Doctor of Physical Therapy

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Mission Statement

We advance clinical practice, develop leaders and scholars, and provide service through an inclusive and compassionate approach that is guided by evidence and shaped by the values of the College and the Physical Therapy profession.

General Information

Students must apply for entry into the professional program through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (PTCAS). They must successfully complete 108 graduate credits to be awarded the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Students who graduate from the program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination for licensure which is required in all states to work as a physical therapist.


The Entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program at The College of St. Scholastics is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:

Program Description

The entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at The College of Saint Scholastica (CSS) is a three-year graduate school professional program. A bachelor's degree and a core set of pre-requisite coursework is required for admission to the DPT program. Pre-requisite courses in the humanities and the behavioral, natural, and biological sciences provide a foundation for mastering the movement system that is integral to the practice of physical therapy. Students with these pre-requisite courses in addition to a well-rounded undergraduate education that develops the aptitudes needed to recognize and appreciate the diversity of individuals, communities, and cultures tend to be successful in the DPT program.

The DPT curriculum totals 108 graduate school credits taken continuously across 33 months. The full-time and on-site day program develops the intellectual, affective, and psychomotor skills needed to enter physical therapy practice. The design of the CSS DPT curriculum is based on the five main components of professional physical therapy practice:

I. Foundational Sciences. Coursework on the basic science content that develops the foundational principles of movement science. Courses include functional anatomy, neuroscience, motor development, biomechanics, pathology, pharmacology, and diagnostic imaging.
II. Tests and Measures. These courses develop the theory and skills associated with the examination and evaluation of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary systems. Screening for pathologies associated with all systems are included in these courses. Clinical tests and measures that evaluate wellness and normal function are taught first, followed by those that assess movement dysfunction across systems and the life span. Critical inquiry and evidence-based practice are integrated into the learning and application of these clinical examination skills.
III. Interventions. Intervention courses teach students the treatments used by physical therapists to maximize movement and function. Students learn the key physical agents, exercises, and handling techniques, as well as the optimal strategies for educating and motivating patients to become independent. Evidence-based practice constructs related to intervention are included in this course series.
IV. Professional and Social Responsibility. This coursework focuses on the socialization and professional enculturation required for physical therapists to function optimally in health care. Topics include professional behaviors, ethics, teamwork, communication, documentation, professional development, and health care delivery. 
V. Patient Management. These courses expect students to integrate knowledge acquired in the first four components while working with patients. Students receive mentored treatment planning and execution in our on-site community clinic, while integrated and terminal clinical internships allow off-site mentored training.

Program faculty use a variety of methods and experiences to teach physical therapy students the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors needed for entry-level practice. In addition to lecture, courses will include case-based and problem-based methods, flipped classrooms, role-playing, patient simulation, and active learning techniques. As students' progress through the program, they are increasingly responsible for independent learning and expected to assume responsibility for the development of their professional actions and behaviors. Graduates of the program are prepared to work autonomously in any practice setting.

The CSS DPT program is committed to operating all aspects of our professional program under the conjoined value systems of the Benedictine Heritage of our College and those of the physical therapy profession:
Love of Learning is reflected in the professional values of diligence, dedication, and scientific inquiry;
Respect is seen in the professional qualities of caring, communication, leadership and collaboration;
Community is evident in the professional values of helping, collaboration, and welcoming diversity;
Hospitality is noted through the professional values of warmth and openness; and,
Stewardship is demonstrated by using scientific inquiry to maximize outcomes and efficiency.
Faculty and staff are dedicated to creating a collegial environment for learning and work. When needed, students are afforded generous access to faculty time to maximize their learning or grow as professionals.

Admission Requirements

Acceptance into the physical therapy program is highly competitive and limited to 48 students each year. Application to the program is managed through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (PTCAS). The PTCAS CSS DPT program page contains the current application and admissions information. ( Applicants must have an earned bachelor's degree and complete all pre-requisite coursework prior to enrolling in the program. A PT program admission committee makes admission decisions based on a review of the PTCAS application. CSS graduates who meet the requirements for admission are given priority review by the committee. 

Pre-Requisites for Admission

Pre-requisite courses for the DPT program are based on the Standard Prerequisite Courses for Admission in Entry-Level Physical Therapist Education approved by the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT). All pre-requisite course must be completed at an institution of higher learning. Advanced placement or college credit courses taken in high school do not meet the criteria for pre-requisite courses. Pre-requisite courses include the following:


A full year and sequence of chemistry with laboratories is required for admission into the DPT program to prepare students for content related to physiology, pathology, and tissue properties. A lower division sequence (1000 or 2000 level) is sufficient for admission. CSS course sequence: CHM 1110 and 1120, General Chemistry I & II (4 credits each).

