Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Mar 05, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) Overview

Admission Information

Contact Information

Financial Information

SHRS Academic Regulations

Allowable Credits

Grading Policy

Comprehensive Examination

Enrollment Status

Academic Probation and Dismissal Policy



Graduation Requirements

Thesis & Non - Thesis Options and Procedures

Internships/ Clinical Education/ Independent Studies

Graduate and Professional Student Association

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

SHRS faculty

SHRS Programs and Course Offerings

Welcome to The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS)

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) offers educational programs leading to the following graduate degrees and certificates:

Master’s Programs:

Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics (Coordinated Master)
Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Master of Arts (MA)/Master of Science (MS) in Communication Science and Disorders with concentrations in:

  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Audiology

Master of Science degree program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences with concentrations in:

  • Health Information Systems
  • Health Care Supervision and Management
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Science and Technology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Wellness and Human Performance

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
Master of Science in Prosthetics & Orthotics

Doctoral Programs:

Professional doctoral degrees:

  • Doctor of Audiology (AuD)
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Medical Speech-Language Pathology
  • Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Occupational Therapy

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Communication Science and Disorders
  • Rehabilitation Science

Certificate Programs:

SHRS offers two certificate programs for graduate students or for professionals who hold graduate degrees.

Advanced certificates through the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology

  • Certificate in Assistive Technology
  • Certificate in Disability Studies

SHRS is affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and shares a close affiliation with the world-class University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The medical center comprises a variety of hospitals and clinical facilities that affords students a wealth of opportunities for professional experience.

The SHRS faculty ground their teaching upon research studies, clinical service and participation in their respective professional associations. Faculty research and service typically occurs within a multi-disciplinary collaboration in diverse health care and research environments. Consequently, both entry-level and advanced students are exposed to state-of-the-art curricula, which are continually reviewed from the perspective of new research findings, technological developments, changing public policy and accepted clinical and management practice.

Our students interact with role models and mentors who demonstrate the core values of their respective professions including commitment to:

  • Respect for the inherent value, dignity and integrity of the patient, client and/or research subject;
  • A service-oriented and personalized approach to health care and rehabilitation;
  • Ethical behavior in all clinical, service and research interactions with patients, colleagues, employees and others.

Philosophy of Graduate Education

The faculty of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) believes that it has a major responsibility in graduate education to broaden the perspectives and awareness of students in the health professions toward high standards of scholarship and recognition of its relevance to technological and human needs.

Graduate programs provide depth in a substantial area of the student’s profession and foster critical thinking through a variety of scholarly and creative activities thereby generating an atmosphere of scientific inquiry. These substantive areas include the knowledge of the scientific basis for the development of advanced clinical expertise within the professions represented in the School. An equally important function is to encourage health professionals to be sensitive to the needs of the human beings they are serving and to adapt their methods to the changing social, economic and technological environments in which they practice. Accordingly, these professionals should develop the capability to perform newly emerging and expanding roles of advanced clinical services, research, teaching and administration in the health care systems, advancing the frontiers of their particular field of expertise.

On the assumption that the accumulation and mastery of basic factual knowledge have been accomplished, graduate education focuses on synthesis and integration to allow for new systemic insights into the application and extension of that knowledge. The linkage of various educational experiences with research projects enhances problem-solving skills. Through interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary didactic, clinical and research experiences, individual professional identity is fostered, while the ability to function both on an independent and collaborative level with colleagues from other disciplines is enhanced.

Admission Information

Contact Information

Office of Admissions
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
4020 Forbes Tower
Fax: 412-383-6535

Application Procedures

Each graduate and doctoral program at SHRS has its own specific list of application requirements and instructions. We utilize various application portals for admission including the ApplyYourself Application Network, which is operated through the university, and various CAS portals (centralized application systems) which are unique application portals for specific professions.
The SHRS programs that utilize CAS are:

Communication Science and Disorders (MA/MS and AuD) (CSDCAS
Doctor of Physical Therapy (PTCAS
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTCAS
Physician Assistant Studies (CASPA
Prosthetics & Orthotics (OPCAS

The remaining SHRS graduate and doctoral programs utilize the Apply Yourself Application Network

Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
Coordinated Master in Nutrition and Dietetics
Master of Science in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences:

  • Health Care Supervision and Management
  • Health Information Systems
  • Neuromuscular or Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation Science and Technology
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Sports Medicine
  • Wellness and Human Performance

Doctor of Clinical Science in Medical Speech-Language Pathology
Doctor of Clinical Science in Occupational Therapy
PhD in Communication Science
PhD in Rehabilitation Science

*Applicants for the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program should contact the OT Department

Admissions Process for International Students:

SHRS is a globally diverse community with students from over 20 countries, including Canada, China, Colombia, Ghana, Greece, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Thailand.

As noted above, because each program has its own specific requirements, it is encouraged that international applicants review these requirements (including CAS programs).

In addition to general admission requirements, SHRS has specific requirements for international applicants that are noted below.

