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Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Location: Worcester
Start Term: Fall

As a physical therapist, you have the power to improve the health and well-being of people across the life span. This program builds on your bachelor's degree to help you develop the advanced knowledge and skills required for contemporary physical therapy practice.

In this full-time, three-year doctoral program, you will experience a challenging course of study designed to prepare you for future roles in practice, patient education, research, policy, and advocacy as a physical therapist.

You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside professional experts in our advanced laboratories and through a wide range of clinical experiences both on and off campus. You’ll learn how to diagnose and treat a wide variety of patients, assess their outcomes, and provide evidence of effectiveness. When you graduate, you’ll be eligible to sit for the PT licensing examination and begin your rewarding career.

Clinical Experience

Gain hands-on experience through a variety of clinical experiences and service learning opportunities, starting in the first year of the program. Students participate in integrated clinical experiences that build on didactic information. For example, during the courses focused on acute care, students are assigned to an acute care setting in the area to experience specialty clinics, post-surgical management, and intensive care. The result is an immersive program experience designed to empower students to gain the knowledge and hands-on experience they will need in their future careers as PTs.

For admission to the program, an applicant must have:

  • Official GRE scores
  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university
  • A minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • A minimum prerequisite GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • 10 hours of PT shadowing experience

Additionally, the following courses must be completed:

  • General Biology I & II with lab (8 credits)
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II with lab (8 credits)
  • Exercise Physiology (3 credits)
  • General Chemistry I & II with lab (8 credits)
  • Physics I & II with lab (8 credits)
  • Calculus (3 credits) (Calculus is preferred but Precalculus will be accepted as a substitution)
  • Psychology (3 credits)
  • Statistics (3 credits)
  • Behavioral Science Elective (3 credits) (Acceptable courses include any upper level psychology or sociology course)

Prerequisite courses (as indicated above) must have been completed at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of B- or better. Math and science courses taken more than ten years prior to the anticipated date of matriculation to MCPHS will not be accepted.

Students with international coursework must submit a course-by-course evaluation from the World Education Service (WES). Please note that a WES evaluation is not required for applicants for coursework from English-Speaking Canadian universities and colleges.


Year 1-Fall

PTH 501 PT as a Profession 2
PTH 510 Foundations of PT Management I (w/ lab) 3
PTH 520 Clinical Medicine and Pathology I 3
PTH 530 Clinical Human Anatomy I (w/ lab) 3
PTH 540 Evidence for PT Practice I 2
PTH 552 PT in the Acute Care Environment (w/ lab) 3
PTH 570 Integrated Clinical Education I 2


Year 1-Spring

PTH 515 Foundations of PT Management II (w/ lab) 3
PTH 525 Clinical Medicine and Pathology II 3
PTH 535 Clinical Human Anatomy II (w/ lab) 3
PTH 545 Evidence for PT Practice II 1
PTH 550 Pharmacology 3
PTH 560 Standardized Measurement in PT Practice (w/ lab) 3
PTH 575 Integrated Clinical Education II 2

Year 1-Summer

PTH 554 Lifespan Motor Control 3
PTH 556 Human Gait 2
PTH 558 Clinical Kinesiology (w/ lab) 3
PTH 565 Cardiopulmonary Patient Management (w/ lab) 3
PTH 580 Professional Issues In PT Practice I 1

Year II-Fall

PTH 601 Clinical Imaging 2
PTH 610 Musculoskeletal Patient Management I (w/ lab) 3
PTH 640 Evidence for PT Practice III 2
PTH 650 Therapeutic Exercise (w/ lab) 3
PTH 652 Neuroscience (w/ lab) 3
PTH 654 Orthotics and Prosthetics (w/ lab) 3
PTH 670 Integrated Clinical Education III 2

Year II-Spring

PTH 615 Musculoskeletal Patient Management II (w/ lab) 3
PTH 630 Neuromuscular Patient Management I (w/ lab) 3
PTH 645 Evidence for PT Practice IV 2
PTH 656 PT Management of the Geriatric Patient 3
PTH 658 PT Management for the Pediatric Patient 3
PTH 660 Professional Issues in PT Practice II 1
PTH 675 Integrated Clinical Education IV 2

Year II-Summer

PTH 620 Musculoskeletal Patient Management III (w/ lab) 3
PTH 635 Neuromuscular Patient Management II (w/ lab) 3
PTH 665 Professional Issues in PT Practice III 3
PTH 680 Integrated Clinical Education V 2

Year III-Fall

PTHC 700 Clinical Education Experience I 8
PTHC 710 Clinical Education Experience II 8

Year III-Spring

PTHC 720 Clinical Education Experience III 8
DPT Elective(s) 1
PTH 810 Evidence for PT Practice V 1
PTH 820 Current Topics in PT Practice 2
PTH 830 Professional Issues in PT Practice IV 1

Our students learn from faculty who are leaders in their fields and are committed to the success of each student. Discover our full list of Physical Therapy faculty

Information on the University’s Disabilities Support Services is set forth in the MCPHS University Catalog. If a student feels s/he may require special accommodations to perform any of the fundamental requirements of the curriculum, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the Assistant Dean for Academic Support Services as set forth in the MCPHS University Catalog.

