PhD Rehabilitation Science (RS) Graduate Program

The PhD in Rehabilitation Science provides training to develop rehabilitation scientists who will advance rehabilitation research and transfer new knowledge into practice and policy. This competency-based program educates students in rehabilitation theory, research design and methods, grantsmanship, scientific writing, knowledge exchange and translation, and teaching/learning strategies. This program includes coursework, a comprehensive portfolio and a thesis. Graduates will be prepared to take on academic, leadership, or research roles.

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Applications for January 2020 and September 2020 Admission

January 2021 Admission Deadline:
Application opens: June 1st, 2020
Application deadline: October 23rd, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST

We highly encourage applicants to contact potential supervisors prior to applying to our programs.

Course Requirements

PhD students must comply with the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) regulations and successfully complete the minimum course requirements of:

1. Required Courses:

Complete, with at least a B- standing, a minimum of three (3) graduate three (3) unit courses:

  • An approved Research Methods or Data Analysis course (e.g., REHAB 707, 714, 717, 758)
  • An approved Content Course relevant to thesis
  • REHAB 725, Knowledge Exchange and Translation
  • If a course on the theory of science relevant to rehabilitation has not been completed at the Master’s level, students will be required to complete REHAB 700
    o The student’s Supervisory Committee may require students to take additional courses.
    o Students may choose additional courses, which may be taken once approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee.
  • SGS101# - Academic Research Integrity and Ethics (students must complete in first year)
  • SGS201# - Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (students must complete in first year)
  • The School of Rehabilitation Science (SRS) has a series of research rounds, workshops, and skilled series given by rehabilitation scientists and graduate students. Attendance at these events is expected.

2. Comprehensive Examination:

Students are required to complete and pass the PhD Comprehensive Examination. The Comprehensive Examination will include submission and oral defence of a portfolio designed to demonstrate breadth of knowledge and skills within their field, extending beyond the thesis topic.

  • The student will use critical thinking and analysis to complete three (3) tasks: a scholarly paper, a completed funding proposal, and an evaluated knowledge translation tool/intervention.
  • The Comprehensive Examination will normally be completed within 18 months following registration for full-time students, and 28 months for part-time students.

3. Thesis Research and Defence:

The research proposal, research and thesis will be supervised by the thesis committee. The topic of research will depend on the interests of the student and the expertise of the supervisor. There are opportunities for research in a broad range of topics that apply to rehabilitation science. Students will prepare a research proposal on an approved rehabilitation science issue, conduct the research, prepare a written thesis, and defend the thesis at a final oral examination.

Supervisory committee meetings are required every six (6) months and all thesis students are required to complete an education plan with research proposal.

Time to completion:

  • Full-time students should normally take four (4) years to complete the program.
  • Part-time students, the expected duration of the program is six (6) years.

Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Click here for the course listing located within the McMaster Graduate Calendar

Research Foci

Research Foci

The School of Rehabilitation Science (SRS) focuses primarily on the development and implementation of clinical and community-based rehabilitation research. Faculty within the SRS are acknowledged throughout Canada and internationally as leaders in occupational therapy and physiotherapy research.

Click here to learn more about SRS Research

The Rehabilitation Science (RS) Graduate Program focus includes the following areas of specialization:

  1. Best practice and knowledge translation: Developing, evaluating and applying skills in evidence-based practice and strategies to implement best practices.
  2. Childhood Disability (and Participation): CanCHILD Centre for Childhood Disability Research is a research and educational centre whose research is focused on improving the lives of children and youth disabilities and their families. Founded in 1989, CanCHILD is a world leader in the field of childhood disability.
  3. Functional health with aging or chronic disease: Research that focuses on keeping people healthy and functionally independent despite increasing age or chronic disease.
  4. Neuromusculoskeletal function and mobility: Research that focuses on understanding and optimizing neuromusculoskeletal function and mobility as a vital aspect of overall health.
  5. Work, Ability and Participation: Research that focuses on creating and maintaining safe, healthy, productive work and participation in valued life roles.
  6. Orthopaedic Musculoskeletal-Manipulative Physiotherapy (OMPT): Specialty training that advances knowledge, clinical reasoning, manual therapy skills, evidence-based practice and research experience in keeping with national and international standards for clinical specialization.

