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PhD Student Handbook

This handbook is not a contract and all information is subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of the Program, School, and/or University.

PRS Student Handbook, updated 7/10/2018

Table of Contents

 

 

Overview of the Program

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in Physical Rehabilitation Science is aimed at training researchers capable of advancing the field of physical rehabilitation in order to improve the lives of people with functional impairments. Drawing on links with key departments within the School of Medicine and two sister Universities, the program offers a comprehensive interdisciplinary learning experience leading to a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physical Rehabilitation Science under the Graduate Program in Life Sciences (GPILS).

Program Philosophy

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

The complex and highly integrated systems of the human body have traditionally been studied in isolation, under both normal and pathological conditions. While this approach has been highly successful in elucidating basic mechanisms of health and disease, the dynamic interactions of the body’s organ systems are often left unappreciated. Since a significant percentage of the population has some degree of physical disability, scientific and medical communities must implement a holistic approach to studying the causes and amelioration of function impairment and physical disability. We believe that the adverse consequences of chronic systemic disease, congenital defects, trauma-related damage, or progressive decline in tissue viability can be reduced through intensive research focused on a plethora of topics addressing the mechanisms and management of chronic systems disorders. We further believe that a relevant translational approach (from laboratory bench to clinical patient care) will help facilitate an understanding of the integrated functions of these systems. Over time, this new information will increase the ability of medical personnel to accurately diagnose disabling disorders and prescribe appropriate preventative or corrective counter measures.

To ensure that acceptable numbers of rehabilitation researchers are trained and available to meet society’s needs, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science offers a formal program of interdisciplinary study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physical Rehabilitation Science. This program draws on internationally recognized research expertise found within the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, and other basic science and clinical departments within the School of Medicine, as well as programs throughout the University of Maryland System. The program is focused on critical areas of research that help prevent or dramatically reduce the many forms of disability that restrict significant numbers of individuals from functioning fully and freely in their surroundings.

Goals and Expected Outcomes of the PhD Program

This information applies to the PhD Program only.

The program will:

  1. Provide research lab exposure in the first two years of training to facilitate timely completion of the dual degree option.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide each student with a minimum of 40 hours per semester opportunity to learn research skills relative to their area of interest and their advisor’s research program.
  2. Provide a research experience for one of the internships.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide each student with one research-based clinical internship that will account for 5 of the 10 credits and that are transferrable.
  3. Provide graduate assistantship funding during the PhD phase of the training for 3.5 years.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide 3.5 years of funding for each student starting at year 4.

The student will: 

  1. Maintain a minimum of a weighted B average in all PhD coursework.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will meet all passing requirements and maintain or exceed a weighted B average in all coursework.
  2. Provide evidence of continuous scholarship
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will (a) present research on average at least once per year over a 3-year period to an external regional, national or international conference and twice per year to local venues AND (b) have submitted at least two papers before the dissertation research papers, one as first author.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to plan and defend a research line of enquiry.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their plan of study meeting.
  4. Develop and demonstrate a focused and deep knowledge of content and theory in concentration area, tools and cognate areas.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their comprehensive examinations.
  5. Integrate knowledge and theoretical application of research design to propose a dissertation proposal.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their dissertation proposal.
  6. Independently conduct research and, in addition to submitting earlier papers, write up at least two more papers as first author that constitute their dissertation, give a public presentation of the dissertation and defend their dissertation.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will successfully defend their dissertation proposal.

The graduate will:

  1. Graduates will use their combined training to enhance the discipline of rehabilitation science as well as the profession of physical therapy.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of graduates will obtain either an academic position, post-doctoral fellowship or clinical research position relating to rehabilitation science. 

Goals and Expected Outcomes of the PhD Program and the  PhD Phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option

This information applies to the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program only.

In addition to all DPT program Goals and Expected Outcomes, the DPT/PhD dual degree option also includes the following Goals and Expected Outcomes:

The program will:

  1. Provide research lab exposure in the first two years of training to facilitate timely completion of the dual degree option.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide each student with a minimum of 40 hours per semester opportunity to learn research skills relative to their area of interest and their advisor’s research program.
  2. Provide a research experience for one of the internships.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide each student with one research-based clinical internship that will account for 5 of the 10 credits and that are transferrable.
  3. Provide graduate assistantship funding during the PhD phase of the training for 3.5 years.
    • Expected Outcome: The dual degree option will provide 3.5 years of funding for each student starting at year 4.

To advance on to the PhD phase, students will: 

  1. Demonstrate the ability to progress through the dual degree option in a timely manner by qualifying to transfer identified DPT credits into the PhD portion of the dual degree option.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will meet all passing requirements and achieve an average score of B (3 or above from a 4-point scale) for the 18 credits of transfer.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to participate in clinical research during their internship and write up the results.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will meet all passing requirements by the end of their clinical research internship, including: 1) write up the project in manuscript form and 2) write an abstract for presentation based on their research and subsequently submit to a regional or national conference.
  3. At the end of the DPT, demonstrate their research knowledge and skills relative to their advisor’s research program.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will demonstrate proficiency at an oral presentation summarizing acquired background knowledge and research skills.

