Jun 12, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog Archived Catalog

Physical Therapy, DPT

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate Programs of Study


The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, with its weekend format, provides the opportunity for adults who need or prefer this non-traditional instructional format to achieve the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The curriculum is completed over three calendar years.  Through this curriculum, students develop specialized competence in meeting the health care needs of clients in a wide variety of settings including research, education, consultation, and administration.

The conceptual basis for the curriculum is the body systems model with the inclusion of course content in physical therapy science; clinical medicine; professional topics; administration and management; human development; education and consultation; and health policy topics which expose students to broader aspects of the profession and the context for current practice. The first clinical education experience during the spring of Year Two affords the students the opportunity to practice skills learned in the didactic skills classes. In Year Three, students continue to develop skills in screening, evaluating, planning, providing intervention, and documenting care. During the second and third clinical education experiences, which occur in the final semester of the program, students continue to improve their clinical skills in providing direct care in an increasingly broader arena by interacting with others on the rehabilitation team, family/caregivers, community services, government, and third-party payers. They also learn to function as contributing members of the health care team, and to act as advocates for the patient/client.


Neumann University’s Physical Therapy Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; Telephone: 1-800-999-APTA; or www.apta.org; and is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg, PA.


In accordance with the Mission of Neumann University, this non-traditional format professional entry program provides a service-oriented education for students who seek the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Graduates will be practitioners who are prepared to carry out diverse responsibilities in roles with flexible boundaries, view learning as a lifelong process, and believe in the inherent dignity of human beings, regardless of the differences in individuals.

A Statement of Philosophy

The faculty of the Physical Therapy Program at Neumann University affirm the following beliefs concerning the profession of physical therapy and physical therapy education as articulated by the American Physical Therapy Association’s Philosophical Statement on Physical Therapy (Position), HOD 06-83-03-05 (Alexandria, Virginia, 1983):

“Physical therapy is a health profession whose primary purpose is the promotion of optimal human health and function through the application of scientific principles to prevent, identify, assess, correct, or alleviate acute or prolonged movement dysfunctions. Physical therapy encompasses areas of specialized competence and includes the development of new principles and applications to more effectively meet existing and emerging health needs. Other professional activities that serve the purposes of physical therapy are research, education, consultation, and administration.”

The health care system in the United States currently, and for the foreseeable future, is one in which individual practitioners must be prepared to carry out diverse responsibilities in roles with flexible boundaries. Throughout one’s professional life, the health care practitioner must be willing to learn and apply new knowledge and skills in the service of his/her clients. The professional education system which supports these activities must permit practitioners to change and enlarge their professional competencies easily.

Consistent with the University’s Mission, learning is viewed as a lifelong process which affirms the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings and respects the individuality of each adult student. The learning environment is designed to identify and enhance those attributes of the learner which support lifelong learning, such as the ability to analyze new information critically, to identify areas in which additional knowledge is needed to make reasoned applications of information to changing health care situations, to evaluate one’s own need for further learning experience, and to seek out the resources needed to acquire such learning.

The program’s learning environment also provides the learner with sound foundational knowledge in the biological sciences, social sciences, research, management, and the interpersonal skills which are essential to the practice of physical therapy. In order to facilitate practical application of this information, the curriculum encourages integration within and across various fields of knowledge and various types of service delivery systems.

These requirements are best addressed by providing a wide range of learning opportunities presented through a diversity of teaching formats, such as formal presentations, group discussions, laboratories, patient simulation activities, case studies, and supervised professional experiences.

The physical therapist will not only have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide service autonomously, but he/she will be prepared to function effectively as a participant and leader in group situations within the profession, within health care provision agencies, and within the community. Physical therapists will have the ability to identify, evaluate, and manage the resources of personnel, time, and money. They will possess the interpersonal skills needed to promote group management of problems in health care delivery.

Program Outcomes

The Physical Therapy Program at Neumann University seeks to develop practitioners who:

  • have an in-depth knowledge of the basic and clinical sciences, of client examination, testing, assessment, evaluation of examination data, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention relative to patient/client management from the simplest to the most complex of patient conditions
  • apply their knowledge to prevent, identify, assess, correct and/or alleviate acute or prolonged movement dysfunctions
  • function in a clinical team atmosphere, within the family and social contexts, and within a changing health care environment
  • make clinical decisions, prioritize treatment goals, delegate effectively and provide consultation as well as treatment
  • appropriately refer patients/clients to other health care providers/agencies/resources
  • identify and integrate sound research-based evidence for effective patient care
  • recognize the need to be life-long learners who seek the information and experiences necessary to remain current and influence changes in health care policy, delivery and patient care management procedures
  • recognize the need and requirement to measurably predict patient outcomes and structure their management strategies and procedures to achieve those outcomes safely, effectively, and efficiently
  • identify, respect, and act with consideration for individual differences, values, preferences, and expressed needs in all professional activities.

