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Our interdisciplinary doctoral program curriculum involves faculty across a variety of departments and schools at the University of Kansas.

The therapeutic science doctoral program includes a core curriculum for all students. It also provides each student with the opportunity to create a course of study to meet their professional objectives.

You will receive a foundation of basic knowledge, as well as multidisciplinary perspectives on the issues and problems related to individuals with disabilities.

Program Components

  1. Core curriculum including foundation theory knowledge and a series of core courses
  2. Interdisciplinary content coursework and advanced study courses
  3. Design, methods and analysis coursework
  4. Competency attainment
  5. Dissertation work

Those entering the program typically already have at least 24 graduate credit hours in content courses and 6 hours in research methods and analysis courses that have been accumulated toward a master's degree.

The curriculum outlined below requires a minimum of 60 credit hours in addition to any existing credits the student has earned prior to beginning the program. Most therapeutic science students accumulate more than the 60 credit minimum by the end of the program.

You're expected to complete the therapeutic science core courses in the first three years of the program.

TS 850 From Beliefs to Evidence in Scientific Inquiry (1 credit x 2 terms) Analysis of the role of beliefs about practice in professional culture and how beliefs are affected by the accumulation of research evidence. Topics include the nature of science and beliefs, the nature of evidence, and the debate over evidence-based practice. Students will use topics from their own professional interests for class presentations and written assignments. Must be taken more than once for a total of at least two credits.

TS 900 Interdisciplinary Views of Disablement (1 credit x 2 terms) Assessment of how our social and cultural context defines notions of disability and disablement in our society. Topics include historical constructs of disability, public policy related to disability, and social paradigms of disability. Students will evaluate views of disablement from the perspective of their own discipline. Must be taken more than once for a total of at least two credits.

TS 950 Designing Effective Knowledge Transfer (1 credit x 2 terms) Examination of the principles of knowledge transfer and diffusion of innovation as they relate to practices in therapeutic professions. Topics include the diffusion process, change agents, innovation adoption, and current diffusion methods. Students will evaluate diffusion processes that have occurred within their own professions. Must be taken more than once for a total of at least two credits.

Doctoral seminars: These courses are offered in succession over three years and are designed to provide students with the skills to integrate and apply the knowledge they gain from other courses to the specific problems and issues faced by professionals and systems that serve persons with disabilities. In addition, students will learn about theories and frames of reference as they relate to issues of disability, and learn to use that insight to inform his or her own topic of study.

(18 total credits minimum)

  • TS 980 Adv. Study in Therapeutic Science (1 – 6 per semester; may be repeated until work is completed) Students engage in advanced study of a topic of their interest, guided by an appropriate mentor. Methods include directed readings, interpretation of evidence, discussions, and written syntheses of existing literature. Course culminates in a written proposal for original research and an oral defense of that proposal. Credit is given only after the dissertation is accepted by the student’s dissertation committee.
  • TS 990 Dissertation (1-9 credits) Research experience leading to dissertation for doctoral students in Therapeutic Science.
  • Advanced Theory (Interdisciplinary) elective (at least 3 credits)
    Students will identify and explore key theories through enrollment in an advanced theory course having an emphasis on clinical reasoning. Students will demonstrate an understanding of contemporary theories and be able to compare and contrast key theories, while also developing knowledge about theory-guided research and interventions.
  • Interdisciplinary content courses (at least 2, 3-credit courses)
    In consultation with mentors, the student will choose a content emphasis and select a series of interdisciplinary courses around that emphasis. The selection of courses for each student will be guided by a significant scientific or professional problem identified by the student, and the associated research area of interest.
  • Advanced Study Coursework (at least 3 credits)
    This course will allow the student to pursue an in-depth study of his or her content emphasis and to participate with interdisciplinary peers in order to be exposed to other content and perspectives.

In accordance with KU Medical Center's Graduate Studies policies, the therapeutic science doctoral program requires students to demonstrate attainment of competency in research skills and research ethics.

Research Design, Methods, Analysis, and Skills Requirements

The program requires a minimum of 6 hours of research design and methods, 6 hours of analysis, and typically requires 18 dissertation hours.

Research Skills Requirement
The graduate school requires doctoral students to demonstrate competency in a research skill "distinct from, but strongly supportive of, the dissertation." To fulfill this requirement in therapeutic science, students must demonstrate specific skills or competencies, listed below. The purpose of this extensive research skills requirement is to ensure that the student can implement design and analysis procedures and engage in scholarly work appropriate to the chosen content emphasis. Students will propose their own plan for fulfilling these requirements, which must be approved by the student's mentors.