During the PhD phase, the student will satisfy the following requirements (which are equivalent to the PhD Progression Benchmarks):

  1. Maintain a minimum of a weighted B average in all PhD coursework.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will meet all passing requirements and maintain or exceed a weighted B average in all coursework.
  2. Provide evidence of continuous scholarship
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will (a) present research on average at least once per year over a 3-year period to an external regional, national or international conference and twice per year to local venues AND (b) have submitted at least two papers before the dissertation research papers, one as first author.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to plan and defend a research line of enquiry.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their plan of study meeting.
  4. Develop and demonstrate a focused and deep knowledge of content and theory in concentration area, tools and cognate areas.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their comprehensive examinations.
  5. Integrate knowledge and theoretical application of research design to propose a dissertation proposal.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will pass their dissertation proposal.
  6. Independently conduct research and, in addition to submitting earlier papers, write up at least two more papers as first author that constitute their dissertation, give a public presentation of the dissertation and defend their dissertation.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of students will successfully defend their dissertation proposal.

The graduate will:

  1. Graduates will use their combined training to enhance the discipline of rehabilitation science as well as the profession of physical therapy.
    • Expected Outcome: 100% of graduates will obtain either an academic position, post-doctoral fellowship or clinical research position relating to rehabilitation science.

Research Faculty

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

Our faculty members pursue a variety of research areas, most of which are well-funded by internal and external sources, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Examples of their ongoing research include:

  • Understanding the neuromotor bases of age-associated balance dysfunction and falls.
  • Evaluating novel rehabilitation approaches for fall prevention among older adults.
  • Investigating neuromotor deficits underlying balance and locomotion disorders in Parkinson’s disease. Development of therapeutic approaches for enhancing posture and locomotion coupling.
  • Investigating neuromotor mechanisms and rehabilitation of posture and movement impairments after stroke.
  • Testing innovative stroke rehabilitation techniques. 
  • Investigating underlying neuroplasticity and mechanisms of stroke recovery.
  • Investigating the mechanisms and motor-related rehabilitation of children with cancer.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the faculty research profiles at http://pt.umaryland.edu/PTRS-Research/

Admissions

If you are looking for the admissions information for the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program please see the following: http://pt.umaryland.edu/Student-Information/Prospective-Students/Doctor-of-Physical-Therapy-DPT-Program/#dptphdadmissions.

Please note that the information below is the admissions information for the traditional Physical Rehabilitation Science PhD Program only.

Criteria

  • Evidence of academic accomplishment (e.g. GPA, typically over 3.5)
  • Minimum of Bachelors Degree in a relevant discipline, field of study or profession (e.g. biology, engineering, exercise physiology, exercise science, kinesiology, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy)
  • Previous course work in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and statistics.
  • TOEFL scores required for submission typically are: 550 for paper-based tests, 213 for computer-based tests, 80 for the internet-based tests. IELTS test takers must score no less than Band 7 (total).
  • GRE scores of ≥ 308 (1200) for combined verbal (160) and quantitative (148), and over 4.0 for the writing section.
  • Statement of research interests and career goals (1-2 pages).
  • Letters of reference

Procedure

The department seeks individuals who will bring their scholarship, motivation, and commitment to the program. Applicants must have a complete application on file in the Admissions Office to be reviewed for admission. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until February 15 of each year. All applications must include:

  • Statement of research interests and career goals (1-2 pages).
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Official transcripts from all schools attended.
  • Three letters of reference written by individuals familiar with the candidate's academic and work experiences.
  • Official GRE scores. You may contact the GRE at (866) 473-4373 or online at http://www.gre.org for more information. Our institution code is 5848 and our department code is 0619.
  • Official TOEFL scores are required when a student's first language is not English. TOEFL information is available at http://www.ets.org/toefl. Our institution code is 5848 and our department code is 48.
  • International applicants must provide two official native-language transcripts (or mark sheets) and two official transcripts translated into English from each college or university attended. Documents must list subjects, grades, and class rank. Students whose universities issue only one set of official records must provide certified, notarized (raised seal), copies of those records.

Equal Opportunity: The University of Maryland, Baltimore is an equal opportunity institution with respect to both education and employment. The university’s policies, programs, and activities are in conformance with pertinent federal and state laws and regulations on nondiscrimination regarding race, color, religion, age, ancestry or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and handicap.

Tuition and Fees

Graduate Student Tuition, Health and Fees

Assistantships

Graduate research or teaching assistantships are available and awarded on a yearly basis. Each assistantship includes a stipend, tuition remission for up to 10 credits per semester (20 per year) and benefits. Students making satisfactory progress are typically supported for the duration of their graduate studies up to five years. The stipends are in line with NIH guidelines, and accordingly, students are expected to spend 20 hours per week on research, teaching, or a combination of the two in addition to full-time studies for their PhD. Generally, assistantships are awarded April 1 each year, but students who apply earlier may be granted an assistantship, depending on availability and student qualifications.

