Dual Degree

The School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences offers several dual degree programs that allow students to combine doctoral degrees. Students interested in a dual degree program apply simultaneously to the professional program and the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences PhD program.  Students accepted into a dual degree program complete specified Health and Rehabilitation Sciences PhD courses while in their professional programs.  In addition, specific research-oriented professional degree courses count toward the PhD degree.  These dual degree programs are designed for entering students who are interested in careers in academia or research within their respective health professions.  They offer early exposure to research and allow students to hone their research skills over an extended period of time.  Students who are interested in learning more about the application process for the dual degree programs should contact the HRS graduate advisor at HRSGraduateStudentServices@osumc.edu.

Students in the DPT program for physical therapy have the unique option to prepare for a career as an academic physical therapist through the combined DPT/PhD. For this pathway, students must first be accepted into the DPT program. At the time of application in the fall, the student should also contact Dr. Buford to inform him of the intent to pursue the combined DPT/PhD. This will have no bearing on the student's chances of acceptance into the DPT program. Please be certain you understand the difference between a DPT and a PhD before considering this unique option.

The DPT is a clinical doctorate. It is the degree required for you to complete the program and practice as a physical therapist. As part of your professional training for the DPT you will learn about research so that you can keep abreast of your profession throughout your career. However, you will not be prepared to independently lead a scientific research program of your own after the DPT. The DPT is a clinical degree.

The PhD is a philosophical doctorate. This is the degree required to become a professor at a University.  The PhD is the highest degree offered by a University. It requires you to conceive and successfully complete an original investigation to develop original knowledge in your field.  At the completion of the PhD, you write a dissertation, which may be the equivalent of a few published research articles.  Hence, the PhD prepares you to become an independent scientific investigator in your field of study.  In our program, it also prepares you to become a leader and effective teacher in your profession.

In the combined DPT/PhD program, students begin with the DPT phase of their education.  They proceed with learning clinical skills along with their classmates, but also become involved in research.  In the first year, the research experiences are designed to give students an introduction to the faculty research programs.  In the second year, students are expected to select a faculty research advisor, who will become their dissertation adviser for the PhD.  Hence, in the second and third year of the DPT program, the DPT/PhD student becomes integrated into the research programs of the faculty advisor.  After completing the full time clinical affiliations at the end of the second year, the DPT/PhD student's classes begin to diverge somewhat from regular DPT program. The DPT/PhD student begins taking PhD level courses at this time instead of some of the DPT courses. However, the DPT/PhD student completes all requirements of the DPT program, and is eligible to sit for national licensure. 

In fact, the DPT/PhD student completed the DPT program as planned at the end of summer quarter, and for university enrollment purposes, formally begins the PhD program in the Fall of the fourth year.  However, having enrolled in certain additional research practicums and other PhD courses in addition to those required by the DPT, the student enrolled in this dual degree program will have more credits than required for the DPT program. As a formality, the student will apply to have those excess credits from the previous degree counted towards the PhD. 

Between the excess credits accumulated during the DPT phase and the advanced familiarity with the research program the student will have gained prior to formally starting the PhD program, students in this combined program are expected to be about a year ahead of their PhD classmates who would start the PhD program 'from scratch.
The advantage of having completed the DPT phase is that the student will (pending passing the licensure exam) have a PT license during the PhD portion. This will enable independent practice as a PT in case the research for the dissertation requires provision of PT services by the student. It will also qualify the student to act as a teaching assistant in clinical skills labs of the DPT program.
If you are interested in eventually becoming a professor of Physical Therapy, this unique DPT/PhD program offers the perfect opportunity to get a head start on your ultimate career goal.  For more information regarding the DPT/PhD option, contact the Graduate Student Services at HRSGraduateStudentServices@osumc.edu