Anatomy and Physiology

A full year and sequence of human or vertebrate anatomy and physiology are required. A laboratory component, preferably one that includes a human cadaver dissection or prosection, is required. CSS course sequence: BIO 2510 and 2520, Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II (4 credits each).


A full year and sequence of physics with laboratory is required for admission to prepare students for content related to biomechanics, therapeutic exercise, and physical agents such as light, sound, and electricity. Lower level physics sequences are acceptable for admission, but introductory or sequence courses are not. CSS course sequence: PSC 2001 and 2002, Physics I & II (4 credits each).


One course in college-level statistics is required to prepare students for interpreting research and integrating evidence into practice. Courses that emphasize application and the relationships between research design and statistical analysis are recommended. 2000 level courses from mathematics or economics are acceptable but courses from psychology preferred. CSS course: PSY 3331, Statistics (4 credits).

Developmental Psychology

Either one course or a course series that covers human development across the lifespan is required. Content should address human psychological development from birth to death. A psychology-based course is preferred. General psychology does not meet this requirement. CSS course: PSY 2208, Lifespan Developmental Psychology (4 credits).

Abnormal Psychology

One course on the theories and concepts related to variations from normal developmental psychology is required. CSS course: PSY 3423, Abnormal Psychology (4 credits).

Medical Terminology

One course in medical terminology is required for admission. CSS course: HSC 2209, Medical Terminology (2 credits).


Success in the physical therapy program is dependent on a number of functions deemed essential for the practice of physical therapy. Applicants must meet these essential functions and students must continue to demonstrate compliance with these essential functions throughout the program. Students needing reasonable accommodations to meet these essential functions should notify the PT Department Chair of their request.

Essential Functions

Critical thinking, problem-solving capabilities, sound judgment, emotional stability and maturity, and ability to learn and function in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings, are required so that students are prepared to:

• Develop, monitor and manage individual patient/client plan of care.
• Perform and interpret physical examinations.
• Perform physical therapy procedures.
• Communicate effectively in oral and written formats.
• Direct and supervise support personnel.
• Maintain professional demeanor.
• Demonstrate empathy, integrity, flexibility, responsibility and effective stress management.

Critical Demands

Critical demands are aspects of work or job tasks that require a physical attribute or capacity to accomplish the task. If removed, or modified, they would not change the outcome of the work.

Physical - (0-33% ' occasionally; 34-66% ' frequently; 67-100% ' continuously based on an 8 hour work day)

• Firm grip strength – occasionally
• Gross hand coordination – continuously
• Fine hand coordination – continuously
• Sit – occasionally
• Stand – frequently
• Walk – frequently
• Reach – frequently
• Stoop/squat – frequently
• Push/pull – occasionally
• Kneel – occasionally
• Lift up to 50 lbs. – occasionally
• Carry – frequently
• Work with a variety of therapeutic and adaptive devices including but not limited to wheelchairs, crutches, canes, electric stimulation, etc. – continuously
• Vision – corrected or non-corrected.


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Student Handbook

Each year, the physical therapy department publishes a student handbook containing program policies, procedures, and general information. Students should use the handbook as a primary resource for information about the program. If necessary, changes to the handbook may be made during the year and students will be informed of these changes.

Clinical Internships

Students must complete one full-time clinical experience and three full-time internships while in the program. Clinical experiences and internships provide opportunities for the student to integrate and apply theory, knowledge, and skills acquired during the academic year to a variety of patient populations. In keeping with the mission and philosophy of the program, clinical experiences and internships are designed around the multiple experiences in physical therapy. Students must complete one internship in a rural setting; each remaining internship must differ in the type of setting or experience. The assignments for the clinical internships are made by the Director of Clinical Education in consultation with the student. Selections are made on the basis of type and availability of setting and skills of the student.

Students in the program are required to complete a physical examination and a criminal background check annually. Sites may require additional health requirements and background checks where the cost would be the responsibility of the student.

Fees and Expenses

Students are charged fees for any course with a laboratory component to help pay for equipment and supplies associated with these courses. Students in the first year can expect to pay approximately $850 in fees, while students in the second and third years pay approximately $350 combined across both years. Required textbooks are expected to cost students approximately $1600 over the life of the program. Students also pay a graduate student fee each semester.  Any expenses associated with clinical internships, such as travel and lodging, are the students' responsibility. Travel and housing needs associated with internships are arranged by the student. 

Licensure and Registration

Graduates must pass a standardized national licensure examination in order to practice physical therapy in the United States. Requirements and documentation needed to apply for and take the examination vary by state. The examination and state licensure process are not part of the DPT education program, however, successful completion of the program is required to take the examination.