For information regarding Tuition and Fees and how that relates to Assistantships for the DPT/PhD dual degree option, please see http://pt.umaryland.edu/Student-Information/Prospective-Students/Doctor-of-Physical-Therapy-DPT-Program/#dptphdtuition

Physical Rehabilitation Science Curriculum

For information on the curriculum for the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program please see the following: http://pt.umaryland.edu/Student-Information/Prospective-Students/Doctor-of-Physical-Therapy-DPT-Program/#ddodptphd

This information below applies to the PhD Program only.

Please see our PhD Curriculum page.

Pre-doctoral trainees in Physical Rehabilitation Science (PRS) are provided with an in-depth regimen of coursework that articulates with independent study preparation and a programmed sequence of research that culminates in a final dissertation. The PRS PhD curriculum has two objectives, which provide:

  1. A sound foundation in the intellectual tools required for all human movement scientists in the areas of statistics, research design, and laboratory methods and techniques
  2. Advanced research training in Neuromotor Control and Rehabilitation, which is the program’s primary area of focus. This knowledge area consists of two facets: neuromotor science and motor control and behavior.
    • Neuromotor science refers to knowledge about brain anatomy and physiology in relation to movement and disorders of movement function.
    • Relevant techniques for research might include brain imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, direct transcranial cortical stimulation, startle probes, peripheral nerve stimulation or electroencephalography, each of which is available to the trainees.
    • Motor control and behavior refers to knowledge about the principles of interaction between neural/physiological, biomechanical and behavioral systems underlying the learning and development of movement function and dysfunction that can inform rehabilitation assessments and interventions.
    • Relevant techniques for research might include physiological and biomechanical analyses, adaptation and learning paradigms, computational modeling, and clinical assessments of movement function.

Typically a student will seek to study with a particular advisor (usually a full-time departmental faculty) based on the student’s prior knowledge of that advisor’s research focus and the advisor’s interest in advising the student. The primary advisor is both academic and research advisor for the student. Subsequently, a student may change to another research advisor if the student’s interests develop in a different direction. This research advisor may be outside the PTRS department, in which case, the original advisor typically remains as the academic advisor. Courses for the first two semesters as a graduate student are chosen in consultation with the primary advisor. At the end of the year 1, students will convene a plan of study committee to formulate the remaining coursework and laboratory affiliations. If an advisor is new to advising, a senior graduate faculty will typically act as a secondary adviser. A secondary advisor may also be appointed for content expertise. The advisors may choose to act as co-advisors in this case.

Plan of Study

Milestones and Evaluation

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

A formal evaluation of the PRS student begins with an oral proficiency exam of research work and a plan of study meeting at the beginning of year 1 (end of Summer) of the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option.  For students entering the PhD program directly, the plan of study meeting will occur at the end of year 1 (see Guidelines for Plan of Study Meeting‌). The second formal evaluation is the comprehensive/qualifying examination at the beginning of the second year (DPT/PhD) or third year (PhD). The comprehensive exam consists of 4 separate written sessions which will be completed within a week and on a schedule agreed to by the advisor and student, followed by an oral discussion with the student and examination committee within approximately two weeks. Approximately six months after passing the comprehensives, the student must submit a dissertation proposal, the third formal evaluation, and successfully present an oral defense of the proposal before the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is formed around faculty expertise pertinent to the student’s dissertation research (see Comprehensive Examinations and Advancement to Candidacy). Following the successful defense of the proposal approved by the committee, the student is officially admitted to doctoral candidacy. The final formal evaluation is the defense of the dissertation. In addition to these formal methods of evaluation, an annual review of the student's progress is conducted by the PhD Program Director or an independent faculty if the PhD Director is a primary, secondary or co-advisor of the student.

