Apr 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Catalog 
2023-2024 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy

2157 William S. White Building
(810) 762-3373
Fax: (810) 766-6668

Director: Jennifer Blackwood, PT, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Professional Education (Interim):  Jennifer Blackwood, PT, Ph.D.
Associate Director for Post Professional Transitional DPT, Non-Degree Programs: Laura Smith, PT, DPT, Ph.D.
Co-Associate Director for Clinical Education:  Karen Berg, PT, DPT,
Co-Associate Director for Clinical Education: Erica Sherman, PT, DPT, MBA
Associate Director for Ph.D. Program: Cathy A. Larson, PT, Ph.D.

Associate Director for Research: Min Huang, PT, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Community Engagement
Office Manager: Karen Davis
Program Coordinator: Christina Wixson
Administrative Assistant Senior: Frank Fanzone
Administrative Assistant Intermediate: Beverly Ruber
Administrative Assistant Intermediate: Jennifer Phillips

Professor Donna Fry, Allon Goldberg; Associate Professor, Cathy Larson, Laura Smith, Amy Yorke, Jennifer Blackwood, Min Huang; Clinical Associate Professor  Ryan Bean, Leslie Smith; Assistant Professor Chad Tiernan, Jennifer Liao; Clinical Assistant Professors Erica Sherman, Karen Berg, Sarah Case, William Suits, Suzanne Trojanowski, Julie Wiebe

Professor Emeritus Professor Emerita Lucinda A. Pfalzer, Associate Professor Emerita Paulette Cebulski, Clinical Associate Professor Emerita Cynthia Kincaid, Clinical Professor Becky Rodda

Physical therapists are licensed healthcare professionals whose aim is to restore, maintain and promote optimal physical function, wellness, and fitness in persons of all ages. This is accomplished through the evaluation and management of movement dysfunction, which may result from diseases, disorders, or injuries.

Physical therapists diagnose within the scope of physical therapist practice and manage movement dysfunction in multiple body systems including the cardiopulmonary system, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system, and the integumentary (skin) system. Examples of interventions used for each of these systems are fitness conditioning, prevention of joint deformity, pain management and wound care. Interventions are selected to prevent the onset and progression of impairments and may include various forms of exercise, soft tissue management, heat, cold, electricity, ultrasound, and manual therapy

Physical therapists work closely with and frequently refer patients to other professionals in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, school systems, home health care, industrial clinics, and public health agencies. Physical therapists are also involved in administration, physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education, research and consultation. Clinical specialization is available through the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties to the experienced clinician in eight practice areas, cardiovascular and pulmonary, clinical electrophysiology, geriatrics, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, sports, and woman’s health. Physical therapy is an integral part of the spectrum of health care. The profession is evolving to take on a more independent role in providing health care in a direct access market. Direct access allows the patient/client to enter the health care system directly through the services of the physical therapist without seeking the services of other health care practitioners first.

Department Mission and Assessment

The faculty and staff in the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint are student-centered and committed to excellence in undergraduate, professional, and post-professional teaching and learning, scholarship, practice, and service. The Department’s graduates are highly qualified doctors of physical therapy who are engaged citizens and leaders in the physical therapy profession, in accordance with the standards of the American Physical Therapy Association.

The mission of the University of Michigan-Flint Doctor of Physical Therapy program is to educate students to become competent physical therapists through engagement in evidence-based practice, scholarship, and community service, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of the public.

The Physical Therapy Department actively participates in an annual assessment of its programs to facilitate excellence in education. Faculty make curriculum and program changes based on these assessments. Students admitted to the programs offered by the Department are expected to abide by the implemented curricular changes. The Department also participates in university-wide assessment efforts for the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Accreditation. Information on assessment plans, including goals, methods, and outcomes, is available at https://www.umflint.edu/chs/departments/physical-therapy/

Academic Regulations and Procedures

Students are expected to maintain satisfactory performance in their academic courses, clinical internships, and professional/ethical conduct. While enrolled in a program within the Physical Therapy Department, the student is subject to the policies and procedures of the program regarding academic standards and professional conduct. Because the student is enrolled in the College of Health Sciences (CHS), the student is also subject to the policies and procedures of CHS. All regulations of the University of Michigan-Flint also apply to students in the Physical Therapy Department of CHS. Students should make note of these regulations, which appear in other sections of this catalog. Specific rules and regulations adopted by the faculty of the Physical Therapy Department are presented in the sections that follow.

