Applying to a PhD program in rehabilitation lets you gain more experience and do more fieldwork as you work on your dissertation. A rehabilitation doctoral degree prepares you for working with patients in rehab centers as you help them recover from different types of injuries. Whether you decide to apply for admission to just one doctoral program or multiple programs, you can rely on some basic tips when completing your applications.

Detail All Your Research Work

Those who do best in PhD programs are those who did more research work at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Graduate schools that offer doctoral programs will narrow down the field of applicants, bring students in for interviews and then determine who gets acceptance letters. Unless you have a lot of research on your application, you won’t even make it to the interview stage. Make sure that you detail all the research work that you did and connect it back to the doctoral degree you want to earn.

Give Your References Enough Time

Applying to a graduate school will usually require that you submit three or more letters of recommendation from faculty members, employers and anyone else familiar with your professional work. Depending on the university, your references may need to write and send their letters directly to the school or use a type of electronic form. This will require that they go online, fill out a form and write or upload a letter of recommendation. You should give your references at least a few weeks notice before you need letters from them.

Read and Follow All Listed Directions

Not following the listed directions when applying to a doctoral program is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make. In an article for U.S. News & World Report, Dr. Don Martin says to never add anything extra or go beyond what the application asks for, even if you think it will make you stand out. He points out that you should send only the stated number of letters of recommendation and that you should avoid following up later unless the application states that you can.

Edit Your Statement

Most applications will ask for a personal essay or a statement from you. It will typically ask you about why you want to enroll in the rehabilitation program, how your past work helped you reach the graduate level and/or what you plan to do once you finish the program. Check the application for a minimum or maximum word count, and do whatever it takes to stay within that word range. Take the time to edit your work as well to identify any spelling errors, grammar mistakes or information that just does not belong in the essay.

Sell Yourself to the Admissions Board

As you work on your application, think of yourself as a salesperson and the admissions board as a prospective customer. Think about what that board wants to see from applicants and how you can sell yourself as the product they need. You can check the university’s website to see the type of research done by professors and former students, and you can look at the research facilities open to students. This will help you identify what the rehabilitation program needs and show how you can fill that void.

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Getting into a doctoral program is much harder than getting into college or graduate school. PhD rehabilitation programs look for students with a strong understanding of how the human body operates and a history of working with real patients. Applying to a rehabilitation PhD program requires that you detail all the research work you did in the past and that you sell yourself to the admissions board.