Criteria for the review of student progress and performance

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

  • Maintenance of satisfactory GPA: All PhD students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA overall (4.0 maximum). Students earning a letter grade of “C” must meet with their advisor and plan of study committee to determine an appropriate response that may include retaking the course and requiring a minimum grade of “B”. In such cases the student transcript will include both the letter grade of “C” and the grade for the retake of the course. Two semesters of below 3.0 will typically be cause for dismissal.
  • Performance in the laboratory: Students must learn laboratory skills, techniques and theory, as well as laboratory maintenance and management functions. These abilities are seen as crucial to a successful career in research and are monitored by the advisor.
  • Student Research: From the beginning, the student is expected to engage the research process at all levels, including data collection, reduction and analysis, research design, and publication. Aspects of this criterion are monitored by the student’s mentor(s) and include number and quality of research proposals, quality of data collection and analysis, number of primary and secondary manuscript and abstract submissions, number of submissions published, and other products in which the development involved the student’s effort and provide evidence of continuous scholarship.
  • Progress on the Plan of Study: Maintenance or amendment of this timeline is monitored by the advisor and the student’s Plan of Study Committee. Minor amendments such as course switches are approved by the advisor, while more extensive amendments or those that affect academic progression must be approved by the Plan of Study Committee.
  • Research Agenda: Prior to the dissertation phase of the program, the student engages in his/her own research to develop preliminary information leading to proposing a hypothesis or identifying a dissertation question. The advisor will ensure that the student’s research is focused and aimed at accomplishing this objective.
  • Dissertation Phase: The advisor and student work together to ensure that the student maintains the appropriate timeframe for completion of the comprehensive examination as well as the dissertation proposal and defense. It is recognized that there is often a need to modify these timeframes due to the nuances of conducting research and the frequent need to conduct additional experiments or analyses. The dissertation committee is charged with ensuring the quality of the student’s dissertation, while the advisor/s and student are charged with ensuring the maintenance of the timeline.

PhD Progression Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria

This information applies to the PhD Program and the PhD phase of the dual degree DPT/PhD option. 

Students are required to successfully complete all of the following before graduation from the PhD program or the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option:

  1. Maintain a minimum of a weighted B average in all PhD coursework. Students will meet all passing requirements and maintain or exceed a weighted B average in all coursework.
  2. Provide evidence of continuous scholarship. Students will (a) present research on average at least once per year over a 3 year period to an external regional, national or international conference and twice per year to local venues AND (b) have submitted at least two papers before the dissertation research papers, one as first author.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to plan and defend a research line of enquiry. Students will pass their plan of study meeting.
  4. Develop and demonstrate a focused and deep knowledge of content and theory in concentration area, tools and cognate areas. Students will pass their comprehensive examinations.
  5. Integrate knowledge and theoretical application of research design to propose a dissertation proposal. Students will pass their dissertation proposal.
  6. Independently conduct research and, in addition to submitting earlier papers, write up at least two more papers as first author that constitute their dissertation, give a public presentation of the dissertation and defend their dissertation. Students will successfully defend their dissertation proposal.

The PhD Program benchmarks/advancement criteria are listed below (see PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option benchmarks/advancement criteria)

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 1

  1. Writing a review paper in an area of interest as part of a three credit Physical Rehabilitation Science Core Curriculum. Good quality papers turn into publications and/or provide background and significance sections for future grants, but the primary purpose of this exercise is to evaluate writing competence.
  2. Writing an abstract for a poster presentation at an external regional or national conference based on research in which the student has contributed. Contributing to the design and presentation of the poster.
  3. Participating in data collection, reduction and analysis of at least one research project led by their mentor.
  4. Determining a research path with goals and hypotheses. It is recognized that this plan (goals/hypotheses) may change but the student must demonstrate the capacity to identify and defend an acceptable research project.
  5. Determining a “Plan of Study” with the advisor and secondary/co-advisors.
  6. Discussion with mentor on the need to complete any optional workshops that are designed to complement formal coursework. 
    1. GPILS CIPP Ethics course (1 credit)

Expected Progress for Year 1 (in addition to ongoing mentoring by advisor/s)

Plan of Study Approval (typically by the end of the year 1 or beginning of year 2)

  1. This will be an oral presentation with a minimum of five (5) graduate faculty present including the primary mentor, other mentors if appropriate, the PhD Program Director (or other senior member), an external faculty member (defined as not primary in the PTRS department) and as many other PTRS graduate faculty as are available.
  2. Presentation will include:
    1. Review of PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form‌ (percentage of time spent, etc.).
    2. A presentation by the student of Benchmark #4 above including the plan of study.
    3. Written documentation of Benchmarks #1 and 2 above.
    4. A discussion of Benchmark #3 above led by the student including student concerns and impediments to progress.
  3. The plan of study committee will discuss, evaluate, and agree on plan of action with the student for the next year. The faculty mentor will document this plan in the PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form‌. Plan will also include a decision on progress. Decision will be one of the following:
    1. Plan is approved and student proceeds with plan.
    2. Student has to revise and re-convene with the committee within six months.

    If student fails the repeat, they will be dismissed from the PhD program.

  4. If student passes, the plan will include:
    1. Abstracts to be submitted / meetings to attend.
    2. Courses and workshops to take, techniques to learn.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 2

  1. Writing at least two abstracts for presentations, at least one of which should be a national conference with a goal of one being an oral presentation.
  2. Contributing to the writing of at least one research paper for publication.
  3. Completing mandatory and elective courses based on the "Plan of Study."
  4. Take comprehensive examination in two parts (written and oral) with approximately 2 weeks between each.