PhD Supervisors

PhD Supervisors

PhD students require a supervisor. Potential students should contact only those faculty members who may be a good match for you. Before contacting a potential supervisor, please take some time looking at the information available, about our faculty, on the website. Once you have identified a potential supervisor, it is suggested that you provide them with a professional letter outlining your research interests and how they would be a good match.

Listed below are the individuals who are eligible to supervise students. Please click on the faculty member's name to view their research portfolio and identify if they are currently taking students.

Faculty Member
Primary Research Specialty
Marla Beauchamp PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Pulmonary rehabilitation, Geriatric rehabilitation, Balance, Falls,
Disability, Participation, Function, Measurement.
Jackie Bosch OT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Stroke recovery, Motor function, Clinical trials, Secondary data analysis
Wenonah Campbell CanCHILD/RS Childhood Disability Research, CanCHILD,
Universal design for learning, Collaborative science delivery,
Implementation science, Response to intervention, Language impairment.
Lisa Carlesso PT/RS McMaster Institute for Research on Aging
Persistent pain, pain phenotyping, knee osteoarthritis, low back pain, mixed methods, rehabilitation.
Vanina Dal Bello-Haas PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
ALS, Dementia,
Vanina Dal Bello-Haas PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
ALS, Dementia, Tele-rehabilitation
Briano Di Rezze OT/RS Childhood Disability Research,  CanCHILD, Function in autism, Transition to adulthood, Measurement development
Rebecca Gewurtz OT/RS Other Areas of Research Excellence
Disability policy, Social policy, Employment services.
Jan Willem Gorter Pediatrics/
CanCHILD Centre for Childhood Disability Research
Jocelyn Harris OT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Stroke & traumatic brain injury recovery, Care of critically ill adults;
Gender Analysis
Michelle Kho PT/RS Musculoskeletal Research,
Mobility & Aging Research
Critical Care Rehabilitation,
Clinical Trials, Cycle ergometry,
Ayse Kuspinar PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Health outcomes, Measurement,
Quality of life, Aging,
Multiple sclerosis.
Lori Letts OT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Primary care delivery,
Community rehabilitation,
Health promotion
Joy MacDermid PT/RS Musculoskeletal Research
Musculoskeletal health, Work-related injury,
Pain and disability
Luciana Macedo PT/RS Musculoskeletal Research
Back pain, Low back pain, Spinal disorders,
Randomized controlled trials, Imaging,
Chronic pain, Recurrence
Cheryl Missiuna OT/RS Childhood Disability Research, CanCHILD
Developmental coordination disorder,
Health service delivery,
Knowledge Transfer
Sandra Moll OT/RS Other Areas of Research Excellence
Qualitative Methods,
Workplace Mental Health,
Health Promotion
Julie Richardson PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Prevention of functional decline, Chronic Illness Management,
Population health,
Clinical Trials
Peter Rosenbaum Pediatrics/
CanCHILD Centre for Childhood Disability Research
Patty Solomon PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
HIV/AIDS and disability,
Aging with HIV/AIDS, Interprofessional Education
Ada Tang PT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Stroke rehabilitation and recovery,
Cardiovascular health
Brenda Vrkljan OT/RS Mobility & Aging Research
Older drivers,
Community mobility
Medical risk

Financial Information
The average funding for a full-time student in the Rehabilitation Science PhD Program is $33,763.62 CDN.  Part-time students are not eligible for funding.

All applicants are advised to apply for financial assistance from sources outside of McMaster University (e.g., professional associations, healthcare or educational institutions or special interest groups). Many external scholarships (e.g., OGS, CIHR) are available to full-time students only. A limited number of Teaching Assistant positions (TA) are also available to full-time students only.

Please refer to McMaster's School of Graduate Studies' Awards and Funding page for more information, including a list of scholarships available to graduate students.

Please note, applications for some scholarships need to be submitted the year before studies begin.

The letter of offer will include a statement of any financial support if awarded. Information on agencies should be available from your nearest University Library or School of Graduate Studies.

Tuition Fees

Information on tuition fees can be obtained from Student Accounts and Cashiers.

See what Current RS PhD Students are Doing

Click on the links below to view the Google Scholar pages of current Rehabilitation Science Students

General Information

Mailing Address:

School of Rehabilitation Sciences
Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Institute of Applied Health Sciences,
Room 403, 1400 Main St. W. Hamilton, ON L8S 1C7


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