Admission Requirements

Applicants with a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited, degree-granting institution who have successfully completed all prerequisite courses are eligible for consideration for entrance to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, subject to the approval of the Program Director.  Acceptance is on a competitive basis after submission of all credentials and an interview.  Enrollment is limited to 30 students a year.  All applicants must submit the following: 

  • A completed Graduate Student Application, in print or online through www.neumann.edu.
  • Official transcripts from all regionally-accredited institution attended.
  • Résumé and letter of intent detailing educational and career goals.
  • Three official letters of recommendation, including one from an employer and one from a physical therapist.  Original letters must be submitted directly by the recommender.  Letters in electronic mail format are acceptable, if submitted directly to the Office of Adult and Graduate Admissions.
  • A minimum of 200 hours of officially documented experience with a physical therapist.
  • Official Graduate Record Exam scores no more than five years old (GRE code 2628).
  • Submit a completed DPT prerequisite form.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for students from a non-English speaking country or for whom English is a second language: minimum overall score of 89, with a minimum score of 26 on the verbal subtest of the Internet-based TOEFL or its equivalent on either the computer-based or paper and pencil test.

Once all admission materials have been received and processed through the Office of Admissions, the Program Director will arrange for an interview, if appropriate, following a review of all candidate credentials.

Admission requirements include completion of the following prerequisite courses:

  Anatomy and Physiology 8 credits Mathematics 3 credits  
  Biology 8 credits Physics 8 credits  
  Chemistry 8 credits Psychology 6 credits  
  English Composition 6 credits Statistics 3 credits  
  Humanities 6 credits      

The stronger applicant will have an overall cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.00 or better and a minimum of “B” in the prerequisite courses.

With the approval of the Program Director, students may be conditionally accepted into the Physical Therapy Program, with the understanding that they must satisfactorily complete all outstanding prerequisites and admission requirements by June 30 of the first term in which they are enrolled in the program. Students who fail to meet the terms of their Conditional Acceptance will not be permitted to continue in the program. (For additional information, please refer to the Admissions Information   section of this catalog.)

Essential Skills for the D.P.T. Program

Neumann University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (D.P.T.) subscribes to the professional practice descriptions and guidelines that are contained in both the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice and the Guide for Professional Conduct and Code of Ethics, as published by the American Physical Therapy Association. As a nationally accredited program, the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program adheres to the standards and criteria set forth by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program seeks to select applicants who have the ability to become caring and competent physical therapists, and who can enter the physical therapy profession with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are necessary to safely and effectively provide high-quality services to the public. Program decisions to admit and retain students are based upon the extent and quality of academic preparation as well as non-academic abilities and skills that are required for both successful completion of the D.P.T. curriculum and for safe, competent practice.

The following skills are required to develop the knowledge base, attitudes, psychomotor, problem-solving, and critical thinking abilities that are deemed by program faculty as essential to successfully complete the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

  • Physical Skills: The student must have the physical ability, including strength, gross and fine motor skills, and endurance, to safely and effectively support, move, and guard patients with paralysis, weakness, and/or other motor control disorders. In addition, the student must possess the physical ability to mobilize and manipulate body limbs and segments of the spinal column. The student must also possess sensory competence, including hearing, vision, and tactile sensation, to monitor health status and manage patients, e.g., to perform heart and lung auscultation, palpation, and to observe movement and postural dysfunction.
  • Cognitive Skills: The student must have the ability to master course material through memorization, analysis, synthesis, and application.
  • Critical and Analytical Thinking: The student must have the ability to (1) develop clinical reasoning and decision-making skills, and (2) evaluate and use evidence as a basis for practice as required for the competent practice of physical therapy.
  • Emotional Maturity and Stability: The student must have the ability to (1) understand the basis of and adhere to the principles of ethical practice, (2) function calmly in stressful situations, (3) demonstrate empathy, altruism, compassion, and tolerance, (4) be accountable for his or her actions, and (5) take professional responsibility.
  • Interpersonal Skills: In order to provide safe and effective physical therapy services, the student must have the ability to positively interact with others, including fellow students, patients and their families, other clinicians, and support staff.
  • Communication Skills: The student must have the ability to effectively speak and write accurately, professionally, and clearly in the English language. Additionally, the student must be able to demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively as a clinical teacher and clinical team member, supervise support personnel, as well as seek other professional judgments, provide consultations, and make appropriate clinical referrals.

These aforementioned essential skills are required for admission, participation, progression, and graduation from Neumann University with the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Consistent with University policy and procedures, students are responsible for declaring any disabilities to the University in order to be eligible for reasonable accommodations or special services. Students should refer to the Students with Disabilities   section in this Graduate Catalog for further information.