Application Deadlines

Fall admission: April 15*
Spring admission: September 1
Summer admission: February 1

*Please note that if a program deadline is prior to the deadline above you must submit your application by the program deadline.

Academic Credential Evaluations

International applicants applying to the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) are required to have their academic credentials evaluated by one of the agencies listed below:

International Consultants of Delaware, Inc. (ICD)
3600 Market Street, Suite 450
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone: (215) 387-6950 Ext.603
Fax: (215) 349-0026
email: Delaware (ICD)

Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE)
P.O. Box 514070
Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470
Phone: (414) 289-3400
Fax: (414) 289-3411

Joseph Silney & Associates, Inc. (JS&A)
7101 SW 102 Avenue
Miami, FL 33173
Phone: (305) 273-1616
Fax: (305) 273-1338

The Academic Credential Evaluation must be submitted along with your application. A course by course evaluation including a grade point average equivalent is required. A final transcript or diploma showing completion of the undergraduate degree must be submitted prior to starting the program.

If an international student has earned an undergraduate or graduate degree in the United States, this evaluation is not required.

Verification of English Language Proficiency

The University of Pittsburgh accepts TOEFL or IELTS test scores to verify English Language Proficiency.


Minimum TOEFL scores accepted are:

  • 100 on the internet based test, or 600 on the paper based test, for the PhD in Rehabilitation Science, Communication Science and Disorders (MA/MS), and Audiology (AuD) programs.
  • 80 on the internet based test, or 550 on the paper based test, for all other SHRS graduate programs.

TOEFL scores must be sent electronically through ETS to institution code 2927.


Minimum IELTS scores accepted:

  • Overall Band 7.0 for the PhD in Rehabilitation Science, Communication Science and Disorders (MA/MS), and Audiology (AuD) programs. 
  • Overall Band 6.5 for all other SHRS graduate programs.

IELTS scores must be mailed to the address below:

SHRS Admissions Office
4020 Forbes Tower
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

IELTS score reports must be submitted in the original sealed envelope to be considered official.

Verification of English Language Proficiency is required unless the following apply:  

  • The applicant is a citizen of a country whose official language is English
  • The applicant has completed a degree at a regionally accredited institution in the U.S.
  • The applicant is not a citizen of a country whose official language is English but has completed a degree program at an institution outside of the U.S. where the language of instruction is English and where the official national language of the country in which the institution is located is English

Process of Issuing Visa Documents

For future international students - Once you have confirmed your admission to the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) at the University of Pittsburgh, SHRS will notify the Office of International Services (OIS) of your future attendance. OIS will then email you to complete the information required to either create or verify your immigration documents. This email will also include information about the timeline for receiving a new immigration document and international student orientation.

All international students should refer to the University’s Office of International Services (OIS) website at  for information on admissions, orientation, immigration and visas, and life in Pittsburgh.

Admission Status

Full Status

The student has been admitted into a SHRS degree program. To maintain full graduate status, the student must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.000 (based on 4.000) in his/her graduate study. Students whose cumulative GPA drops below a 3.000 while in the program will be placed on academic probation (please see the Academic Probation policy in this handbook).

Non-Degree Status

Individuals who are seeking advanced degrees but who are unable to meet the deadline for filing all required credentials for admission may be granted temporary admission as non-degree students provided they present acceptable evidence concerning their qualifications for graduate study. Regular admission must be accomplished within the first term of registration as a non-degree student.

Applicants who do not wish to enroll in a degree program may apply for admission as non-degree students to take one or more courses of particular interest, if written permission is obtained from the course instructor. Non-degree students are permitted to take a total of six (6) credits. A non-degree student wishing to register for more than 6 credits must receive approval from the Department Chair/Program Director.  Information concerning such requests should be directed first to the Director of Admissions, 4020 Forbes Tower, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 or via email at

Active Status

Graduate students are required to register for at least 1 credit in the fall and spring terms. PhD students who have completed their course work and have successfully proposed their dissertation, must be enrolled in dissertation credits or FTDI (Full time Dissertation Study) in the fall and spring terms to maintain active status.  All graduate students need to be enrolled in the term in which they plan to graduate.

Inactive Status

A student who has not registered for at least 1 credit or for full-time dissertation study during a 12- month period will be transferred automatically to inactive status. Inactive students cannot apply to graduate or take Preliminary or Comprehensive Examinations. While on inactive status, a student is not eligible to use University facilities and should not expect to receive counseling by the faculty or active supervision by his/her advisor and committee.


Readmission is not automatic nor does it necessarily reinstate the student to the academic status enjoyed prior to becoming inactive. Students must formally re-apply for admission and pay the application fee. If the requirements for successful completion of the specific graduate program in which the student was enrolled have changed during the period of non-enrollment, the re-admitted student may be required to meet the revised requirements of the program that are in effect at the time of readmission. This will be decided by the Department Chair of the student’s particular program; for the doctoral program the decision will be made by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Upon readmission, the student’s Plan of Study will be adjusted to meet the requirements at the time of readmission.

