University of South Florida

Board of Governors approves USF PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences

New program responds to need for more faculty to prepare health rehabilitation workforce

Tampa, FL  (June 19, 2014) — The Florida Board of Governors gave the University of South Florida the green light to move ahead in implementing a PhD Degree in Rehabilitation Sciences with applied concentrations in chronic disease, veteran’s health and reintegration, and neuromusculoskeletal disability.  The proposed interdisciplinary research doctoral program was approved today by the Board.

USF’s new program will be only the second offered by a public university in Florida. The state’s other rehabilitation sciences doctoral degree was established at the University of Florida more than 20 years ago.

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The USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences expects to begin offering the PhD degree program in 2015, increasing enrollment from four to 20 students within five years.  The program, designed to take three to five years to complete, will be supported by existing state funds, tuition fees and pursuit of grants and contracts to assist students.

The interdisciplinary field of rehabilitation sciences draws from disciplines spanning the physiological, health, social and engineering sciences as they relate to understanding and restoring human function and performance.

The USF PhD program will prepare its students to teach and conduct research in various rehabilitation-related programs, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech therapy, audiology and rehabilitation counseling. Graduates would also be qualified for leadership roles in industry or government.

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“We will help meet the state’s growing demand for faculty to prepare future health professionals with expertise in rehabilitation,” said William S. Quillen, DPT, PhD, associate dean at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences. “This workforce need is fueled by medical advances that are helping people live longer and survive otherwise deadly injuries.  More people are living with temporary or chronic disabilities and need therapies to recover, adjust and adapt to changes in health and functional performance.”

John Mayer, DC, PhD, the Lincoln Endowed Chair in Biomechanical and Chiropractic Research and associate professor in the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, will coordinate the new PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program.

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Dr. William S. Quillen, left, directs the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitative Sciences, and Dr. John Mayer will coordinate the school’s new PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences program.

Founded in 1998, the school offers a clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree, and in 2011 launched a distance-learning transitional DPT degree program for Florida-licensed physical therapistsUSF’s physical therapy graduate program is one of three in Florida nationally ranked in the top third by U.S. News & World Report.

 -USF Health-

USF Health’s mission is to envision and implement the future of health. It is the partnership of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the College of Public Health, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. The University of South Florida is a Top 50 research university in total research expenditures among both public and private institutions nationwide, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information, visit

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

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