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Curriculum | Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

The Physical Therapy Program is a post-baccalaureate, graduate program leading to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Entry into the program requires completion of a bachelor's degree and program specific prerequisites.

Program Length

The DPT program is a full-time day program of 108-credits and takes 33 months to complete.

Curriculum focus

  1. Foundational sciences - Basic science including functional anatomy, neuroscience, motor development, kinesiology/biomechanics, pathology, pharmacology and diagnostic imaging.
  2. Tests & Measures - Develops the skills associated with examination and evaluation of the cardiopulmonary, integumentary, neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems.
  3. Interventions - Students develop purposeful and skilled abilities in the application of interventions.
  4. Professional and social responsibility - Development of an understanding of what it means to become a healthcare provider. Topics include professional behaviors, self analysis and reflection, ethics, teamwork, teaching/learning, communication/coordination/ documentation, administration, group dynamics, and the healthcare delivery system.
  5. Patient management - Rotations to area work sites and laboratory experiences with patients (real or simulated), provide hands-on application of skills, knowledge and behavior. Emphasizes clinical decision-making and reasoning.

A focus on professional development

Our curriculum is designed to expose students to a variety of teaching methods including lectures, laboratory exercises, reading, role-playing and clinical experiences. As students progress through the program, they are expected to take increasing levels of responsibility for their own education and the development of professional actions and behaviors. This provides graduates with the knowledge and skills to deliver efficient and appropriate services to patients and clients.

Course Creation Center

Expand and Collapse Required Courses

Expand and Collapse PTH 6405 - Professionalism in Physical Therapy I

First in a two-course series focusing on the profession of and professionalism in physical therapy. Socialization into the profession is examined from program, state, and national perspectives. Development of professional responsibility, ethical practice, interprofessional competency, and cultural fluency are introduced

Expand and Collapse PTH 6410 - PT Administration I

First of a three-course series related to the administration and management of physical therapy services. The major forms of health care delivery and reimbursement models are investigated. Billing for physical therapy interventions is covered and the interaction of ethical and legal issues is addressed.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6481 - Critical Inquiry I

Teaches physical therapy graduate students how to apply the principles of Evidence-Based Practice. Students will develop clinical questions using the PICO framework, locate appropriate literature, and interpret articles about diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention in physical therapy. Topics include PICO questions, literature searches, critically appraised topics (CATS), levels of evidence, study design, psychometric properties of tests, predictive statistics, parametric and non-parametric statistics, internal and external validity, Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6505 - Biomechanics

Provides foundational knowledge for understanding normal human movement. Emphasis is on biomechanics, joint structure and function, and muscle activity in the human body concurrent with body regions covered in the Functional Anatomy course. The interaction between joints and movement during common activities of daily living is examined

Expand and Collapse PTH 6510 - Functional Anatomy

An advanced, regional, musculoskeletal anatomy course that emphasizes the study of functional relationships among musculature, nervous tissue, vascular, and skeletal components for the extremities and axial skeleton. Cadaver dissection laboratory experience is used to enhance understanding of three-dimensional anatomical relationships for specific body regions.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6511 - Neuroscience

Studies the anatomy and physiology of the adult nervous system. Sensation, perception, cognition, and motor control are examined. Application includes analysis of normal functions as well as the effects of pathological lesions affecting the nervous system.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6513 - Lifespan Motor Development

Theories of motor development across the lifespan are presented in the context of physical therapy practice. Emphasis is on normal age related changes from infancy and childhood through mature adulthood and late life.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6517 - Systems Screening and Management

Introduces students to physical therapy differential diagnosis and screening for referral principles. Discusses physical therapy treatment implications considering systemic medical pathology, medical management, pharmacology, pain, and laboratory testing in various settings using simple to complex patient cases.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6520 - PT Examination and Evaluation I

First of a two-course sequence focuses on the acquisition of fundamental examination skills in physical therapy practice. Students are introduced to the patient/client management model and learn how to perform a subjective examination and basic objective tests and measures for the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary systems. Clinical reasoning is introduced related to the diagnostic process and identification of referral situations.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6521 - PT Examination and Evaluation II

Second course in the sequence of acquiring fundamental examination, evaluation and clinical reasoning skills. Patients/ clients with multi-system dysfunction are addressed. Environment, home, and work (job/ school/ play) assessments are incorporated into clinical reasoning.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6530 - Interventions I: Foundations

First in a two-course series designed to develop skilled application of interventions in the physical therapy management of patients. Students will learn proper patient positioning, draping, and body mechanics principles; the theory and application of soft tissue mobilization techniques and select biophysical agents; and basic functional mobility intervention skills. The integration of current evidence, clinical decision-making, and individual patient characteristics into intervention selection, instruction, and progression is emphasized.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6531 - PT Interventions II

