Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences (PhD)


The Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences (RHSC) is jointly run by the Department of Occupational Sciences and Occupational Therapy (OSOT) and the Department of Physical Therapy (PT). It is a program for advanced research study and original investigation in areas relevant to the Rehabilitation Sciences at the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) level. It focuses on the discipline of Rehabilitation Sciences - the study of providing treatment and education to persons with temporary or permanent disability to return them to maximum function, well-being and personally-satisfying levels of independence.

It encompasses the three dimensions of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (body structure and function, activity and participation) and thus spans the individual, community and society. Our faculty have active research programs that cover this diverse spectrum.

In the Graduate Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences, we strive to create outstanding learning and research experiences for occupational therapists, physical therapists and others with various health-related disciplines. Through these opportunities, in combination with the PhD thesis, graduates advance the science of rehabilitation which aims to promote physical, mental and social well-being among people of all levels of ability. Our collaborative initiatives result in a reciprocal transfer of new knowledge among academic, clinical, and community settings.

What makes the program unique?

Our faculty have an outstanding record of scholarly productivity, receiving funding from provincial and national research granting agencies. Over 30 graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds including occupational therapy, physical therapy, recreation therapy, social sciences, human kinetics, and engineering have graduated from our program. These students have authored numerous peer-reviewed journal publications and won various scholarships and awards.

Program faculty members are well integrated with several of the world class research facilities established here in BC including: Arthritis Research Centre, Brain Research Centre, Centre for Hip Health, International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries, Centre for Heart and Lung Innovation, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Providence Health Care Research Institute, GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, and the BC Children's Hospital Research Institute.

Quick Facts

Doctor of Philosophy
Health and Medicine
Mode of delivery
On campus
Registration options
Full or Part-time
Rehabilitation Sciences
Program Components
Faculty of Medicine


TOEFL (ibT) Overall Score Requirement


IELTS Overall Score Requirement


Supervisor commitment required prior to application?


GRE required?

Required by some applicants (check program website)

Prior degree requirements

Completion of a recognized baccalaureate degree and thesis-based master’s degree in Rehabilitation Sciences, or other related field.

Prerequisites / Course Requirements

A minimum of 3 credits in research methods or statistics

Other Requirements

Applicants from non-Canadian or United States universities may be required to provide general (GRE) (Graduate Record Examination) scores as part of their application at the request of their proposed supervisor. Scores must be valid within the past 2 years.

Funding Sources

PhD students will be provided with a Minimum Funding Package for each of the first four years of a PhD. The funding package may consist of internal or external awards, scholarships or bursaries, teaching and research assistantships, or any combination of the above. This policy only applies to full-time students. The minimum funding amount will be equivalent to the UBC Four-Year Fellowship (4YF) stipend (excluding the tuition waiver) for a given academic year.

All full-time students who begin a UBC-Vancouver PhD program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $18,000 for each of the first four years of their PhD. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships. Please note that many graduate programs provide funding packages that are substantially greater than $18,000 per year. Please check with your prospective graduate program for specific details of the funding provided to its PhD students.

Career Outcomes

18 students graduated between 2005 and 2013. Of these, career information was obtained for 18 alumni (based on research conducted between Feb-May 2016):

RI (Research-Intensive) Faculty: typically tenure-track faculty positions (equivalent of the North American Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor positions) in PhD-granting institutions
TI (Teaching-Intensive) Faculty: typically full-time faculty positions in colleges or in institutions not granting PhDs, and teaching faculty at PhD-granting institutions
Term Faculty: faculty in term appointments (e.g. sessional lecturers, visiting assistant professors, etc.)
Sample Employers in Higher Education
Simon Fraser University (3)
McGill University (2)
Universite de Montreal (2)
University of British Columbia (2)
Saad College of Nursing & Allied Health Sciences
McMaster University
Douglas College
Trinity Western University
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Sample Employers Outside Higher Education
Burrard Physiotherapy
Sanctuary Ministries
Vancouver Coastal Health
Fortius Sport and Health
Sample Job Titles Outside Higher Education
Founding Director
Physical Therapy Teaching Supervisor
PhD Career Outcome Survey
You may view the full report on career outcomes of UBC PhD graduates on
These data represent historical employment information and do not guarantee future employment prospects for graduates of this program. They are for informational purposes only. Data were collected through either alumni surveys or internet research.
Career Options

Graduates from our programs go on to become faculty members that teach and conduct research at universities. They also work as research scientists, clinical scientists and consultants to government, health authorities and other organizations with interests in rehabilitation specifically, and health care as a whole.

