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Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Science: Program Overview

Physical and occupational therapists who want to do research in rehabilitation science can enroll in a master's degree program in the subject. Find out what you need to apply and what to expect from the curriculum.

Essential Information

Master of Science programs in rehabilitation science are designed for experienced professionals with training in occupational therapy or physical therapy who are interested in directing their careers toward research and development in rehabilitation technologies. Students in these programs can expect to learn about research methodologies, analyze case studies, and participate in labs and clinical experiences. Students are usually required to submit a final thesis project in a particular area of interest.

Most programs take two to five years to complete, and some offer flexible night and weekend schedules in order to accommodate the needs of working healthcare professionals. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree and, in many cases, a state license to practice physical or occupational therapy.


Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Science

Students in these programs may focus their studies and research on a topic like children's rehabilitation studies, health promotion and aging, occupational performance, sports injury management, movement science, stroke treatment or functional assessment. Many of the courses found within a master's degree program in rehabilitation science focus on the scientific theories of rehabilitation, performance and functional movement. Some examples include:

  • Development of theories in rehabilitation
  • Occupational performance
  • Health assessment and diagnosis for advanced practice therapists
  • Qualitative research methods in the health sciences
  • Developing effective rehabilitation programs

Popular Career Options

Graduates of a master's degree programs in rehabilitation science can go seek research positions or management careers in healthcare facilities. Possible job titles include:

  • Physical therapy program director
  • Occupational therapy program director
  • Health care policy advocate
  • Rehabilitation science researcher
  • Rehabilitation facility director

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that physical therapist assistants and physical therapist aides would see employment growth of 41% and 39%, respectively, in the years 2014 through 2024. In May 2015, physical therapist assistants earned $55,170 as a median annual salary. The median annual salary for physical therapist aides was $25,120.

Continuing Education Options

Graduates of master's degree programs in rehabilitation studies can go on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the subject from an accredited university. These 5- to 7-year programs are designed for individuals who wish to teach rehabilitation science, physical therapy or occupational therapy at the university level. They emphasize studies of education, research, service delivery and policy implementation as they relate to rehabilitation science.

In summary, master's degree programs in rehabilitation science give physical therapists the opportunity to conduct in-depth research into a particular aspect of rehabilitation science. This training prepares them for doctoral studies or high-level positions in the field.


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