Graduate Catalog 2021-2022

Physical Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy (0013)


Program Coordinator

Elizabeth S. Norris, elizabeth.norris@wku.edu, (270) 745-3188

The DPT Program is designed to prepare students to plan and administer treatment to help patients regain diminished physical function lost secondary to injury or disease, to promote soft tissue healing, and to relieve pain. Determining the degree of impairment allows physical therapists to help patients return to full function by using various physical agents to decrease pain and by using therapeutic exercises to increase strength, endurance, and coordination.

The purpose of the DPT Program is to provide students pursuing a career in physical therapy the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills required for the safe practice of physical therapy. Students are prepared as generalists, but also have some opportunity to investigate specialized aspects of physical therapy through numerous clinical exposures. The program of study consists of 118 credit hours of graduate course work and consists of intense academic and clinical work spread over 3 years. These hours are divided between classroom, clinical, and research activities.

The DPT Program is an entry-level professional degree program designed to provide individuals with baccalaureate degrees and the appropriate prerequisite courses the knowledge and skills to develop clinical and research expertise in the field of physical therapy. Upon receiving the DPT degree, students will be eligible to sit for the licensure examination in physical therapy.

The Mission of the WKU Doctor of Physical Therapy program is to serve the healthcare and preventative needs of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including rural and under-served areas, by developing culturally competent, caring, autonomous physical therapists who will engage in evidence based practice, critical thinking, professional behavior, life-long learning, and community/professional service.

In addition to formal lecture and laboratory courses, students are required to successfully complete clinical experiences usually conducted at external agencies/facilities. Due to the nature of these experiences and to stipulations established by agencies/facilities, specific requirements for students may exist to be eligible to participate in the clinical experiences. These requirements may include, but are not limited to, undergoing criminal background checks, drug testing, and TB skin tests; providing proof of health insurance, professional liability insurance, and/or immunization records or blood titers verifying proof of immunizations. These items may need to be updated annually. Additionally, there may be certifications, training seminars, or other requirements specified by the facility/agency that a student must meet in order to be eligible for clinical experiences at a facility. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all institutional and/or facility requirements are met as a condition of participating in any on or off-campus experiences; students may be responsible in part or in full for any costs incurred to meet such requirements. Student questions regarding the agreements with external agencies may be directed to the Director of Clinical Education of the DPT Program. Students are also responsible for transportation to and from off-campus experiences.

Program Admission

Admission to the program is competitive and limited to 30 students per class. Complete applications received by the application due dates will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee to determine which applicants will be invited to our Admissions Event.  Following the completion of this event, the Admissions Committee will determine which applicants will be offered entry into the program. Due to the competitiveness for entry into the program and the limited spaces available, applicants that meet the minimum requirements are not ensured admission into the program.

The following are requirements for admission into the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program:

  1. Baccalaureate Degree: Prospective candidates are required to earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university prior to matriculation.
  2. Prerequisite Courses: Prospective candidates must complete the following prerequisite courses:
    • Anatomy (1 semester with lab) AND Physiology (1 semester with lab); OR Anatomy & Physiology I and II (2 course sequence with labs)
    • Biology (2 semesters with labs)
    • General Chemistry (2 semesters with labs)
    • General Physics (2 semesters with labs)
      • All Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses MUST be appropriate for science majors; (Anatomy & Physiology courses are the exception)  
    • Psychology (1 semester)
    • Statistics (1 semester)
    • No grade lower than a C (i.e. C-, D, F) is acceptable in the above prerequisite courses.
  3. Grade Point Average (GPA): A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, for both overall and prerequisite science courses.
  4. Graduate Record Exam (GRE):
    • There is no minimum GRE score
    • A composite score of 300 or higher on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE will be more competitive.
    • A score of 3.5 out of 6 on the analytical writing section of the GRE will be more competitive.
  5. Physical Therapy Observation Hours:
    • Hours are not required, but are considered. Total number of PT observation hours recommended is 100 hours. 
    • Hours must be reported and verified via Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).
  6. Application materials:
  • Applicants are required to apply to BOTH Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) and the WKU Graduate School
    • NOTE: materials must be sent to both locations, there is no communication between PTCAS and the WKU Graduate School.
  • PTCAS Application Requirements:
    • Application & fee per PTCAS
    • Send official transcripts from all college, university, and professional coursework to PTCAS
    • Send official GRE scores to PTCAS (code 0557)
    • Send two (2) letters of recommendation to PTCAS
  • WKU Graduate School Application Requirements:
    • Application & fee per the WKU Graduate School
    • Send official transcripts from all college, university, and professional coursework to WKU Graduate School, even if you do not have a grade for the course (i.e. course in progress)
    • Send official GRE scores to WKU Graduate School (code 0557)

Early and Standard Applications: (Applicants are required to apply to BOTH PTCAS and WKU Graduate School)

