USF BOT approves plan for PhD program in rehabilitation sciences

The University of South Florida Board of Trustees approved a plan Dec. 5 to create a new PhD program in Rehabilitation Sciences at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences.

If approved by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) at their June 2014 review of proposed doctoral degree programs, USF’s program would become only the second offered by public universities in Florida.  The state’s other rehabilitation sciences doctoral program has been established at the University of Florida for more than 20 years.

Rehabilitation science is a diverse and growing interdisciplinary field encompassing both basic and applied aspects of health services, social sciences and engineering as they relate to restoring human functional capacity and improving a person’s interaction with the surrounding environment.


William S. Quillen, DPT, PhD, leads the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences.

USF’s new PhD degree program would prepare faculty researchers who can contribute to developing evidence-based rehabilitation practice, research and education in a changing healthcare system. The growing demand for more rehabilitation professionals is fueled by medical advances that help people to live longer and survive otherwise deadly injuries.  That means more people are living with temporary or chronic disabilities and need therapies to recover, adjust and adapt to changes in health and functional performance.

The rehabilitation sciences doctoral program, if approved by the state BOG, is expected to begin at USF in academic year 2014-15.  The program is designed to start with an enrollment of five students and ramp up to a full contingent of 20 students within five years.

Founded in 1998, the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences offers a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and more recently added a distance-learning transitional DPT degree program.   U.S. News & World Report lists USF as one of three physical therapy programs in Florida in the top third of more than 200 nationally ranked programs.