Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Mount Saint Mary’s University provides doctoral education to a diverse student body culminating in physical therapists with sound clinical reasoning in a variety of settings who are committed to professional and personal development, social citizenship and ethical, compassionate care.

This graduate degree program offers professional education based on a foundation of liberal arts and sciences. It is a three-year (9 semester) program of academic rigor requiring full time study throughout the curriculum. Concentration on the basic and clinical sciences is integrated with physical therapy patient/client management principles and procedures. The total educational experience of the student involves life-long learning, and the physical therapy curriculum facilitates this value throughout the student's acquisition of knowledge and development of intellectual skills, professional behaviors, cognitive abilities, and practice competencies. The program design provides early and continual integration of clinical experiences that foster maximum development of the student's clinical thought processes, and provides opportunities for mastery of the personal and skill-based competencies requisite for entry-level practice. The Physical Therapy Department is committed to providing an education that enables graduates to be generalist practitioners of the highest quality. The learning environment nurtures students to become skilled professional practitioners, possessing the skills of clinical reasoning and effective communication. Students experience and discover the person and service-oriented aspects of health care including:

  1. An understanding of the holistic nature of health, integrating body, mind, spirit and emotion
  2. An understanding of human beings, their inherent dignity, their diverse cultures, and ethnicity
  3. A respect for the role of compassion and communication in health and healing
  4. A respect for the role of mutual trust and responsibility in patient relationships
  5. An ethical basis for decision making

As integral members of the health care team, graduates impart their knowledge and skill through competent and compassionate patient care, enlightened education, scholarly activity and research, quality consultation and a commitment to life-long learning and professional development.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, the official accrediting body for Physical Therapy Education Programs. Upon successful completion of all clinical and academic requirements, the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy is awarded. Graduates are eligible for licensure in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The DPT program utilizes the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) for all program applicants.

DPT Required

Documents Include:

  • Transcripts: one official copy from each college attended submitted directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions (in addition to PTCAS)
  • Three recommendations (academic, physical therapist, and interpersonal skills assessment) (submit to PTCAS)
  • Statement of Interest (submit to PTCAS)
  • Evidence of physical therapy experience in inpatient and outpatient physical therapy settings (submit to PTCAS)
  • Official GRE Score Report submitted to PTCAS. Official TOEFL score submitted to Graduate Admissions.
  • Admission decisions for Fall begin the previous August. The deadline for early decision applicants is August 17. The application deadline for all others is December 1 of the previous Fall.

DPT Admission


Admission to the DPT Program is based on the following information:

  • Cumulative Undergraduate Grade Point Average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Pre-requisite Grade Point Average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Graduate Record Exam scores for verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical reasoning.
  • Knowledge of the profession obtained by paid or volunteer clinical experience including outpatient and inpatient settings. One-hundred twenty hours recommended in each setting. Experience verified by a licensed physical therapist.
  • For applicants whose first language is other than English, a TOEFL score of at least 550.
  • Acceptable recommendations: one from an academician with direct knowledge of the applicant's academic ability; one from a physical therapist who can address the applicant's clinical potential and communication skills; and one from an individual who can address the applicant's problem solving skills.
  • Submission of completed application with all official transcripts, recommendation forms, verification of PT observation/work hours and Graduate Record Examination results to the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service. Admission decisions for Fall begin the previous August.  The deadline for early decision applicants is August 17.  The application deadline for all others is December 1 of the previous Fall. Upon acceptance to the program, official transcripts must be sent directly to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

DPT Prerequisite Coursework

To be acceptable, letter grades of C or higher are required. All prerequisite courses must be taken on a graded basis. All science courses must be for science majors and have laboratories. The requirements presented are on the semester system. If the applicant has attended an institution which is on the quarter system, it must be recognized that three quarter units are equivalent to two semester units. Prerequisite science courses must have been taken within the last ten years at an accredited college or university in the United States. Introductory courses are not accepted for credit toward prerequisite course work. All applicants must show evidence of satisfactory completion of the following courses:

Biology (General) 2 semesters with lab (8 units)

Upper division science (3 units)

Chemistry: 2 semesters with lab (8 units)

Communication: 1 semester written (3 units), 1 semester speech (3 units)

Human Anatomy: 1 semester with lab (4 units)

Human Physiology: 1 semester with lab (4 units)

Physics: 2 semesters with lab (8 units)

Psychology: 3 semesters (9 units): general, two elective

Statistics: 1 semester (3 units)

Recommended (not required):

Computer Science/Literacy

Critical Thinking




Motor Learning/Development

All courses must be completed by the summer prior to enrollment in the program.

Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis.

The Physical Therapy Admission Committee retains discretionary authority in the application of all the criteria for admission and their decision is final. Applicants for admission are considered on the basis of the qualifications of each student without regard for race, religion, sex, age, national or state origin. Individuals who have received their Baccalaureate degree outside of the United States must have their credentials and transcripts evaluated by a recognized credential evaluation agency before the application for admission to the DPT degree program will be considered. The foreign transcript evaluation must be submitted directly to PTCAS.

Clinical facilities in the clinical portion of the curriculum are utilized throughout California and the United States.

DPT Financial Arrangements

Students are responsible for the financing of their education. Information and assistance is available and should be directly requested from the Office of Student Financing. Tuition expenses for the DPT program can be found in the tuition expense section at the beginning of this catalog, or on the University website at

Requirements for the Professional Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program offers the student an entry-level professional degree. In order to progress in the curriculum, students must achieve letter grades of "C" or better in each didactic course and letter grades of "A" or "B" in all clinical affiliations. A letter grade of "C-" or "D" in one course or "NC" in a long-term clinical affiliation results in suspension from the program until the course is repeated and a letter grade of "C" or higher, or "A" or "B" , in a clinical course is achieved. Two letter grades of "C-", "D" or "NC", or one "F", results in dismissal /disqualification from the program. If student performance in a clinical setting is deemed unsatisfactory or unsafe according to the standards of the facility, the University, the accrediting agency, or the state, the student may be suspended or disqualified from the program. In addition to passing each didactic course with a "C" or better, and clinical course with an "A" or "B", students must maintain a cumulative average GPA of 3.0 or better in order to remain in the program. A cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 in any given semester will result in being placed on academic probation. In order to remain in the program and be reinstated to regular academic standing, the student must achieve a 3.0 semester GPA in each of the next two semesters. Students will receive notice of academic probation from the Graduate Dean and/or the Department Chair. Students are required to demonstrate competence in the didactic and clinical components of the program at all times. Additional information regarding Department Policies and Procedures are available on the Mount Saint Mary’s website. Before enrollment and prior to each clinical practicum/affiliation/internship, evidence of acceptable health status must be on record with Student Health Services. This includes but is not limited to tuberculosis screening, current immunization and a physical examination. Students must also fulfill any additional clinical site specific requirements including, but not limited to, background checks and drug screening. Students are responsible for their own housing and transportation. During all clinical aspects of the program, students are required to carry health insurance and malpractice insurance.

DPT Curriculum: Design

The curriculum is a sequential 3-year, 9-semester design based on a foundation of hierarchical and adult learning theory. The curriculum design incorporates values, content, and process components. In the domain of values, six values serve as a core for the program and are based on the mission and philosophy of the University and department. These values are compassion, communication, collaboration, community, critical thinking and competence (including professionalism).

Seven themes serve as the conceptual framework around which the curriculum is organized. They are Foundational and Basic Sciences, Medical Sciences, Critical Thinking/Research, Patient/Client Management, Practice Management, Integration Seminar, and Clinical Experiences. The program design incorporates the presentation of foundational sciences prior to clinical application; the appreciation of "normal" prior to learning "pathological;" a hierarchical organization that progresses content and process presentation from simple material to more complex content and skill application, and from the cognitive processing domains of knowledge and comprehension to application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. There is also an interweaving of progressively more complex clinical experiences with didactic learning within and outside of the classroom environment; and a consistent integration of learning (current and prior) through intentional learning activities and experiences. The program includes a total of 38 weeks of clinical experiences, culminating with two 12- week clinical internships.