Physical Therapy (DPT)

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Physical Therapy (DPT) Overview

Chatham University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program produces highly-skilled physical therapists by emphasizing critical thinking and self-directed learning using a hybrid problem-based learning approach. We graduate PTs who will meet the challenges of a dynamic healthcare environment and support scholarly activity that bridges science and clinical practice. In recognition of 30 years of educating PTs, we celebrate the community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and clinicians who have contributed to our program's enduring success. 

Program School
Application Deadline

October 1

Applications must be e-submitted to PTCAS by October 1. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete their application including submission of recommendations and transcripts by September 15th. Additional information can be found in the Admission Requirements section below.

Credits Required

106 (7 terms)

This full-time cohort program begins each fall and is completed in only 28 months.

Evolving & Collaborative

Program Philosophy

Visit our Program Philosophy page and learn more about the DPT experience on our student-run Instagram page.

Student Success

Licensing and Employment

The DPT program enjoys a 98% graduation rate, with 99% of graduates passing their licensure examination (92% on the first attempt), average of 2020-2021. 97% become employed within six months of graduation (average of 2019 and 2020). 

Explore the Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree: 

Chatham University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is a 106-credit, entry-level program designed for students who want to become skilled practitioners of evidence-based physical therapy. The program requires seven terms of study, including 36 weeks of supervised clinical practice. This full-time cohort program begins each fall term.

How to Apply

Applicants to Chatham University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program must use the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Beginning June 15, applications may be submitted through PTCAS with all admission requirements noted below. Please note the GRE is not required, and there is no supplemental application. 

Important Dates for Fall Admission

Priority Application Deadline: October 1*
Priority Virtual Admission Interview Date: October 26 (by invitation only)
Second Virtual Admission Interview Date: November 22 (by invitation only)

In order to be eligible for invite to the admission interview:

  1. Applicants need to have at least six of the eleven prerequisites completed by August 31
  2. PTCAS applications must be e-submitted by October 1*

*It is highly recommended that you submit your application to PTCAS on or before September 15. PTCAS’s verification process occurs once an applicant e-submits the application and all official transcripts have been received. Verification involves some processing time, so it is in your best interest to submit all materials as early as possible to ensure your complete, verified application is available for us to review. Only verified applicants will be invited to interview.

Admission Requirements

  • A completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution prior to the beginning of classes.
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended sent directly to PTCAS.
  • Overall combined GPA of 3.0 or better on a scale of 4.0 as calculated by PTCAS.
  • Prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, grades less than a "B-" in Anatomy and a "C" in all other courses are not acceptable.
  • Prerequisite courses must have been completed no more than ten years prior to the anticipated start date of the program.

UPDATE: A "Pass" or “Satisfactory” grade for prerequisites will be accepted for coursework completed during the Spring 2020 semester. However, such grades do not impact GPA calculation. 

  • At least six of eleven completed prerequisite courses by August 31. If admitted, all prerequisites must be complete by July 31, 2025.
  • Prerequisite courses:
    • Biology with lab - two terms
    • Chemistry with lab - two terms
    • Physics with lab - two terms
    • Physiology with lab (prefer human) - one term**
    • Human Anatomy with lab - one term**
      • **If taking anatomy with physiology, both anatomy & physiology I and II with labs are necessary to fulfill the anatomy and physiology requirements. A grade of B- or better is required in both courses.
    • Statistics or Research Methods – one term
    • Psychology – two terms
      • Fulfillment of this pre-req requires course content that includes a general psychology course and at least one other course that explores another area of psychology. Individual courses that focus on a specific life period will be accepted (i.e. Childhood Development). Other eligible courses include but are not limited to: Developmental Psychology, Human Lifespan Development, etc. 
  • Evidence of volunteer/work experience in a minimum of two different physical therapy locations OR two different physical therapy settings included in the PTCAS application. Please note verification of this experience is not required. Examples of different settings include:
    • Inpatient 
      • Acute Care/Hospital 
      • Nursing Home/Skilled Nursing Facility/Extended Care Facility
      • Acute/Sub-acute Rehabilitation
    • Outpatient 
      • Free-standing PT Clinic/Hospital-based Clinic
      • Industrial/Occupational Health
    • Home Health
    • School/Pre-school
  • Three letters of reference included in the PTCAS application: two professors and one licensed physical therapist OR one professor and two licensed physical therapists.
  • Attendance at virtual interview.

Integrated Degree Program

Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisors to ensure all requirements are met according to the IDP course of study.

International Applicants

International Applicants must submit additional documentation to the Office of Admissions. A list of these documents can be found on the International Admission web page.

Admission Review Process

After verifying that the minimum academic requirements are met, the physical therapy program faculty reviews each candidate's entire application and invites the most talented and qualified students to interview before program faculty and alumni. As part of the admission review, Chatham reserves the right to request a background check prior to the offer of admission. The physical therapy program strives for diversity and gender equity within each class.

Articulation Agreements

Chatham University has entered into "Articulation Agreements" with a select group of Colleges and Universities. These agreements provide for additional student pre-professional advisement and possible priority admission status for candidates with exceptional applications, demonstrating academic preparation above the minimal acceptable standards.
Agreements exist with the following institutions for the 2023-2024 academic year:
  • Allegheny College
  • Baldwin Wallace University
  • Grove City College
  • Saint Vincent College
  • Washington and Jefferson College
  • Waynesburg University
  • Westminster College
Applicants from these institutions are advised to discuss the articulation requirements with their advisor as well as the graduate admission counselor at Chatham University. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Admission Department:

Office of Admission
Chatham University
107 Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Email Admissions

Admitted Student Profile

Students Beginning Fall 2023

Number Enrolled: 42
Average Overall GPA: 3.66
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.47
Average Age: 22
Out-of-State Residents: 33%
Females: 73%
Males: 26%

Students Beginning Fall 2022

Number Enrolled: 40
Average Overall GPA: 3.66
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.55
Average Age: 23
Out-of-State Residents: 36%
Females: 62%
Males: 38%

PTH706: Clinical Physiology

This course provides in-depth study of normal human physiologic mechanisms with special application to exercise.  Topics include: protein synthesis, cell communication, and energy metabolism; neuromusculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, immune and endocrine systems; and exercise prescription, health promotion, and wellness. Students will participate in comprehensive fitness assessments during laboratory sessions. 

