Physical therapists work with patients during all phases of health care, from prevention and wellness to recovery from injury, illness and surgery. They select and administer tests and measures, analyze their findings, and design and implement individualized treatment programs to enhance their patients' health, physical and functional ability, and quality of life. In addition to providing direct patient and preventative care, physical therapists work as administrators, researchers, educators and consultants.

The doctoral program in Physical Therapy program at Duquesne University includes professional coursework on campus, as well as clinical education in a variety of healthcare settings. Students take a sequence of basic and clinical science courses designed to prepare them for the profession of physical therapy. At one point in the program, students must take and pass a matriculation examination before progressing into their clinical education experiences. Those who successfully complete the didactic and clinical components of the program are awarded a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Once awarded a Doctorate in physical therapy degree, graduates are permitted to sit for state licensing examinations. Graduates typically take the state licensing examination in the state or jurisdiction in which they wish to practice and must pass the exam in order to receive a license.

The mission of the Department of Physical Therapy is:

  • To develop excellent physical therapists who are professional and ethical, have exceptional interpersonal and evidence-based clinical skills, and serve patients with respect and compassion;
  • To promote the advancement of physical therapy practice through exceptional teaching, scholarship, clinical practice, and service.

The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy is dedicated to creating a learning environment that fosters the fulfillment of this mission. We believe that 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. As a fully accredited program, all graduates are eligible to take the national licensing examination.

Physical Therapy Program Outcomes

At the completion of the doctoral program in Physical Therapy, students will:

  • Practice autonomously in a competent, safe, ethical, legal, reflective and professional manner.
  • Use evidence-based principles and clinical reasoning skills to be autonomous practitioners who determine the physical therapy diagnosis of, and direct the prevention of and interventions for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions or changes in health status.
  • Perform effective patient examination.
  • Perform effective patient evaluation.
  • Determine correct diagnoses.
  • Develop a comprehensive physical therapy plan of care.
  • Provide physical therapy interventions to achieve patient goals.
  • Utlize appropriate outcome measures.
  • Integrate prevention, health education, and wellness initiatives.
  • Demonstrate effective written, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills
  • Provide healthcare education to patients, clients, families, peers, and society, using culturally appropriate teaching methods.
  • Demonstrate effective practice management.
  • Demonstrate social responsibility and altruism.
  • Demonstrate professional development, service and advocacy.
  • Apply the principles of the basic human sciences to clinical practice.
  • Apply principles of pharmacology to physical therapy practice.
  • Apply principles of medical and clinical science to physical therapy practice.Graduation Requirements

Physical Therapy Curriculum

The Doctorate of Physical Therapy requires 109 credit hours.

Professional Phase

Summer- 13 Credits

  • Exercise Physiology & Wellness / Lab (PHYT 506/L) 3 cr.
  • Foundational Skills/Lab (PHYT 547) 3 cr.
  • Principles of Practice: Patient Care & Education (PHYT 569) 3 cr.
  • Psychology of Illness and Disability (PHYT535) 3cr.
  • Exam Methods I/Lab (PHYT 527) 1 cr.

Fall- 16 Credits

  • Applied Anatomy & Kinesiology  of the Movement System: Upper/Lab (PHYT 539) 4 cr.
  • Orthopedic Science of the Upper Quarter/Lab (PHYT 524) 3 cr.
  • Foundational Concepts I/Lab (PHYT 516) 4 cr.
  • Exam Methods II/Lab (PHYT 528) 1 cr.
  • Medical Sciences I (HLTS 541) 3 cr.
  • Integrated Clinical Education: Foundations of Practice I (PHYT 555) 1 cr.

Spring- 15 Credits

  • Applied Anatomy & Kinesiology  of the Movement System: Lower/Lab (PHYT 540) 4 cr.
  • Orthopedic Science of the Lower Quarter/Lab (PHYT 525) 3 cr.
  • Foundational Concepts II/Lab (PHYT 517) 4 cr.
  • Exam Methods III/Lab (PHYT 529) 1 cr.
  • Neuroscience (HLTS 603) 3 cr.
  • Patient Care & Education: Ethical, Moral & Legal Issues (PHYT 521W) 1 cr.
  • Integrated Clinical Education : Foundations of Practice II (PHYT 556) 1 cr.

Summer- 17 Credits

  • Topics in Pharmacology (HLTS 520) 3 cr.
  • Prosthetics & Orthotics/Lab (PHYT 615/L) 2 cr.
  • PT Management (PHYT 625) 3 cr.
  • Topics In Research (PHYT 530) 2 cr.
  • Integrated Clinical Education: Applied Skills & Clinical Reasoning  (PHYT 557) 1 cr.
  • Clinical Education I (PHYT 510) 6 cr.

Fall- 15 Credits

  • Clinical Neurologic Science I/Lab (PHYT 543/L) 3 cr.
  • Clinical Neurologic Science II/Lab (PHYT 544/L) 3 cr.
  • Pediatrics/Lab (PHYT 572/L) 3 cr.
  • Special Topics in Geriatrics (PHYT 564) 2 cr.
  • Cardio & Pulmonary Science/Lab (PHYT 605)  3 cr.
  • Integrated Clinical Education IV: Critical Thinking and Reasoning (PHYT 514) 1 cr.

Spring- 13 Credits

  • Differential Diagnosis/Lab (PHYT 601)  2 cr.
  • Grand Rounds (PHYT 630) 3 cr.
  • Clinical Neurologic Science III/Lab (PHYT 620) 3 cr.
  • Clinical Neurological Science IV/Lab (PHYT 621)  2 cr.
  • Ergonomics (PHYT 570) 3 cr. 

Summer - 14 Credits

  • Clinical Education II: 12 Weeks (PHYT 610) 6 cr. 
  • Clinical Education III: 4 weeks (PHYT 611) 8 cr.

Fall- 6 Credits

  • Clinical Education IV: 12 weeks (PHYT 612) 6 cr. 

Graduation Requirements

Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

A student who has completed all requirements with a minimum 3.0 cumulative professional phase GPA and successfully completed all clinical education requirements will receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

Certification & Licensure

In order to practice, physical therapists must be licensed according to state law. Upon graduation from a CAPTE accredited program, students will be eligible to sit for a computerized licensure examination. The procedures for taking the computerized exam vary from state to state. Students should therefore: 1) Find out what their jurisdiction requires; 2) Complete a state application form; 3) Register and pay for the exam using the Federation of State Board of Physical Therapy’s (FSBPT) exam services website and 4) Obtain jurisdiction approval. Once the jurisdiction has ‘approved’ the student’s eligibility, the student will receive an ‘authorization to test’ letter from the FSBPT containing instructions on how to schedule an appointment for testing. Presently, the test is available at most Prometric Centers.

In Pennsylvania, the Physical Therapy Practice Act is the law under which physical therapists practice. To be eligible for licensure an applicant must be twenty years of age, be of good moral character, not be addicted to the habitual use of alcohol or narcotics or other habit-forming drugs, have completed a State-approved 3- hour Child Abuse Recognition & Reporting course, and be a graduate of an accredited educational program. Please refer to the official Physical Therapy Practice Act for additional details.