Financial Information

Tuition and Fee Rates

Tuition and fee rates are available on the Financial Information  page in the University Catalog and the tuition chart is on-line at Graduate Tuition & Mandatory Fees.

Full Tuition

Graduate students registered for 9 to 15 credits in the Fall and Spring Terms are regarded as full-time students, and are assessed the current graduate “flat” tuition rate for their academic center.
Students will be charged per credit for each credit exceeding the maximum full-time credit limit.

Summer Term

All students are billed on a per-credit basis.

Residency/Reduced Tuition

Students who reside in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may be eligible for reduced tuition through state appropriations.

Assessment of Pennsylvania resident tuition rates is based on whether the student meets the criteria to be considered as a permanent resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Essentially, a student who has lived in Pennsylvania for a continuous period of 12 months before enrollment in any institution of higher education in the state may be eligible for Pennsylvania tuition rates. The student must be a citizen of the United States or have an immigrant or permanent visa. For a student younger than 22, both the student and parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must meet the residency requirements for eligibility. Any admitted student may petition for Pennsylvania tuition rates by submitting convincing evidence for review by the Student Appeals Office.

Eligibility is determined by criteria outlined in the University of Pittsburgh Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Reduced Tuition Rates, available on-line at

Additional Fees

Lab Fees: Lab courses may incur an additional fee to cover laboratory expenses. These fees will be charged to the student directly and will appear on the invoice generated by Student Accounts in addition to tuition and other fees each semester.

Liability Insurance: Students enrolled in a clinical education or practicum must carry liability insurance. Liability insurance is required for SHRS students and will automatically be included on the tuition bill.

Financial Obligation of Students

The University of Pittsburgh has the right to withhold services if a student defaults on any financial obligation until repayment arrangements have been made that are satisfactory to the office or department to which the debt is owed.

Scholarships, Grants and Financial Aid

If you are interested in applying for loans, scholarships, grants, or work study, you should call, or visit the University of Pittsburgh, Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, Alumni Hall, Pittsburgh, PA  15260, 412-624-PITT. The website for information is

The website specifically for graduate students is: Graduate School Financial Aid Instructions.

SHRS Scholarships and Awards

General information on scholarship and awards can be found at: SHRS Financial Information Page. Contact individual departments for information on scholarships and awards specific to your area of study.

SHRS Research Development Fund

SHRS has a small Research Development Fund. The primary purpose of the fund is to encourage research activity and defray expenses of such research by the members of the SHRS academic community while they are associated with SHRS. The fund attempts to provide seed money for research projects among faculty and as a form of financial assistance for development of researchers among students. Since funds are very limited, applicants should be aware that grant awards are a maximum of $1,000.00.  More information on eligibility and applying can be found on the SHRS website or the SHRS Graduate handbook.

The Dr. Timothy C. and Mrs. Cynthia B. Sell Student Award, promoting diversity and inclusion

Donors Dr. Timothy Sell and Mrs. Cynthia Sell have established an endowed fund to promote diversity and inclusion within the SHRS student body.  The SHRS Faculty Executive Committee will choose the award recipient(s) in mid-January and the award will be applied to the student’s spring tuition bill.  Awards will be presented annually pending receipt of qualifying applications.
More information on eligibility and applying can be found on the SHRS website or the SHRS Graduate handbook.

SHRS Academic Regulations

Minimum Academic Standard

In addition to the University-wide regulations and standards detailed in the section on General Academic Regulations, each student in SHRS is expected to be familiar with these school-specific regulations and academic Standards:

  • It is the student’s responsibility to review her/his academic standing, to identify graduate program requirements and prerequisites for intended graduate program(s) and to monitor their completion.
  • All required and prerequisite coursework must be taken for a grade, when letter grade option is available, unless approved by the Department Chair/Program Director.
  • Students must receive a grade of C or better in all courses required by their program curriculum.
  • Students who receive a grade below a C in a required course must repeat that course and attain a grade of C or better to graduate. (Note: University regulations state that a student may repeat any course in which a grade of B- or lower is received if an authorization to repeat the course is given by the student’s adviser/faculty.)
  • Students will not be permitted to register for a course until they attain a C or better in its prerequisites.
  • Failure to receive an acceptable grade after the second opportunity to complete a required course may result in the student being dismissed from the program and SHRS.


Master and Clinical Doctorates

Master’s students are assigned an advisor who must be a member of the SHRS faculty holding a regular, research, clinical, or adjunct appointment, and having at least a master’s degree. The director of the program to which the student has been accepted selects advisors for SHRS graduate students. Students are notified of their advisor after their enrollment. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the advisor to schedule an initial meeting.

Doctor of Philosophy

PhD students are assigned an academic advisor in the student’s main area of specialization.  The academic advisor and student will plan course work and other experiences to enable the student to meet program requirements and her/his academic goals.

