Jun 18, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy Post-Professional Clinical Certificate Program

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The Physical Therapy Clinical Certificate and Residency programs at the University of Michigan-Flint prepare graduates to assume the roles required for contemporary, evidence-based advanced practice in an area of specialty practice. The Clinical Certificate program provides preparation and resources for licensed physical therapists seeking to obtain specialist certification by passing the ABPTS national board examination.

The online, part-time programs meet the needs of licensed U.S. and Canadian practicing physical therapists by enhancing knowledge in important areas of advanced practice including clinical specialization, using an evidence-based practice approach and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) descriptions of specialty practice. Thecurriculum is designed to enable students to succeed in select ABPTS areas of board certification as clinical specialists and to achieve the related objectives in the descriptions of specialty practice as defined by the APTA.  In the learning process, students are encouraged to be lifelong learners including, but not limited to, use of current technology.

The Clinical Certificate and Residency programs are focused on advanced, specialty practice in the following four practice specialties:

  • Geriatrics
  • Neurology
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatric

More information about ABPTS specialist certification and the national board examination is available at: www.abpts.org/home.aspx.  More information about APTA Credentialed Residency programs may be found at: www.apta.org/ResidencyFellowship/


The curriculum is a planned program of post-professional didactic and clinical education, designed to advance significantly the student’s preparation as a provider of patient care services in a defined area of specialty practice. The program combines the theoretical basis of specialty practice and scientific inquiry with the opportunity for mentoring with an ABPTS clinical specialist. The curriculum provides students with multiple opportunities to enhance their learning. A variety of teaching formats are used, including but not limited to didactic teaching, discussions, group projects, presentations, and case reports. A modular course curriculum is used, supplemented by a self-instructional audio-visual system, extensive notes and background materials such as the APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice, 2nd edition, 2001, and the opportunity to pursue independent studies in physical therapy. The courses/modules are often taught in sections of less than 15-week semesters such as 10 weeks. 

Clinical Certificate

The Clinical Physical Therapy Certificate program consists of a five-course, 18-credit online sequence of didactic coursework, and an optional sixth 6-credit advanced practicum course for the residency component.  Generally, doctoral-prepared licensed physical therapists can complete the online, didactic requirements of the five courses with the additional advanced practicum course in 18 to 24 months (Track A) or 12 to 15 months (Track B).  The program builds on the contribution experience plays in developing physical therapy leaders and presents courses with immediate applicability to real world practice.

To earn a certificate, students must complete all five didactic courses within one of four clinical specializations in sequence (18 credits). The didactic curriculum includes the following essential elements of the descriptions of specialty practice identified by the ABPTS: state-of-the-art foundational knowledge of anatomy/kinesiology, histology and pathology; patient client-management model elements of examination, diagnosis, prognosis and plan of care including procedural interventions and patient education; and  health care system issues and case studies.


Following the satisfactory completion of all five didactic courses, students may choose to take the Advanced Practicum (6 credits). This course is required to attain the one-on-one mentored experience required for a Residency in one the four areas of specialty practice: Geriatric, Neurologic, Orthopedic or Pediatric physical therapy. This clinical experience provides students an opportunity to engage in focused clinical mentoring with an ABPTS clinical specialist. The Advanced Practicum has two tracks:

Track A (non-traditional)
The student who chooses Track A is required to be available for the mentored experience. This enables the student “Resident” to remain at the current worksite while engaged in either a three-month, four hour/week one-on-one mentored experience or a six-month, two hour/week one-on-one mentored experience.  This may include traveling to site outside of work hours.

Track B (traditional)
The student who chooses Track B goes to a Practicum site for three months; some practicum sites are in distant cities or in other states. Students must provide their own transportation for travel to the Advanced Practicum. The student may be required to make his/her own arrangements for housing, as most facilities are no longer able to provide housing arrangements. A physical examination, immunizations, TB test and health insurance, and will be required of students at their own expense if required by the Advanced Practicum site. A leave of absence may be necessary from full time employment during the Advanced Practicum, due to the full-time residency demands made by the nature and scheduling of the program. 

Admission to the Program

Students are admitted in the Fall semester only in a cohort class. Positions in the class are assigned to those candidates ranking highest among the group eligible for consideration. The number of available spaces in the cohort class for each of the four certificates is currently 15 students. Admission to the Clinical Certificate and Residency program is the prerogative of the faculty of the Physical Therapy Department. Applicants are reminded that the supplemental application and reference forms are data sources that provide quantitative information about the applicant. The faculty utilizes these sources of information in the final admissions decisions. 

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must meet the following requirements and qualifications by the time they are admitted: 

  • Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited institution or current enrollment in the t-DPT program at UM-Flint
  • Current physical therapy license in the United States or Canada
  • Overall 3.0 GPA or higher (based on a 4.0 scale) in the physical therapy degree
  • Current CPR certification 
Application Process

To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit the following by the application deadline to the Office of Graduate Programs, 251 Thompson Library, before the admissions committee will evaluate the applicant’s file:

  • Application for Graduate Admission (apply online or with a paper application)
  • Application fee (non-refundable) payable to the University of Michigan-Flint
  • Supplemental application form
  • Official transcripts from the institution where the baccalaureate degree was earned and from the institution where the Physical Therapy degree was earned (if different from the college of the baccalaureate degree)
  • Two letters of recommendation:  We strongly suggest that you include individuals who are able to comment on your academic and clinical abilities, such as a former supervisor or instructor from an accredited physical therapy program and/or a physician you have worked with)
  • Statement of Purpose:  A typed and double-spaced career statement should be attached or submitted separately.  It should address the following questions, as they relate to personal clinical/academic circumstances:
  1. What are your professional goals or objectives related to advanced practice?
  2. How do you plan to accomplish these goals?
  3. How will the Certificate and Credentialed APTA Residency program at UM-Flint facilitate the accomplishment of your professional goals in advanced practice?
  4. How will you contribute to the physical therapy profession related to your area of advanced practice?
  • Copy of current Physical Therapy license issued in the United States or Canada
  • Copy of current CPR card
  • International students must submit additional documentation

An interview (by telephone, electronically or in person) with a PT faculty member may be scheduled after review of the applicant’s materials. 

Application Deadlines

The Clinical Physical Therapy Certificate program admits in the Fall semester only.  To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit all application materials to the Office of Graduate Programs on or before the application deadline of May 1

The Physical Therapy Residency Program admits once per year.  To be considered for admission, an applicant must submit all application materials by March 1 as follows:

  • Orthopedic, Neurologic or Pediatric Residency:  RF-PTCAS
  • Geriatric Residency:  Office of Graduate Programs


Students should be aware that they will be required to purchase professional textbooks, and if enrolled in the Advanced Practicum course, proof of current basic CPR. Projected costs for physical therapy students are available from the Cashier’s Office. Tuition and fees are subject to change without notice.

Sequence Requirements

Courses in programs are intended to be taken in a prescribed sequence. It is important for students to recognize that the Post-Professional Certificate program is not just a series of courses but instead, a professional preparation for specialty practice in which appropriate sequence is critical for assuring intended educational outcomes. There are no course transfers or waiver of courses in the Post-Professional Certificate Program.

Time Limit to Degree

All requirements must be completed within three years from the time of initial acceptance.

Interruption of Program

In extreme circumstances (such as a serious medical problem), students may petition for a leave of absence from the program and be allowed to continue later on a space available basis.

Course Requirements

Degree candidates must attain an overall grade point average of B (5.0 on a 9 point scale or 3.0 on a 4 point scale) or higher and receive no course grade below C (2.0).

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