Movement and Cognitive Rehabilitation Science

Doctoral Program

Department of Kinesiology and Health Education

The graduate specialization in Movement and Cognitive Rehabilitation Science (MCRS) is a scientifically rigorous program that prepares students for further education and important careers in related fields. The program offers advanced multidisciplinary coursework and extensive opportunities to pursue innovative practical experiences and research. Students have some flexibility to adjust their individual programs to line up with their future directions and career goals.

Faculty members work closely with students to tailor an academic, practical, and research program based on the interests of the students. This targeted coursework allows each student to lay a foundation for the professional, technical, and practical aspects of their future career.

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall, Spring

Deadline to Apply:
Fall Priority: December 1
Fall Final: May 1
Spring Final: October 1

GRE Required? No

Location: On Campus

Length of Program: 60 months, 64 hours 

Students applying to the Ph.D. degree program are expected to hold a master’s degree in kinesiology or a related field.

All students applying for graduate study are expected to demonstrate competency in each of the following four areas:

  1. Human Anatomy (e.g., KIN 424K)
  2. Vertebrate or Human Physiology (e.g., BIO 365S)
  3. Biomechanics (e.g., KIN 326K)
  4. Motor Learning (e.g., KIN 335C) or Neuromuscular Control (e.g., KIN 336)

Additional Ph.D. Requirements

Students applying to the Ph.D. degree program are expected to also have the following:

  1. Demonstrated capability of independent research. Examples include completing a thesis or presenting a poster at a scientific conference or publishing a research article.
  2. Approval of a faculty advisor willing to supervise the student’s doctoral program. Applicants without a faculty member willing to supervise will not be admitted into the program.  Prior to applying to the program, students should contact the professor that they are interested in working with to discuss the possibility of being supervised and the nature of the research to be conducted. 

During the first year, each student will work with a supervising faculty member to develop an individualized program of study. The program will be based on the student’s research interests. This will outline the coursework the student will take to complete the degree.

This Program of Study will be presented for approval to the Graduate Studies Committee toward the end of the student’s first year. It will include any and all coursework deemed necessary to meet the degree requirements described below in Required Coursework.

  1. The sequencing of course offerings favors admission in the Fall semester.
  2. Prerequisites, if any should be completed in the first year of study if possible, and must be completed prior to advancement to doctoral candidacy.
  3. Toward the end of the first year of doctoral study, the Program of Study should be established and presented to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval.
  4. By the end of the second year of post-master’s study, organized coursework in the program of study should be near completion, and the comprehensive examination should be taken.
  5. Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student may be advanced to candidacy.
  6. In the year following the successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the dissertation proposal should have been defined and presented to the Dissertation Committee.

Ph.D. students must make satisfactory progress and will be evaluated for satisfactory progress each year. The evaluation will be based on completion of coursework, GPA, and research involvement.

  1. Incompletes. Graduate students are expected to complete courses within the time frame of the semester. In unusual cases where this semester framework is not in the best interest of the student, the professor may report the symbol X (incomplete) in place of a grade. The student must then complete the course requirements and the instructor must report a final grade by the end of the grade reporting period in the student’s next long-session semester of enrollment (i.e., spring or fall semester). If this deadline is not met, the symbol X is converted to the symbol I (permanent incomplete). The symbol I cannot be converted to a grade. The GSC considers two or more grades of incomplete including permanent incompletes as unsatisfactory progress. (TAs, GRAs, etc., may acquire no more than two grades of X or one grade each of X and I. Students cannot have two or more grades of I.)
  2. GPA. The student is expected to maintain the minimum overall GPA of 3.0 required by the Graduate School. This overall GPA pertains to all coursework within the major department, outside the department and also to the overall combined GPA.
  3. Research Involvement. It is the responsibility of the student to meet with the supervising faculty member to be certain that all research expectations are made clear. Students who are not actively involved in research will be considered as not making satisfactory progress.
  • 15 hours of graduate Movement and Cognitive Rehabilitation Science courses that include:
    • KIN 382 Biomechanics Laboratory Techniques

Directed/Independent Study and/or doctoral seminar (minimum 12 hours)

  • KIN 397/197 MCRS Doctoral Seminar (every semester except during candidacy)
  • At least 8 additional hours of directed research

Statistics and Grant Writing (minimum 9 hours, must include multivariate)

  • KIN 386 Research Methods: Grant Writing
  • At least two advisor-approved graduate statistics or research methods courses

Supporting coursework outside Department (minimum 3 hours)

  • At least two advisor-approved courses

Dissertation (minimum of 18 hours)

  • KIN 999R/999W Dissertation

No more than 6 hours of undergraduate coursework (which must be upper-division and may not include required prerequisites) may be counted.

