Doctor of Physical Therapy

Major: Physical Therapy
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 128.0
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 51.2308
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 29-1123

About the Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum produces broadly educated physical therapists, while being sensitive to the needs of the health care community and the students’ interests. The program strives to foster both intellectual and professional growth in students and is reflective of contemporary practice to prepare graduates for the ongoing changes in health care delivery.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program prepares students for autonomous practice in physical therapy. As a science, physical therapy examines human motion at the tissue, organ, and systems levels. In the clinical environment, physical therapists (PTs) examine and evaluate patients/clients and implement procedural interventions that restore physical function for all people across the life span. As essential practitioners in the health care delivery system, PTs assume roles in rehabilitation services, prevention and health maintenance programs, and professional and community programs. As professional members of the health care team, PTs supervise support personnel, serve as consultants to other health care personnel, serve as consultants to families and caregivers, participate in administrative services, and conduct clinical research. PTs also serve as advocates for health policy and standards of care that help ensure optimum care for their patients/clients.

Graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program are prepared to fulfill their professional obligations, provide leadership to the profession, and use their knowledge and skills to contribute to the health care of society.

The 31-month curriculum spans ten academic quarters and consists of integrated didactic and clinical study with an emphasis on adult learning methodology. The curriculum consists of foundational courses during the first year, with subsequent quarters sequenced to progress through the hierarchy of educational objectives from simple to complex. All didactic material is organized for synthesis and application to professional practice.

For more information visit the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science page on the College of Nursing and Health Professions website.

For application instructions, visit the Drexel's Graduate Admission web page for the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Degree Requirements

The DPT curriculum occurs in a 10-week quarter format over ten quarters: fall, winter, spring, and summer I; fall, winter, spring, and summer II; and fall and winter III. Classes begin in late September for first-year students. The curriculum is subject to modification.

First Year
PTRS 530Kinesiology I4.0
PTRS 534Physical Therapy Exam & Intervention I3.0
PTRS 532Human Gross Anatomy I4.0
PTRS 537Introduction to Clinical Reasoning3.0
PTRS 633Professional Development1.0
PTRS 613Integrated Clinical Experience I0.5
 Term Credits15.5
PTRS 533Human Gross Anatomy II3.5
PTRS 531Kinesiology II3.0
PTRS 535Physical Therapy Exam & Intervention II3.0
PTRS 539Topics in Pathophysiology I3.5
PTRS 624Functional Mobility2.5
PTRS 614Integrated Clinical Experience II0.5
PTRS 751Evidence-Based Practice2.0
 Term Credits18.0
NEUR 507Neuroscience I3.0
PTRS 620Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Upper Extremity4.0
PTRS 623Physical Agents4.0
PTRS 540Topics in Pathophysiology II2.0
PTRS 639Motor Learning2.5
PTRS 615Integrated Clinical Experience III0.5
 Term Credits16.0
NEUR 508Neuroscience II2.0
PTRS 621Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Lower Extremity4.0
PTRS 627Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy I4.0
PTRS 641Neurological Exam and Intervention I4.0
PTRS 646Orthosis Management1.5
PTRS 616Integrated Clinical Experience IV0.5
 Term Credits16.0
Second Year
PTRS 652Life Span Development I3.0
PTRS 634Health Professional Roles3.0
PTRS 644Wound Care Management1.5
PTRS 645Prosthesis Management1.5
PTRS 752Research and Measurement in Physical Therapy2.0
PTRS 774Clinical Education Seminar0.5
PTRS 775Clinical Education I1.0
 Term Credits12.5
PTRS 622Orthopedic Physical Therapy: Spine4.0
PTRS 628Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy II4.0
PTRS 637Professional Project I1.0
PTRS 642Neurological Exam and Intervention II5.0
PTRS 656Motor Control and Rehabilitation2.0
 Term Credits16.0
PTRS 776Clinical Education II2.0
PTRS 610*Issues in Pharmacotherapy3.0
 Term Credits5.0
PTRS 538Clinical Correlations II3.0
PTRS 632Pediatric Physical Therapy5.5
PTRS 643Applied Biomechanics3.0
PTRS 653Life Span Development II2.0
PTRS 654Topics in Health Policy & Services2.0
PTRS 753Evaluation of Research in Physical Therapy4.0
 Term Credits19.5
Third Year
PTRS 777Clinical Education III2.0
PTRS 655*Health Administration2.5
 Term Credits4.5
PTRS 778Clinical Internship3.0
PTRS 647Professional Project II2.0
 Term Credits5.0
Total Credit: 128.0


Conducted online.