Program Policies

Class Attendance

Students are required to attend all scheduled classes. A student’s presence and participation in class discussion and related activities are critical factors towards the completion of course work and the achievement of stated learning objectives in all courses. A student who plans to be absent from class, if at all possible, and as a matter of courtesy, should inform the instructor in advance of the absence. If absences occur, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor with regard to making up the work missed. Permission to make up course assignments and examinations will be granted at the sole discretion of the instructor.

Success in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and future success as practicing physical therapists require full course participation and interaction with faculty and peers. Any missed experiences because of excessive course non-attendance cannot be adequately remedied by out of class “make-up” activities. The program’s weekend instructional format inherently limits the amount of formal on-campus class instruction. In recognition of the critical importance of course attendance, students who are absent for more than two full weekend instructional class sessions for any course (or its equivalent in accumulated missed time) in a typical 10- or 11-week course will receive a grade of “F” for that course. In addition, students who are absent for more than one weekend instructional class session (or its equivalent in accumulated missed time) in a compressed 5- or 6-week course will receive a grade of “F” for that course. All students are urged to remember that arriving late for a class or leaving before dismissal counts as missed time.

In addition to the attendance policy described above, and as stated in individual course syllabi, faculty may deduct points from the final course grade for missed class time, up to the limit of missed class time that would require an automatic grade of “F.”

Schedules for class weekends are determined two years before the class meets. Hence, students are advised to schedule any personal activities on non-class weekends.

Students also need to be generally available on class weekends and not strictly limit their availability to scheduled class times. On occasion, it may be necessary for an instructor to start a class earlier or continue beyond scheduled class stop times. Students may also be required to attend individual student-faculty advisement sessions, clinical education meetings, research project meetings, and student group meetings.

Please note that the attendance policy for clinical education courses is described in the Clinical Education Handbook.


All program courses that require letter grades are assigned as follows:

  • A:
  • B+:
  • B:
  • C+:
  • C:
  • F:
Below 70  

Other grades, including Institutional Withdrawal, Pass/Fail, Withdrawal, and Incomplete, and related grading policies, are described in the Grading System   section of this catalog.

Practical Skills Competency Examinations

Clinical skills courses typically have practical skills competency examinations that test students application of hands-on patient examination and treatment skills learned during laboratory activities associated with those courses.  Practical sills competency examination are graded on a Pass/Fail basis.  Faculty identify such courses requiring competency examinations in the course syallabi.  Individual grading rubrics for these competency examinations include the criteria for Pass and Fail.  All components of practical skills competency examinations must be passed for the student to pass the related course regardless of the numerical grade received from other content-based examinations taken during the course or any other graded course requirement.

Retaking Practical Skills Competency Examinations

Failed practical skills competency examinations, including midterm and final practical skills competency examinations, can be retaken only one time.  Failed practical skills competency examinations taken during the course must be re-taken prior to final written and final practical skills competency examinations.  Failed final practical skills competency examinations must be retaken prior to the start of the next semester.  Practical skills competency examinations retakes may be conducted with other program faculty present and may be video/audio taped for review.  Requirements for retesting will be determined by the course instructor, including the content to be tested, testing procedures, and level of student performance for a passing grade. 

Final Written Examinations

Many of the courses in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program have cumulative written final examinations. Passing the cumulative written final examination minimally indicates that the student has achieved a basic understanding of the material that has been presented in the course. A minimum grade of 70% must be achieved on a cumulative final written examination in order to pass the course, even if the final course grade is passing with 70% or greater. Course syllabi will indicate whether the final written examination is a cumulative examination.

A student may retake a final examination only if:

  • The student has received a failing grade (a grade below 70%) for the cumulative final examination; and
  • The student’s overall final percentage average for the course, including the failed final examination score, is 70% or above.

The student must achieve a passing grade (70% or above) on the retake to pass the course. However, the student’s final grade for the course will still be based upon the original final examination score. If the student fails the retake, he/she will receive a failing grade for the course. A failed cumulative final examination must be retaken prior to the beginning of the next term of the program. A student can retake a failed cumulative final examination only one time

Comprehensive Examinations

Students are required to pass comprehensive examinations during the program. The purpose of comprehensive examinations is to emphasize that students are expected to acquire and cumulatively maintain levels of competence necessary for successful completion of the program and clinical practice after graduation.  Successful completion of the first comprehensive exam is a requirement of PT 619 Clinical Reasoning I  that occurs in the fall term of Year 2.  The content items of this comprehensive examination will include all previously completed coursework.  Successful completion of the second comprehensive exam is a requirement of PT 719 Clinical Reasoning II  that occurs in the fall term of Year 3.  The content of this comprehensive examination will include all previously completed coursework.  Consistent with the policy on cumulative final examinations, students who fail any comprehensive examination on the first attempt will have the opportunities to remediate to re-take a similar examination.  Students can re-take a comprehensive examination only one time.  Failure to pass a comprehensive exam on the second attempt will result in failure of the course and dismissal from the program.  Refer to the policy on Student Progression and Retention below regarding final course grades of F.

