Physical Therapy - Entry Level, Doctor of Physical Therapy

Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training

College of Health and Human Services

We designed this clinical doctoral plan to include both didactic study and clinical experiences. Through this plan, you develop competencies in diagnosis, evidence-based practice, and primary care as well as a working knowledge of health-care economics. Experience in these areas prepares you to meet the current standards of the highly competitive physical therapy profession.

This plan is nationally recognized by the American Physical Therapy Association.

This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

  • To receive a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree (DPT) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, consisting of 110 units of graduate-level courses, depending upon the student’s initial degree and transcript.

    For more information see the Requirements for Doctoral Degree: DPT

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 98 - 102
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is the required degree in the U.S. to practice as a physical therapist. Physical therapy is a health care profession focused at optimizing movement. Physical therapists work with individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that interfere with their ability to function in their daily lives. In addition, a focus is on prevention of functional limitations and disability and promoting wellness and fitness. Physical therapists must be knowledgeable about the U. S. healthcare system and should participate in the development of health policy as advocates for their profession.
The DPT program provides didactic and clinical coursework to prepare students to work in the profession of physical therapy. Foundational sciences include human anatomy, physiology, pathology, and the study of normal and abnormal movement. Laboratory courses in musculoskeletal, neurologic, and cardiopulmonary physical therapy prepare students for these practice areas. Skills in clinical research and evidence-based practice are integral to the curriculum. The content covers the lifespan, from neonates to the very old. The DPT coursework prepares students to provide clients with a physical therapy diagnosis, prognosis, and plan of care.
An important part of the DPT curriculum is focused on professionalism, ethics, service to the community and profession, and life-long learning. In keeping with current practice, interprofessional education prepares students to work as clinicians in collaborative medical team models.
In addition to classroom and laboratory learning experiences, students participate in part-time and full-time clinical experiences. The full-time clinical experiences span the last 30 weeks of the curriculum. Students are supervised by a licensed physical therapist in each of three community clinical settings. 
Future opportunities:
The DPT is a clinical doctorate that prepares students to take the national licensing examination required to practice physical therapy in the U.S. Students are prepared as generalists with the skills necessary to enter clinical practice in diverse settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, sports facilities, and home health agencies.
Population best suited:
Students entering the DPT must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and completed the necessary prerequisite courses. It is a rigorous full-time program that requires strengths in science, communication, physical coordination, and teamwork. Professional and ethical behavior is essential.

Student Learning Outcomes
Outcomes align with Standards from the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education

1. Profesional Ethics and Value
2. Patient/Client Management

  • Screening
  • Examination, Evaluation and Diagnosis
  • Intervention
3. Management of Care Delivery
4. Participation in Health Care Environment
5. Practice Management

See the full list of Student Learning Outcomes 

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Must also complete PTCAS application
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • Laboratory and lecture-based anatomy and physiology courses
      • Laboratory and lecture-based general chemistry
      • Laboratory and lecture-based college level physics
      • One semester of general psychology, statistics, and abnormal or developmental psychology
      • One semester of exercise physiology
    • Personal statement or essay
    • IVP Fingerprint Clearance Card

  • This degree will require 28 months of full time study to complete.

Doctoral Requirements
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $3000 per semester has been approved for Flagstaff campus students in this program. A program fee of $4000 per semester has been approved for Phoenix Biomedical campus students in this program.