  • WKU Early Acceptance Process
    • WKU will offer its own internal acceptance process.  A limited number of early acceptance class spaces will be available.  To be considered for WKU early acceptance, applicants are required to complete the following:
      • ALL standard PTCAS requirements (application, transcripts, and GRE scores) must be received by PTCAS by the dates indicated in the WKU DPT program page in PTCAS. 
      • ALL standard WKU Graduate School Application requirements (application, fee, transcripts, and GRE scores) must be received electronically by the WKU Graduate School by dates indicated in the WKU DPT program page in PTCAS. 
    • In order to be considered for the WKU Early Acceptance process (and begin the WKU DPT program in the next admissions cycle), ALL application materials must be received by both PTCAS and WKU as indicated above. 
    • Applicants must indicate their desire to be considered for the WKU Early Acceptance process on the appropriate PTCAS Custom Question, as well as notify the WKU DPT Program of your desire to be considered for WKU Early Acceptance.
    • Minimum Requirements to be considered for early decision:
      • Overall GPA 3.6   
      • Science Prerequisite GPA 3.6
      • GRE-V 150
      • GRE-Q 150
    • For those who desire to be considered for Early Acceptance, six (6) of the eight (8) science courses MUST be completed prior to submission of the PTCAS application.
  • Standard Decision
    • WKU DPT participates in PTCAS Standard Application process to fill the remaining cohort
    • For those who desire to be considered for the Standard Decision process, five (5) of the eight (8) science courses MUST be completed prior to submission of the PTCAS application.
    • ALL PTCAS requirements (application, transcripts, and GRE scores) must be received by PTCAS by the dates indicated in the WKU DPT program page in PTCAS. 
    • ALL WKU Graduate School Application requirements (application, fee, transcripts, and GRE scores) must be received electronically by the WKU Graduate School by dates indicated in the WKU DPT program page in PTCAS. 
    • Academic Update through PTCAS may be required after Fall course grades have been posted, provided you were enrolled in courses during the Fall semester.
  1.   Admissions Event (Interviews may be required)
    1. Completed applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee, resulting in the top applicants being invited to the WKU DPT Admissions Event.  Refer to the WKU DPT Program page in PTCAS for details.  Attendance at the Admissions Event is REQUIRED for final consideration for admission.
    2. The admission committee will consider attendance hardships on a case-by-case basis.
  1. Technical Standards: Students are required to enter the program with a minimum level of ability in specific areas termed “technical standards.”  For successful admission into the program, students are required to meet the minimum technical standards with or without reasonable accommodation as part of the Core Performance Standards as stated in the DPT Program Student Manual and Program Policies and Procedures.  Upon admission to the Program, you will be provided a copy of the WKU DPT Technical Standards.  For successful admission into the program, you will be required to sign documentation that you understand the implications and content in each section, as well as signify whether you will or will not require reasonable accommodations.
    • *Students will be notified at orientation day that if they need reasonable accommodations at any time, they can request them by contacting the WKU SARC.

Graduate School Admission

Please refer to the admission section of this catalog for Graduate School admission requirements.

Program Requirements (118 hours)

Required Courses
DPT 700Orientation to Physical Therapy1
DPT 705Orientation to Clinical Education in Physical Therapy1
DPT 711Principles of Physical Assessment I1
DPT 712Principles of Physical Assessment II2
DPT 713Principles of Physical Assessment III2
DPT 715Patient Care Techniques3
DPT 720Gross Human Anatomy I2
DPT 721Gross Human Anatomy I Lab1
DPT 722Gross Human Anatomy II2
DPT 723Gross Human Anatomy II Lab1
DPT 724Pathophysiology4
DPT 726Orthopaedic Foundations3
DPT 727Health Promotion and Wellness in Physical Therapy2
DPT 728Clinical Exercise Physiology2
DPT 729Pharmacology in Physical Therapy2
DPT 736Neuroanatomy3
DPT 738Motor Control2
DPT 739Foundations for Physical Rehabilitation3
DPT 740Physical Modalities3
DPT 742Diagnostic Testing and Imaging2
DPT 745Integumentary System2
DPT 746Orthopaedic Assessment4
DPT 747Women's Health in Physical Therapy2
DPT 748Prosthetics and Orthotics2
DPT 749Neurological Assessment1
DPT 751Supervised Clinical Education I4
DPT 752Supervised Clinical Education II5
DPT 753Supervised Clinical Education III7
DPT 754Supervised Clinical Education IV9
DPT 760Professional Issues2
DPT 761Physical Therapy Management and Administration I1
DPT 762Physical Therapy Management and Administration II3
DPT 770Orthopaedic Rehabilitation4
DPT 771Neurological Rehabilitation4
DPT 772Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation3
DPT 774Spine Assessment and Intervention4
DPT 775Screening for Referral3
DPT 778Geriatric Physical Therapy1
DPT 779Pediatric Physical Therapy3
DPT 781Research in Physical Therapy I3
DPT 782Research in Physical Therapy II3
DPT 783Research in Physical Therapy III3
DPT 784Research in Physical Therapy IV1
DPT 785Research in Physical Therapy V1
DPT 790Physical Therapy Seminar1
Total Hours118