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

Students admitted as freshmen receive an undergraduate education in the Spiritan tradition of Duquesne University. Students have the opportunity to choose between either a 'Biology' or 'Health Science' track en route to the professional phase. 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 four clinical education experiences for a total of 40 weeks, 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.