Physical Therapy

Making an Impact on the Lives of Others

Duquesne’s Physical Therapy program offers a personal, hands-on, practical, and passionate approach to learning. Students have the unique opportunity to learn from a decorated and renowned faculty who are world leaders in their respective fields. 

The learning spaces have been re-imagined with state-of the art equipment and thoughtful design that is highlighted by our brand new anatomy lab and our Physical Therapy Skills lab.  Student learning extends beyond the traditional classroom with opportunity for clinical placements at facilities that are respected as the top in the country and in the world.  This includes study abroad experiences during the professional phase of our program in Rome and Dublin that offer a global perspective on physical therapy practice.

Throughout the curriculum students learn to apply principles of basic and clinical sciences into the art of becoming a caring, compassionate, and skilled physical therapists who are are prepared to succeed and prosper as Doctors of Physical Therapy.   

Program Information

Duquesne University Physical Therapy program applies a cutting-edge curriculum, hands-on clinical training, and renowned faculty to shape future physical therapists for excellence in healthcare.

Program Type



Bachelor's, Doctorate


*5.5 years. *Beginning with the incoming Freshmen Class of 2023.

Required Credit Hours

*98 credits Pre-Professional Phase / 110 credits Professional Phase. *Beginning with the incoming Freshmen Class of 2023.

PT Student Highlights

Melanie Tommer: On behalf of the Office of Research and Innovation, Melanie Tommer is the winner of the 2023 Award for Undergraduate Research, Center for Teaching Excellence, for her poster presentation "How is focused attention related to infants learning to sit?"

Admission Pathways

There are several pathways for admission to the professional curriculum. To be considered for admission, all students not only must meet the respective admissions criteria but also the performance and technical standards for the Rangos School of Health Sciences. Upon completion of the program, students graduate with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree (DPT) and are eligible to sit for the licensing exam.

Apply below to the Physical Therapy program!

Our Curriculum is 6 years for students admitted as freshmen, with no application to the professional phase required.  **Beginning with the Graduating Class of 2028, our Curriculum is 5.5 years for students admitted as freshman.

Freshmen Admission Health Science/Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

Freshmen accepted to the Physical Therapy Programs are invited to initiate a plan of study in pursuit of an undergraduate degree in Health Science.*  The Health Science Degree provides foundational training in the areas of kinesiology, exercise physiology, exercise prescription, nutrition, and wellness that are necessary to becoming an outstanding Physical Therapist.  The Health Science curriculum exposes Doctor of Physical Therapy students to Interdisciplinary Education of various Health-Related fields including Public Health, Healthcare Administration, Global Health, Assistive Technology, and Healthcare Ethics in preparation to meet contemporary national and international healthcare needs and demands.  Students complete fundamental science coursework in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy & Physiology, Psychology, and Statistics with flexibility to shape their general education requirements within the (Bridges Common Learning Experience).

Students who have attained pre-requisite benchmarks (including an overall and pre-requisite GPA of 3.0) may begin their studies in the Professional Phase of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the conclusion of their 3rd year of study.  During the 4th year of study students engage in courses that advance knowledge of Human Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Physiology.  These courses conclude the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Science in Health Science Degree and mark the beginning of their Professional Phase studies specific to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.  After achieving a rigorous plan of study in the clinical sciences of Physical Therapy, students receive the respected and distinguishable Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree.

Freshmen Admission Health Science/Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

*An individualized undergraduate plan of study in another discipline (such as Biology or Psychology) may be substituted for the Health Science Curriculum with Department Chair approval.Learn more about Undergraduate Admission
  • Prospective undergraduate transfer students should have graduated from an approved secondary school
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Achieved an SAT score (Math + Verbal) of 1170 or better (if taken in 2016 or later); 1100 or better (if taken prior to 2016) or a composite ACT of 24 or better.
  • Documentation of forty (40) of shadowing, volunteer, or paid experience in physical therapy
  • Completion of 100 hours of shadowing, volunteer or paid experience in two different physical therapy setting is required prior to admission into the professional phase.
  • Pre-requisite Course Work with GPA of 3.0 or higher with no less than "C" grade in all pre-requisite course by the end of year three (3) which includes: two (2) courses with labs in biology, chemistry, and physics as well as one course in anatomy with lab and one course in physiology with lab. Alternatively, a two course sequence in anatomy & physiology is acceptable (these course must be equivalent to those taken by science majors and must be taken at a four-year degree-granting institution); three (3) credits in introductions to biostatistics/statistics; three credits (3) or more in psychology.
  • Applicants who have not completed four years of high school must submit a High School Equivalency Diploma issued by their state department of education

The curriculum for transfer students will vary depending on previous coursework completed.

The curriculum for transfer students will vary depending on previous coursework completed. Our best approximation is the Freshmen Admission Curriculum.

