• Degree offered: Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD)
  • Registration status option: Full-time
  • Language of instruction:
    • French
    • English
  • Program option (expected duration of the program):
    • with thesis (12 full-time terms; 48 consecutive months)
  • Academic units: Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Rehabilitation Sciences.

Program Description

The degree prepares candidates from both professional and research backgrounds for a career involving research in rehabilitation sciences, including issues ranging from basic science questions to psychosocial repercussions of health conditions in a rehabilitation context. PhD graduates will develop independent and collaborative research skills and will be equipped to contribute to the knowledge base that informs the practice of rehabilitation professionals.

Main Areas of Research

  • Impairment and rehabilitation: This field concerns the impact of motor, sensory, cognitive, and mental health impairments on the individual’s daily functioning. It includes research on fundamental views of disease and disease etiology as risks factors for eventual difficulties in functioning.
  • The environment and rehabilitation: This field focuses on the way social and physical environmental factors can either enable or hinder an individual’s functioning.
  • Participation in life situations and rehabilitation: This field focuses on how the individual is re-integrated into the community and takes part in life activities while gaining functional autonomy following the onset of disease, disorder, or trauma.

Other Programs Offered Within the Same Discipline or in a Related Area

  • Master of Health Sciences in Audiology (MScS)
  • Master of Health Sciences Speech-Language Pathology (MScS)
  • Master of Health Sciences in Occupational Therapy (MScS)
  • Master of Health Sciences Physiotherapy (MScS)
  • Graduate Diploma Auditory-Verbal Studies

Fees and Funding

  • Program fees:

The estimated amount for university fees associated with this program are available under the section Finance your studies.

International students enrolled in a French-language program of study may be eligible for a differential tuition fee exemption.


  • Programs are governed by the general regulations in effect for graduate studies.
  • In accordance with the University of Ottawa regulation, students have the right to complete their assignments, examinations, research papers, and theses in French or in English.

Program Contact Information

Academic Office, Faculty of Health Sciences
125 University Private, Room 232
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5853
Toll free: 1-877-868-8292, ext. 5853

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For the most accurate and up to date information on application deadlines, language tests and other admission requirements, please visit the specific requirements webpage.

To be eligible, candidates must:

  • Have a master’s degree in Health Sciences or in a related discipline (e.g., education, health administration, psychology) with a minimum average of 75% (B+) calculated in accordance with graduate studies guidelines.

Note: International candidates must check the admission equivalencies for the diploma they received in their country of origin.

  • Identify at least one professor who is willing to supervise your research and thesis. We recommend that you contact potential thesis supervisors as soon as possible.

Language Requirements

Applicants must be able to understand and fluently speak the language of instruction (French or English) in the program to which they are applying. Proof of linguistic proficiency may be required.

Applicants whose first language is neither French nor English must provide proof of proficiency in the language of instruction.

Note: Candidates are responsible for any fees associated with the language tests.


  • The admission requirements listed above are minimum requirements and do not guarantee admission to the program.

Fast-Track from Master’s to PhD

Students enrolled in a Health Sciences research master’s program at the University of Ottawa (for instance, Nursing, Human Kinetics) may be eligible to fast-track directly into the doctoral program without writing a master’s thesis, provided the following conditions are met:

  • Achievement of an 80% (A-) average in their last two years of undergraduate studies;
  • Completion of five graduate courses (15 units) with a grade of A- or better in each;
  • Satisfactory progress in the research program;
  • Written recommendation from the supervisor and the thesis advisory committee;
  • Approval by the graduate studies committee.

Note: The transfer must take place within sixteen months of initial enrollment in the master’s. Following transfer, all the requirements of the doctoral program must be met.


Students must meet the following requirements:

Compulsory Courses: 1
REA 7101Team Research and Interdisciplinary Methodology3 Units
REA 7102Research Seminar on Individual Functioning and Rehabilitation Models3 Units
REA 7103Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Seminar3 Units
3 elective course units in rehabilitation sciences (REA) at the graduate level3 Units
Comprehensive Examination:
REA 9998Comprehensive Examination
Thesis Proposal:
REA 9997Thesis Proposal
THD 9999Doctoral Thesis 2


Minimum Requirements

The passing grade in all courses is C+.