See Additional Program Details for more course information.

A reasonable goal is to complete a Ph.D. degree in four years.

A Ph.D. dissertation generally consists of three separate studies that link together over a common theme. This typically results in at least three papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The general ideas for your dissertation research should be developed within your first year. Once you and your advisor agree on a plan for your research, your Program of Study for your planned coursework should be submitted GSC for approval at the start of your second year. You will be expected to attend the MCRS meeting and to explain your research plans for your dissertation and how your coursework selection was designed to support your research.

During your first two years, you should be working on the first study of your dissertation to determine if your study is technically feasible and working as you predicted. It is a good idea to take Proposal Writing during your first year to write your IRB proposal for your first study (even though Proposal writing is not a required course for Ph.D. students). Ideally, it is best to have your first paper finished before you do your comprehensive exams and advance to candidacy. This is because once you advance to candidacy, the graduate school allows only two years to complete your dissertation. It typically takes a year to get trained in the lab, plan your dissertation and set up for your first study. After that, the data collection, data analysis, and manuscript writing take about one year for each of your three papers. Try to take Proposal Writing before your comprehensive exams as this is excellent preparation.

Ideally, it is best to take your comprehensive exams shortly after your second year and after your first study has been submitted for publication. It is beneficial to have a strong understanding of your research field before you take your Comprehensive Exams because you will be asked to write a research proposal in your area of research for your exam. Comprehensive exams take one month, so plan to do this during a time when you won’t have too many distractions.

After you pass your comprehensive exams and advance to candidacy, you will present your dissertation proposal to your dissertation committee for revisions and approval. It is preferable to have the same committee members on your comprehensive exam committee and dissertation committee if possible because they will be familiar with your work. Discuss this with your advisor. There needs to be three faculty members (with at least two from MCRS) on your comprehensive exam committee and three MCRS faculty members plus one faculty member from outside the Dept. on your dissertation committee.

Think about who your committee members might be during your first two years as you are designing your initial studies and ask for their input early on, especially if your research involves their area of expertise. This way you will be more likely to have your work that was done prior to candidacy accepted as part of your dissertation research proposal.

Once your proposal is approved by your dissertation committee, you typically will not have another formal committee meeting again before your defense. Again, this is why it is very important to be fully ready to complete your dissertation research before your comprehensive exams. If for some reason a major change needs to be made after the committee has approved your proposal, you should request to meet with your committee again before your defense so that there are no surprises and things run smoothly.

It is best to set your defense date for at least a couple of weeks before the graduation deadline in case major revisions are requested. Your dissertation should be given to your committee three to four weeks prior to the defense and to your advisor four weeks prior to giving it to your committee. This process is easiest if you submit your publications as you go and present your dissertation in manuscript format (see graduate school requirements). In the manuscript format, it is best to include an introductory chapter that precedes the three papers and a conclusion chapter at the end that ties everything together. The more that is published prior to your defense the more impressive it will be.

To be considered for doctoral candidacy, a student must pass a comprehensive examination in the student’s area of specialization. The exam is typically given following completion of all course work (approximately 2 years of post-master’s study). The focus of the exam is a student-written literature review and research proposal, the topics of which are determined by the examining committee. Faculty on the examining committee will include at least 3 faculty members from Rehabilitation and Movement Science.

The examination is comprised of both a written proposal and oral defense. The written portion of the examination must be successfully completed prior to the scheduling of the oral exam.

The outcome of the examination will be recorded as one of four outcomes:

  • Pass
  • Pass with Contingencies
  • Re-take
  • Fail

Students who fail the comprehensive examination a second time are dismissed from the program.

Students are advanced to doctoral candidacy after completion of the following:

  1. The student has passed the comprehensive examination.
  2. The student and their supervising professor must recommend to the Graduate Adviser the names of the five faculty members whom they would like to have appointed to the dissertation committee. The student should contact the Graduate Coordinator for assistance in completing the necessary paper work for advancement to candidacy. Only after the student has been advanced to candidacy and has the approval of the supervising professor, will the student be permitted to register for dissertation hours.