Expected Progress for Year 2


Passing the Comprehensive Exams (typically taken at the end of the year 2 or beginning of the year 3)

  1. Pass
  2. Pass with contingency that needs to be resolved within 6 months
  3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 3

  1. Contributing to the writing of at least one additional research paper for publication with a goal of being first author.
  2. Writing at least one abstract for external presentation, preferably with an oral presentation.
  3. Completing any remaining mandatory and elective courses based on the "Plan of Study."
  4. Presenting a practice dissertation proposal about 3 months after the Comprehensive Exams are passed.
  5. Approximately 6 months after passing the Comprehensive Exams, write and defend a dissertation proposal in grant format.

Expected Progress for Year 3

  1. Defense of the Dissertation Proposal (typically around the end of 9th or beginning of 10th semester)
  2. The Dissertation Committee consisting of a minimum of five (5) graduate faculty present including the primary mentor, secondary or co-mentor (if one exists), and an external faculty member (defined as not primary in the PRS department) will convene to evaluate the proposal.  Their decision will be one of the following: 
    1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
    2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
    3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

Failure to pass the contingency or re-take will result in dismissal from the program.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 4/5

  1. Writing at least two abstracts for presentations at national or international conferences.
  2. Writing and submitting a grant for pre-doctoral funding where feasible.
  3. Write up two-three papers (as first author) for the dissertation.  It is expected at least one of these submitted for publication before graduating.

Expected Progress for Year 4/5

  1. Student completes PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form and presents summary presentation of accomplishments from previous year to the PhD Director and Primary/Secondary mentors.
  2. Student discusses any concerns, impediments to progress if benchmarks are not accomplished.
  3. PhD Director, Faculty members will sign.  Completed and signed original will be maintained by Program Coordinator in the student's file. 

Expected Progress for Final Year

Successfully defending and submitting the dissertation

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

All graduate school requirements for dissertation standards, deadlines for submission to the graduate school, and committee formation must be followed. The committee must include members of the Graduate Faculty with at least three regular members and at least one member outside the primary faculty of the department.  (See most recent Graduate School Catalog (p 21-25) located at http://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/policies/).  The dissertation must be previewed by two readers who are members of the dissertation committee (arranged by the advisor) at least fifteen working days prior to the planned defense. All other committee members must receive a final copy of the dissertation at least 10 working days prior to the defense. Decision will be one of the following:

  1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
  2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
  3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program.

The PhD phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option benchmarks/advancement criteria are listed below

Please note the Advancement Criteria for the DPT/PhD dual degree option prior to to the PhD phase beginning which is listed below:

While in the DPT and PhD phase of the DPT/PhD option, the PhD Director will review the academic status of students after each year in consultation with the Director of Faculty and Student Affairs, the student’s primary research advisor, as well as, other faculty as appropriate to assist in making recommendations related to advancement in the dual-degree option.

  • Meets all of the criteria outlined for academic advancement in the DPT program
  • Blocks designated as “transfer blocks” for a given student must be passed using a weighted average grade of “B” or better in order for student to proceed to the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option. This includes both didactic courses and the terminal full time clinical research experience. Musculoskeletal I and II will be considered for transfer (instead of Neuromuscular I and II) if a student is taking a strongly biomechanical approach to their research questions and their advisor approves.  There is no mixing the transferable credits between Neuromuscular and Musculoskeletal.
  • In addition to the above, to progress to the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program, a student must demonstrate proficiency at an oral proficiency exam summarizing acquired background knowledge and research skills following the DPT. The presentation will be to a three-person committee consisting of advisor, secondary advisor and a third member of the graduate faculty. The majority of the committee must be in agreement that the student has a minimal skill set to be successful. Failure to pass this presentation will result in dismissal from the DPT-PhD option.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 1 of the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option (Year 4 of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option).

  1. Determining a research path with goals and hypotheses. It is recognized that this plan (goals/hypotheses) may change but the student must demonstrate the capacity to identify and defend an acceptable research project.
  2. Determining a “Plan of Study” with the advisor and secondary/co-advisors.
  3. Discussion with mentor on the need to complete any optional workshops that are designed to complement formal coursework.
    1. GPILS CIPP Ethics course (1 credit)
  4. Writing a review paper in an area of interest as part of their one credit independent study. Good quality papers turn into publications and/or provide background and significance sections for future grants, but the primary purpose of this exercise is to evaluate and increase writing competence. Note, the student will have already written one research paper as part of their full-time clinical research experience that satisfies this benchmark.
  5. Writing an abstract for a poster presentation at an external regional or national conference based on research in which the student has contributed. Contributing to the design and presentation of the poster. Note, the student will have already written a poster as part of their full-time clinical research experience that satisfies this benchmark.
  6. Participating in data collection, reduction and analysis of at least one research project led by their mentor.

