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Curriculum and Clinical Experiences

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program’s nationally accredited curriculum spans consecutive semesters over 31 months. Early in the program, the emphasis is on academic experiences that will expose you to theory and skills in the basic, clinical, and professional sciences. This is balanced with mentored clinical practice.

After successfully completing your course work, you’ll participate in four hands-on clinical internships. Students also have the opportunity for membership in the American Physical Therapy Association.

After graduation, you’ll be eligible and qualified to sit for the licensing examination in any state.

Order of Classes

We’ve sequenced the curriculum to create an effective and efficient path for learning. All of the courses in a given semester are prerequisites for the courses that follow in the next semester. Some sequencing may change from year to year without notice. For detailed course descriptions, please view our catalog.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, a candidate must:

  1. Demonstrate a high order of scholarly achievement in Physical Therapy, including appropriate research and professional competencies. (The program’s Student Progress Committee determines whether adequate mastery has been acquired.)
  2. Complete satisfactorily a minimum of 96 semester hours in the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions.
  3. Discharge all financial obligations to the medical center. (In the event of nonpayment, the Dean may take one or more actions:
    • Deny readmission;
    • Withhold the student’s grades and official transcript; and
    • Maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average with no academic deficiencies or incompletes.
  4. Complete the academic requirements listed in the degree plan – including completion of any academic deficiencies in prerequisite courses, by the times stated in the student's official letter of acceptance – and submit official documentation of successful completion to the Office of the Registrar.
  5. Complete all required courses in the degree plan according to student guidelines. All courses must be completed with a grade of C or higher (see special requirements). However, guidelines for cumulative grade point average must also be maintained. (P for Pass/Fail courses), receive practical evaluations reflecting an acceptable level of performance and professional conduct, and successfully complete all clinical affiliations.
  6. Complete all requirements for graduation within five consecutive years of the original date of matriculation.

Clinical Experiences

To prepare you for a career as a physical therapist, you’ll complete four in-depth clinical experiences. These will take place during the summer of the second year, summer of the third year, and fall of the third year. Experiences are available in more than 200 affiliated institutions in Texas and other regions, each with its own center coordinator of clinical education.

Clinical Experience I

This eight-week experience gives students the opportunity to integrate their academic knowledge with real-world clinical decision-making. Your focus will be on:

  • Patient examination
  • Patient evaluation
  • Treatment planning
  • Goal setting
  • Delivery of interventions

After this initial experience, you’ll return to campus for a mini-semester to hone advanced therapeutic skills, give your research presentation, and work on your professional portfolio. You’ll move into your final clinical experiences with an expanded, evidence-based skill set that will help you make the most of each experience and your future career as a physical therapist.

Clinical Experiences II and III

These two full-time, eight-week clinical experiences provide broad exposure to both general and specialty areas of physical therapy. The focus is on achieving entry-level performance in all aspects of patient and client management in selected practice settings. Your coordinators use the Physical Therapist Manual for the Assessment of Clinical Skills (PT MACS) to assess your performance based on safe and effective practice.

Clinical Experiences IV

This full-time, 12-week clinical experience provides entry-level exposure to all aspects of patient and client management in a selected practice setting. Your coordinators use the Physical Therapist Manual for the Assessment of Clinical Skills (PT MACS) to assess your performance based on safe and effective practice. Students who want to gain experience in a more specialized area of physical therapy practice are expected to meet the standards considered entry level in that setting.