Essential Functions

The practice of physical therapy includes the examination, diagnosis, and treatment of people with physical disabilities, movement dysfunction, and pain. Physical therapists must be prepared to conduct in a timely manner a relevant patient examination, evaluate the results of this examination and synthesize these data to establish an accurate diagnosis, prognosis and plan of care, implement an intervention and use the process of re-examination to assess patient outcomes. Physical therapists must also possess the skills necessary to determine when referral of the patient/client to another health care professional is appropriate. Physical therapists must provide evidence that the care that they provide is effective, often through the conduct of clinically based research.

DPT students must be able to complete the following:

  • Participation in all required aspects of classroom and laboratory activities. 
  • Participation in all required aspects of clinical experience activities.
  • Effective communication with other students, instructors, assistive personnel, patients, family members, payers, and other health care professionals.
  • Maintenance of a safe environment for other individuals and for one’s self, including use of universal precautions.
  • Provision of emergency patient care, including, but not limited to, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Completion of elements of patient/client management, including examination, evaluation of data, formulation of physical therapy diagnosis and prognosis, intervention, assessment of outcomes, and record keeping.
  • Completion of specific patient/client interventions and treatments, including patient and family education, application of modalities, therapeutic exercise, and functional training.

Clinical agencies may have additional or agency-specific technical standards, which take precedence over MCPHS University technical standards.

The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredits professional physical therapy programs and requires that graduates of these programs be able to deliver entry-level clinical services. Graduates of entry-level programs are required to possess a broad base of knowledge and skills requisite for the practice of physical therapy. Physical therapists require the intellectual—communication, behavioral—social, observational, and motor abilities to meet the standard of practice.

Certain disabilities can interfere with a student’s ability to complete the program of study and acquire the essential functions necessary for the practice physical therapy. Reasonable accommodation can be made to compensate for some limitations. However, those that interfere with patient care, safety or require the use of an intermediary may be incompatible with independent professional practice.

Technical Standards

Intellectual – Communication Abilities

Intellectual skills include the abilities to recall and comprehend large amounts of didactic information and to apply this information to the examination, evaluation and management of routine and complex physical therapy problems. Effective communication skills enable the physical therapist to elicit appropriate information from patients and to effectively explain examination and treatment procedures.
Some of the skills an individual must be able to demonstrate include but are not limited to the ability to:

  • Communicate clearly and in a timely manner with patients, physicians, other health professionals, community or professional groups, and colleagues.
  • Report clearly, legibly, and in a timely manner through progress notes in patient charts, reports to physicians, insurance forms, and order forms.
  • Respond to such things as a patient calling from behind a curtain, warning calls from anyone, and machine alarms.
  • Participate in group meetings to deliver and receive information and to respond to questions from a variety of sources.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Students must demonstrate the ability to practice in a professional and ethical manner and possess the emotional stability to practice in a stressful work environment. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, cultural competence and motivation are all personal attributes associated with the practice of physical therapy.

Some of the skills an individual must be able to demonstrate include but are not limited to the ability to:

  •  Recognize and respond appropriately to individuals of all ages, genders, races, socio- economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Cope with the stress of heavy workloads, demanding patients, and life threatening clinical situations.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to potentially hazardous situations.

Observational Skills

Observation is one of the key tools that a physical therapist possesses. To gather data on patient/client condition and to appropriately manipulate machinery are critical to being an effective physical therapist. Some of the skills an individual must be able to demonstrate include but are not limited to the ability to:

  • Observe and interpret patient movement, skin condition, safety hazards, and changes in appearance.
  • Read and interpret equipment dials, assessment graphs, patient charts, professional literature, and notes from patients, physicians, and other health professionals.

Motor Skills

The practice of physical therapy requires that the practitioner possess the ability to perform basic evaluative and therapeutic procedures that require specific physical skills and stamina (e.g. palpation, transfers, gait training). A therapist must be able to use vision and somatic sensation in the evaluation and treatment of patients. Some of the skills an individual must be able to demonstrate include but are not limited to the ability to:

  • Lift, carry, and push patients (150 lbs.) in bed or wheelchairs, heavy equipment, body parts, and patients transferring from bed to chair or mat or be able to instruct others in the activity including proper body mechanics.
  • Walk and balance well enough to help patients walk and transfer with or without equipment, and prevent injury to patient and self.
  • Palpate anatomical structures and handle injured body parts without causing injury to the subject.
  • Exhibit sufficient manual dexterity to manipulate very small equipment, provide support and resistance as needed through complex exercise movements, perform CPR, manipulate dials, and treat acutely ill patients without disturbing sensitive monitoring instruments and lines.
  • Provide for the patient’s safety and well-being in all therapeutic or transporting activities.
MCPHS University is committed to creating and fostering a positive learning, working and living environment where all members of our community can thrive. Learn more about our non-discrimination policies and procedures here

Download the Program Fact Sheet

Find out what makes this program unique at MCPHS.


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