Clinical Education

A strong history of comprehensive clinical education exists for our professional students. The clinical education for the DPT program is integrated into the didactic portions of the curriculum so that knowledge obtained in the classroom is readily put into practice. The DPT program has contracts with hundreds of clinical sites across the nation, representing all facets of professional practice. Students are required to complete four clinical education experiences that offer various levels of acuity in different clinical environments. The first clinical education experience is 6 weeks in length, clinical education II and III are 10 weeks long, and the fourth experience, the clinical internship, is 12 weeks.

Students may select from clinical sites that offer experiences in pediatrics, adult rehabilitation, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine, and industrial and occupational rehabilitation.

For more information visit the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Overview page on the College of Nursing and Health Professions web site.


Teaching Facilities

Most classes are held in lecture halls, classrooms, or laboratories on the Center City (Health Sciences) Campus of Drexel University. The entire campus has wireless capability for easy internet access. The Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences has two state-of-the-art dedicated laboratories where the clinical components of the professional curriculum are taught. In these laboratories equipment reflects current physical therapy practice and is part of a multi-disciplinary clinical learning and resource center. Included as part of the resource center is a standardized patient lab that utilizes paid actors to simulate various clinical situations while students' interactions with those "patients" are monitored by supervising faculty. This center provides a rich environment for student learning.

Our teaching resources also include supported distance learning technology. Instructional materials are provided through text, graphics, audio and video formats and are available online through a course management system 24 hours a day. Our online courses are highly interactive through the use of web discussion boards and audio chat tools.

Additionally, the Professional DPT program uses its own faculty-staffed clinical sites as well as various clinical sites in the area to enhance the educational experience of the student. The department operates outpatient physical therapy sites in the Drexel Recreation Center on the University City campus, as part of the multidisciplinary Parkway Health and Wellness Center on the Center City campus and a pro-bono practice in the 11th Street Family Health Center. Students rotate through these facilities getting individualized mentoring while connecting classroom content with clinical practice. These experiences are in addition to the 38 weeks of clinical education the student will experience throughout the curriculum.

Research Facilities

The Department conducts hypothesis-driven research in human movement, biomechanics, motor control, community-based practice and family-centered care. Some of this research is conducted in a 23,000 square foot multidisciplinary center on the Center City Campus. The center has a gait and motion analysis lab containing a video-based motion analysis system with in-floor force plates, and neuromuscular performance labs equipped with custom-built force measuring systems, l6-channel EMG system and electromagnetic tracking systems. Other research is conducted via partnerships with organizations locally, nationally, and internationally. Other departments involved in the research center include Nutrition Sciences and Nursing which provides fertile ground for collaboration. Professional DPT students have the opportunity to work with faculty and PhD students on ongoing laboratory projects through optional research practica or as part of the final project, a capstone experience for the curriculum.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences Faculty