Expected Progress for Year 1 of the DPT/PhD Phase of the Dual Degree Option (in addition to ongoing mentoring by advisor/s)

Plan of Study Approval (typically by the beginning of Year 1 (end of Summer) in PhD Phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option)

  1. This will be an oral presentation with a minimum of five (5) graduate faculty present including the primary mentor, other mentors if appropriate, the PhD Program Director (or other senior member), an external faculty member (defined as not primary in the PTRS department) and as many other PTRS graduate faculty as are available.
  2. Presentation will include:
    1. A presentation by the student of Benchmark #1 above including the plan of study.
    2. Documentation of Benchmarks #4 and 5.
    3. A discussion of Benchmarks #6 above led by the student including student concerns and impediments to progress.
  3. The plan of study committee will discuss, evaluate, and agree on plan of action with the student for the next year. The faculty mentor will document this plan in the PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form. Plan will also include a decision on progress. Decision will be one of the following:
    1. Plan is approved and student proceeds with plan.
    2. Student has to revise and re-convene with the committee within six months.

    If student fails the repeat, they will be dismissed from the PhD program.

  4. If student passes, the plan will include:
    1. Abstracts to be submitted / meetings to attend.
    2. Courses and workshops to take, techniques to learn.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 2 of the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option (Year 5 of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option)

  1. Completing mandatory and elective courses based on the "Plan of Study."
  2. Take comprehensive examination in two parts (written and oral) with approximately 2 weeks between each.
  3. Writing at least two abstracts for presentations, at least one of which should be a national conference with a goal of one being an oral presentation.
  4. Contributing to the writing of one (preferably two) research papers for publication.
  5. Presenting a practice dissertation proposal about 3 months after the Comprehensive Exams are passed.

Expected Progress for Year 2

Passing the Comprehensive Exams (typically at the end of the 4th semester)

  1. Pass
  2. Pass with contingency that needs to be resolved within 6 months
  3. Fail with re-take within 6 months

Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program

Presenting a practice dissertation proposal (typically during the 5th semester). This is an advisory and not a pass/fail event but it needs to be completed to satisfy the criteria.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Year 3 of the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option (Year 6 of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option)

  1. Approximately 6 months after passing the Comprehensive Exams, write and defend a dissertation proposal in grant format (NIH R01 is typical format with extra background material).
  2. Contributing to the writing of at least one additional research paper for publication unless this has already been satisfied.
  3. Writing at least one abstract for external presentation, preferably with an oral presentation.
  4. Write a grant for submission to a funding agency, where feasible.

Expected Progress for Year 3

Defense of the Dissertation Proposal (typically around beginning of Year 3 or even end of 2 in the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option)

The Dissertation Committee convenes to evaluate the proposal. Their decision will be one of the following:

  1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
  2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
  3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

Failure to pass the contingency or re-take will result in dismissal from the program.

Expected Benchmarks/Advancement Criteria for Final Year of the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option (Year 6-6.5 of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option)

  1. Write up two-three papers (as first author) for the dissertation. It is expected at least one of these are submitted for publication before graduating.
  2. Present and defend the written dissertation

Expected Progress for Final Year

Successfully defending and submitting the dissertation

All graduate school requirements for dissertation standards, deadlines for submission to the graduate school, and committee formation must be followed. The committee must include members of the Graduate Faculty with at least three regular members and at least one member outside the primary faculty of the department. (See most recent Graduate School Catalog (p 21-25) located at http://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/policies/). The dissertation must be previewed by two readers who are members of the dissertation committee (arranged by the advisor) at least fifteen working days prior to the planned defense. All other committee members must receive a final copy of the dissertation at least 10 working days prior to the defense. Decision will be one of the following:

  1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
  2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
  3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program.

Policy on Academic Performance and Satisfactory Progress

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

The PRS doctoral program follows all policies as outlined by the Graduate School at the University of Maryland.

Purpose: Satisfactory academic performance and progress within the University of Maryland Baltimore’s doctor of philosophy (PhD) programs is a shared responsibility of the University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School (UMBGS), the Doctoral Programs, and graduate students. This policy specifies the elements of satisfactory academic performance and progress for students in UMBGS PhD programs.

Please see the details as outlined in: Academic Performance and Satisfactory Progress in University of Maryland Baltimore PhD Programs. Information on UMBGS policy and procedures for appeal of probation or academic dismissal are also available at that site.

Guidelines for Plan of Study Meeting

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

The following represent guidelines formulated by Graduate Faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science regarding the Plan of Study meeting for PhD Students. Deviations from below may occur and are viewed on a case-by-case basis.

Note: For students in the PhD phase of the dual degree option, the PhD phase begins with the passing of a formal evaluation that consists of an oral proficiency exam of their research work.