Change of Advisor

If either the student or his or her assigned advisor prefers, the student can choose another advisor. The student must obtain a Change of Advisor form, located on the SHRS website under forms.  The student must complete the form and secure the required signatures, and return the form to the Office of Student Services. As a general rule, students who have more than 50% of the credits required for graduation should not initiate change of advisor procedures.

More information on Advisor responsibilities can be found in the SHRS Graduate Handbook.

Plan of Study

Every student in SHRS must have a Plan of Study, signed by academic/faculty advisor, on file with Student Services by the end of the first semester.  Any revisions to the Plan of Study must be approved by the academic/faculty advisor or Department Chair and submitted to Student Services.

To be certified for graduation, students must have successfully completed all courses outlined in their final Plan of Study as well as any other requirements for the degree. A final Plan of Study must be on file in Student Services 4019 Forbes Tower.

Allowable Credits

Transfer Credits

The completion of requirements for advanced degrees must be satisfied through registration at the Oakland Campus of the University of Pittsburgh. Graduate students already enrolled may, when approved in advance by their Department Chair and the Dean, spend a term or more at another graduate institution to obtain training or experience not available at the University of Pittsburgh and transfer those credits toward the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of Pittsburgh. In such instances, neither the University nor any of its components are responsible for providing any financial assistance to the graduate student.

Transcripts certifying graduate courses completed at another institution prior to admission to the University of Pittsburgh should be submitted at the time of application, and will be evaluated for acceptability as transfer credits early in the student’s graduate career by the advisor and Department Chair.

For Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees, no more than six (6) credits may be transferred. The Office of Student Services will enter the transfer credits on the student’s transcript. Grades (and quality points) are not recorded for credits accepted by transfer.

For Professional Master and Clinical Doctorate Degrees, no more than one-third of the total number of required credits may be granted to a student as transfer credit for work done at another accredited graduate institution.

For all Master and Clinical Doctorate a maximum of six (6) credits in undergraduate courses (numbered 1000 and above) may be included as transfer credits in the Plan of Study.

For Doctor of Philosophy up to 30 credits taken at the graduate level (2000 & 3000 level courses) toward a master’s degree may be transferred.  In all cases, at least 36 credits must be completed as a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh.  No Undergraduate credits (1000 level course) may be applied towards the doctoral degree.  All transfer credits must be submitted to and approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Transfer credits will not be accepted for courses in which a grade lower than B (GPA = 3.000), or its equivalent, has been received. No credit is granted toward an advanced degree for work completed in extension courses, correspondence courses, or in the off-campus center or another institution unless those credits are approved for the equivalent graduate degrees at the institution, and provided that the institution has an accredited program.

Credits Required

The number of credits required for the Master’s degree varies among the departments within SHRS, but all departments require at least 30 credits.  Many departments offer a variety of emphases. Individual departments should be contacted for the number of credits and Plan of Study specific to that department and focus.

Undergraduate Courses in the Graduate Program

A maximum of six (6) credits in undergraduate courses (numbered 1000 and above) may be included in the Plan of Study.

Grading Policy

All SHRS graduate programs adhere to the University’s grading system and grading policies for graduate students. Please refer to the Office of the University Registrar on Grades or the University Catalog on Grading and Records

SHRS Policy and Procedure for G and I Grades

G Grade Policy

Student’s assigned G (incomplete) grades due to course work unfinished because of extenuating personal circumstances, are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term in which the course was taken. Once the deadline has passed, the G grade will remain on the record, and the student will be required to re-register for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation. Students will not be permitted to register for courses in which a prerequisite course resulted in a ‘G’ grade, unless approval has been obtained by the Department/Program Chair, or their designee.

I Grade Policy

The I grade indicates that the work of the course for which it is awarded has not been completed due to the nature of the course, clinical work, or incomplete research work in individual guidance courses or seminars. It is to be awarded only to students who have been doing the regular work of the course but who need more time than the term allows to complete the course work. That is, the extenuating circumstances ought to arise from the nature of the course work rather than from the student’s personal difficulties (in which case a G grade is appropriate; see above).

Effective fall of 2016, all incomplete grades are expected to be completed by no later than the end of the next consecutive semester.  It is the responsibility of the faculty member to clearly state to the student the expected due date.

  • If the incomplete grade is given in the spring, it is expected to be completed by the end of the summer term in August.

Action required by the student and faculty member for a “G” or “I” grade:

  • The student, faculty and advisor are to fill out a Completion Agreement of Incomplete Credits Form (Form can be found on the SHRS website)
  • A copy of this agreement will need to be submitted to Student Services, no later than the end of the add/drop period for the current semester. Failure to submit this form before the end of the add/drop period will result in an automatic change to a failing grade.

Student Services, will be following up on any Incompletes or G grades that are not changed within the expected time frame at the end of every term.

Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC) grading option

Prerequisite and required courses must be taken for a letter grade when available, and a student must earn a C or better. 

