Physical Therapy

Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at UMass Lowell prepares individuals for entry into the profession of physical therapy. The fully accredited program requires a baccalaureate degree for admission and a three-year full-time commitment, including part of each summer.

The curriculum provides a comprehensive foundation in the art and science of physical therapy. Methods of instruction include classroom lecture and discussion, small group / problem-based learning, and skill development during laboratory and clinical experiences. Emphasis is placed on the development of clinical decision-making and critical inquiry skills across the curriculum, culminating in the completion of a Final Research Project (done in small groups) that meets peer review standards for presentation and/or publication.

The clinical education program consists of four extended clinical education experiences (each eight weeks in length) and two shorter blocks (one and two weeks in length) for a total of 35 weeks. Students experience a variety of practice settings and patient populations in preparation for general practice.

Program Objectives

The graduate of the entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be prepared to:

  1. Exhibit attributes, characteristics and behaviors of professionals. 
  2. Practice physical therapy in a safe, effective, ethical, autonomous, reflective, culturally sensitive and legal manner.
  3. Apply the principles of the scientific method and evidence-based practice to interpret and use professional literature in clinical practice; participate in, plan, and conduct research; evaluate outcomes, new concepts/theories and technologies.
  4. Provide skilled planning, direction, organization, and effective management of human, technical, environmental, and financial resources.
  5. Provide effective direction and supervision of personnel essential to the provision of high quality physical therapy.
  6. Provide appropriate wellness screening, prevention and wellness activities, and the promotion of positive health behaviors.
  7. Advocate effectively for patient/clients and facilitate necessary change within the health care delivery system to assure quality health care.
  8. Demonstrate commitment to personal and professional development.
  9. Successfully complete all courses and capstone projects.
  10. Pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.

The program objectives are adapted from the Guide to Physical Therapy Practice, American Physical Therapy Association and Generic Abilities (May et al. Journal of Physical Therapy Education.9:1, Spring 1995).

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college.
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better.
  • An undergraduate grade point average in science courses of 3.0 or better.
  • Graduate Record Examination: 870 (old scoring format). 
    NOTE: for the 2012 Admission Cycle (Class entering in Fall 2012 we will use the ETS Concordance Table to convert any test scores submitted on the new scale to the old scale for assessment of the GRE requirement. 
    For example: a test score on the new scale of Verbal 150 and Quantitative 150 would equate to an old score total of 1080 (Verbal 450, Quantitative 630).
  • Documented personal experience in a physical therapy setting - 35 hours minimum. Form: Certification of Hours (pdf)
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one from a physical therapist. 

Admission course prerequisites include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology with labs - 2 semesters
  • General Chemistry with labs - 2 semesters
  • Physics with labs - 2 semesters
  • Kinesiology, lab recommended
  • Exercise Physiology, lab recommended 
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

The DPT class consists of both external and internal (Exercise Physiology graduates from U Mass Lowell) graduates.  Highly qualified juniors in the Exercise Physiology program are accepted into the DPT program under expedited or early admission, pending successful completion of their baccalaureate requirements.

Additional Program Requirements

  1. Proof of yearly physical examination by a physician indicating satisfactory general health status and proof of immunization for measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, and Hepatitis B is required prior to clinical education experiences.
  2. A CORI check (Criminal Offender Record Information) prior to clinical education experiences is required.
  3. Costs related to clinical education experiences including transportation, housing, meals and tuition/fees are assumed by the student.  Students should expect and plan for out-of-state clinical placements.
  4. Professional behavior (defined as Generic Abilities) is required during all academic and clinical education experiences.

Course of Study

DPT Curriculum (pdf)

DPT Course Checklist (pdf)