The nine specific competencies are:

  1. Mastery of theoretical and conceptual background knowledge concerning human service problems, social science disciplines, and research methodologies.
  2. Ability to identify, define and conceptualize major social and behavioral problems, treatment methods and unresolved issues for intervention modalities.
  3. Awareness of standards for ethical practices, and the ability to apply these standards appropriately in research settings.
  4. Ability to identify relevant sources of knowledge and information for problem solution (e.g., empirical research, related practice and technology, social innovation), and to retrieve, assess, order and synthesize their contributions for application purposes.
  5. Ability to design innovative intervention strategies and techniques derived from the diverse sources of knowledge and information. This requires familiarity with social science and related data, with treatment and related technology, and a capacity to relate one to the other in new and potentially productive ways. It necessitates knowledge of the methodology of intervention design.
  6. Ability to engage in developmental processes, that is, to operationalize appropriate intervention procedures, to submit them to pilot and developmental testing, to revise and proceduralize them as appropriate and to come up with innovative, field-tested interventions.
  7. Ability to employ multiple methodologies in development and evaluation-needs assessment, quantitative and qualitative approaches, basic research methods, single-case experimental designs, group- and quasi-experimental designs, measurement instruments and practice related recording procedures, developmental practice and methods of proceduralization, diverse techniques such as those of human service practice, task analysis and flowcharting, and selected aspects of program evaluation now employed for assessing, modifying, and developing interventions in a phased design and development sequence.
  8. Ability to work cooperatively in practice settings, to gain the support of practitioners and other agency actors, and to handle the politics of field research generally and of outcome evaluation specifically.
  9. Ability to communicate research results differentially both to the scientific community and to the community of professional practitioners and administrators.

Qualifying Exam
When the student has completed three semesters or 18 credit hours, they will complete a qualifying exam. The purposes of the qualifying examination are to assess 1) breadth and depth of students’ knowledge across at least two disciplinary areas, 2) ability to synthesize and integrate this knowledge, and 3) ability to expand and contribute to the knowledge base in their field(s). With a therapeutic science mentor, the student will select a qualifying exam question and prepare a 10-page paper to be reviewed by a committee of three faculty. During this phase, the student will enroll in course TS 800.

Written Preliminary Examinations
Once a major portion of the program coursework and the research skills competency requirement is completed, each student will write three literature reviews on topic areas related to the student's research interests. The three papers each will be evaluated by the student's mentor and other appropriate program faculty, and together constitute the written preliminary examination which must be successfully completed before the student can defend his or her dissertation proposal. During this phase of the program, students will enroll in TS980 Advanced Study in Therapeutic Science for a corresponding number of credit hours.

Comprehensive Oral Examination
When a doctoral student has completed all the requirements for residency, research skills, and the written preliminary examination, the comprehensive oral examination may take place. The format for this examination is an oral defense of a written dissertation proposal. The examining committee for the comprehensive oral examination will consist of at least five members representing at least three disciplines, all of whom will be members of the graduate faculty. During this phase of the program, students will enroll in TS980 Advanced Study in Therapeutic Science for a corresponding number of credit hours.

Dissertation Preparation and Final Oral Examination
A student will become a candidate for the doctorate following successful defense of the dissertation proposal in the comprehensive oral examination. The Office of Graduate Studies will appoint a dissertation committee consisting of at least three members, based on the recommendation of the program. The dissertation will typically require 18 credit hours and must include a component of knowledge transfer. Once the dissertation is completed, the candidate will undertake a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation project and the student's interpretation of the project's findings. During this final phase of the program, students will enroll in TS990 Dissertation for a corresponding number of credit hours.

"KU offered me the opportunity to combine my clinical, real-world practice with academic education and research in an interdisciplinary setting which made sense to me since I work in a highly interdisciplinary setting. Why, at the highest level of learning, when a place like KU has so many resources available, would I limit myself to a single discipline?"

Vaccines and Clinical Site Requirements

The University of Kansas Medical Center requires various immunizations for its students. For a detailed list please visit the student health forms webpage or speak with Student Health Services. These immunization requirements help promote health and safety and facilitate clinical placement.

Many, if not all, clinical sites who partner with the University of Kansas Medical Center require proof of these vaccines for students engaged in training or other programmatic experiences at clinical sites. Not being vaccinated may preclude students from participating in activities, potentially impeding their ability to complete all program requirements for degree completion. Applicants with questions should speak with a representative from the academic program to which they intend to apply.

KU School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy Education
KU Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Blvd  MS2003
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-7195 • 711 TTY