Main Content:

Required Coursework

A minimum of 72 credits beyond the bachelor's degree level is needed for the PhD degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Some areas of focus within the PhD Program may require more than 72 credits. Up to 30 credits taken at the graduate level towards a master's degree may be accepted for transfer. In recognition of graduate study beyond the master's degree, no more than 12 additional credits may be accepted at the time of admission to meet the minimum credit requirement. Credit transfer requests are evaluated by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies after matriculation.

In all cases, at least 36 credits must be completed as a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. No undergraduate credits (1000 level courses) may be applied towards the doctoral degree.  Please note, credits transferred from another institution may not be used to substitute for credits of courses required in the degree study plan. For example, credits transferred for a statistics course taken at another institution will not count toward the 9 credits of statistics required in the PhD program here at the University of Pittsburgh. The student will still need to take 9 credits of statistics at the University of Pittsburgh.

The overall form and content of each student's program is the responsibility of the Graduate Faculty of SHRS. To carry out this responsibility, each student has an Academic Advisor who, in consultation with the student, plans a program of study and research in accordance with SHRS guidelines.

The following courses and credit hours are required as part of the 72 credits:

All PhD students are expected to show competency in two Core Areas plus competency in statistics and research methodology through the successful completion of a Preliminary Examination, offered in May of each year. The two Core Areas are Methods of Inquiry for Rehabilitation Scientists and Core Concepts of Disability and Rehabilitation. The sequence of Core Courses (Methods of Inquiry for Rehabilitation Scientists I, II; Core Concepts in Disability and Rehabilitation I, II) begins in the Fall term (I) and continues through the Spring term (II), and is usually taken in the first year of the PhD program.

Upon successful completion of the Methods of Inquiry Courses, and the Core Concepts Courses the next milestone is the Preliminary Examination, covering content from the * courses.

Upon successful completion of the Preliminary Examination, students will finish taking courses in their chosen area of expertise in preparation for the next milestone, the Comprehensive Examination. The Comprehensive Examination (written and oral) consists of questions in the following areas:

  • Basic sciences, clinical sciences, social sciences, etc.
  • Theory
  • Experimental methods, research design.

Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination, the next milestone is the Dissertation Proposal Defense, in which students propose the mentored research study they will pursue. The final milestone is the Dissertation Defense.