Rehabilitation Sciences PhD


The PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professions is designed for clinically certified health care professionals who wish to acquire the advanced knowledge and skills to conduct clinical research with an emphasis on assessing clinical outcomes in rehabilitation.

Graduates from the program are well prepared to pursue a research-oriented career in academic, research, and/or health care settings.

One of fewer than 20 such programs in the country, the MGH Institute program provides students the opportunity to work with internationally renowned experts in the heart of the U.S. medical community.

A hallmark of the program is the interdisciplinary composition of its faculty, curriculum, and student body. Students will come from a mix of rehabilitation-related disciplines, including but not limited to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, rehabilitation nursing, and/or physiatry/rehabilitation medicine.

The focus on outcomes research and the interdisciplinary structure of the program are well-aligned with national priorities in health care and rehabilitation (e.g., NIH Roadmap) which increasingly emphasize evidence-based practice and interdisciplinary approaches to patient management and research.

The PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences Program

The PhD program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions takes full advantage of its affiliation with Mass General Brigham for academic and clinical support, and access to facilities and patient populations for research.

Through Mass General Brigham, the program has close connections with a number of world-renowned hospitals including Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

The program's interdisciplinary faculty includes leaders in rehabilitation from across the departments at the MGH Institute as well as adjunct faculty members who are eminent researchers at leading academic institutions in the Boston area including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, and Northeastern University.

The program is housed within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) at the MGH Institute. The Program Director is Robert E. Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLP and the Associate Director is Marjorie Nicholas, PhD, CCC-SLP.

Dr. Hillman is also Co-Director and Research Director of the Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation at the Massachusetts General Hospital; and Professor of Surgery and a member of the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology faculty at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Nicholas is also Professor and Associate Director of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program at the MGH Institute of Health Professions.

The program is based on the integration of core knowledge/concepts across the multiple disciplines that are associated with rehabilitation sciences (e.g., models of disability), coupled with the acquisition of basic research skills and tools, and specialization within specific areas of rehabilitation.

Graduates of the program will be capable of conducting research that contributes new knowledge about the development, identification and treatment of selected disabilities, leading to improved rehabilitation outcomes for disabled individuals.

The program also emphasizes the development of skills for obtaining research support (e.g., research grant preparation), and for effective dissemination of knowledge in rehabilitation sciences (e.g., courses in teaching and learning with mentored classroom experiences, preparation and submission of peer-reviewed publications, etc.).