Undergraduate Transfer Curriculum

Learn more about Undergraduate Transfer Admission

The curriculum is three (3) years in duration. At the end of your third year, you will graduate with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT). The Rangos School of Health Sciences will review your application based on the following guidelines:

  • Undergraduate degree from a four-year, degree-granting institution
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • GRE score of 303 or higher. GRE scores must be from last 5 years.
  • Pre-requisites Course work with a GPA of 3.0 or higher with no less than a "C" grade in all prerequisite courses which includes: Two courses with labs in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics; Three (3) credits in Introduction to Biostatistics/Statistics; Three (3) credits or more in Psychology. A two course sequence (six [6] credits) in Anatomy & Physiology with labs. All prerequisite courses must be taken at a four year, degree granting institution.
  • Documentation of 100 hours of volunteer, paid or shadowing hours with a licensed PT. Volunteering/shadowing must be evenly divided between at least two different areas of physical therapy practice
  • Three professional references (references will not be accepted from a family member, friend, or PTA)

If offered admission, the following will also be required:

  • CPR certification (adult, infant, and child)
  • Verification of all Pre-Clinical Health Requirements
  • Physical Exam
  • Verification of Health Insurance

Admission to the professional program as a graduate student is limited. Typically, we have between five and fifteen seats available for this pathway to admission. Consequently, for you to compete well for one of these seats you should probably have higher than the minimum criteria mentioned above. In particular, students who are competitive for these seats will have:

  • GPA at 3.5 or higher
  • GPA for prerequisite courses of 3.5 or higher
  • GRE at 308 or higher. GRE scores must be from last 5 years.

Although space is limited for this admission pathway, we very much value our graduate students as an integral part of the class and strongly encourage qualified applicants to apply.

To apply for graduate admission, please go to Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service:

You must also complete a short, free Duquesne University supplemental application to be considered.

Learn more about Graduate Admission

Students travel to Rome and Dublin

In 2023, Rome and Dublin welcomed our students for a 4-week immersive cultural and educational experience

Mission, Vision, and Strategic Statements

spine class

Mission and Vision

Our Vision To be recognized as the premier educator of entry level physical therapists who are outstanding clinicians guided by evidence based practice that exemplify our core values of compassion, ethics and professionalism.

Ortho Class 3 SP24

Educational Principles

PT's education principles include basic sciences, clinical practice components, and a research aspect, which provides out students with strong foundations for clinical practice, preparation as generalist practitioners who have exceptional problem-solving and critical thinking skills necessary for autonomous practice, and preparation as evidence-based practitioners. The curriculum includes courses on research principles and application and clinical courses that emphasize evidence-based practice.

students in class

Program Goals

To educate competent physical therapists who are grounded in the basic and clinical sciences, able to critically evaluate and apply the best scientific evidence, and possess the adaptability and interpersonal skills necessary for autonomous practice. To educate ethical physical therapists who are compassionate, culturally competent, and socially responsible reflective practitioners. To educate professional physical therapists who are critical thinkers, life-long learners, healthcare educators, decision makers capable of patient/client management, critical consumers of pertinent literature, and leaders in the profession. To foster an academic community of faculty who are committed to clinical excellence, innovative and sound teaching, scholarship, professional development, and service to the community and profession.

Clinical Education

Clinical Education I

Clinical Education I: The first of three rotations, this 12-week rotation takes place at the end of the student's 5th semester (2nd year of graduate program). During this rotation, students may be placed in an acute care setting or outpatient setting. This is the student's opportunity to begin using the skills learned in class!

Clinical Education II

Clinical Education II: This 15-week rotation occurs at the beginning of the student's 6th year (final year of the program). An option for rehabilitation, advanced orthopedics, and neurologic settings are offered as available rotations during this rotation.

Clinical Education III

Clinical Education III: This is the third and final rotation, and includes the option for study abroad during 4 of the 12-week rotation period (the remaining 8 weeks will be assigned to clinical settings within the U.S.), Students typically explore specialty practice settings during their final rotation.

Clinical Education Abroad

Sixth-year students are offered an integrated clinical education experience in our Dublin, Ireland and/or Rome, Italy campus. Both sites offer unique history lessons: Dublin trips include UPMC centers in Limerick and Waterford; the Rome campus includes a lesson in Physical Therapy in Ancient Rome as well as trips to Florence and Tuscany. Both campuses provide learning and skills to become Certified in advanced manual therapy techniques using instruments called Astym.

Physical Therapy Curriculum

Curriculum Philosophy

The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy at Duquesne University are dedicated to creating a learning environment that fosters the development of entry-level clinicians with outstanding knowledge, clinical skills, compassion and professionalism. We believe this is best achieved through a hierarchal curriculum that begins with a rich foundation of basic sciences, progresses to broad-based education in the clinical sciences and integrates a variety of clinical experiences throughout. Interwoven in this progression are curricular threads that develop graduates who care deeply for the patients they serve and wish to improve themselves and the profession for the betterment of people in need of physical therapy.