Student Progression and Retention

Students who are admitted to the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Program begin their scheduled sequence of graduate courses in May of each academic year. Program continuity and course sequencing suggests that a student should complete his/her studies in an uninterrupted three-year period of time. When, for personal reasons, however, a student finds it necessary to seek a Leave of Absence from the program, a Leave of Absence Request Form must be completed after the student has first consulted with his/her academic advisor and, then, secured the permission of the Program Director. The Leave of Absence Request Form can be obtained from the Registrar’s Office. The entire Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree Program must be completed within five years of enrollment of initial enrollment.

All students are expected to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 throughout the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. A course grade of “F” in any course or grades of “C” or “C+”in more than a total of 8 credits of course work will result in dismissal from the program. In addition, if a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 3.00, that student is automatically placed on academic probation within the program. During the period of academic probation, the student is counseled, and his/her academic performance is closely monitored. The student will remain on academic probation until he/she achieves a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00. A student who is on academic probation prior to the start of the Spring term of Year Two of the program cannot register for or attend Clinical Education I and will be dismissed. Likewise, a student who is on academic probation prior to the start of the Spring term of Year Three of the program cannot attend Clinical Education II and will be dismissed.

Students in the entry-level D.P.T. Program are not permitted to repeat courses.

Requirements for Graduation

Graduation from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is contingent upon (1) submitting a signed Application for Graduation form to the Registrar on or before the date specified in the Academic Calendar; (2) successfully completing all program course work with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00; (3) passing all clinical education courses; (4) receiving the approval of the Program Director.

Clinical Education

The Physical Therapy Program includes one 11-week, one-10 week and one-9 week clinical practicum, for a total of 30 weeks of full-time clinical education. Clinical Education I occurs in the spring of Year Two. Clinical Education II and Clinical Education III occur in the spring of Year Three, prior to program completion. The curriculum plan for clinical education requires each student to have guided practice in three distinct service sites, i.e., outpatient, acute inpatient, and post-acute rehabilitation. Clinical assignments are made in accordance with specified curricular requirements, the level and educational needs of the student, and available experiences in various qualified clinical practice sites. Clinical experiences are scheduled full-time Monday through Friday and, therefore, preclude the student’s full-time employment at that time. Students are responsible to make arrangements with their employers for time off during their clinical education experiences. Policies specific to clinical education are located in the Clinical Education Handbook.

Students are required to submit to substance abuse screening prior to clinical placement and possibly during clinical experiences. Students testing positive may be referred to Counseling and Health Services for assistance with a substance abuse problem. Such referral, however, will not preclude the University from taking actions, including removal from the clinical placement (which may result in failure to meet degree requirements) and/or expulsion from the Physical Therapy Program/University, depending upon the circumstances. Students are responsible for costs incurred for these screenings. For additional information, please contact the Academic Coordinator of Clinical Education for the Physical Therapy Program.

Students are also required to apply for multiple criminal record checks and background clearances through an outside vendor prior to PT 691 Clinical Education   and then again in the Fall prior to PT 790 Clinical Education II , and PT 795 Clinical Education III  . A criminal record and/or a history of child or elder abuse may prohibit clinical placement and, subsequently, result in failure to meet degree requirements.

State boards of physical therapy may deny applicants a chance to sit for licensure, or revoke their physical therapy license, if they are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if they have a criminal record or recorded history of child and/or elder abuse.

Class Schedule

All Physical Therapy (PT) courses begin in May of each academic year and are scheduled on Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM during class weekends. There are 11 class weekends in each of three terms per academic year of this three-year program.Some Fridays are also required, typically in the Fall semesters of years 2 and 3.  The exception to this instructional format occurs during the spring term of the second and third years when students attend their full-time practica (please refer to the Clinical Education   section for additional information). The instructional schedule is made available to students prior to the beginning of each term. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, there may need to be a change in the schedule of classes. Students are reminded to remain flexible for such occasions.

Required Sequence of Courses and Program of Study: 95 Credits

Note: This program of study presents the courses in sequence so that each semester builds upon the content and skills learned in the previous semester(s).

Year One: Summer Semester (9 Credits)

Year One: Fall Semester (11 Credits)

Total Credits for Year One: 33

Total Credits for Year Two: 32

Year Three: Spring Semester (6 Credits)

Total Credits for Year Three: 30

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate Programs of Study