Second course in the sequence designed to develop skilled application of exercise in the physical therapy management of patients. Students develop competency in application of evaluation, diagnostic, and prognostic information in to developing a plan of care that includes prescribing exercises, monitoring patient's response and program progression.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6535 - Physiological Response to Injury and Exercise

A comprehensive study of the interrelated effects of exercise, injury, and healing processes on normal and pathological tissues. Included are discussions about inflammation, pain, edema, and acute and chronic exercise. Tissue dynamics of the cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and integumentary systems as they relate to physical therapy are emphasized.

Expand and Collapse PTH 6910 - Patient/Client Management I

First of a three course series designed to prepare students for clinical care. This introductory course uses a learning theater model in which groups of students participate in evaluation and treatment of maurices Community Clinic patients and/or case based small group discussions lead by a feaculty member. Students draw on foundational knowledge, and develop professional skills, and behaviors through clinical care and/or discussion of case studies.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7101 - Professional Engagement

Focuses on the program’s philosophy of professional behavior development as an essential component of academic and clinical success. Students will be introduced to and explore topics relevant to professional engagement and development with the intent of deepening their commitment to positive behaviors that will span their professional careers.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7411 - Physical Therapy Administration II

Second of a two course series related to administering and managing physical therapy services. Students will investigate topics related to organizational design, human resource management, strategic planning, marketing, and advocacy for patients/clients and the profession; and will advance application of outcomes assessment, risk management, and application of legal and ethical issues related to service provision.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7483 - Professional Project I

Design and organization of research that will assist answering basic or applied research questions. Focus will be on research design and preparation for the final research project in Professional Project II. Students are led by an expert faculty member in a designated research area.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7484 - Professional Project II

Critical review and interpretation of peer-reviewed literature in a focused topic area directed by a Physical Therapy faculty member. May also include the practical application of research methods for answering a question developed under faculty guidance.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7518 - Systems Screening and Management II

Second of a two course series focuses on the medical management of various musculoskeletal and neurologic diseases and conditions along with the implications for physical therapy management of those patients/clients. Medical management of pediatric diagnoses is covered relative to physical therapy and lifespan implications.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7540 - Musculoskeletal Evaluation and Management

Application of advanced physical therapy evaluation and interventions to patients/clients whose primary impairment or movement-limiting dysfunction is musculoskeletal in origin. Focus is on development of manual therapy techniques. Evidence-based practice and clinical decision-making are incorporated as they relate to developing, monitoring and progression of a patient's plan of care.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7541 - Multiple System Evaluation and Management

Focuses on management of patients whose primary impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions are due to multi-system involvement. Development of a comprehensive plan of care and application of interventions for complex patients is emphasized.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7545 - Neuromuscular Evaluation and Management I

A comprehensive study of the integration of physiologic theories and principles with neuromuscular rehabilitation. Current theories relating to the control of normal and impaired movement are investigated and used to provide a framework for evaluation of and intervention for individuals with disability resulting from neurologic injury or disease.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7546 - Neuromuscular Evaluation and Management II

Advances the study and application of patient/client management theories and skills for patients with neuromuscular system involvement. Emphasis is on evaluation and management of individuals in the areas of gait disturbance, vestibular dysfunction, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7560 - Cardiopulmonary Evaluation and Management

A comprehensive study of the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. The patient/client management model is applied to dysfunctions specifically involving these systems across the life span and the continuum of care. Managing critically ill patients in the intensive care unit and principles of primary and secondary prevention are discussed.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7565 - Integumentary Evaluation and Management

Introduces the management and assessment of clients with integumentary disorders. Factors affecting wound repair will be presented. Tests and measures to assess skin integrity and tools for managing skin disorders will be discussed.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7567 - Life Span Applications I: Pediatrics

Entry-level approach to providing physical therapy services to pediatric patients/clients in a variety of settings. The patient/client management model is applied to multiple pediatric diagnoses and conditions. Abnormal development, therapeutic play, and behavior management are covered as essential components of pediatric physical therapy. Ethical, legal, and legislative issues affecting this population are addressed.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7568 - Lifespan Applications II: Geriatrics

Entry-level approach to geriatric patients/clients in a variety of settings. Application of the patient/client management model is specific to this population. Legal, legislative, and ethical issues pertinent to geriatric patients/clients are discussed.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7573 - Psychosocial Issues in PT

Analyzes the impact of a number of psychosocial factors that affect patient-practitioner relationships. Topics include communication, cultural and ethnic issues affecting interactions, perspectives on health/wellness, response to impairments and disabilities, sexuality, substance abuse, violence to self and others, and spirituality. Through in class activities and assignments, students will be able to express their viewpoints and relate how these topics affect their professional development.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7615 - Imaging for Physical Therapists

Examines diagnostic imaging principles and various techniques. Emphasis on a systematic approach to identify normal and pathological anatomy. Evidence informed clinical reasoning to guide imaging selection, utilization, referral/consultation, and patient/healthcare provider interactions.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7911 - Patient/Client Management II

Application of the patient/client management model. Students synthesize information from previous and concurrent course work to develop a plan of care for a patient/client with single or multiple system involvement with faculty guidance. Students participate in self and peer review processes. The course provides opportunities for hands-on examination, evaluation, and intervention with patients in a clinical setting.

Expand and Collapse PTH 7912 - Patient/Client Management III

Continued application of the patient/client management model. Integrated clinical experiences with pro bono service promote development of professional behaviors and clinical decision making. Integration of all coursework is demonstrated through the creation and progression of plans of care. Further development of interprofessional competency, clinical teaching, self and peer assessment skills is emphasized.

Expand and Collapse PTH 8951 - PT Clinical Internship I

Provides a second, full-time opportunity to apply professional skills, knowledge, behavior, and theory in a clinical setting. Under the direct supervision of a clinical instructor, the student applies the elements of patient/client management in a physical therapy practice. Development of professional behavior continues as students interact daily with patients/clients, physical therapists, and other members of the health care team.

Expand and Collapse PTH 8952 - PT Clinical Internship II

Provides for further development, manipulation, and utilization of knowledge and skills, and for continued professionalization. This internship may occur in a variety of settings with students required to complete an inpatient, outpatient and rural setting internship within the program. By the end of this internship the student is expected, under the direct supervision of a clinical instructor, to be demonstrating entry level skill for most areas of patient management within the assigned setting.

Expand and Collapse PTH 8953 - PT Clinical Internship III

Gain increased experience and depth of understanding for application and integration of skills, knowledge, and professional behaviors during a final ten week, full-time clinical internship in the program. The internship is the culmination of the entry-level clinical requirements and represents integration of all previous coursework.

Expand and Collapse PTH 8980 - Capstone

Culminating course requiring application of all skills learned in the program. Main outcome is in-depth patient case study that is presented in both written and oral formats.

Clinical internships

Students must complete three internships while in the program. Clinical 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. Students must complete one internship in a rural setting; each remaining internship must differ in type of setting or experience. Within this affiliation framework, students have the opportunity to pursue areas of interest including but not limited to pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, industrial medicine, etc.


Students graduating from this program are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. Successful completion of the exam is required for licensure in all states. Requirements for taking the exam vary by state. Students must apply separately for the national exam and for licensing. The department will certify the student's readiness for these procedures, but is not responsible for obtaining, completing or returning the required forms.

Living our mission: The Benedictine values in action

The DPT program is structured philosophically around values that are shared by the physical therapy profession, the College and the College's Benedictine heritage. We consider the Benedictine values and PT core values to interact in the following way:

  • Love of learning is reflected in the professional core value of excellence
  • Respect is seen in the professional values of accountability, compassion/caring and integrity
  • Community is evident in the professional values of altruism and social responsibility
  • Hospitality is realized though the professional values of compassion/caring and professional duty
  • Stewardship is demonstrated through the professional values of excellence and social responsibility

These interactive values guide program policies, procedures and relationships to help us fulfill the College’s mission of graduating individuals who are intellectually and morally prepared to live and work responsibly.

Handling program complaints

The physical therapy department chair is responsible for handling complaints about the program that fall outside of due process. In the event the chair is not available, the complaint is forwarded to the Dean, School of Health Sciences. Complaints can be submitted through email, telephone communication, in person, or in writing. The program chair will respond to the complaint within two weeks of receiving it to allow time for the chair to seek information or council related to the concern. The chair will keep, copy, or transcribe all complaints, depending on how they are received, as well as all correspondence or notes related to any additional communication. The complainant has the right to request an in-person meeting to be informed of the actions taken regarding the complaint. Final copies of all notes related to the complaint, a description of the actions taken, if any, and the final resolution will be sent to the complainant and the Dean SHS, and kept in a locked file in the department office.

John Borstad, Professor and Chair, DPT
(218) 723-6523

Bruce Loppnow, Ph.D., MSH 
Dean, School of Health Sciences
(218) 723-6289

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