More information on Grading Policies can be found in the SHRS Graduate Handbook.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive Examinations are required for many graduate programs in SHRS. Successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination is needed for the student to demonstrate mastery of his/her field of graduate study. Each individual department/program will specify the content and procedure for the scheduling, administration, and grading of the Comprehensive Examination. Please refer to individual program descriptions or handbooks for details of Comprehensive Examinations for each program.

Enrollment Status

Graduate students cannot enroll for more than (15) units without the dean’s approval. Only an advisor or the University Registrar’s Office can enroll you after you receive approval for the additional unit(s)
Graduate students registered for 9 to 15 credits in the Fall and Spring Terms are regarded as full-time students.

Students cannot enroll in courses that meet at the same time.

More information on enrolling in courses can be found in the SHRS Graduate Handbook.

Monitored Withdrawal

After the add/drop period has ended, students may withdraw from a course that they no longer wish to attend by completing a Monitored Withdrawal Request form in the office of the school offering the course. Students must process the Monitored Withdrawal Request form within the first nine weeks of the term in the fall and spring. Because summer sessions vary in length, students should check the University’s Academic Calendar  for those deadlines. Students should check with the school offering the course for the last day to submit a Monitored Withdrawal Request form. The grade W will appear on the student’s grade report and transcript. There is no financial adjustment to students’ tuition or fee obligations involved in withdrawing from courses, but withdrawing may jeopardize satisfactory academic progress, financial aid, and assistantships or fellowships.

The form must be signed by the instructor of the course and be returned to the Director of Student Services, Registrar, 4024 Forbes Tower within the first nine weeks of the term in the fall and spring.

Repetition of Courses

Consult your dean’s office for the proper procedure of repeating a class and for information on how this will affect your grades and the calculation of your Grade Point Average (GPA). When you repeat a class, you must officially enroll and pay for the class again. University policy prohibits any student from attending a class without being officially enrolled for that class. A repeated course, has a notation appearing underneath the previous course taken designating that it is excluded from the GPA. The original course and grade will always remain on your record/transcript.

Students are only permitted to repeat a course once.

Note: Any grade earned in the repeated course will be recorded on the academic transcript, even if it is lower than the original grade.

  • A sequence course may not be repeated for credit if the student passes a higher sequence course with a C or better grade.
  • A student may not enroll in the same course at another institution and have that grade replace the original grade earned at the University.
  • The original course and grade remain on the transcript; however, the grade and credits originally earned are not counted in the calculation of the GPA.
  • The grade earned by repeating a course is used instead of the grade originally earned. Withdrawal (W), Repeat (R), and Audit/Non-Credit (N) grades reported for the repeated course will not be identified as a course repeat, and therefore the original grade earned will continue to be counted in the GPA.
  • Incomplete grades (G and I) are not identified as repeated courses until the coursework is completed.
  • Students seeking to repeat other non-SHRS (prerequisites, electives, etc.) courses will be permitted to do so at the discretion of the program director.

Statute of Limitations on Allowable Coursework

The purpose of the statute of limitations is to ensure that a graduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh represents mastery of current knowledge in the field of study. All requirements for MA and MS degrees must be completed within a period of four consecutive calendar years from the student’s initial registration for graduate study; all professional masters within five years (includes both full time and part time students). Dual degrees and joint degrees that require course work in excess of 50 credit hours may be granted a longer statute of limitations by the University Council on Graduate Study.

From the student’s initial registration for graduate study, all requirements for the PhD degree must be completed within a period of 10 years or within eight years if the student has received transfer credits. A student who is unable to complete all degree requirements within a five-year period after passing the comprehensive examination may be re-examined at the discretion of the department or school. Programs for professional doctoral degrees, for which the majority of candidates pursue part-time study while working full-time within their chosen disciplines, may be granted a longer statute of limitations by the schools offering the degrees.

Under exceptional circumstances, a candidate for an advanced degree may apply for an extension of the statute of limitations. The request must be approved by the department or departmental committee (master’s or doctoral) and submitted to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for final action. Requests for an extension of the statute of limitations must be accompanied by a departmental assessment of the work required of the student to complete the degree as well as documented evidence of the extenuating circumstances leading to the requested extension. Students who request an extension of the statute of limitations must demonstrate proper preparation for the completion of all current degree requirements.

Resigning from the University for a Specific Term

If students decide to drop all of their courses after the add/drop period has ended and before 60 percent of the term or session has been completed, they must resign from the University for that term. Official resignation from the University requires students to contact the Student Appeals Office. Students have several options. They may resign in person, by mail, or by calling 412-624-7585, where students may leave a message 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays. An R grade will appear on the student’s academic transcript. Tuition is prorated from the date of the student’s notification to the Student Appeals Office of the student’s desire to resign, unless 60 percent of the term has been completed, in which case there is no refund.

After the 60 percent point of the term or session has passed, students who wish to terminate their registration may process a withdrawal from all classes only with the permission of their academic dean. If the reason for withdrawal is medical or psychological in nature, the academic dean may consult with the director of the Student Health Service prior to making a determination. There is no financial adjustment associated with this procedure, which results in the assignment of W grades for the courses.

