Ph.D. Degree Requirements
Students must have completed at least 9 prerequisite credits in the DPT or t-DPT program before applying for acceptance to the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program. While in the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program, students complete a minimum of 50 credits beyond the DPT/t-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. in Physical Therapy Seminar or Independent Study and a minimum of 14 credits on the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy 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. in Physical Therapy faculty for approval.
Students must have taken the following courses in teaching, research and evidence-based practice (or their equivalents) in the DPT or t-DPT curriculum:
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. in Physical Therapy degree with a concentration in an area of advanced specialized practice and research. (See the Post-Professional Physical Therapy Clinical Residency section for more information). The following concentration areas are available:
- Pediatrics. PTP 690 , PTP 691 , PTP 692 , PTP 774 , PTP 790 , PTP 791 .
- Adult Neurology. PTP 677 , PTP 678 , PTP 679 , PTP 774 , PTP 777 , PTP 778 .
- Geriatrics. PTP 686 , PTP 687 , PTP 688 , PTP 774 , PTP 787 , PTP 788 .
- Orthopedics. PTP 674 , PTP 675 , PTP 676 , PTP 774 , PTP 775 , PTP 776 .
- 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. HCR 500 - Epidemiology.
HCR 621 - Qualitative Research Methods.
PTP 820 - Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics.
2. One of the following options:
PTP 810 - Ph.D. Seminar. (1 cr., elected twice).
PTP 815 - Ph.D. 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.
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 designed to assess the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy student’s knowledge in the three key areas of research methodology, teaching and leadership, and in his/her chosen area of specialization/advanced practice. Typically, students will be assessed in the area of research methodology by written and oral assessments, in teaching and leadership by portfolio and oral assessments, and in their chosen area of specialization/advanced practice by a written assessment.
The preliminary examination is the student’s dissertation proposal defense. For the examination, the student presents, an 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 in the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program 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 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 member outside the Physical Therapy Department. The committee chair must be a qualified Physical Therapy Department faculty member. 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. in Physical Therapy 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. in Physical Therapy 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. in Physical Therapy program are required to attend PTP 990 on campus, and present at least one seminar on his/her research each semester until the dissertation proposal is completed.