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.

The clinical education program consists of three extended clinical education experiences one (10-week and two 12-week) for a total of 34 weeks. Students experience a variety of practice settings and patient populations in preparation for general practice.

Program Goals

  1. Prepare entry-level physical therapy clinicians in a manner consistent with contemporary professional norms. Graduates practice as competent, autonomous, collaborative, and doctoral-prepared providers who deliver services along the continuum of care from prevention to the remediation of impairments, activity, and participation restrictions in all populations.
  2. Produce, disseminate, and incorporate scholarship that will advance the science, practice and education of physical therapy.
  3. Promote, develop, and maintain effective community partnerships, cultivating proficiency in collaborative practice through modeling and experience in inter-professional education. 

Program Outcomes

  1. Graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be prepared to exhibit attributes, characteristics and behaviors of professionals including: commitment to learning, interpersonal and communication skills, effective use of time and resources, use of constructive feedback, problem-solving, professionalism, responsibility, critical thinking, and stress management.
  2. Graduates will practice physical therapy in a safe, evidence directed, effective, autonomous , mindful, culturally sensitive, ethical, and legal manner consistent with the patient/client management model.
  3. Faculty will integrate contemporary practice and current literature to guide curriculum and course content. Faculty employ contemporary teaching and learning strategies with pedagogical principles to physical therapy education.
  4. The program adheres to departmental policies and procedures regarding academic achievement and standards of professional behavior and conduct insuring that graduates are prepared to meet current standards of practice. 
  5. Faculty will promote, develop and maintain scholarship associated with clinical, community and curricular engagement activities. 
  6. The program, will prepare students to apply principles of the scientific method to conduct research and participate in evidence-based practice. 
  7. The program will develop and maintain local and international partnerships that deepen our commitment to communities and cultures promoting health and wellness. 
  8. The program will develop, promote and maintain opportunities consistent with Interprofessional Education and Collaborative practice in accordance with the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Core (IPEC) Competencies. 
Program Philosophy:

The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy & Kinesiology believe that individuals have intrinsic worth and a right to optimal health and function. Function is defined as those activities identified by an individual as essential to support physical, social, and psychological well-being and to create a personal sense of meaningful living. 

Physical therapists provide services to patients/clients with alterations in body structure and function, activity and participation restrictions or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes. Physical therapists utilize prevention and wellness strategies in individuals at risk for developing a reduction in physical function. 

The physical therapist is professionally educated in a program that synthesizes graduate study with undergraduate knowledge, and experiential learning. The graduate of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is prepared to function as an ethical and competent practitioner who management include examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and outcomes. The graduate is prepared to interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals, provide prevention and wellness services, consult, educate, and engage in critical inquiry. Finally, the graduate is prepared to direct and supervise physical therapy services, including support personnel. Graduate are expected to assume a leadership role in health care and to practice autonomously and cooperatively in a variety of practice settings such as: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, extended care facilities, schools, sports medicine clinics, community health and private practices, and industrial or workplace settings. 

Students are active participants in the education process. The relationship between students and faculty is one in which there is mutual respect, understanding, and interchange of ideas. As experienced professionals, the faculty serve as a resource, mentor and role-model for the developing professional. The faculty are facilitators of the learning process. Students are expected to demonstrate commitment to learning as the basis for continued personal and professional growth, effective interpersonal and communication skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and appropriate professional conduct. Effective use of time and resources, feedback, and stress management strategies are also important components of the behaviors of the successful student.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate Degree from an accredited university of college within past 10 years..
  2. Undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  3. Prerequisite Science GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  4. Graduate Record Examination, within the last 5 years: > 290 combined. (quantitative + verbal) (GRE Code = 3911)
  5. Documented personal experience in a physical therapy setting (volunteer or paid). Minimum 35 hours
  6. Statement of Purpose (essay)
  7. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation, one (1) of which must be submitted by a licensed physical therapist.
  8. Computer literacy in word, excel, power point, etc., is expected.
  9. Required prerequisites coursework:
    • General
      • Pharmacology (200 level course > 2 credits
      • Psychology
      • Statistics
    • Science
      • Anatomy and Physiology with labs, 2 semesters ***
      • Chemistry with labs, 2 semesters ***
      • Physics with labs, 2 semesters ***
      • Exercise Physiology (upper-level [300+] course)
      • Kinesiology / Biomechanics (upper-level [300+] course)

*** Must be taken in a traditional (on-campus/classroom) setting.

Important Notes:

  • The Completed Application Deadline is November 1st for admission into the next class beginning matriculation the following May. All documents is support of the application are due at the deadline, e.g. letters of recommendation, official transcripts, official GRE scores, etc.
  • No more then two (2) pre-requisite courses may be missing at the time of our application deadline to remain eligible for full consideration. (Courses which are "in-Progress" at the time of the application deadline are considered missing).
  • All International Applicants:
  • All Applicants:
    • Meeting the minimum application requirements does not guarantee admission into the program.
    • Students may be asked to provide documentation of equivalent course content proposed to meet admission criteria.
    • Any/All applications deemed incomplete at the application deadline will be ineligible for full department review.
    • The Faculty supports the position to recruit and retain students who by reason of ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic background are more likely to serve areas of critical need.

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.

For additional, DPT program-specific, information regarding our admission requirements, please contact:
Keith W. Hallbourg
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Phone: 978-934-4402
Email: keith_hallbourg@uml.edu
Fax: 978-934-1069

 Course of Study

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Read the UMass Lowell General Regulations for Graduate Students.

Completed Application Deadline: November 1.

Please submit add documents in support of your application to our Office of Graduate Admissions.