The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program is a post-graduate course of study that prepares students for entry into the field as a licensed physical therapist or researcher in the field of physical therapy. Students attending a graduate school typically take both didactic and clinical courses as part of the curriculum and are prepared to serve as primary clinical care practitioners in a hospital, clinic or other medical setting. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum varies slightly from school to school, but most of these programs are 33-month, full-time programs.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Requirements

The admissions process for a doctor of physical therapy degree can vary from school to school, but the top ranking graduate schools in the country attract high-caliber students and can be fairly competitive. Students who are interested in pursuing a doctor of physical therapy degree program must have an outstanding track record and demonstrate a certain set of characteristics. Some of the key requirements you must fulfill when applying for a doctor of physical therapy degree include:

  • Excellent academic background with high GRE scores
  • Strong letters of recommendation from two individuals from your undergraduate studies
  • Letter of recommendation from a professional physical therapist you have volunteered with or worked with
  • Proof of employment or volunteer work in the field
  • Successful interview with faculty

The admissions committee at the school will review all of your application materials and determine which candidates would be the best match for a doctor of physical therapy degree program at the school. Recruiting methods vary by school and qualified applicants may be contacted for a second or third interview at some point of the admissions process.

Types of Doctor of Physical Therapy Courses

The curriculum at a physical therapy graduate school will vary by school, but most programs are a combination of required courses and electives. Nearly half of the required courses fulfill clinical education requirements, and students will have the chance to work closely with faculty members and under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Clinical internships are typically offered in the first, second and third year of the program.

Examples of required doctor of physical therapy courses include:

  • Human and Clinical Anatomy
  • Surface Anatomy
  • Embryology, Histology and Pathology
  • Tissue Biomechanics
  • Practice Management
  • Physical Therapist Interventions
  • Movement Sciences
  • Biomechanics
  • Neurosciences
  • Integumentary Practice Management
  • Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Practice Management
  • Arthrological and Pathological Movement Science
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Musculoskeletal Practice Management
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Care
  • Neurological Practice Management

Elective course options for those who are pursuing a doctor of physical therapy degree program typically involve in-depth studies in a particular specialization or type of physical therapy. For example, a school might offer elective courses in subjects such as acute care practice management, sports physical therapy, manual therapy, musculoskeletal evidence-based physical therapy practice and prosthetics. Students who are planning to specialize in a particular field can benefit from taking these types of courses at some point during their educational career.