The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program educates students to become competent, compassionate, and ethical practitioners in a variety of health care settings. Graduates will be highly dedicated professionals with excellent patient care, communication, critical thinking, patient education and advocacy, management and research skills.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a three-year (nine consecutive semesters) professional doctoral curriculum designed to prepare entry-level therapists to practice in a variety of clinical settings. The professional curriculum is a full-time “lock-step” program. The program includes multiple clinical education experiences (internships) ranging from eight weeks to twelve weeks in duration. Applicants need to note that one or more of their clinical experiences may be assigned at a site sufficiently removed from the Orlando area, and may require the student to provide transportation and housing.
Students who successfully complete the course of study will be granted the Doctor in Physical Therapy degree (DPT), enabling the graduate to take the national board examination leading to state licensure as a Physical Therapist. For information on how this program may prepare students for professional licensure, please visit https://healthprofessions.ucf.edu/kpt/physicaltherapy/doctorate/. The UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy program promotes lifelong learning and professional development, which is attained through active involvement in professional organizations such as the American Physical Therapy Association. UCF’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education.
The mission of the University of Central Florida’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is to cultivate excellence in physical therapist practice through comprehensive and focused doctoral education. The program fosters excellence through its dedication to foundational sciences, clinical skill proficiency, research and evidence-based practice, service and professional duty, and lifelong learning. The program is committed to the development and strengthening of the healthcare community in order to optimize patient care in the dynamic healthcare environment.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Florida will be distinguished for:
- Its breadth, depth, and collaborative approach to physical therapist education
- Clinical excellence and advancement of clinical practice
- Scholarly achievements and professional recognition of students, faculty, and clinical partners
- Dedication to the health and well-being of the Central Florida community
- Professional commitment and advocacy
- Cultivation of professional development to advance the practice of physical therapy
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program is a full-time professional doctoral program requiring completion of 114 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. The required course work is taken in a prescribed sequence over nine consecutive semesters. The program requires a total of 36 weeks of full-time (40 hours/week) clinical education experiences. During these clinical education experiences, students work under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
There are several co-curricular topics embedded within the DPT Program. These areas are congruent with contemporary professional education and accreditation expectations. They include integrated clinical experiences, interprofessional education, and research.
Integrated Clinical Experiences (ICE)
Contemporary physical therapy education, as required by professional standards with physical therapy accreditation, necessitates clinical activities that are outside of formal clinical education internships. These activities are called Integrated Clinical Experiences (ICE). These educational experiences are brief encounters with patients and patient populations through programmatic activities as well as activities embedded in several courses. In alignment with this requirement, the UCF DPT Program requires full participation from enrolled students. These activities may be directly aligned with DPT courses and assigned a grade, or they may be more programmatic in nature, outside of traditional coursework. Activities will include exposure to various clinical settings and populations, and other part-time experiences that are designed to assist students in becoming more effective and safe practitioners when they enter formal clinical education or upon graduation and eventual licensure. These activities may necessitate travel outside of the UCF main campus and time outside of scheduled courses. All attempts will be made to communicate required activities with appropriate lead time. Accommodations to student academic schedules may be considered.
Interprofessional Education (IPE)
Contemporary physical therapy education, as required by professional standards with physical therapy accreditation requires education of students in collaborative team environments with the involvement of students from other professional disciplines. Thus, a co-curricular thread embedded in the UCF DPT Program is Interprofessional Education (IPE). The UCF DPT Program participates in a collaborative IPE curriculum with the UCF College of Medicine, UCF College of Nursing, UCF School of Social Work, and the UF College of Pharmacy. These activities involve the coordination of numerous faculty and staff and several hundred students from all represented programs. All DPT students are required to attend all IPE curricular activities. These activities are typically scheduled in the second and third year of the DPT Program and may involve travel to the UCF College of Medicine, UF College of Pharmacy (Lake Nona campus), and clinical sites in the Orlando area. All activities will be communicated to students with appropriate lead time. Accommodations to student academic schedules may be considered.