  1. For students in the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option, a plan of study meeting occurs at the beginning of year 1 (end of Summer). For students entering the PhD program directly, the plan of study meeting will occur at the end of year 1.
  2. The meeting should include the student’s academic advisor and research advisor (if different). It should also include the Program Director (or other senior member) and at least two other members of the Departmental PhD Program Committee. Finally, it should contain at least one member who is outside the department. Minimum number is 5. There is no maximum number.
  3. The meeting itself is run by either the student’s advisor or the Program Director but typically the former.
  4. Before the meeting, the student contacts his/her primary mentors to plan and go over the PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report.
  5. In the meeting itself, the student does a presentation (about 30 minutes) reviewing their progress and in particular emphasizing the future plan as far as possible (see below). This can be verbal rather than a PowerPoint presentation. Committee members are free to make comments and ask the student and/or advisors questions. The idea is to ensure a good plan of study for each student based on their needs and interests as well as the departmental requirements.
  6. Presentation will include:
    1. Review of PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form including documentation and discussion of benchmarks 1-3.
    2. A presentation of the student’s intended research path with goals and hypotheses. It is recognized that this plan (goals/hypotheses) may change but the student must demonstrate the capacity to identify and defend an acceptable research project.
    3. The plan of study.
  7. The plan of study committee will discuss, evaluate, and agree on plan of action with the student for the next year. The faculty mentor will document this plan in the PRS Annual Doctoral Student Report form.

Comprehensive Examinations and Advancement to Candidacy

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the DPT Program.

Advancement to candidacy occurs once a student successfully proposes and defends their dissertation. The pre-requisite for dissertation proposal and defense is successful completion of the comprehensive examination. The following guidelines are established for the timetable and format of the comprehensive examinations and advancement to candidacy for Physical Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Degree. These guidelines provide consistency within the program while at the same time recognizing the need for individual variation across different areas of sub-specialty/cognate, advisors and students.

  1. Students in the PhD program may sit for examinations after they have completed the Foundation of Rehabilitation Science Core Courses and a minimum of 40 credits of their total coursework.  Students in the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option of the may sit for exams where indicated on their curriculum plan. The scheduling of the examination is initially set at the student’s plan of study meeting. It may be postponed if the student/advisor believes this is necessary.
  2. The composition of the candidacy examination will consist of a minimum of four faculty: the academic advisor, the research advisor or co-advisor (if different/present) and other graduate faculty. At least two of the faculty must be from the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science (minimum 1) and/or the Graduate Faculty of the Physical Rehabilitation Science Program. At least one must be from outside the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and/or the Graduate Faculty of the Physical Rehabilitation Science Program. The latter person should be selected by the student and academic advisor and, typically, would be someone who has had a role in teaching the student.
  3. The written examination will be comprised of four separate sessions (between 2-5 hours each) to be completed within one week with a closed-book format. Two sessions will be devoted to a comprehensive understanding of specific areas of the research concentration. The remaining sessions are typically devoted to interdisciplinary knowledge, cognate areas and tools knowledge. For these two sessions, the students may have knowledge of the specific questions 48 hours in advance if this is agreed upon by the student and committee.
  4. An oral discussion will follow the written examination to provide any clarification of responses or additional information that the committee deems necessary. The oral exam should be no more than 2 weeks after the end of the written examinations. Any exceptions to these procedures should be submitted to the program director for approval. All students will receive general feedback from the advisor on written answers prior to the oral discussion meeting.
  5. A decision on passing will be made immediately after the oral discussion meeting based on a consensus of the committee. Students who fail the comprehensive examination may retake the entire examination within 6 months. Students who do not reach an acceptable standard in part of the examination (contingent pass) will be offered a chance to remediate within 6 months in a format agreed upon by the committee.
  6. Approximately six months after passing the comprehensives, the student must submit a dissertation proposal and successfully present an oral defense of the proposal before a dissertation committee.  Only then will they be advanced to candidacy.

Dissertation Proposal Procedures

Planning for the dissertation proposal takes place immediately after the comprehensive examinations have been passed although planning can take place earlier. This proposal is designed to ensure that what a student is planning to do for their dissertation is acceptable to the student’s Dissertation Committee. The dissertation committee composition is dictated by the Graduate School (see pages 25-28 of the most recent Graduate School catalog) located at http://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/policies/. The minimum number of faculty is five but more are allowed. At least three must be regular graduate faculty. The dissertation proposal is not guided by the Graduate School and the PRS procedures are as follows.

  1. The proposal is written in a grant format (typically R01 format but can be an alternative) and the advisor may require a more extended review of literature than required in an R01.
  2. It is strongly recommended that a practice proposal takes place before most if not all of the committee in order to have the actual proposal run smoothly.
  3. The proposal typically consists of a presentation by the student of about 45 minutes followed by a question and answer session with the committee members. In some cases, the student may wish to have questions and answers interspersed with the presentation.
  4. After the question and answer session is over the student leaves the room while the committee discusses the proposal. One of the following decisions will be rendered by the committee:
    1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
    2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
    3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

    Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program.

    The student is then recalled to the room and the decision rendered. If some revision is required, the committee decides on what this will be and who will review the revisions.

  5. The Nomination of Members of Final Doctoral Examination Committee form must be submitted to the Dean's Office at least 6 months prior to proposed examination date.
  6. The PRS Dissertation Proposal form should be completed and returned per instructions listed on the form.