Comprehensive Curriculum

Physical Therapy Curriculum Guide

Students admitted as freshmen receive an undergraduate education in the Spiritan tradition of Duquesne University. The professional curriculum is intricately designed to produce excellent, physical therapists. Specific clinical content areas include:

  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Cardio Pulmonary
  • Differential Diagnosis
  • Pharmacology
  • Radiology /Imaging
  • Health Care Management
  • Prevention /Wellness /Health Promotion
  • Interpersonal skills and patient interaction

These clinical content areas are built upon a foundation of broad basic sciences. There is a full year of cadaver dissection Anatomy. We believe that to understand the anatomical underpinnings of clinical practice, you must be able to see, feel and manipulate the tendons and muscles you will one day treat. Physiology, Medical Science, Kinesiology and Neuroscience are also part of the basic science curriculum.

Actively Engaged Faculty

Our faculty members are clinicians and basic scientists uniquely prepared for their role in the curriculum. Basic science courses are taught by clinicians who possess doctoral degrees in the scientific disciplines they teach. Clinical courses are taught by expert clinicians who possess doctoral degrees and continue to practice with patients. Courses focused on patient interaction and education, administration, the psychosocial aspects of practice and differential diagnosis are all taught by physical therapists that have doctoral degrees and/or rich past experience relevant to the topics they teach. Clinical experiences are arranged by two seasoned academic coordinators of clinical education with strong ties and deep knowledge of the clinical community. At Duquesne, we do not send our faculty into the laboratory and relegate teaching to graduate students.

Extensive Clinical Experience

Duquesne's DPT program requires three clinical education experiences in a variety of settings:

  • Acute care
  • Outpatient physical therapy
  • Pediatrics
  • Cardio pulmonary
  • Home health care
  • Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics
  • Oncology
  • Geriatrics

One of these rotations will be outside of the Pittsburgh area to provide a more diverse learning experience. These extensive "hands-on" experiences prepare you to deliver physical therapy services across the scope of practice as well as connect you to potential employers.

Alumni Spotlight

Kenny Erb

"Faith, Professionalism, Fun, Flexibility and Resiliency" describe Kenny's core values, in life and in business. Kenny Erb created Erb Physical Therapy in 2001. His current focus is as Lead of a Trialliance (APTA/PA, POTA, and PISHA) in collaboration with Highmark to improve payment and decrease administrative burden for all rehab professionals in Pennsylvania. Kenny teaches two courses and is developing a unique voluntary Private Practice curriculum for students interested in the "business side" of the profession.

Kenny Erb PT Graduate, Class of 1998


The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Duquesne University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: (703) 706-3245; email:; website:

If needing to contact Duquesne University's Physical Therapy Department directly, please call (412) 396-5541 or email:

CAPTE has a mechanism to consider formal complaints about physical therapy education programs (PT or PTA) that allege a program is not in compliance with one or more of CAPTE's Evaluative Criteria (for complaints about events occurring before December 31, 2015) or the Standards and Required Elements (for complaints addressing events occurring January 1, 2016 and thereafter) or has violated any of CAPTE's expectations related to academic integrity. CAPTE will consider two types of complaints: those that involve situations subject to formal institution/program due process policies and procedures and those that involve situations not subject to formal due process procedures. In order for CAPTE to consider a formal complaint, several conditions must be met.

The complaint must be specifically linked to the relevant Evaluative Criteria (or Standards and Elements, as appropriate) (PT or PTA) or to the integrity statements.

The complainant must have exhausted all remedies available through the institution, if appropriate.
The complaint must be submitted in writing, using the format prescribed by CAPTE, and must be signed by the complainant.

The event(s) being complained about must have occurred at least in part within three (3) years of the date the complaint is filed.

To obtain the materials necessary for submitting a complaint, contact the APTA Accreditation Department at (703) 706-3245 or at

For additional information, please visit:

The Physical Therapy Department encourages those with a legitimate relationship to the program (e.g. prospective and enrolled students, clinical education sites, employers of graduates, the general public), to express their concerns to, or file a written complaint against, the Department. The Department takes all program-related complaints seriously and will act upon any complaints in an expedient, consistent manner without retaliating against the complainant(s).

This policy exists to address complaints about the program not overtly addressed by existing procedures described in the Undergraduate or Graduate Handbooks, the Faculty Handbook, The Administrative Policies (including #30 & #31), the RSHS Academic Student Handbook, the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Student Handbook or the Clinical Education Manual. Where an existing University, RSHS or departmental policy (or procedure) conflicts with a provision of this policy, the University, RSHS or departmental policy shall prevail.


Our Policy

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