Contemporary physical therapy education, as mandated by professional standards with physical therapy accreditation, requires that graduates have a thorough understanding of clinical research. Areas of competency include the ability to independently locate reputable information, interpret study findings, and implement research into clinical practice. Students enrolled in the UCF DPT Program will be exposed to research throughout their curriculum in the form of multiple courses and required research readings. In addition, students are required to work in small groups and complete a research project under the mentorship of a faculty member. These projects culminate in a written manuscript, poster and oral research presentations at UCF, and the opportunity to present at state, regional, and national conferences. Many UCF DPT students have published their work in peer-reviewed journals. It should be noted that much of the program’s research must be done outside of the traditional classroom setting. Students must take the initiative to work on their research independently. A key component of fruitful research experience is frequent communication between students and their research advisor.
All additional requirements in the research curriculum will be communicated to students in writing through correspondence from the research coordinator and/or program director. Students will have all information available to them via a web platform. Further, students will enroll in a 0-credit Doctoral Research Course each semester upon entering the research curriculum (Semester #4 – Summer, Year 2). These courses bear no tuition or impact to financial aid but will serve as a designation on official transcripts that the students are involved in research at the university.
Failure to maintain satisfactory progress in the research curriculum through inadequate communication with faculty mentor &/or coordinator, missing required deadlines, or matters of misconduct will be addressed by the program director, faculty, and/or appropriate programmatic committee for action. Satisfactory completion of a research project guided and approved by a faculty mentor is a requirement for graduation.
Total Credit Hours Required: 114 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor’s Degree
Each prerequisite course must be completed with a minimum grade of “C”. The overall GPA for all prerequisite courses must be a 3.00 or higher to be considered for admission. The program recommends all prerequisite courses be completed at the time of application. Candidates with all prerequisites completed at the time of application may be given preference over those still completing courses. No more than two prerequisite courses may be in progress the fall semester prior to the program’s start and no more than one course may be in progress during the spring semester prior to the program’s start. Courses older than ten years will not be accepted. Online courses are NOT accepted for the following prerequisites: anatomy courses, physiology courses, physics courses, or chemistry courses. Hybrid courses are only accepted for the prerequisite courses listed above if the lab component is delivered in a face-to-face format (submission of course description/syllabi may be required to verify course delivery mode). Email email@example.com to request a prerequisite review.
Anatomy and Physiology - Two courses with labs and a minimum of 8 credit hours is required. One of two options must be met:
Option 1: One semester of Human Physiology with lab and one semester of Anatomy with lab.
Option 2: Two semesters of Anatomy/Physiology combined courses with labs.
Biology / Biological Studies - Two courses and a minimum of 6 credit hours is required. Labs are not required. Must be courses for science majors.
Chemistry - Two courses with labs and a minimum of 8 credit hours is required. Introduction and survey courses are NOT accepted.
Physics - Two courses with labs and a minimum of 8 credit hours is required. General Physics and Physics with Calculus are both acceptable courses.
Psychology - One course (3 credit hours) is required. Any psychology course that is taken within the Psychology Department will meet this requirement.
Statistics - One course (3 credit hours) is required.
Summer Term 1 (14 Credit Hours)
Fall Term 1 (17 Credit Hours)
Spring Term 1 (15 Credit Hours)
Summer Term 2 (11 Credit Hours)
Fall Term 2 (14 Credit Hours)
Spring Term 2 (13 Credit Hours)
Summer Term 3 (6 Credit Hours)
Fall Term 3 (13 Credit Hours)
Spring Term 3 (11 Credit Hours)
Each student is required to achieve a passing score on the comprehensive examination. If a student does not achieve a passing score on the first attempt, a second version of the exam will be provided. If the student does not achieve a passing score on the second examination, the student will be required to pass an oral comprehensive examination which will involve patient case scenario(s). The first two examinations will include the practice exam(s) developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, with passing scores required to be no less than 600 (overall scale score). If a student is required to take the oral examination, a passing score is deemed as having the majority of raters providing an overall pass score. Failure of the comprehensive examination upon this third attempt will result in review by the program faculty in accordance with its retention and advancement procedures to determine if the student will be dismissed form the program or placed on a remediation plan. Participation and completion of a capstone (research) project is also required of each student prior to graduation.
