PhD Degree Requirements
Students must have completed at least 10 prerequisite credits in the DPT program before applying for acceptance to the Ph.D. program. While in the Ph.D. program, students complete a minimum of 50 credits beyond the DPT degree coursework. Of the 50 credits, 18 credits will be based on concentration/specialization coursework, 6 credits on education leadership and teaching, 10 credits on research design, statistics and critical review of the literature, 2 credits in Ph.D. Seminar or Independent Study and a minimum of 14 credits on the Ph.D. dissertation including pre-candidacy and candidacy research. During the admission process, the student will acquire a mutually agreed upon Doctoral Chair (also the faculty advisor), designate the area of concentration/specialization, and submit the information to the Ph.D. faculty for approval.
Students must have taken the following courses (or their equivalents) in the DPT or tDPT curriculum in teaching, research and evidence-based practice:
Course Requirements (50 credits)
- Concentration (Specialization/Advanced Practice) (18 credits).
The program features four concentration areas which are Areas of Specialization in physical therapy practice and research. Students complete one of the areas of specialization, which allows the student to obtain a Ph.D. degree with a concentration in an area of advanced specialized practice and research. (See the Post-Professional Physical Therapy Clinical Certificates and Credentialed APTA Residency section for more information). The following concentration areas are available:
- Pediatrics. PTP 690 , PTP 691 , PTP 692 , PTP 790 , PTP 791 .
- Adult Neurology. PTP 677 , PTP 678 , PTP 679 , PTP 777 , PTP 778 .
- Geriatrics. PTP 686 , PTP 687 , PTP 688 , PTP 787 , PTP 788 .
- Orthopedics. PTP 674 , PTP 675 , PTP 676 , PTP 775 , PTP 776 .
- Cardiovascular and Pulmonary. PTP 695 , PTP 696 , PTP 697 , PTP 796 , PTP 797 .
- Education Leadership and Teaching (6 credits)
PTP 883 - Higher Education Teaching Methods and Assessment
PTP 884 - Higher Education Teaching Practicum.
PTP 885 - Educational Leadership in Higher Education.
- Scholarly Activity, Research Design, Statistics, and Critical Review of the Literature (12 credits)
1. PTP 820 - Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics.
HCR 500 - Epidemiology.
HCR 621 - Qualitative Research Methods.
2. One of the following options:
PTP 810 - PhD Seminar. (1cr., elected twice).
PTP 815 - PhD Independent Study. (2 cr.).
- Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy Research (14 credits minimum)
- PTP 990 - Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy. (elected to a total of at least 3 credits).
Students prepare in writing and orally present a dissertation proposal (journal submission-ready), which generally contains a systematic review of the student’s selected dissertation topic. Students meet in class and with their advisor regularly to discuss and provide feedback during the proposal preparation process. Students must take the qualifying (ABPTS) examination during pre-candidacy coursework and pass the preliminary examination to be granted candidacy status.
- PTP 995 - Dissertation: Candidacy. (elected to a total of at least 11 credits)
Students conduct and complete dissertation research and write the dissertation, which generally comprises one to three journal submission-ready manuscripts. Students must register for PTP 995 each semester upon passing the preliminary exam and until successful completion of the dissertation defense.
The qualifying examination is the national ABPTS examination in the student’s area of Specialization/Advanced Practice. The student must be in good academic standing in the program when registering for the exam. Depending on the ABPTS examination schedule and the student’s preparedness, he/she may take the exam as early as in the Winter semester of Year 2.
Students must take the qualifying examination during pre-candidacy coursework and pass the examination in order to be granted candidacy status. Exceptions may be made if the students has not acquired enough clinical hours to qualify for taking the exam. The student must provide his/her examination results to the Ph.D. faculty for their review. In the case of failure, the student must develop a plan to continue to prepare for the examination and take it a second time. If the student fails the examination a second time, he/she will be terminated from the program.
The preliminary examination is the student’s dissertation proposal defense. For the examination, the student presents a public, oral presentation which has been prepared in consultation with the dissertation chair and committee.
Prior to the student’s taking the examination, the Ph.D. faculty must approve the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee, led by the Chair, must approve the dissertation topic and the proposal outline.
A student becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy after completing the required coursework with a minimum GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and passing both the qualifying and the preliminary examination. At this time, the student is allowed to register for PTP 995 - Dissertation: Candidacy. and receives a certificate acknowledging this progress toward candidacy, “all but dissertation” (ABD) status.
The dissertation committee must include at least three faculty members, including one outside the Physical Therapy Department. The committee chair must be a qualified Physical Therapy Department faculty member. Dependent on the dissertation topic, the committee may include a qualified member of industry, or other health-related or science program. It is the responsibility of the dissertation committee chair and the members to provide quality, detailed and timely feedback for submitted drafts of the dissertation. More details concerning the dissertation committee may be found in the dissertation handbook.
Dissertation and Dissertation Defense
The dissertation must contain research work completed by the Ph.D. candidate. The manuscript must include one to three papers ready for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The candidate must submit a final written copy of the manuscript to the dissertation committee for approval four weeks prior to the scheduled oral defense. The dissertation is defended at a final oral examination open to faculty, other students, and the interested public.
It is expected that each Ph.D. student will spend sufficient time on campus for completing coursework, conducting research, interacting with other graduate students, and fostering intellectual activities. All students in the Ph.D. program are required to attend PTP 990 - Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy. on campus, and present at least one seminar on his/her research each semester until the dissertation proposal is completed. After attaining candidacy, each Ph.D. student is expected to spend at least 12 hours per week on campus working on his/her research and discussing research issues with faculty and fellow students.
Transfer of courses taken within the DPT prior to admission to the PhD program are a total of 10 credits.