Please visit the Student Payment center resignation page on the University of Pittsburgh website for more information.

Leave of Absence

Under special conditions, graduate students may be granted one leave of absence. A maximum leave of two years may be granted to doctoral students or one year to master’s students. All requests for a Leave of Absence should be put in writing to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. The length and rationale for the leave of absence must be approved by the Associate Dean. If approved, the time of the leave shall not count against the total time allowed for the degree (statute of limitations) being sought by the student.

To request of leave of absence, you must complete the “Request of Leave of Absence from a Graduate Program” form which can be found on the SHRS website under current students/forms.  This form must be submitted to Student Services on the 4th floor of Forbes Tower. 

Note: If the reason for your leave is medical in nature, a formal note from a Doctor must be included with this form.

Academic Probation and Dismissal Policy

Graduate students who have completed at least 9 credits and whose cumulative GPA falls below a 3.000 will be placed on academic probation and/or suspension and will receive written notification of this status. At this point it is the student’s responsibility to meet with his or her advisor.

To be removed from academic probation, the student will need to achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.000 within his or her next two terms of study. Failure to do so may subject the student to recommendation for immediate dismissal from the program by the Department Chair, in collaboration with the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

Students who fail to demonstrate progress toward meeting graduation requirements in a timely manner may be placed on academic probation or recommended for dismissal from the program by the Department Chair, in collaboration with the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. SHRS reserves the right to terminate a student at any time for academic or other reasons.

Dismissal from the program is at the discretion of the SHRS Dean. Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event it is not mathematically possible for a student to remediate their cumulative program GPA within their next two terms of study the student may be immediately dismissed.

A student may appeal their dismissal with the University of Pittsburgh Provost office.

Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements for a Graduate degree from SHRS are as follows:

  • student must be considered an “active student” at time of graduation; s/he must have been registered for at least one credit at the University of Pittsburgh within the last three terms or sessions
  • students may not enroll in courses outside the University of Pittsburgh in the semester they are graduating
  • satisfactory completion of required credits
  • minimum cumulative GPA 3.000
  • the GPA will be calculated as a composite of all courses taken at the University of Pittsburgh and counting toward completion of the degree
  • completion of all requirements for the program in which student has enrolled
  • no outstanding D, F, G or I grades in a required course
  • updated and approved Plan of Study on file in Student Services, 4019 Forbes Tower
  • an application for graduation must be filed in the SHRS Office of Student Services, based on the deadlines determined for that term. Email notification of these deadlines will be sent to students in the prior term and will posted on the SHRS Graduation website.  The Application for Graduation can be obtained in the Dean’s office or on the SHRS Forms website.

A student with outstanding financial obligations to the University is not eligible to receive the diploma, official academic transcripts, or any certification of completion of the academic program.

Thesis and Non-Thesis Options and Procedures

Thesis Option

A thesis is a written report of an investigative study conducted by the student during his/her graduate program. The completion of a thesis requires that the student has the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct a valid study and that the thesis project is the investigation of a research question appropriate to his or her focus of study.  The thesis is usually a concluding experience in Master of Science programs and completed under the guidance of a research mentor.

Completion of a thesis may be required for specific graduate programs within SHRS. Students should refer to the specific program requirements to determine if a thesis is required for completion of his/her program. Thesis credits can be obtained in the following courses: HRS 2924, HRS 2925, and CSD 2000. Students should refer to his/her program requirements for specific guidelines for completing the thesis, the minimum number of thesis credits required, and for required courses.

Non-Thesis Option

Many SHRS graduate programs provide a non-thesis option as an alternative to completing a thesis. The non-thesis option is program-specific and reflects the culminating assignment to demonstrate the student’s mastery of his/her area of study. Some programs require the student to complete the non-thesis option while others may give the student the opportunity to choose between completing a thesis or the non-thesis option. Students should refer to their home program/department for specific information on the non-thesis option.

Scholarly Paper

As part of the non-thesis option for a Master of Science degree, some programs/departments may require a scholarly paper. A scholarly paper is of publishable quality in a focused area.
Examples of scholarly papers include, but are not limited to: substantial reviews of the literature on a particular topic, development of health care policies, or development of evidence-based treatment procedures. Students who complete this option must register for HRS 2926 Scholarly Paper for 1-6 credits depending on the requirements of his/her plan of study.

More information on Thesis and Non-Thesis options and Scholarly Paper can be found in the SHRS Graduate Handbook.

Internships/ Clinical Education/ Independent Studies


An internship is a period of supervised, planned, practical experience providing an opportunity to apply previously learned skills or theories designed to complement the didactic phase of the academic program. The internship may be primarily clinical, teaching, or administrative in nature. Many programs require internship experiences, coordinated by the student’s advisor or an identified Clinical Coordinator, who provides oversight regarding internship objectives and activities, administrative and contractual relationships with the site, and ensures that students meet all SHRS and site criteria.