Alumni on Success

Amy Kirkham

Job Title
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
University of Alberta

Hana Al-Bannay

Job Title
Assistant Professor
Saad College of Nursing & Allied Health Sciences

Jill Zwicker

Job Title
Assistant Professor
University of British Columbia

Tuition / Program Costs

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$102.00$165.00
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,632.61$2,868.22
Tuition per year$4,897.83$8,604.66
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$923.38 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,884.10 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Statistical Data

Enrolment Data

New registrations267711
Total enrolment4041443836

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 90% based on 10 students admitted between 2004 - 2007. Based on 15 graduations between 2013 - 2016 the minimum time to completion is 3.66 years and the maximum time is 7.00 years with an average of 5.32 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 9 March 2018]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 29 September 2017].

Upcoming Doctoral Exams

Thursday, 17 May 2018 - 12:30pm - Room 200

Tara Diane Klassen
Optimizing Stroke Rehabilitation: Determining the Therapeutic Dose and Intensity to Maximize Walking and Functional Recovery Early after Stroke

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Backman, Catherine (occupational balance, activity disruption, social role participation, arthritis, chronic illness, health & well-being, occupational therapy)
  • Barbic, Skye (mental health, measurement , recovery, community integration, Rasch Measurement Theory, Implementation Science, Patient Engagement, Supported Employment, Individual Placement Support, assessment, health and well-being, metrology, occupational therapy, youth)
  • Boyd, Lara (Motor learning, Plasticity / Neuronal Regeneration , Motor System, Learning, Neurophysiology)
  • Camp, Patricia (diagnosis and management of individuals with chronic lung disease, including patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD))
  • Campbell, Kristin (Exercise, cancer prevention, cancer rehabilitation, cancer survivorship, physical activity, biomarkers, energy balance, obesity )
  • Eng, Janice (Neurorehabilitation, spinal cord, brain)
  • Forwell, Susan (Neurological conditions and their impact on chosen occupations)
  • Guenette, Jordan (exercise physiology, respiratory physiology, respiratory diseases, sport performance )
  • Holsti, Liisa (premature infants, neurodevelopment, stress, pain , measurement, technology transfer, sucrose, rehabilitation, pediatrics)
  • Hunt, Michael Anthony (biomechanics, rehabilitation, musculoskeletal, physical activity, exercise)
  • Jarus, Tal (Motor learning with an emphasis on skill acquisition, retention and generalization, occupational performance, participation, health and well-being)
  • Li, Linda (Patient help-seeking experiences , Shared decision-making, Patient self-management , E-health & digital media, Rehabilitation and lifestyle interventions in arthritis management , Health services research, Patient engagement, Knowledge translation, Implementation science)
  • Liu-Ambrose, Teresa (Healthy Aging, Mobility, Falls, Brain Health)
  • Miller, William (disabled people with respect to mobility (wheelchairs); influence of self-efficacy with respect to participation in daily activity, social activity and general quality of life especially among disabled adults and elderly; wheelchair prescription, performance and function; outcome measurement in health care, Use of power wheelchairs, fatigue, Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation)
  • Mortenson, Ben (Accessibility, Assistive technology, Occupational therapy, Caregiving, Social participation, Spinal cord injury, Outcome measures, Robotics)
  • Nimmon, Laura (Social science, Social network analysis, Team communication, Patient centered care, Chronic disease care, End of life care, Collaborative pratice)
  • Scott, Alexander (musculoskeletal, sports medicine, physiotherapy, physical therapy, orthopaedics)
  • Virji-Babul, Naznin (Concussion/mild traumatic brain injury, Developmental disabilities (Down’s syndrome), Developmental neuroscience (mirror neurons, perception-action coupling) )
  • Zwicker, Jill (brain development and motor impairment throughout childhood; Pediatrics, Human Development, Research Methods)

Recent Doctoral Citations

  • Dr. Katie Patricia Wadden
    "Dr. Wadden studied an individual's ability to re-learn motor skills following a stroke. She discovered the importance of the health of brain connections to determine an individual's capacity for motor learning post-stroke. This knowledge will encourage the delivery of individualized motor rehabilitation interventions to improve the effectiveness of treatments on motor recovery in people with stroke." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Katlyn Brown
    "Dr. Brown studied how sensory information from the environment can be used to inform movement. Her findings demonstrate that healthy aging and stroke change the neurophysiological processes underpinning this relationship. Her findings also suggest that interventions may be able to target this process to improve motor outcomes in these populations." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Carmen Aurelia Sima
    "Dr. Sima studied ischemic heart disease risk factors in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She found that exercise training reduces arterial stiffness, but does not impact the resting heart rate. Her findings contribute to the field of pulmonary rehabilitation." (November 2017)
  • Dr. Bita Imam
    "Dr. Imam studied the incidence of lower limb amputation and the provision of rehabilitation services in Canada. In addition she designed and evaluated a novel approach towards cost-effective and accessible rehabilitation for individuals with lower limb amputation." (May 2017)
  • Dr. Debra Ann Field
    "Dr. Field studied how children who have difficulty walking due to a chronic health condition use power wheelchairs to participate in daily life. Her findings explored the feasibility of research methods and the suitability of measurement tools describing children's participation and changes in their participation following receipt of a new power wheelchair." (November 2016)

Further Program Information


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