific content appropriate to professional publication and grant submission

Interprofessional Content Competencies

  • Utilize the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (the ICF model) to develop a research strategic plan that can be sustained throughout one’s professional career
  • Apply the ICF and relevant research to the scholarly investigation of important issues and problems related to human functioning and rehabilitation
  • Collaborate with interprofessional teams of researchers, educators, and students to integrate a variety of perspectives in addressing scholarly problems in human functioning and rehabilitation
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in an area related to human functioning or rehabilitation

Teaching Competency

  • Integrate evidence-based teaching methods to develop learning experiences for teaching other students in a supervised classroom setting

Policy Competency

  • Explain the impacts of health care and education policy and regulations on delivery systems and health outcomes

Candidates will demonstrate these competencies by:

  • Developing and submitting a research proposal for an internal or external grant competition
  • Disseminating results of scholarly work in which the candidate has played a significant role through oral presentation at one or more professional meetings
  • Publishing at least one peer-reviewed publication on which they are first author
  • Teaching at least one course under the mentorship of a faculty member, or serving as a teaching assistant for at least one course and mentoring or co-mentoring an undergraduate or master’s degree research project
  • Analyzing a delivery system or policy process affecting health and human performance of individuals with a selected health condition

Curriculum

Begin with 12 elective credits transferred in for those holding a graduate degree OR 24 credits taken in the program prior to starting the remainder of the curriculum for those coming in with a B.S., 12 of which would count as electives towards the Ph.D. and 12 of which are required additional credit.

YEAR 1

Area

Course Number

Title (possible mode of delivery)

Semester

Credits

Research Methods

CTS 301

Designing Clinical & Translational Research

(online)

Fall

3

Research Methods

CTS 320

Analyzing Clinical & Translational Research (face to face, evening)

Fall

3

Human Functioning & Rehabilitation Science

HFRS 401

Topics & Measurement of Human Functioning and Rehabilitation Science

(face to face)

Fall

3

Health Policy

PH 301

Policy Health and Health Policy

(on line)

Fall

3

Research Methods

CTS 325

Multivariate Analysis of Clinical & Translational Research

(face to face, evening)

Spring

3

Research Methods

CTS 315

Reporting Clinical & Translational Research

(face to face, evening)

Spring

3

Human Functioning & Rehabilitation Science

HFRS 402

Applying the ICF Model to Human Functioning & Rehabilitation

(summer intensive)

Summer

3

Research

NA

Three 5-wk Research Rotations (approximately 20 hours a week)

Spring

NA

Research

NA

Weekly doctoral student seminar

(hybrid)

Fall and Spring

NA

YEAR 2

Area

Course Number

Title (possible mode of delivery)

Semester

Credits

Research Methods

CTS 310

Conducting Clinical & Translational Research

(face to face)

Fall

3

Research Methods

Elective

EDLP 409

Applied Educational Research

(face to face, evening)

Fall

3

 

Human Functioning & Rehabilitation Science

Electives

See list above on XI.a.i; must include at least 3 credits of HFRS 392 for students who have not previously carried out a research project

Courses Related to Human Functioning and Rehabilitation Science

(face to face, on line, evening)

Fall

6

Spring

6

Teaching and Learning

HFRS 430

Seminar and Practicum in Health Professions Teaching & Learning (mentored experience)

Spring

3

Research

NA

Weekly doctoral student seminar & journal study

(hybrid)

Fall and Spring

NA

Research

NA

Students are engaged in a mentored research project (20 hours per week for 10 weeks)

Spring or Summer

NA

Professional Writing/Grantsmanship

HFRS 450

Professional Writing and Grantsmanship

(Summer intensive)

Summer

2

YEAR 3-5

Area

Course Number

Title (possible mode of delivery)

Semester

Credits

Research

NA

Weekly doctoral student seminar

(hybrid)

Fall and Spring

NA

Research

HFRS 491

Ph.D. Dissertation Research

(mentored experience)

Fall and Spring

20

TOTAL

 

 

 

76

 

NOTE: 88 total credits for students who begin the program with a B.S. Each entering student’s academic record will be examined by the program director and appropriate supplementary courses recommended as required to ensure academic success.

Official course descriptions are outlined in the UVM Catalogue. Additional requirements are outlined in the program handbook.

Research

Research rotations allow students to contribute to the research of participating faculty and also facilitate interprofessional collaborations.

Qualifying Exam

Students who have completed all didactic course requirements with a GPA of 3.0 or better will be eligible to take the qualifying exam, which involves a research grant proposal and oral defense evaluated by a faculty committee.

