The PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences is an interdisciplinary graduate school program housed within CU Physical Therapy.

The Rehabilitation Science PhD program is comprised of core and associated faculty, postdoctoral fellows, students and research assistants with a broad background, including physical therapy, medicine, psychology, engineering, and public health, all working together to improve the lives of people who live with disabilities.

The environment is highly collaborative, with strong mentors and state of the art facilities. While in the PhD Program, students develop a wide range of skills, including research and teaching; presenting nationally, and learning to write grants and publish manuscripts.
​Students seeking admission into our program should have an undergraduate degree or its equivalent and have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Foreign students must also take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A baccalaureate degree in either a biological science, chemistry, physics or engineering is recommended. Applicants are strongly encouraged to take an undergraduate level biochemistry course. 

A professional degree (e.g. DPT, OT, MD) is not required, however, strong applications generally show significant clinical and research experience. Students will be more favorably viewed for admission if they have Graduate Record Examination percentiles of 65 or higher. There is no absolute requirement for grade point average above that required by the graduate school, but successful applicants will generally have GPAs above 3.2 (4.0 scale). Students with deficiencies may be admitted, but these must be rectified during the first year.​

Begin an Online Application
Applicants must submit the following:

• Online CU Denver Graduate School application (included in the application is the Research Statement, Professional Background, and Future Goals Statement, and Colorado residency form)
• One (1) official transcript of all academic work completed to date. To be consider "official," the transcript must come from the issuing institution directly to the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program at:

Graduate School
University of Colorado Denver
Campus Box 163
PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364

• A non-refundable application fee, $50 for domestic applicants, $75 for international applicants [credit card (on-line only), check, or money order]. No application will be processed unless this fee is paid
• Three (3) letters of recommendation
• GRE test scores (or equivalent) and other materials as required by specific programs within the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program. The GRE General Test or the Revised General Test will be accepted. To send your GRE scores to the Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program, use GRE code 4875.
• TOEFL scores and financial support verification for international students. Use Institution Code 4877.
• A list of one-to-three faculty members with whom the student is interested in working. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential mentors prior to submitting their application.

The CU Denver Graduate School online application will be available starting September 1st. Priority will be given to applications completed by Dec 1st. Applications will be considered after Dec 1st as space permits. Graduate program application deadlines do vary, so please check with each respective program for their deadline. All credentials presented for admission become the property of the University of Colorado.

Those applicants who are selected to interview will be invited to attend one of our Graduate School recruiting weekends in February to interview with faculty and to meet current students. The RHSC program will arrange and provide lodging, transportation and meals during the recruiting weekends.

September 1 - Graduate School online application opens​

December 1 – Online admission application due. Priority for applications submitted December 1st. Applications outside of the normal cycle are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

February – Applicant interviews

February-April – Applicants notified of admission decisions

April 15 – Deadline for final decision

Stipend: $30,000

Paid Tuition: $8,000-$20,000/yr

Finance Commitee, Anschutz Student Senate

Paid Health Insurance: $50,000/yr Fully Pay Off Federal Student Loans with the NIH Loan Replayment Program

Other Funding Opportunities ​
• Teaching in a variety of curriculums including DPT, other health professions and undergraduate
• Meetings and Conferences
• Inter-and-Intra- Professional connections across campus and the nation, including professionals in academia, clinic settings, industry, and legislature
• Clinical Opportunities through research and service activities including Dawn Clinic and Clinical Research on site

​​​​​​​​​​Rehabilitation Science PhD Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Critically analyze and integrate research findings from specialized disciplines to address complex problems of physical disablement.
  2. Design and implement rigorous, innovative, and ethical research that will advance theoretical and/or applied principles of clinical practice in rehabilitation.
  3. Disseminate findings of original research using standard scientific oral and written formats.
  4. Compete for funding from national agencies to support interdisciplinary research and educational initiatives in rehabilitation.
  5. Teach graduate level courses in a selected area of specialization within the field of rehabilitation.
  6. Effectively communicate with clinicians, research scientists, and students in the field of rehabilitation and its affiliated disciplines using the common language of disablement.
  7. Serve in leadership roles for professional activities that will advance the science and practice of rehabilitation medicine.

We are committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities (e.g., mental health, attentional, learning, chronic health, sensory, or physical) who meet the technical standards of the program, with or without reasonable accommodations.

If you are an applicant with a disability who would like to engage in a confidential consultation about disability access at CU Anschutz, or who requires accommodations to complete the application or interview process, please contact The Office of Disability, Access & Inclusion.


Students typically require 4-5 years of full time study to complete the required curriculum. The program requires a total of 60 semester credit hours (sch), consisting of 30sch of core coursework and 30sch of doctoral thesis credit. All coursework and a written preliminary examination are completed during the first 2 years of the program. Following an oral comprehensive examination, students complete their dissertation research and thesis examination in years 3-5.

Required core coursework includes lecture- and laboratory-based instruction in foundations of Rehabilitation Science, statistical methods and data management, scientific writing, research ethics, professional skills, and electives in the student’s primary area of specialization.

Preliminary Exam

At the end of the first year of graduate study, students must complete a written preliminary examination to demonstrate successful progress in the program. The preliminary examination assesses core content knowledge from coursework completed in the first year (Foundations in Rehabilitation Science, Research Ethics, and Biostatistics).​

Comprehensive Exam

​Students are required to pass a comprehensive examination to advance to candidacy for the PhD. The Comprehensive Examination Committee (CEC) will administer the student's comprehensive examination no later than Jan 1 in the third year of enrollment. Students must have completed 30 didactic credit hours and have completed or be enrolled in all required and elective course work prior to obtaining approval to schedule the Comprehensive Exam. Additionally, students must be registered for at least five thesis credit hours during the semester in which the examination is taken (this includes exams taken in the summer semester). Students defending between semesters must register for the subsequent semester.


A student must present his or her research results and plans to the TAC at annual meetings after advancing to candidacy. The Program Director, upon recommendation from the TAC Chair, must approve the thesis prior to the defense. Once approved, the student is responsible for scheduling the Thesis Defense. The student must be registered for five thesis credit hours in the semester of the thesis defense and must fill out required forms for scheduling an examination at least 4 weeks before the Thesis Defense date. Students defending between semesters must register for the subsequent semester. Instructions and requests to schedule the PhD Thesis Defense can be obtained from the Graduate School Office or website.​

Following the comprehensive exam, students focus on their final research thesis. All students must take a total of 30 sch of doctoral thesis credit and should meet with their thesis committee at least once per year.
Required Coursework 
RHSC 7000Foundations in Rehabilitation Science (2 sch)
RHSC 7001Rehabilitation Science Seminar I (1 sch)
RHSC 7001Rehabilitation Science Seminar II (1 sch)
RHSC 7910Research Practicum in Rehabilitation Science I (3 sch)
RHSC 7911Research Practicum in Rehabilitation Science II (3 sch)
RHSC 7002Professional Skills in Academia (2 sch)
See optionsBiostatistics I (3-4 sch)
See optionsBiostatistics II (3-4 sch) 
See optionsStatistics/Data Management Elective (1-3 sch)
See optionsScientific Writing (1-2 sch)
See optionsResearch Ethics (1 sch)
See optionsSpecialization Electives (5-8 sch)
RHSC 8990
Doctoral Thesis Credit (30 sch)