University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Academics
Academics

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Science | Immersion Experiences

The hallmark of our PhD program is immersion for 20 hours per week in an interdisciplinary, extramurally funded research group. Within these groups, doctoral students gain experience in interdisciplinary collaboration, grantsmanship, and dissemination through presentations and publications that includes work related to research designs, methodologies and measurement; data collection, management, and analysis; and data interpretation and theory building. An intensive immersion model can be thought of as a learner-centered research apprenticeship. More specifically, this immersion experience provides a context in which students can develop competencies in four domains: 1) participating in the development and implementation of empirically and conceptually sound scientific research, 2) understanding research as a socially embedded and cognitively distributed social practice, 3) developing an appreciation of the career trajectory of a research scientist, and 4) becoming an expert in domain-specific knowledge, methodologies and scholarship.

Immersion Assignment

It is expected that the research immersion will provide a foundation for each student to pursue dissertation work that is related to the research domain in which he or she has been immersed. Assignment to an immersion is made at the time a student is admitted to the program.  This assignment is based on the faculty mentor’s willingness to accept the student as a mentee, the student’s acknowledgment that he or she intends to pursue a career scientist trajectory within the domain in which he or she will be immersed, and the forecasted likelihood of the continuance of the immersion throughout the years in which the student will be in the PhD program. In most cases, a student is immersed in one research group for the duration of his or her PhD program. On occasion, and assuming there is academic justification, a student’s immersion experience could involve a customized configuration crossing more than one research group.

Available Immersions

We believe that the wide-ranging content of our research programs prepares our PhD students as career scientists who can confidently make a valued contribution to interdisciplinary research groups. It also places the student squarely at the center of translational research that is at the forefront of health-related research. As such, we aim to provide rich immersion experiences by involving students in funded division research, but a variety of immersion experiences are available with all of our PhD program faculty: