Doctor of Physical Therapy

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Mission Statement

The mission of the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program at The College of St. Scholastica is the education of front-line physical therapy providers who are prepared to meet the diverse health care needs of society, including rural communities and underserved populations, through practice, education, and administration. Program graduates are committed to interprofessional collaboration and are recognized as leaders in the provision of evidence based practice that is compassionate, ethical, and legal. Program graduates adapt to and implement change that benefits their community and the 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 Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) is based on the attainment of a bachelor's degree that includes pre-professional prerequisite coursework prior to entering the three-year clinical doctorate program. Pre-professional education requirements, including attainment of a bachelor's degree, provide a knowledge base in the humanistic, behavioral, biological, and natural sciences, which form a foundation for the practice of physical therapy. Specific prerequisite courses support the students in the necessary development of the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize and appreciate the diversity of individuals, communities, and cultures. The physical therapy faculty believes this preparation is best accomplished through a liberal arts education as reflected in the mission of The College of St. Scholastica.
The 108 credit, 33 continuous month professional portion of the physical therapy program (first year, second year and third year) is designed to provide the students with learning opportunities that develop intellectual, affective, and psychomotor skills required for physical therapy practice. This full time day program integrates educational material into professional practice. The following five components form the profession of physical therapy and consequently the design of our entry-level program:

I. Foundational Sciences - This course work focuses on basic science information including functional anatomy, neuroscience, motor development, kinesiology/ biomechanics, pathology, pharmacology, and diagnostic imaging.

II. Tests & Measures - This component of the curriculum addresses the skills associated with examination and evaluation of the cardiopulmonary, integumentary, neuromuscular, and musculoskeletal systems. Tests and measures that evaluate wellness and normal function are learned first, progressing to knowledge acquisition related to deviations from normal for each system. An integral component of tests and measures includes critical inquiry and evidence-based practice.

III. Interventions - Fundamentals of physical agents and exercise are taught first. Then, utilizing a systems approach, the advanced course sequences are designed for students to develop purposeful and skilled abilities in the application of interventions in the physical therapy management of patients. The material in this content area is organized to support the philosophy of developing an intervention plan for the primary goal of enhancing patient functional independence. Critical inquiry and evidence-based practice are applied to examine the relationship between interventions and clinical outcomes.

IV. Professional and social responsibility - The foci of this component surround socialization into the physical therapy profession and development of an understanding of what it means to become a health care provider. Topics studied and applied in this component include professional behaviors, self-analysis and reflection, ethics, teamwork, teaching/learning, communication/coordination/ documentation, administration, group dynamics, and the health care delivery system.

V. Patient management - These are the integrative courses in the curriculum following a case-study based or problem-based learning approach. Clinical decision making and reasoning are emphasized as students apply information from the four other components. Rotations to area clinics and work sites, and laboratory experiences with patients (real or simulated), serve as venues to provide hands-on application of skills, knowledge, and behavior. Comprehensive care is incorporated in patient/client plan of care development. Concept progression in these courses is based on scenarios moving from simple to complex and from single-system to multi-system involvement.

Based on the ideal that students in the program are developing professionals, our entry-level, clinical Doctor of Physical Therapy program is designed to stimulate students to become active learners in situations where they determine what information is relevant to a given problem or situation, ask questions, seek information, and report findings. To enhance participation in the learning process, students experience a variety of teaching methods such as lecture, laboratory exercises, reading, role-playing, and clinical experiences. As students' progress through the program, they are increasingly held responsible for independent learning and are expected to assume responsibility for the development of professional actions and behaviors. Thus, through exposure to and participation in a variety of teaching methods, learning styles and assessment/evaluation methods, program graduates are able to integrate knowledge and skills to deliver efficient and appropriate services to patients and clients. Utilizing such a learner-centered approach the CSS DPT program provides the foundation for autonomous practice, lifelong learning, and demonstration of behaviors, qualities and characteristics of professionalism.

Philosophically, the DPT program is centered on the confluence of values cherished by our Benedictine sponsors, the mission of the College, and the values 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, collaborating, and welcoming diversity; Hospitality is realized through the professional values of warmth and openness; and, Stewardship is demonstrated through the process of scientific inquiry, which results in optimum use of resources to ensure that patients/clients receive the best possible care. In the first year of the PT program students grow in their knowledge of the profession, begin fundamental skill acquisition and develop professional behaviors. During the second and third years of professional education students continue to acquire knowledge and clinical application skills along with proficiency in incorporating critical inquiry and evidence-based practice skills necessary for sound clinical decision-making.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in physical therapy should realize that admission into the program is competitive and limited to 36 students. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in a major field of study. Application to the program is made through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (PTCAS). Please refer to the PTCAS CSS PT program page for current and accurate application and admissions information. (
Admission decisions are based on evaluation of the PTCAS application file by the PT Program Admissions Committee. Preference is given to graduates of The College of St. Scholastica who are qualified for admission.

Prerequisites for Admission

Prerequisite courses for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program are based on the Standard Prerequisite Courses for Admission in Entry-level Physical Therapist Education approved by the Academic Council of the American Physical Therapy Association in October 2012. Because prerequisite courses establish the framework for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, all prerequisite courses must be completed at an institution of higher learning. Advanced placement courses taken in high school will not be accepted as meeting the prerequisite requirements for application to the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Full year, full sequence of Chemistry: The PT program requires a full year, full sequence of chemistry with laboratory to prepare students for a background in biological life sciences such as anatomy, physiology, and tissue dynamics. A lower division sequence (1000 or 2000 level) provides an adequate background to prepare for life sciences. CSS course sequence: CHM 1110-1120 General Chemistry I & II. (4 credits each)
Full year, full sequence of human or vertebrate anatomy and physiology: A solid foundation in human anatomy and physiology is necessary to be a successful physical therapist. Completion of a full sequence of human anatomy and physiology is required. A laboratory component, preferably with a human cadaver or cadaver prosection, is required. CSS course sequence: BIO 2110-2120 Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II. (4 credits each) NOTE: Students are responsible for completing the prerequisite course(s) for BIO 2110-2120.

Full year, full sequence of physics: A full year, full sequence of physics with laboratory is required. Knowledge gained in this course sequence is applied in physical therapy through biomechanics and therapeutic interventions involving thermal energy, light, and electricity. Introduction to physics or a survey course in physics will not fulfill the requirements for the program. CSS course sequence: PSC 2001-2002 Physics I & II. (4 credits each) NOTE: Students are responsible for completing the prerequisite course(s) for PSC 2001-2002.

Course in statistics: A course in college-level statistics is required to allow students to integrate research evidence into their education. Application of statistics and discussion of appropriate types of statistics used with different research methodologies is highly recommended. A course offered by a psychology program best meets these requirements for our physical therapy program, however, other statistic courses at the 2000-level or above from the disciplines of math or economics may be considered. CSS course: PSY 3331 Statistics. (4 credits)

Course or courses addressing lifespan developmental psychology: This required course (or course sequence) provides background knowledge in human development across the lifespan that is utilized daily in physical therapy practice. Content in this course should address the stages of human psychological development from birth to death. A psychology based course is preferred, however a course offered from other human service related fields may be considered. General psychology does not meet this requirement. CSS course: PSY 2208 Lifespan Developmental Psychology. (4 credits)

Course in abnormal psychology: A study of theories and concepts related to variations of normal developmental psychology is required. Knowledge gained in this course provides a background for determining if and when a patient requires a referral to another healthcare provider based on psychological distress. CSS course: PSY 3423 Abnormal Psychology. (4 credits)

Course in medical terminology: A course in medical terminology is required to provide a foundation in the terminology used by physical therapists when examining and treating the body's systems and diseases. 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 Chair of their request.

Essential Functions

Critical thinking, problems solving capabilities, sound judgment, emotional stability and maturity, and ability to learn and function in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings to be able 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 problem solving, critical thinking, and sound judgment.
• Learn in a wide variety of didactic and clinical settings.
• 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 and aspects of the body required to accomplish the task. If removed, or modified, they would not change the outcome of the position.

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 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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Students in the program are required to complete a physical examination and a criminal background check annually.

Student Handbook

The Physical Therapy Department publishes a student handbook each year containing policies, procedures and general information. Students should use this handbook as a primary resource for their day-to-day activities. Changes to the handbook are either made during the summer or, if changes are made during the academic year they are published and distributed to all students prior to initiation of the changes.

Clinical Internships

Students must complete one full time clinical experience and three 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 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. 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.

Fees and Expenses

Due to the nature of the learning environment in the program, students are charged course fees for any course with a laboratory component. Students in the first year of the program can expect to pay approximately $800 in fees; students in the second and third year pay approximately $300 in course fees between the two years. Textbook requirements are carefully screened with texts chosen based on the utility of information. Students should anticipate paying approximately $1,550 for textbooks while in the program. Additional expenses associated with internships are the responsibility of the student. These costs are associated with travel to, between, and from clinical sites, and with housing. Travel and housing are arranged by the student.

Licensure and Registration

Students graduating from accredited programs in physical therapy are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination. Successful completion of the exam is required to attain 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.