Students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program pay a $90 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled.
All students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program are required to engage in independent learning, a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without help of others to attain knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors. Tangible assignments, such as “Grand Rounds” (i.e., patient case studies), research projects, scholarly reviews, and full-time clinical education experiences mandated by the program and provide important independent learning experiences giving students ample opportunities to develop and demonstrate independent learning skills as a result of self-inquiry and group dialogue.
The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UCF participates in the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service, known as PTCAS. Prospective students applying to the entry-level physical therapist education program must apply online using the PTCAS application (this is in addition to the UCF Graduate Application which serves as a supplemental application). To learn more about the PTCAS application process, visit www.ptcas.org.
All application materials MUST be sent directly to PTCAS. Materials sent to the university or program and not to PTCAS will not be accepted. The following application materials must be received by PTCAS no later than November 1.
- Completed PTCAS Application (www.ptcas.org), including all documents required by PTCAS.
- One official transcript from each college/university attended.
- Official GRE scores taken within last five years. Use GRE CODE for UCF PTCAS: 3871 (Do not use the UCF “Institution Code” for GRE)
- Prerequisite courses completed within ten (10) years of anticipated matriculation.
- A minimum of 50 hours of observation/volunteer or work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist. Hours must be verified through PTCAS by November 1st to be considered. A variety of settings is recommended.
- Three (3) letters of recommendation with PTCAS recommendation forms, including one (1) from a physical therapist.
- Applicants who have attended a college/university outside the United States must also provide a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation through WES.
- UCF Graduate Application (supplemental) must be submitted in addition to PTCAS application. Deadline to submit the supplemental application is December 1.
Incomplete applications will NOT be reviewed.
- The bachelor’s degree may be in any discipline from a regionally accredited institution and may be in progress at the time of application. However, the degree must be awarded prior to the program’s start date in the Summer C semester (mid-May).
- Minimum GPA of 3.00 (on 4.00 scale) in the last 60 credit hours of an undergraduate degree.
- Minimum GPA of 3.00 (on 4.00 scale) for all prerequisite courses. Each prerequisite course grade must be a ‘C’ or higher (“C-” grades are NOT accepted).
- Submission of competitive GRE scores within last five (5) years.
- An on-campus interview, by invitation only.
- UCF Graduate Application (supplemental) MUST be completed by December 1 with supplemental application fee paid by ALL APPLICANTS.
- A resume will only be required for students who are offered an interview by the program. Once requested, the applicant will email the resume directly to the program.
Applicants not meeting these minimum requirements will not be considered for admission. Meeting minimum requirements does not guarantee an applicant an interview or admission to the program. All applicants and admitted students to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program must perform certain Essential Functions in order to participate and complete program requirements.
PTCAS will begin accepting applications in July, however, the program will not begin reviewing applications until August or September.
Admissions decisions will be made only once per academic year. Incoming students must begin the program in the summer C semester (mid-May).
Thirty-eight (38) students are admitted to the program each year. The demographics of a recent class include an average age of 22 years and a grade point average of 3.80 for upper-division coursework and 3.75 for prerequisite courses (on a 4.0 scale), and an average GRE scores of 153Q / 153V / 4WA.
Admission to the program is competitive based on the above criteria, the applicant’s abilities, past academic performance, work experience and match of the applicant with the program’s mission and goals.
Applications are only accepted for Summer admission. The application for this program can be found at www.ptcas.org.
|Physical Therapy DPT
|*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.
Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.
Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.