Students who fail two courses (equivalent to 6 units), the thesis proposal, or whose research progress is deemed unsatisfactory are required to withdraw.

Research Fields & Facilities

Located in the heart of Canada’s capital, a few steps away from Parliament Hill, the University of Ottawa is among Canada’s top 10 research universities.

uOttawa focuses research strengths and efforts in four Strategic Areas of Development in Research (SADRs):

  • Canada and the World
  • Health
  • e-Society
  • Molecular and Environmental Sciences

With cutting-edge research, our graduate students, researchers and educators strongly influence national and international priorities.

Research at the Faculty of Health Sciences

Research at the Faculty involves many important aspects of health, including women's health, health in the elderly, health needs of francophones in a minority context, Aboriginal health, physical activity and health, multiple interventions in population health, palliative care, rehabilitation and functional autonomy, health and technology, and evidence based practice.

Facilities, Research Centres and Institutes at the Faculty of Health Sciences

  • The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute
  • The Bruyère Research Institute
  • The Community Health Research Unit
  • The Institute for Rehabilitation Research and Development
  • The University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research
  • L’Institut de recherche de l’Hôpital Montfort
  • The Institute of Population Health
  • University of Ottawa Heart Institute

For more information, refer to the list of faculty members and their research fields on Uniweb

IMPORTANT: Candidates and students looking for professors to supervise their thesis or research project can also consult the website of the faculty or department of their program of choice. Uniweb does not list all professors authorized to supervise research projects at the University of Ottawa.

In addition to the compulsory REA courses, students must complete an additional three-unit course. It is possible that the chosen course has a prerequisite and this may increase the number of units required. The additional course or courses can be taken outside of the Faculty of Health Sciences and will be identified by the thesis committee in consultation with the thesis supervisor.

The admission committee can request that the student take an additional 6 units based on the student’s previous training.

REA 5703 Pratiques professionnelles en réadaptation (3 crédits)

Préparation à l'entrée aux professions de la santé : lois et règlements; communication thérapeutique; pratique collaborative et interprofessionnelle.

Volet : Laboratoire, Cours magistral

REA 5940 Conversation anglaise pour les stages en réadaptation / English Conversation for Clinical Placements in Rehabilitation

Cours visant la préparation des étudiants en réadaptation pour l'intervention ayant lieu en anglais : relation d'aide, entrevue initiale, consentement aux soins, évaluation, intervention, congé et rédaction de notes de dossier à l'aide de la méthode SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan). La terminologie spécifique aux différents domaines de la réadaptation est abordée. Noté S (satisfaisant) ou NS (non satisfaisant). Cours réservé aux étudiants inscrits à l'un des programmes de maîtrise professionnels de l'École des sciences de la réadaptation. Il ne peut compter parmi les crédits requis pour le programme mais il pourra être imposé comme exigence additionnelle à l'admission. / Course aimed at preparing students to converse effectively with English-speaking colleagues and clients. Topics will include English terms and dialogue related to forming a therapeutic relationship, the initial interview, obtaining informed consent, assessment, intervention, discharge and the charting of notes using the SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan) method. Specific rehabilitation terminology will be presented. Graded S (Satisfactory) or NS (Not satisfactory). Course reserved for students registered in one of the professional master's programs within the School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Cannot be counted towards the units required for the student's program but may be specified as an additional requirement at admission.

Volet / Course Component: Cours magistral / Lecture

Permission du Département est requise. / Permission of the Department is required.

REA 6503 Pratique factuelle en réadaptation (3 crédits)

Étude appliquée de la pratique fondée sur les faits scientifiques en réadaptation.

Volet : Cours magistral, Séminaire

Préalable : ERG 5754 ou ORA 5520 ou PHT 5622.

