Conduct Rehabilitation Research and Make an Impact on Practice

The PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences at MGH Institute of Health Professions trains scientists to conduct research in health and rehabilitation-related fields. Applicants may be clinicians in a health or rehabilitation field (e.g., physical or occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing, medicine) or scientists, engineers, or other professionals seeking advanced graduate study and interprofessional research training. A graduate degree (MS or MA) or entry-level clinical degree is required.

The impact of disabilities on society is growing as our population ages. Demand is rising for professionals who can conduct clinical research in rehabilitation, with a focus on assessing the effectiveness of new interventions. The MGH Institute's Interdisciplinary PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences is meeting this critical need by preparing clinicians and healthcare professionals to conduct high-quality rehabilitation research in academic, research, and/or healthcare settings.

Curriculum Plan

Our program's core curriculum focuses on developing fundamental clinical research skills across rehabilitation disciplines. Since there are a minimum number of specific course requirements, you can design a program of study tailored to your research interests and career plans. Courses are scheduled to allow you to devote time to mentored research experiences, and/or your doctoral fellowship.

View Curriculum Plan

33 core credits are required. 9 credits of electives (typically three additional 3-credit courses) are required and can be fulfilled by taking RS 990 (Independent Study) or by approval of transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions per prior arrangement with each student's Academic Advisory Committee.

The dissertation phase of the program will be initiated after passing a Qualifying Examination, which typically is scheduled after students have completed 6 consecutive semesters of coursework.

Students are required to register for a 1-credit continuing student course (RS 998) for each semester during the dissertation phase of their program.

Dissertation Details

The dissertation comprises a series of papers formatted and submitted for publication to peer-reviewed journals along with an introductory chapter and an overall conclusions chapter.

This approach is modeled after the format that has been used successfully for some time in several European and Scandinavian countries and is being increasingly adopted by academic departments in the United States as a way to facilitate the publication of dissertation research.

The final product must be successfully presented and defended orally before a Dissertation Committee comprising faculty with expertise in areas related to the dissertation topic.

Student performance in the didactic courses in the core curriculum and elective coursework will be primarily evaluated using traditional approaches including formal testing, projects/problem sets, and/or written assignments/term papers. Students must maintain a B (80%) average in these courses to continue in the PhD program. Mentored experiences in teaching and research will be assessed on a pass-fail basis.


You'll be paired with a faculty researcher who has a similar focus to your own interests. Moving forward, your mentor will:

  • Assist you with course selection.
  • Supervise your research in his or her lab.
  • Guide your independent research.
  • Advise you on dissertation preparation.

Your mentor will be available to cultivate your career as a professional researcher.


Required for Getting Started

As part of the pre-application process, prospective students should identify a potential Research Mentor who is willing to work with them as part of the pre-application process. View available research opportunities.

Overview of the Application Process

This is a mentor-based training program. In order to be admitted, a student must have a Research Mentor identified. The Research Mentor is an experienced/active investigator who is engaged in well-established programs of research that align with the interests of the student. The Research Mentor may be an IHP Faculty member or adjunct professor with a primary affiliation at another institution. The Research Mentor must formally commit to providing the time, training, and mentorship necessary for the student to develop and execute a successful dissertation.

Applicants should reach out to potential Research Mentor(s) with their qualifications (e.g. resume/CV, transcript, GRE scores) and potential research interests prior to official application submission. 

Applicants will be asked to input the name of the identified Research Mentor when completing the official application process.

Application Deadline: Rolling Admission. Priority deadline Dec 15, 2023 for Fall 2024 admission. Students who have identified a potential research mentor can continue to apply through Spring 2024. 

Apply Now

MGH Institute welcomes applications from individuals seeking training in health or rehabilitation related research. Applicants often have clinical or research experience in a health or rehabilitation related field (e.g., physical or occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing, physiatry, engineering, etc.). US clinical certification and/or licensure is preferred (international licensure considered), but not required. Applicants must have a Masters (e.g., MS or MA) or clinical doctoral degree (e.g., DPT, OTD).

The program is designed for experienced clinicians who want to become trained clinical research scientists. Applicants should have demonstrated success in their fields as clinicians and have a strong aptitude for further advanced graduate study and research.

Applicants are required to submit a transcript from each college and/or university attended, even if a degree was not received from that institution. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted throughout the application process, and official transcripts will only be required prior to enrolling in the program.

The Office of Admission strongly encourages the use of online electronic transcript ordering which can be sent directly via email to admissions [at] (admissions[at]mghihp[dot]edu). If this is not an option and your institution does not participate in electronic transcript delivery, please request official transcripts be sent to the mailing address listed below:

Admission Office
MGH Institute of Health Professions
36 First Avenue
Boston, MA 02129

Applicants that have earned a degree from a non-US institution are required to submit a course-by-course credential evaluation from one of the following NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) members: Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc., SpanTran: The Evaluation Company, World Education Services (WES), or the Center for Educational Documentation. If you earned your bachelor's degree outside of the U.S. this credential evaluation must document the minimum equivalency of a US baccalaureate degree or higher.


The GRE general test is required for admission consideration. An official score report should be sent directly to MGH Institute of Health Professions. Score reports can be obtained by contacting ETS ( The institution code for the IHP is 3513.


