School of Health and Medical Sciences
DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Overview

Physical therapists are clinicians who work with patients to alleviate pain and prevent the onset and progression of impairment, functional limitation, disability or changes in physical function and health status. A four-year (full-time) program, the Doctor of Physical Therapy prepares entry-level practitioners to critically analyze and convey information to patients, colleagues and health professionals, as well as adapt to the rapid changes in the profession and the healthcare delivery system. The comprehensive 120-credit program is supported by doctoral faculty who educate students to become autonomous practitioners. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program (DPT) of the School of Health and Medical Sciences is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: The program’s accreditation has been granted for a period of ten (10) years effective November 17, 2010.

The breadth and depth of the DPT curriculum, which highlights the foundational sciences, orthopedics and sports medicine, exercise and fitness, neurological rehabilitation, cardiopulmonary medicine and the business of patient care, allows students to acquire the necessary knowledge and hands-on skills to enter a variety of practice settings. The need for physical therapists is expected to grow exponentially through 2020, as more individuals with disabilities or limited functioning demand therapy services.

The program emphasizes the application of theory and research to practice. Students take part in a rigorous, four-semester research sequence that allows them to develop a research question, conduct a literature review, design a study, collect data and present their findings at various meetings and conferences. Such evidence-based practice challenges students to add to the body of literature that currently exists in the field. Since the inception of the program in 2001, student research groups have presented their work at regional and national physical therapy meetings.

Providing care with sensitivity is an integral program component that begins in the first year of study. Students live out this mission through four semesters each of part-time integrated clinical experiences as well as four full-time internships in sites throughout the tri-state area as well as in key cities across the county. These experiences allow students to work alongside a licensed physical therapist, putting their classroom learning to work in professional settings. Laboratories complete with equipment and measurement tools consistent with contemporary PT practice and research promote teaching and learning outside of the classroom.

Upon completion of the program, graduates of the program are thoroughly prepared to begin physical therapy practice. We boast strong student outcomes. For students graduating 2009-2011, 90.8% of enrolled students graduated from the DPT program. For students graduating in 2011 after completing the final clinical internship, 98.6% of DPT students met entry-level practice standards, and 38.6% received recognition for exceeding threshold expectations on the clinical performance instrument (CPI-web). Consistent with the program's mission, in 2011 100% of students participated in community-based service learning projects addressing physical activity for children with special needs, and 100% of students engaged in faculty-mentored research projects presented at SHU's annual academic exposition. Most of these research projects also were presented at regional and national physical therapy conferences. Graduates take the National Physical Therapist Examination (, and our three-year pass rate for 2009-2011 is 92.9%.  100% of DPT graduates from 2009-2011 who passed the NPTE reported employment within six months after licensure in diverse practice settings.  Many students acknowledge several employment offers prior to graduation.

To learn more about the Doctor of Physical Therapy, check out the admission and curriculum sections and apply today.

Department Secretary:
Aleatha Joseph

(973) 275-2051

Outcomes Link

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