REA 6547 Santé et réadaptation au travail (1.5 crédit)

Concepts et enjeux reliés au travail. Approches de réadaptation au travail. Capacités au travail. Évaluation des dimensions en réadaptation au travail. Élaboration de programmes de prise en charge. Identification des teneurs d'enjeux et de stratégies de collaboration. Ergonomie. Lois, règlements et politiques encadrant les problématiques de santé au travail.

Volet : Cours magistral

PHT 6514 est concomitant à REA 6547.

REA 7101 Team Research and Interdisciplinary Methodology (3 units)

Challenges and solutions of working in interdisciplinary research teams using a patient-centered collaborative approach.

Course Component: Lecture

REA 7102 Research Seminar on Individual Functioning and Rehabilitation Models (3 units)

Relevance and discussion of current and past rehabilitation models of individual functioning.

Course Component: Lecture

REA 7103 Knowledge Transfer and Exchange Seminar (3 units)

Theoretical training and practical application of knowledge transfer and exchange principles.

Course Component: Lecture

REA 7501 Recherche en équipe et méthodologie interdisciplinaire (3 crédits)

Défis et solutions de travail d'équipes de recherche interdisciplinaires dans le cadre d une approche collaborative centrée sur le client.

Volet : Cours magistral

REA 7502 Séminaire de recherche sur le fonctionnement de la personne et sur les modèles de réadaptation (3 crédits)

Pertinence et discussion des modèles de réadaptation présents et passés du fonctionnement de l'individu.

Volet : Cours magistral

REA 7503 Séminaire sur le transfert des connaissances (3 crédits)

Formation théorique et application pratique des principes de transfert et échange de connaissances.

Volet : Cours magistral

REA 9997 Proposition de thèse / Thesis Proposal

La proposition de recherche du candidat doit avoir été soumise et acceptée avant la fin de la sixième session. Les étudiants rédigent leur proposition de thèse sous la supervision du directeur de thèse et la présentent et défendent oralement devant le CCT. Après la soutenance orale de la proposition de thèse, l'étudiant doit obtenir l'approbation déontologique (si requise) avant la collecte des données. La proposition doit normalement être soutenue au milieu de la deuxième année, et au plus tard, à la fin de la deuxième année au programme de doctorat. Un étudiant qui échoue à la première tentative de soutenance peut se voir accorder la permission de la répéter une seule fois. L'échec de la deuxième tentative mène à une note NS (non satisfaisant) et au retrait du programme. / The candidate's research proposal must have been submitted and accepted prior the end of the sixth session. Students write their thesis proposal under the guidance of their thesis supervisor and present and defend it orally before the TAC. After successfully defending the oral thesis proposal, the student must obtain ethics approval (if required) before proceeding to data collection. The proposal will normally have been defended towards the middle of the second year and, at the latest, by the end of that year. A student who is unsuccessful on the first attempt may be allowed to repeat it once. Failure on the second attempt leads to a grade of NS (Not satisfactory) and withdrawal from the program.

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research

REA 9998 Examen de synthèse / Comprehensive Examination

L'examen de synthèse a lieu une fois tous les cours réussis (habituellement à la fin de la première année pour les étudiants détenteurs d'une maîtrise). L'examen de synthèse permet aux étudiants de démontrer l'étendue et la profondeur des connaissances acquises lors des cours et de leurs lectures. Il devrait refléter leur capacité à intégrer divers concepts et théories reliés à leur domaine dans le contexte global des sciences de la réadaptation. Cet examen doit être présenté par écrit et soutenu oralement. L'examen doit être complété, au plus tard, avant la fin de la deuxième année suivant l'inscription initiale. Celui-ci comporte une partie écrite et une partie orale. Le CCT en assure l'évaluation. / The comprehensive examination takes place after successful completion of coursework (typically by the end of the first year for students admitted with a completed master's degree). The comprehensive examination allows students to demonstrate the depth and breadth of knowledge gained from readings and coursework, and it should be an indication of their ability to integrate concepts, principles and theories related to their area of interest within the larger context of rehabilitation sciences. In addition, the comprehensive exam requires students to defend their written work orally. It must be completed at the latest within two years of initial registration. It is a two-part examination (written and oral) that is overseen by the TAC.

Volet / Course Component: Recherche / Research