Clinical Internships

Clinical learning experiences are an integral part of SHRS professional programs.  Clinical learning experiences provide the student with the opportunity to apply his/her knowledge in a supervised environment to develop clinical skills and judgment.

Clinical Education

Clinical learning experiences are an integral part of SHRS professional programs.  Clinical learning experiences provide the student with the opportunity to apply his/her knowledge in a supervised environment to develop clinical skills and judgment.

Independent Study - HRS 2999 or CSD 2990

Independent Study provides an opportunity for the student to complete an intense, self-designed project with faculty supervision in an area of special interest. A maximum of six (6) independent study credits may be accepted toward meeting degree requirements for the program.

More information on Internships, Clinical Education, Independent Studies can be found in the SHRS Graduate Handbook.

Graduate and Professional Student Association

The SHRS Graduate and Professional Student Organization (SHRS GPSO) is a member of the Graduate and Professional Student Government (GPSG) of the University of Pittsburgh. All full- time and part-time graduate students of SHRS who have active status, as defined by the School, and who are in good standing, as defined by the University, are members of the SHRS GPSG. Information on this organization is located at the website given below. Further information on becoming active in this organization can be obtained by sending an email to:

Doctor of Philosophy

SHRS offers a PHD program in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) and Rehabilitation Science. 

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Science and Disorders (CSD)

The Department of Communication Science and Disorders (CSD) research doctoral program is oriented toward scientific inquiry in the discipline of communication science and disorders with an emphasis on basic and applied research training. Much of the CSD PhD program is individually tailored and designed to meet a variety of academic and professional goals.  For Information on the CSD PHD degree, please see Communication Science and Disorders, PhD  

Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science

The mission of the PhD program in Rehabilitation Science is to advance the frontiers of knowledge underlying the practice of rehabilitation disciplines and professions through research, teaching, and professional development.

This PhD is an interdisciplinary degree. Students enter the program through the following SHRS departments or programs: Health Information Management, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation Counseling, Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and Sports Medicine. Upon degree completion, you will have mastered a specific area of expertise in rehabilitation science and carry an expansive core of related knowledge.

Contact Information:

Debby Keelan
Assistant to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
4022 Forbes Tower
Phone: 412-624-6538
Fax: 412-383-6535

Program Summary

Program starts fall, spring or summer terms

  • 8 years (with approved credit transfer) or 10 years (without credit transfer)
  • 72 credits total required to graduate (some areas of focus may require more credits)

The Primary Goals of the PhD program in Rehabilitation Science are to:

  1. Provide core content in theories and models of rehabilitation, disability and/or assistive technology that underpin rehabilitation science;
  2. Provide in-depth, state of the science, content in basic, clinical, social, medical and/or engineering sciences that support the dissertation research;
  3. Provide mentorship opportunities for immersion in rehabilitation science research laboratories, projects, and/or ongoing studies;
  4. Prepare students to conduct and disseminate original research that will advance rehabilitation science;
  5. Promote interdisciplinary research in preparation for becoming a research team member;
  6. Promote knowledge, behaviors and skills consistent with the responsible conduct of research;
  7. Provide opportunities to teach content in an area of expertise.

The doctoral degree in Rehabilitation Science is an interdisciplinary research degree offered by SHRS and not by individual departments within the school. Graduates of this program will have a specific area of expertise in rehabilitation science as well as a core of interdisciplinary knowledge related to this specific area. They will become the researchers, scholars, teachers, thinkers, and planners in the demanding and changing field of rehabilitation science.

Areas of Study

  • Assistive technology
  • Biomechanics
  • Evidence-based practice and epidemiology of disability
  • Functioning, disability and health
  • Psychosocial, cultural, and behavioral aspects of rehabilitation and disability
  • Health information systems and information technology related to health and rehabilitation sciences
  • Neural basis of sensory and motor function and dysfunction
  • Neuromuscular aspects of sports injuries

Admission Requirements/ Application Process

Applicants should have a strong interest in rehabilitation research as well as a master’s degree in an area related to rehabilitation science. The exceptional student with a bachelor’s degree, six or more credits of graduate course work, and compelling clinical/research experience in rehabilitation science will be considered.

Resources, including research mentors, must be available to enable the student to engage in a plan of study in the student’s major area of interest in rehabilitation research. Therefore, it is important that there is a match between the research interests of an applicant and an SHRS graduate faculty member.

Admission Requirements
Successful applicants will have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (based on a 4.0 scale) in all college work; minimum scores at the 50th percentile on the revised verbal and quantitative GRE® revised General Test, and a minimum score of 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section of the GRE® revised. Students for whom English is a foreign language must have a minimum TOEFL score of 100 (internet), 600 (paper); or Band 7.0 on the IELTS (reading and writing modules).

