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School of Rehabilitation SciencesPh.D. in Kinesiology & Rehabilitation

The Ph.D. in Kinesiology & Rehabilitation is designed for kinesiologists and rehabilitation professionals (athletic trainers, occupational therapists, physical therapists or speech/language pathologists) who are interested in becoming leaders, teachers and scholars in their respective fields. This inter-professional program features faculty from the College of Health Sciences and the Darden College of Education & Professional Studies. The curriculum's core has a focus on motor control and motor learning as applied to mobility, rehabilitation, daily functional activities, communication and swallowing in individuals with and without physical or neurologic impairments. In addition to 6 core courses, students will complete research courses, teaching and/or research apprenticeship courses, and at least two electives for a total of at least 51 credit hours.

This program is designed for people who have already completed a master's degree or entry-level clinical doctorate and wish to advance the body of knowledge of their respective profession and to assume the role of educator and mentor in an academic, clinical or industrial setting.

Admission Requirements

Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program starting with the fall term only. Applications for admission are reviewed by the Ph.D. In Kinesiology & Rehabilitation admissions committee. To qualify for admission, an applicant must meet the general University admission requirements at the graduate level as well as specific program requirements including:

  1. Completed graduate degree (Master's or Clinical Doctorate) from a regionally-accredited institution in kinesiology, exercise science, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, or a related field.
  2. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale for the graduate degree.
  3. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores of at least 150 each in the verbal and quantitative sections of the test, and at least 4 on the written section.
  4. Three letters of reference a least two of which are from former professors familiar with the applicant's academic performance.
  5. English Proficiency Requirement for those whose first language is not English. (See Admissions website)

Enrollment in the program is limited by the number of available mentors matching an applicant's desired area of research. Interested individuals are advised to call the program to find out whether a mentor is available for their research area of interest.

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Kinesiology & Rehabilitation program will be able to:

  1. Apply their expertise in kinesiology and rehabilitation in academic and non-academic settings
  2. Demonstrate adherence to principles of responsible conduct of research
  3. Critically analyze research publications and presentations in their areas of focus in kinesiology and rehabilitation
  4. Design and conduct original research to expand the body of knowledge in kinesiology and rehabilitation
  5. Disseminate research results in formats suitable for presentation and/or publication
  6. Collaborate with colleagues in different but related fields for education, research and publications
  7. Develop and deliver instruction in an undergraduate or graduate university program
  1. Satisfactory completion of at least 51 semester hours of graduate level coursework with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, including all required courses as listed below. (Students who receive two or more grades of C or one grade of F may not continue in the program).
  2. Acceptable performance on written and oral candidacy examinations to be completed at the end of the program of coursework. Students may re-take the candidacy exams only once.
  3. Successful defense of a dissertation proposal.
  4. Completion of a dissertation representing the candidate's ability to conduct scholarly, original research.
  5. Successful oral defense of the dissertation.
  6. Submission of the approved final copy of the dissertation.

Time frames for completion of degree requirement

  1. The entire process from admission to dissertation defense must be completed within eight years. Exceptions to this time limit require the approval of the graduate program director, the department chair, and the college dean.
  2. Academic credit which is more than eight years old at the time of graduation must be re-validated by an examination before the work can be applied to a doctoral degree.
  3. The dissertation must be completed within five years after the candidacy exams are passed.
  4. Dissertations should be defended at least six weeks prior to the end of the semester in which the student expects to graduate.

Each student is required to have a faculty advisor who will meet with the student upon admission to the program. The faculty advisor, with the graduate program director, approves the student's plan of study and conducts the written and oral competency exams.

Coursework consists of a total of 51 credit hours, including 18 credit hours of core courses, at least 9 credit hours of research courses, 6 credit hours of experiential learning/apprenticeships, and 6 credit hours of electives. Each student will also complete 12 credit hours of dissertation research. Up to 12 hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another program to be applied to non-core courses. Transfer of credits is approved at the discretion of the guidance committee and the graduate program director.

