PhD in Rehabilitation and Participation Science (RAPS)

The Rehabilitation and Participation Science (RAPS) PhD program aims to develop rehabilitation scientists whose research questions are chosen based explicitly on their potential to generate rehabilitation knowledge that will enhance health, improve quality of life, and reduce illness and disability.

Our doctoral training model is based on that of mentored research, wherein students devote the majority of their time to research activities beginning in the first semester and become increasingly independent. Students choose rehabilitation scientists who hold primary appointments in the OT program as mentors to help focus their study in the areas of chronic diseases, evidence-based care, interventions, cognitive rehabilitation, neurorehabilitation, health promotion, decreasing secondary conditions, improving physical fitness for people with disabilities, and rehabilitation outcomes and informatics. Graduates of the RAPS PhD program will be prepared for a career as an academic rehabilitation research scientist.



Students must complete core courses, electives to support their area of study, research in their mentor’s laboratory and a dissertation.

Prior graduate courses that explicitly meet the program requirements may be considered (syllabus must be submitted for review and approval of the RAPS PhD Chair).

All RAPS PhD students will join faculty in a weekly seminar where faculty and student research is presented and discussed. Presentations will also be made by Washington University faculty and visiting professors whose work will stimulate new areas of study.


Photo of PhD mentor and student


Application Process and Requirements

The RAPS Program will not be admitting a Fall 2024 class. We look forward to reviewing applications for entry in Fall 2025. 

Students pursue the RAPS PhD degree because of their desire to generate knowledge to improve rehabilitation practices and thus people’s lives through participation. Students with a clinical degree at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral level are welcome to apply. Prior research experience is strongly encouraged.

In addition to meeting basic admissions requirements, there must be a fit between a candidate’s research interests and one or more RAPS PhD faculty members who are willing to guide the student’s program. Please review the listing of our RAPS PhD faculty mentors to explore a potential match that will meet your training goals and needs.

The application system is open from September 1 - December 15 annually for the RAPS PhD program. Applications must be submitted by December 15 at more information about the RAPS PhD program, please contact Abby King at 314-286-1605 or e-mail her at [email protected]

Applicants must submit all of the following:

  • A completed application form
  • $45 application fee
  • An essay that details why you are choosing this program of study and Washington University to prepare for a scientific career. Please address your motivation for study in rehabilitation and participation science, prior research and/or clinical experience, short- and long-range career goals, and the specific area of your interest.
  • An example of your scholarly writing such as a publication or college research paper 
  • Official transcripts of all post-secondary academic work. Applicants holding transcripts from institutions outside the United States are required to have the transcripts evaluated by a credentialing agency (names of agencies may be obtained by contacting the Program in Occupational Therapy). The evaluation must include course names, grades and credits in American terms. No international transcripts will be accepted without an evaluation from a credentialing agency.
  • Three letters of recommendation describing your capabilities for PhD studies
  • For international candidates whose native language is not English, the tests below must have been taken within 12 months of the date on the application:
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores; Minimum acceptable score = 600 (250 for computer-based test and 100 for iBT). Washington University in St. Louis - School Code 6929.
    • Test of Written English (TWE) scores; Minimum acceptable score = 5
    • WUSTL accepts the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module. We require a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS Academic module for applicants to be considered. Send scores to Washington University in St. Louis Graduate Admissions, 1 Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130, United States. 
Photo of graduating PhD students


PhD Financial Information


A full-time commitment to graduate education is expected of all students enrolled in the Rehabilitation and Participation Science Program (RAPS) PhD program. The annual stipend amount for the 2023-2024 academic year is $31,000. Once a stipend has been awarded, the customary procedure is to provide three years of support. Stipend funds for additional years may be from individual grants or mentor’s grants. If this is not possible, a stipend for additional time is to be negotiated with the RAPS PhD Director and the Associate Dean of the Program in Occupational Therapy. Full tuition remission and individual health insurance is provided to students who receive the stipend for up to five years.

Because the stipend is provided on a yearly basis, the work commitment is for a calendar year. In addition to University holidays, RAPS students may take religious holidays they observe and up to 20 vacation days per calendar year.

Fellowships and Doctoral Scholarships

Fellowships and/or doctoral scholarships should be sought by the students as soon as they are qualified for such support. The funds obtained from these scholarships are to replace, not supplement Program in Occupational Therapy funds.

Students with interest in international issues and global leadership are encouraged to apply separately for the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. The application is open from November through January. Incoming RAPS students are eligible to apply.

Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid and employment.

Washington University - Non-Discrimination Statement

The School of Medicine is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body.

Inquiries about compliance should be addressed to the University's Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Washington University, Campus Box 1184, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130-4899.

For more information about the Rehabilitation and Participation Science (RAPS) PhD program, please contact Abby King at 314-286-1605 or e-mail her at [email protected].

Program in Occupational Therapy
Washington University School of Medicine
4444 Forest Park Blvd., MSC 8505-66-01
St. Louis, MO 63108-2212
Phone: 314-286-1600
FAX: 314-286-1601

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