Under the direction of the Supervising Professor and Dissertation Committee, the student will prepare a written dissertation proposal and make an oral presentation of it to the Dissertation Committee. Interested students, faculty and especially Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) members are also encouraged to attend the proposal presentation.  However, a quorum of the GSC is not required. The proposal will include an appropriate literature survey, extensive methodology, and preliminary results. The proposal should be presented following completion of the comprehensive exam.

The dissertation is required of all candidates and must be an original contribution to scholarship based on independent research in the major area. It is expected to be a significant contribution to the body of the current research. Writing of the dissertation will be supervised by the Dissertation Committee, which is appointed by the Graduate Dean and will include the Supervising Professor, and at least two other members from the Rehabilitation and Movement Science faculty. At least one member must be from outside the departmental Graduate Studies Committee.

The candidate must present a formal seminar on the dissertation research as a part of the final oral examination. All interested faculty members and graduate students will be encouraged to attend the formal seminar and to ask questions about the candidate’s research.

Evaluation of the candidate’s performance will be decided by members of the Dissertation Committee. It is the responsibility of the student and the Supervising Professor to schedule the formal seminar through the office of the Graduate Adviser.

All completed work that is included in a doctoral student’s degree program at the time of admission to candidacy must have been taken within the previous six years (exclusive of a maximum of three years of military service).

The Graduate Studies Committee will review the programs of students who have not completed the degree at the end of three years from admission to candidacy. The committee will review the status of each of these students’ programs yearly thereafter. At those times, the committee may recommend additional coursework, further examinations, or termination of candidacy. In addition, each student’s program is subject to review by the graduate dean.

Photo of faculty member Owen  Beck
Assistant Professor

Studies how biomechanics affect human physiology and locomotion performance. Particularly interested in how body dimensions and muscle-tendon mechanics affect metabolism, fatigue and speed.

Photo of faculty member Brian K Farr
Director, Athletic Training Program

Serves as Director of the Athletic Training Education Program and specializes in sports medicine, training athletes, athletic injuries, strength and conditioning, and sports rehabilitation.

Photo of faculty member Mike  Freedberg
Assistant Professor

Uses repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and fMRI to identify mechanisms that support learning and memory in order to develop targeted therapies for patients suffering from memory loss.

Photo of faculty member Lisa  Griffin
Associate Professor

Investigates neuromuscular control mechanisms during fatigue, training, rehabilitation and aging with single-motor unit recording, and designs electrical stimulation protocols for individuals with paralysis.

Photo of faculty member Hao-Yuan  Hsiao
Assistant Professor

Studies the biomechanical and neuromuscular control mechanisms of human movement and translates this knowledge into practical solutions that reduce walking-related disability.

Photo of faculty member Sara J Hussain
Assistant Professor

Studies neural control of voluntary and skilled movements, development of brain stimulation interventions to promote motor function after stroke, motor learning, neuroplasticity, and brain oscillations.

Photo of faculty member Esbelle M Jowers
Research Assistant Professor

Studies school and community-based interventions regarding physical activity, healthy eating, and the prevention of chronic disease.

Photo of faculty member Kelvin  Phan
Clinical Assistant Professor

Serves as Clinical Education Coordinator of the Athletic Training Program with responsibilities revolving around preparing learners for professional practice through the integration of content knowledge into clinical education experiences.

Photo of faculty member Safeer F Siddicky
Assistant Professor of Instruction

Studies the biomechanics of infants in commercial baby gear and orthopedic devices, and parents/caregivers carrying infants during activities of daily living.

Studies the organization of memory systems with the goal of developing targeted treatments for memory disorders.

Human Locomotion Lab
Studies how biomechanics affect physiology and performance.

Neuromuscular Physiology Research Laboratory
Conducts studies specializing in the investigation of neuromuscular control patterns in healthy, clinical and aging populations with the use of intramuscular fine-wire recording and electrical stimulation.

Neurorehabilitation and Biomechanics Lab
Seeks to understand the mechanisms of biomechanical and neuromuscular control of normal and pathological movements and to apply this knowledge to design interventions that improve functional movements.

Sensorimotor Neuroplasticity Lab
Studies the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying control of normal and abnormal human movement.

Photo of Lisa Griffin

Program Director
Lisa Griffin

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