Application Requirements

Applicants are required to submit the following:

  • Completed SHRS on-line application form
  • An essay stating career goals, specific research interests and experience, and clinical interests and experience;
  • Three to five academics or work-related letters of recommendation (at least one academic reference must be included as well as a letter of support from the identified Research Mentor);
  • A résumé, including work history, formal education, continuing education, licensing and certification, professional organizations, honors and awards, publications, presentations, and grants;
  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended; transcripts must be sent directly from the institution to the University of Pittsburgh
  • GRE® revised General Test scores
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL or IELTS scores (for candidates whose native language is not English)
  • At least one example of written work (class project, course assignment, publication for which candidate is first author, etc.)
  • See the SHRS website for additional requirements for international applicants

Applications are accepted at any time and Applicants are encouraged to apply at least 6 months prior to the term in which they will begin classes.

Applicants are evaluated by the PhD Admissions Committee. Admission to the program requires (1) the applicant to meet the standards for a PhD student in SHRS, and (2) that a faculty member of the PhD program has an opening for an additional PhD student and agrees to be the Academic Advisor for that applicant.

For more information about admission to the PhD program contact:

Office of Admissions
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
4020 Forbes Tower
Fax: 412-383-6535

Financial Aid

Financial assistance is often available from a variety of sources, including graduate student assistantships and teaching assistantships. These assistantships typically require 20 hours per week of research, teaching, or clinical service in exchange for a tuition, health insurance, and an annual salary. Other forms of financial assistance, including fellowships, may be available through individual faculty grants. Applicants interested in financial support should indicate this on their applications for admission.  Acceptance into the PhD program does not assure that a student will be offered financial aid.  Depending on the availability of financial aid, the offer of financial support to an applicant may be deferred until a later date.  Since financial aid is limited, applicants who desire financial aid are encouraged to apply early.

Transfer Credits

If a student wishes to transfer credits, the student and the student’s Academic Advisor must submit a Credit Transfer Request Form to Student Services during the first year of study. Transcripts verifying the graduate courses and course descriptions must accompany the petition. The student and student’s Academic Advisor will be informed by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies which courses are acceptable as transfer credits, and this information will be placed in the student’s file. Based on University guidelines, students who transfer any credits from a master’s degree must complete the PhD within 8 years; students who do not transfer credits must complete the PhD within 10 years.

Academic Advisor

Students admitted to the PhD program are assigned an Academic Advisor who is a member of the Graduate Faculty in SHRS. He/she will have research interests similar to the student’s interests and will have agreed to be the student’s Research Mentor.

The Academic Advisor and student will determine the Plan of Study for the student. They will also plan course work or other experiences to enable the student to demonstrate competency in the proposed content supporting the dissertation, as well as statistics/research methodology content in preparation for the Comprehensive Examination and Dissertation Proposal Defense. It is the responsibility of the Academic Advisor to provide advice to the student during the PhD program, especially with the following steps.

  1. Petitioning the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for transfer of credits
  2. Preparing a Plan of Study outlining course work and dissertation credits leading to the PhD Degree
  3. Locating research opportunities
  4. Revising the Plan of Study as needed as the dissertation topic is formulated
  5. Finding a Primary Research Mentor

Plan of Study

The student and Academic Advisor will prepare a tentative Plan of Study within the first term of enrollment. If a Plan of Study has not been submitted by the end of the first term, the student will not be permitted to enroll in the subsequent term. The Plan of Study Form can be obtained on-line on the SHRS website.  The Plan of Study should include transfer credits, course work to date, future course work, and dissertation credits leading to the PhD degree. A copy of the Plan of Study will be placed in the student’s file. The Plan of Study should be reviewed each term at registration and updated as needed by the student and Academic Advisor. A final updated Plan of Study must be on file in the student’s permanent file in Student Services in the term in which the student graduates, or the student cannot be certified by the Registrar for graduation.

More information regarding the following can be found in the PHD handbook on the SHRS website:

  • SHRS Student Statistical Support
  • Annual Review/Progress Reports
  • Preliminary Examination
  • Primary Research Mentor
  • Comprehensive Examination
  • Dissertation Proposal Defense
  • Admission to Candidacy
  • Dissertation
  • Electronic thesis and Dissertation (ETD)
  • Final Oral Defense of Dissertation
  • Continued Use of Data After Leaving the University of Pittsburgh

School of Health and Rehabilitation Science Faculty

SHRS Faculty  

Programs and Course Offerings

Other Courses

    Department of Communication Science and Disorders

    Go to information for Department of Communication Science and Disorders.

    Other Courses

      Department of Health Information Management

      Go to information for Department of Health Information Management.

      Other Courses

        Department of Occupational Therapy

        Go to information for Department of Occupational Therapy.

        Other Courses

          Department of Physical Therapy

          Go to information for Department of Physical Therapy.

          Other Courses

            Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology

            Go to information for Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology.

            Other Courses

              Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition

              Go to information for Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition.

              Other Courses

                Rehabilitation Science Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

                Other Courses

                Catalog Navigation