Grading System

Refer to the Graduate Study section for the grading scale. The report of an I (incomplete) grade may be made by the instructor if the student is unable to meet the course requirements within the specified time due to extended illness or a family crisis. An I grade may be made up while a student is not enrolled and must be made up by the end of the second week of the next semester in which the student is enrolled. If, for sufficient reason, a student cannot remove the incomplete within the two-week period, an extension request form must be approved by both the course instructor and the Department Director and forwarded to the Office of the Registrar. Failure either to make up the grade within the allotted time or to have an extension approved will result in the I automatically being changed to a grade of E. A grade once reported (with the exception of I) may be changed only to correct a demonstrable error.

Credit without Grade (Pass/Fail)

The pass/fail option applies only to specific courses so designated in the course schedule by individual CHS departments. Courses elected for credit without grade are not included in the calculation of the grade point average.

Changes in Course Elections (Drop/Add)

Changes in course elections include dropping and adding courses. It is the student’s responsibility to adhere to the published deadlines for dropping and/or adding a course. Granting withdrawal from the Physical Therapy Department programs with the intention to return is a prerogative of the Physical Therapy Department faculty. 

Academic Standing

The faculty of the Department, acting on behalf of the University, has the responsibility of defining academic standards and reserves the right to remove from any Physical Therapy Department program any student whose academic standing, in the judgment of the faculty, is regarded as unsatisfactory. To maintain satisfactory academic standing, a student must have a minimum cumulative graduate grade point average of B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) for all graduate courses taken for credit and applied toward any degree or certificate offered in the Physical Therapy Department. Academic records of all students are reviewed by the administrative staff of the Physical Therapy Department at the end of each semester according to the Academic Progression Policy and Procedure. Students whose cumulative grade point average falls below a B (3.0 on a 4-point scale) in a given semester are reviewed by the Associate Director for the appropriate program.  A written notice of academic probationary status is given to the student. The complete policy can be found in the Student Handbook for the appropriate program.   

Appeals Procedure 

Students admitted to the Physical Therapy Department programs agree to follow established policies and procedures that govern academic performance, clinical competency, and ethical standards of the profession (APTA Code of Ethics). Specific appeals procedures are outlined in the Student Handbook for specific programs. For issues or complaints involving a faculty member, the appeal procedure should be initiated after consultation with the faculty member whenever possible. 

For issues or complaints of a discriminatory or sexually harassing nature, the student should consult with the University Human Resources or the Dean of the College of Health Sciences. Formal complaints must be filed with the University’s Human Resources. 

English Proficiency Requirements for all Physical Therapy Programs

For applicants whose native language is not English and/or who received their physical therapy degrees in a country other than the United States, Canada (English-speaking provinces), Australia or the United Kingdom, evidence of English proficiency must be provided through one of the methods listed below in item 1.  This requirement applies even to those who are currently U.S. citizens or permanent residents and regardless of how long they have resided or been educated in the U.S.*

1. Take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, the Michigan English Language  Assessment Battery (MELAB) or the Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English (ECPE). Scores must be no more than two (2) years old.  The table below indicates the minimum acceptable scores for admission, as well as the scores and score ranges for which a supplemental English writing course will be required upon admission to the program:



Minimum Score for Admission

English Writing Course Required IF:


560 overall

Overall less than 600 or TWE less than 5.0


84 overall

Overall less than 101 or WR less than 27


6.5 overall

Overall less than 7.5 or Writing less than 7


80 overall

Overall less than 85 or Composition less than 85


Certificate of Proficiency

Writing score = LP (Low Pass)


All candidates whose native language is not English must also provide the items below as appropriate.

2.   Provide an official transcript showing a degree earned at an accredited U.S., Canadian (English-speaking), Australian, or U.K. college or university OR successful completion (‘C’ or higher) of ENG 111 or ENG 112 or its equivalent.

3.   Provide a copy of your FCCPT Comprehensive Credential Evaluation Certificate.

*U.S. citizens and permanent residents who wish to have this requirement waived may make a case to the Associate Director of the appropriate Physical Therapy Department program.  The PT Director, in turn, must make the case to the Dean of Graduate Programs.  Sufficient evidence of the requisite English proficiency must be provided.

Programs in Physical Therapy

The Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint offers:

Professional Physical Therapy Program (DPT) 

Physical Therapy Post-Professional Transitional Program (DPT) 

Physical Therapy/Master of Business Administration (Dual DPT/MBA) 

Physical Therapy (Ph.D.) 

Physical Therapy/Ph.D. in PT (Dual DPT/PhD in PT)


The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Michigan-Flint is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association, 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-684-APTA (2782); email: accreditation@apta.org; website: www.capteonline.org.  If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 810.762.3373 or email PhysicalTherapy@umich.edu.  CAPTE only accredits entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs. The Ph.D. in Physical Therapy and the transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy programs cannot be accredited by CAPTE.