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Graduate School Requirements

Graduate School requirements listed below are some of the important requirements established by the Graduate School that you must follow to satisfactorily complete your degree program. It is important that you review the Graduate School Catalog, which clearly outlines all degree requirements. This information can also be found on the University of Florida Graduate School website.

Initial Advisor/Chair of Supervisory Committee

Graduate School requirements regarding composition and appointment of doctoral supervisory committees will apply. Students will be matched with a particular advisor based upon the student’s major interest upon admittance. The advisor serves as the student’s primary mentor until the supervisor committee is established. The student, in consultation with the chair of their supervisory committee, will determine appropriate faculty members for the supervisory committee. Approval of committee structure and completion of concentration requirements will be made by the Director of the Rehabilitation Science Program in consultation with the RSD Steering Committee.

The student’s supervisory committee will be comprised of at least four faculty members, including the student’s advisor who serves as chair. At least one member from the other disciplines within the PhD program, and at least one member from outside the PhD program, must be included on the committee. The timelines for establishing the committee will be in accordance with Graduate School guidelines of two semesters for full time students.

It is possible to have a committee from outside the university. See Appendix B “Instructions for Creating a Special Appointment” in the Student Manual.

Period of Concentrated Study

Students must satisfy the minimum requirements for a period of concentrated study:

“Beyond the first 30 hours counted towards the doctoral degree, students must complete 30 hours in residence at the University of Florida campus or at an approved branch station of the University of Florida agricultural Experiment Stations or the Graduate Engineering and Research Center.”

Courses & Credits

Undergraduate courses (1000-2999) may not be used as any part of the graduate degree requirements. All 1000- and 2000- level courses may be taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis.

Six credits of undergraduate courses (3000-4999) outside the major may count when taken as part of an approved graduate program.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying examination may be taken no sooner than the third semester of graduate study and no later than the semester prior to completing the dissertation. The examination is prepared and evaluated by the full supervisory committee. The supervisory committee has the responsibility at this time of deciding whether the student is qualified to continue work towards the PhD degree.

Successful completion of a written and oral qualifying examination is required of all doctoral students as they near the completion of their required course work. The examination will consist of the student preparing 3 review papers on specific topics from within each of the 3 areas of completed course work. These areas include: (1) Core I -Rehabilitation Research Methods, (2) Core II – Rehabilitation Science Application, and (3) Emphasis with Concentration Area. The student is given one week per topic (total time of 3 weeks) to develop a written document. Each document should define a given problem or set of problems dealing with the topic, provide a concise review of literature relevant to the topic, and propose future research needs to advance the knowledge base within the topic. Each paper will be reviewed by the supervisory committee and judged to be satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If any paper is unsatisfactory, the student will be given written guidelines regarding how to improve the paper. These guidelines will include specific areas for the student to address in the paper prior to committee re-review. Once all three papers are judged satisfactory, the student will convene a meeting of the supervisory committee consisting of at least 4 faculty members. It is the responsibility of the supervisory committee to conduct the oral examination of the student relevant to the 3 written papers and to decide whether the student is qualified to continue work toward a PhD degree.

The qualifying examination’s purposes are to determine student’s (1) understanding of rehabilitation science, (2) their mastery of specialized course work, and (3) their readiness to complete a dissertation successfully. The content of the examination will address these three areas. The student’s supervisory committee will address these three areas. The student’s supervisory committee will develop questions that are either specific to each of the three areas or more general and require students to fold their understanding of rehabilitation science into their discussions of specialized course work, including research methodology.

The time lapse between the oral portion of the qualifying examination and the date of the degree must be a minimum of two semesters. The semester in which the qualifying examination is passed is counted, provided that the examination occurs before the midpoint of the term.

A student may request a different format for the qualifying examination. This format must still follow Graduate School guidelines. The student (and/or the Chair of the Supervisory Committee) must present an outline of the new format for the qualifying exam to the Director of the RSD program who, with consultation with graduate coordinators, will determine it’s suitability.

Admission to Candidacy

Approval for admission to candidacy is based on 1) the academic record of the student, 2) the opinion of the supervisory committee concerning the overall fitness for candidacy, 3) an approved dissertation topic, and 4) successful completion of the qualifying examination. The on-line Introduction to Public Health for the Health Professions course completion is required prior to Admission to Candidacy.


Each doctoral candidate must prepare and present a dissertation that shows independent investigation and that is acceptable in form and content to the supervisory committee and to the Graduate School. The work must be of publishable quality and must be in a form suitable for publication, using the Graduate School’s format requirements. The student and supervisory committee are responsible for level of quality and scholarship. Graduate Council requires the Graduate School Editorial Office, as agents of the Dean of the Graduate School, to review theses and dissertations for acceptable format, and to make recommendations as needed.

Doctoral dissertation requirements: Before presentation to the Editorial Office, the dissertation should be virtually complete and completely formatted (not in a draft format). Students must be completely familiar with the format requirements of the Graduate School and should work with one of the consultants in the Application Support Center, to troubleshoot the dissertation, before attempting to make a first submission to the editors in the Graduate School Editorial Office.  Students who fail to first meet with one of the ASC Lab Consultants often find their document rejected upon First Submission to the Editorial Office, for not meeting the minimum submission standards, required for an editorial review.