Kinesiology & Rehabilitation Core Sciences: 18 credit hours required

KRS 830 Theoretical Models in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation (3 credits)
KRS 835 Critical Appraisal and Synthesis of Evidence in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Sciences (3 Credits)
KRS 851 Motor Performance: Rhythmic/Cyclic Movements (3 credits)
KRS 852 Motor Performance: Discrete Movements (3 credits)
KRS 855 Neuriscience of Motor Control (3 credits)
KRS 857 Motor Learning in Rehabilitation (3 credits)

Research Core: 9 credit hours to be selected, in consultation with advisor

FOUN 812
Research Design and Analysis (3 credit)
HLSC 811 Quantitative Research Methods (3 credits)
FOUN 814 Qualitative Research (3 credits)
FOUN 816
Single Subject Research Designs (3 credits)

Experimentral Learning/Apprenticeships: 6 credit hours required

KRS 898 Supervised Research (1-3 credits) may be repeated 3 to 4 times
KRS 897 Structured Teaching Experience (3 credits)

Electives: 6 credit hours to be selected, in consultation with advisor

BIO 672 Responsible Conduct of Research (2 credits)
CSD 850 Neuromotor Speech Disorders (3 credits)
HLSC 873 Development of Grants and Contracts in the Health Professions (3 credits)
HMS 727 Advanced Biomechanics (3 credits)
KRS 856 Balance & Postural Control (3 credits)
PT 792 Neuroscience I (3 credits)
PT 793 Neuroscience II (3 credits)
SPED 802 Cognitive Processes/Learning Strategies of Special Needs (3 credits)

Dissertation Research: 12 credit hours required

KRS 899 Dissertation Research from 1 to 9 credit hours per semester


Our program faculty have a diverse academic background in areas of kinesiology and rehabilitation and offer expertise in understanding how humans move and communicate across the lifespan, and how this can be impacted by injury, disease, or the aging process. The group is highly inter-professional, with clinical expertise in athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology. Our research makes contributions to our understanding and treatment of concussions, diabetes, falls risk, musculoskeletal injuries, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke, stuttering, and more. This is evidenced in publications in well regarded peer reviewed journals, and private, state, and federal grant funding to support our research.

Below you will find brief information about the academic background and research specialization areas of our faculty, with links to individual webpages. If you wish for assistance in finding a faculty member who could mentor you through the PhD program, please contact the Graduate Program Director, Daniel Russell.


Julie Cavallario, PhD in Human Movement Science, 2015, Old Dominion University. Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director of Athletic Training, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization area: Translational Education Practices in Rehabilitation Sciences.

Dr. Steven Becker

Corrin Gillis, PhD in Hearing and Speech Science, 2004, Vanderbilt University. Associate Professor and Assistant Chair, Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education. Specialization area: Interprofessional Education and Collaboration.


Beth Jamali, PhD in Urban Services - Urban Education concentration, 2005, Old Dominion University. Assistant Clinical Professor and Associate Program Director of Physical Therapy. Specialization areas: Orthopedics and Neurology.

Rachel Johnson

Rachel Johnson, PhD in Communication Science and Disorders, 2014, Florida State University. Associate Professor of Communication Disorders. Department of Communication Disorders & Special Education. Specialization area: Learning, motivation and treatment implementation in acquired neurogenic disorders and Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

Patricia Laverdure, Assistant Professor

Patricia Laverdure, OTD in Occupational Therapy, 2012, Creighton University. Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director of Occupational Therapy, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization areas: Pediatric occupational therapy practice and practice competency development.


Jessica Martinez, PhD in Kinesiology, 2015, University of Connecticut. Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education in the MS Athletic Training Program, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization area: Injury Prevention.

Ryan McCann

Ryan McCann, PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, 2017, University of Kentucky. Assistant Professor of Athletic Training, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization areas: Neuromuscular consequences of lower extremity injury; clinical determinants of recurrent injury.


Steven Morrison, PhD in Kinesiology, 1997, Pennsylvania State University. Batten Endowed Professor, Chair, Director of Research, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization areas: Motor Control, Falls Prevention.

Dr. Stacie Raymer

Anastasia Raymer, PhD in Speech-Language Pathology, 1992, University of Florida. Professor of Communication Disorders, Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education. Specialization areas: Neurogenic Communication Disorders in Stroke and Brain Injury.

Daniel Russell, Associate Professor & Graduate Program Director

Daniel Russell, PhD in Kinesiology, 2000, Pennsylvania State University. Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of Kinesiology & Rehabilitation PhD, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization areas: Motor control and learning; virtual reality and gait training; complex systems.

Brittany Samulski, Assistant Professor

Brittany Samulski, PhD in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation, 2020, Old Dominion University. Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization areas: Motor control of coupled oscillators and falls mitigation practices.


Eric Schussler, PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, 2016, The Ohio State University. Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Specialization area: Concussion prevention and identification, Safe Tackling, and Lower extremity injury prevention.

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