Dissertation

Based on original research, the dissertation focuses on a significant problem in the student's area of specialization and includes an interprofessional application. The dissertation submission will consist of three publishable papers (at least one of which has been submitted for publication) for which the student is first author.

Teaching Practicum

Students will teach at least one course under the mentorship of a faculty member, or serve as a teaching assistant for at least one course and mentor or co-mentor an undergraduate or master’s degree research project.

Program Goals

The Doctor of Philosophy in Human Functioning and Rehabilitation Science degree program seeks to prepare individuals who:

  • Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of human physiology, movement, communication, and exercise sciences
  • Understand, create and undertake interprofessional, hypothesis-driven approaches to research, and promote the translation of findings to practice
  • Demonstrate skills in a variety of approaches for studying human functioning, including assessment of cellular function and biomarkers of health and injury/disease, instrumented laboratory recordings of biomechanics, physiology and neurophysiology, as well as participant self-reported measures, psychophysical exams, clinical exams, and qualitative observational techniques
  • Demonstrate analytical thinking and logic in evaluating their own work and that of others
  • Exhibit effective performance as educators and scholars in the health professions

Graduation Requirements

Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in didactic course work, have no more than one grade below a B, receive acceptable research evaluations, and pass a qualifying examination.

Application Process

Applications must be submitted online to the UVM Graduate College. The application form requires:

  • General application and associated fee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts of all colleges attended
  • Statement of purpose
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for non-U.S. residents

Please note the minimum TOEFL score for this program is 100. Applicants must have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree, which consists of 16 years of formal education.

Review of Graduate Applications

An admissions committee will review all applications and interview selected candidates.

Evaluations will be based on the applicant’s grade point average, Graduate Record Exam scores, research experience, statement of purpose, and letters of reference. Factors considered for students who have already completed a graduate degree are: previous research experience, statement of purpose, and letters of reference. Transcripts will be used to verify previous degrees. GPAs and GREs will be used only to differentiate between otherwise equally qualified students. Final decisions will be based on the personal interview.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the program? The program consists of a two-year pre-candidacy stage, during which students will complete core coursework, identify research mentors, and gain experience in curricular and research endeavors. Each aspect of this pre-candidacy education will facilitate interprofessional education.

Students who have not completed a graduate-level thesis or research project prior to admission to the program will use up to six elective credits to complete a directed study. Following qualifying examinations to advance to candidacy, students will complete 20 credits of original dissertation research.

Can I take classes online or part-time? To ensure accessibility to non-traditional working professionals, we offer a hybrid educational model that includes a combination of the following:

  • Traditional day classes
  • Evening classes
  • Online
  • Intensive (time-condensed) summer sessions

Many courses will be offered during the academic year; however, summer intensive and hybrid courses will allow students to participate on a part-time basis during a portion of their program. Research in laboratories will occur year round. Part-time attendees will not be eligible for program stipend.

Must applicants have a master’s degree to be accepted into the program? In rare circumstances students with a Bachelor of Science degree showing exceptional promise as evidenced by their previous research experience, mentor recommendations, undergraduate GPA, and GRE scores will be considered. These students’ programs will begin with 24 graduate credits with content in at least two areas within CNHS (e.g., medical laboratory science, communication sciences and disorders, exercise and movement science). The choice of courses would be guided by program faculty to ensure mastery of a cohesive body of knowledge. Following completion of the 24 initial credits, these students’ curriculum would be equivalent to those coming in with a master’s degree. Twelve of their initial 24 credits would be counted as electives for the doctoral program, while the other 12 are additional required credit.

Must I re-take the GRE's if I already hold a master's/advanced degree? No.

What about financial aid and the tuition costs for the program? Up to five competitive, 12-month graduate assistantships are available to doctoral students enrolled in the program annually. Stipends will be provided for two years, after which students are expected to be funded through faculty or doctoral student research or training grants, supplemental teaching, and/or clinical practice or clinical supervision opportunities. Awardees receive tuition support for the duration of the program as long as they remain in good academic standing.

Contact Student Financial Services for current program tuition and fees. If you have questions about whether you are an in-state or out-of-state resident, refer to the Registrar's Residency Policy.

How can I learn more about the program? Contact the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Office of Student Services.

Is an interview required? Yes, an interview is required of selected applicants.

CONTACT US

College of Nursing & Health Sciences
Office of Student Services
(802) 656-3858
cnhsgrad@uvm.edu