Links to forms:

Dissertation Defense Procedures

See the Graduate School's Dissertation Defense Procedures

The PRS dissertation typically is composed of an introduction, a review of literature, at least two empirical papers written in the style of their intended journal for submission and a summary discussion with future directions. Some students may have three empirical papers. The review of literature may also be in paper format. Procedures for defending the dissertation are outlined in detail in the Graduate School catalog (p. 25-28) located at http://www.graduate.umaryland.edu/policies/. Students are recommended to read these policies carefully. The following is a brief outline.

  1. All committee members must receive a final copy of the dissertation at least 1 month prior to the proposed examination date.  When the proposal is ready, the primary advisor and two designated readers must read through and agree that the proposal is ready for defense at least 15 days before the planned examination date. The Certification of Completion of the Doctoral Dissertation form is then submitted to the Graduate School.
  2. The Announcement of Doctoral Dissertation Defense form must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to the proposed examination date.
  3. The defense consists of a public presentation of the dissertation (for one hour) followed by a private defense of the dissertation with the dissertation committee asking the student questions (typically around two hours). Only other members of the graduate faculty can attend the private defense but they are not allowed to ask questions. These events can be separated but most choose to have them flow from one to the other.
  4. At the end of the private defense, everyone, but the committee, leaves the room. The committee makes one of the following decisions:
    1. a Pass (with minimal corrections)
    2. a Pass (with contingencies that need to be resolved within 6 months)
    3. Fail with re-take within 6 months.

    Failure to pass the contingency or the repeat will result in dismissal from the PhD program.

    Student is then invited back in the room to hear the committee's verdict.

The Report of the Examination Committee form signed by all committee members must be returned by the Graduate School representative to the graduate school office by no later than 2 working days following the examination.  The candidate's Program Director must be provided a copy of the report.  

Links to forms:

Participation in Commencement Ceremonies

This information applies to both PhD Program & the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option.

The Department will post students for graduation in summer, fall or spring. Only the spring graduation has commencement ceremonies. No student may participate in pre-commencement or commencement exercises until all coursework and benchmarks, including the Dissertation Defense has been satisfactorily completed and graduation confirmed by the Graduate School.

Full time vs Part time enrollment Status for PhD Program

This applies to the PhD program only.

Students may be full-time or part-time but only full-time students are eligible to be considered for funding through the university, school or department sources. Part-time students need to fund themselves and have to enroll for at least one credit per semester. Part-time students may enroll in all three semesters. Generally full-time students are preferred and will, typically, finish their PhD earlier than those who are part-time. Students who wish to be part-time from the start should contact their preferred advisor before applying since some faculty may not wish to have a part-time student. Part-time students are encouraged to become full-time, if possible, during their dissertation phase.

If a full-time student needs to adopt part-time status partway through their program, they should discuss this need with their advisor. If approved, any graduate assistant funding will be withdrawn. Any student (part-time or full-time) will be under the standard graduate school rules of completing the degree within 9 years after starting and acquiring candidacy within 5 years after starting, assuming all benchmarks are met.

Full Time vs. Part Time Enrollment Status for PhD Phase of the DPT/PhD Option

This information applies to the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option only.

Students are expected to maintain full time status during the 3.5 years of the PhD phase after the DPT phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option. If there is a need to adopt part-time status that is approved by the Director of the PhD program, the advisor/s and other faculty involved with the student at the particular time-point, the graduate assistant funding will be withdrawn. The student will be under the standard graduate school rules of completing the degree within 9 years after starting PhD phase and acquiring candidacy within 5 years of starting PhD phase, assuming all benchmarks are met.

Withdrawals/Financial Responsibility after 5 years in the PhD Program 

This applies to the PhD program only.

Students who wish to leave the PhD program at any time during the academic year are required to file a letter of resignation with the Department Chair. In addition, an Application for Withdrawal form bearing the proper signatures must be filed with the Registrar's Office. The student must satisfy the authorities that she/he has no outstanding obligations to the school and must return their student identification card. Students who have not completed their PhD requirements after 5 years of funding may be required to finance themselves. Part-time enrollment status is an option.

Withdrawals and Refunds/Financial Responsibility after 3.5 years in the PhD Phase of the DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option

This information applies to the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option only.

Students who wish to leave the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option at any time during the academic year are required to file a letter of resignation with the Department Chair. In addition, an Application for Withdrawal form bearing the proper signatures must be filed with the Registrar's Office. The student must satisfy the authorities that she/he has no outstanding obligations to the school and must return their student identification card. Students who have not completed their PhD requirements after 3.5 years in the PhD phase of the DPT/PhD dual degree option will be required to finance themselves. Part-time enrollment status is an option.

PhD Program and DPT/PhD Dual Degree Option Contacts

Li-Qun Zhang, PhD
Director, Graduate Program in Physical Rehabilitation Science
Professor, Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Science
email: l-zhang@som.umaryland.edu

Janice Abarro
PhD Program Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
email: jabarro@som.umaryland.edu 

Nicole Willhide
Director of Student Services
Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science
email: nwillhide@som.umaryland.edu