The language of instruction and clinical education at the MGH Institute is English and a high level of proficiency in both written and spoken English is required. Applicants who have not completed either an undergraduate or graduate program where English is the language of instruction must demonstrate English Language proficiency as part of your application to the MGH Institute of Health Professions. If you have questions about the language requirements, please contact the Office of Admissions.

  • Applicants who are citizens of Australia, Canada (except Quebec), Great Britain, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Guyana, an Anglophone country of Africa, or an English-speaking country of the Caribbean are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores.
  • Applicants who are candidates for graduation from an accredited degree-granting program in the United States or at an English-speaking school in one of the countries listed above are also not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Acceptance to the IHP will be contingent upon successful completion of this degree prior to matriculation.

Please note that in some circumstances, demonstrating English language proficiency may be required by the academic program even if you are a citizen of a country in which the (or one of the) national language(s) is English. Decisions about the need for TOEFL or IELTS scores are at the discretion of the academic program to which you are applying in coordination with the department of OES.
The IHP accepts either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The test must have been taken within two years of the application deadline and official score reports are required. The minimum TOEFL (internet-based) score accepted is 89 and the minimum IELTS score accepted is 6.5.

  • To forward your TOEFL score please contact the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The MGH Institute of Health Professions code is 3513.
  • For IELTS, a Test Report Form may be mailed to MGH Institute of Health Professions and score information will be verified by the IHP directly. You may designate up to 5 schools to receive Test Report Forms at the time you register for the test. To request additional Test Report Forms, contact your test center.

Please contact the Office of Admissions if you have any questions about the MGH Institute’s English Language requirements.

Essay/Goal Statement

All applicants are required to submit an essay, through the online application prompt.

Recommendation Letters

Applicants are required to provide three recommendation letters. Letter writers should be current or former employers, professors or another professional supervisor who can speak to your strengths and ability to succeed in a PhD program. All recommendations will be processed electronically through our online application. Please provide contact information for each recommender within the online application.

Letter of Support

All applicants are required to submit a letter of support from Proposed Research Mentor.

Resume or CV

Applicants are required to submit a current resume or CV.

Is a research mentor required for all students?

Yes, we require agreement from a qualified and approved research mentor. See our list of potential PhD mentors or research opportunities for listings of open opportunities. You may also view our current IHP faculty to identify people with common interests to explore mutual interests, the availability of faculty members to mentor incoming students, and potential doctoral fellowship funding.

Where can I find more information on the admissions requirements and program particulars?

If you have any questions related to the application process we also strongly encourage you to contact the admissions [at] (subject: PhD%20in%20Rehabilitation%20Sciences%20application%20process) (Office of Admission) who in coordination with the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program, will be happy to assist.

What is your mailing address?

MGH Institute of Health Professions
Office of Enrollment Services
36 1st Ave.
Charlestown Navy Yard
Boston, MA 02129



Accepted PhD RS students will receive full tuition scholarship for IHP courses for the first 4 years of enrollment. 


PhD students may be awarded Fellowships funded by the PhD program or research mentor grants. Students receiving Fellowships work 20 hours per week on research projects in their mentor’s lab, alongside coursework and other research commitments.  

Other Funding

PhD students are also able to borrow federal student loans to help cover living expenses: Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS loans.


Learn More About Tuition & Aid

Admissions Events

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Study in the hub of healthcare & higher education

Studying at the MGH Institute, you'll enjoy access to cutting-edge research labs in prestigious Boston hospitals and healthcare facilities, as well as the opportunity to take additional classes at preeminent universities.

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An Interdisciplinary Framework

Your classmates and professors come from a variety of rehabilitation backgrounds. This diverse mix offers you a variety of perspectives and enhances your understanding of other disciplines.

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Tailor Your Research Specialty

In addition to the interdisciplinary core curriculum, each Rehabilitation Sciences PhD student chooses a mentor and the supplemental course work needed to prepare you to carry out independent research in a particular area of interest.

Cultivate your career as a professional researcher.

You'll be paired with a faculty researcher who has a similar focus to your own interests. Moving forward, your mentor will assist you with course selection, supervise your research in his or her lab, guide your independent research and advise you on dissertation preparation.

View All Faculty Researchers
jordan wears a blue collared shirt and a tie with red squares

Chief Scientific Advisor Matina Souretis Horner Professor in Rehabilitation Sciences Director of the Speech and Feeding Disorders Lab Office of Provost Communication Sciences and Disorders

Tiffany wears black top and purple glasses

Director of the SAiL Literacy Lab Professor Communication Sciences and Disorders Research: SAiL Literacy Lab

Teresa Jacobson Kimberley, PhD, PT, FAPTA

Professor, Physical Therapy Director of the Brain Recovery Lab

Ruth Palan Lopez in blue turtleneck

Professor and Associate Dean of Research Jacques Mohr Chair Nursing

kathy wears a dark teal jacket and has strawberry blonde shoulder length hair

Professor, Occupational Therapy Director, Cancer Rehabilitation (CaRe) Lab

Prue Plummer, PhD, PT, BPhysio(Hons)

Professor Physical Therapy Cognitive-Motor Behavior Lab

Elise Townsend, DPT, PhD, PCS

Associate Professor Associate Director, PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences Physical Therapy