Maria Benedetto, DPT (University of Puerto Rico; Columbia University). Associate Clinical Professor. Pediatrics, Motor learning and motor control; yoga for children; dance prevention and injury rehabilitation
Lisa Ann Chiarello, PT, PhD, PCS, FAPTA (Hahnemann University) Director, PhD and Doctor of Health Science in Rehabilitation Sciences and Certificate in Advanced Practice in Pediatric Rehabilitation Programs. Professor. Pediatric community-based practice; family-centered care; determinants of outcomes; and participation of children with physical disabilities.
David Ebaugh, PT, PhD (Drexel University). Clinical Professor. Identification and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal impairments associated with shoulder pain and dysfunction; differential diagnosis of shoulder problems; orthopedic examinations and interventions
Margaret Finley, PT, PhD (University of Maryland). Associate Professor. Upper extremity movement patters in persons with chronic neuromuscular disorders.
Kevin E. Gard, DPT, OCS (Temple University) Vice-Chair, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and Director, Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Associate Clinical Professor. Orthopedics; sports medicine.
Margery A. Lockard, PT, PhD (Hahnemann University). Clinical Professor. Orthopedic/musculoskeletal physical therapy; management of patients using prosthetic and orthotic devices; and anatomy and physiology.
Robert Maschi, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS (Temple University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Orthopedics, musculoskeletal disorders, lower extremity biomechanics and movement analysis
Clare Milner, PhD, FACSM (University of Leeds) Research Lab Coordinator. Associate Professor. Biomechanics of lower extremity injury, injury prevention, and rehabilitation; overuse injuries in runners; gait in people with knee pathology
Kathryn D. Mitchell, PT, DPT, NCS (Temple University) Assistant Director of Clinical Education. Assistant Clinical Professor. Adult neuromuscular rehabilitation; balance and falls in Multiple Sclerosis.
Margaret O'Neil, PT, PhD, MPH (MCP Hahnemann University; Duke University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Associate Professor. Measurement of and interventions to improve physical activity and fitness levels and promote participation in children and youth with who are overweight/obese and those with physical disabilities (especially cerebral palsy).
Margo Orlin, PT, PhD, FAPTA (Drexel University). Associate Professor. Walking and running biomechanics and participation in children with developmental disabilities, evaluation of enhancing participation for children and adolescents with cerebral palsy.
Robert J. Palisano, PT, ScD, FAPTA (Boston University). Distinguished Professor. Classification and prognosis for gross motor function in children and youth with cerebral palsy; interventions to improve activity and participation in children with physical disabilities; transition to adulthood for youth with disabilities.
Joseph A. Rubertone, MPT, PhD (West Virginia University). Associate Clinical Professor. Connectivity of vestibular nuclear complex, brain tumor imaging, and clinical studies pertaining to the effectiveness of stroke rehabilitation.
Patricia Rubertone, PT, MPT, MSW, EdD (Widener University) Director of Experiential Learning. Assistant Clinical Professor. Student learning; course design; judgment of physical therapy student clinic performance by novice vs. experienced clinical instructors.
Sheri Silfies, PT, PhD (MCP Hahnemann University) Research Lab Coordinator. Associate Professor. Identification and treatment of impairments in neuromuscular control of trunk mobility and stability in patients with low back pain, focusing on mechanism of recurrent low back pain; core control in athletes.
Sinclair A. Smith, MS, DSc (Boston University) Chair, Health Sciences. Professor. The use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy and near infrared spectroscopy to non-invasively study neuromuscular metabolism in humans; creatine supplementation on mitochondrial respiration; weight training studies.
Susan Smith, PT, PhD (University of Connecticut, Texas Woman's University) Interim Chair, Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences and Associate Dean for Research and Health Professions Graduate Education. Associate Professor. Geriatrics: health promotion and interventions for manifestations of low bone mass; assessment of fall risk and fall prevention interventions for older adults
Sara Tomaszewski, PT, DPT, OCS (Duke University). Clinical Instructor. Orthopedics and sports physical therapy, injury prevention, and return-to-sport decision making.
Sarah Wenger, PT, DPT, OCS (Arcadia University; Temple University) Coordinator, Professional Practice Lab. Assistant Clinical Professor. Health, wellness and fitness, models for preventative physical therapy, dance medicine.
Annette Willgens, PT, EdD, PCS (Northcentral University) Director of Clinical Education. Associate Clinical Professor. Qualitative focus using phenomenology and grounded theory to explore issues in clinical education, student stress during clinical education, mindful clinical practice and pediatric topics relating to wellness and health promotion.
Glenn Williams, PT, PhD, ATC (University of Delaware) Chair, Department of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences. Associate Professor. Neuromuscular plasticity after joint injury, orthopaedic-sports rehabilitation, human performance, post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
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