PTH703: Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy

This course will provide in-depth preparation required to perform the examination, evaluation, and management of musculoskeletal conditions commonly encountered in physical therapy practice. The course includes the physical therapy diagnostic process, including differential diagnosis and development of evidence-based physical therapy plans of care.

PTH741: Principles of Practice I: Intro to PT Practice

This course introduces the novice professional student to the roles of the physical therapist as a professional, a communicator, and as a scholar. There is a heavy emphasis on patient-practitioner communication skills, especially during the patient interview. Fundamentals of evidence-based practice help students embrace the role of scholarly clinician.

View Full Curriculum

Download Full Curriculum (pdf) 

Chatham University Doctor of Physical Therapy

Graduates of Chatham’s DPT Program will be qualified to function in a variety of clinical settings and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. The technical standards outlined below describe specific expectations for student performance in didactic and clinical environments. Students must meet these expectations with or without reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations may not: (1) fundamentally alter the nature of the didactic or clinical education curriculum, (2) compromise the essential elements of the Program, (3) cause an undue financial or administrative burden for the University, or (4) endanger the safety of patients, self, or others. Regardless of accommodations, a student should be able to demonstrate the skills/abilities in a reasonably independent and timely manner. 


Students who believe they may need academic accommodations to fulfill these standards must contact the Office of Academic & Accessibility Resources (OAAR) at 412-365-1611. If at any time while enrolled in the DPT Program a student is unable to meet the standards, the student must inform the Program Director. After consultation, if it is deemed the student requires accommodations, they should contact the OAAR.

To perform the essential functions of a physical therapist and succeed in the DPT Program, the student must demonstrate abilities and skills including (but not limited to) those listed the five areas below:

Observational Skills

With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate sensory skills to:

  • Effectively observe demonstrations in the foundational and clinical sciences such as anatomical structures, normal and faulty movement, and performance of manual skills
  • Visually assess measuring devices such as a goniometer, a tape measure, and dials and displays on equipment
  • Effectively observe a patient/client accurately at a distance and close at hand, including during dynamic movement sequences

Communication Skills

With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate communication skills to:

  • Effectively speak to, hear, and observe patients to elicit information
  • Recognize and respond to changes in mood, activity and posture
  • Demonstrate and perceive nonverbal communication in self and others

Psychomotor Skills

With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate psychomotor skills to:

  • Sustain the necessary physical activity level required in classroom and clinical environments (e.g., lift 50 pounds, stand for prolonged periods of time)
  • Obtain information from patients by palpation, mobilization and other diagnostic maneuvers
  • Aid patients and co-workers with intervention and functional activities
  • Use therapeutic interventions that require force and resistance
  • Adjust equipment
  • Respond quickly in the event of an emergency situation to provide patient care or to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Manipulate objects using one and/or both hands

Intellectual Skills

With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate intellectual and cognitive skills to:

  • Comprehend text, numbers, and graphs
  • Analyze complex problems with attention to detail
  • Comprehend three-dimensional/spatial relationships
  • Comprehend, retain, assimilate, analyze, synthesize, integrate concepts and problem solve with attention to detail
  • Use computers and other technology to learn and apply new content
  • Utilize knowledge from multiple sources

Behavioral/Affective Skills

With or without reasonable accommodations, the student must demonstrate adequate behavioral and affective skills to:

  • Develop mature, sensitive, and therapeutic relationships with patients
  • Endure close physical contact with other students, colleagues, and patients
  • Function effectively while engaged in stressful situations
  • Make sound ethical and legally correct decisions
  • Adapt to changing environments and circumstances
  • Display compassion, integrity and respect for others
  • Self-assess in a reflective and constructive manner
  • Make clinical decisions despite uncertain conditions

Disability self-identification is voluntary and confidential. Chatham University offers reasonable accommodations for qualified, eligible students with disabilities. Please contact our Disability Support Services at 412-365-1611 or visit the OAAR website for information regarding documentation guidelines.

The incorporation of small group problem-based learning in the Chatham DPT curriculum provides students the opportunity to practice clinical decision-making and the application of evidence within the context of a patient case.

—MELISSA BEDNAREK, PT, DPT, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Physical Therapy Program Director

Photo of the Chatham Eastside building

What Current Students Say

Watch and listen as current students give you an overview of the DPT program, and outline some of its benefits. 

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Tuition Lock Program

To reflect our commitment to your continuous enrollment and progress towards earning your degree, we’ve implemented a tuition lock program for the DPT, meaning that as long as you are continually enrolled, what you pay in tuition your first year is what you will pay for your second. 

Explore Tuition Lock Program : Checkerboard 1 - Tuition Lock Program
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Interprofessional Education (IPE)

Interprofessional education involves students from two or more health professions learning together during their training. The goal of IPE is to enhance communication and decision-making, allowing various domains of knowledge to complement each other.

Learn About IPE : Checkerboard 4 - Interprofessional Education (IPE)
Photo of an instructor and four female physical therapy students at Chatham University surrounding a patient on a table as one student adjusts his leg.

Clinical Experience

DPT clinical experiences occur throughout the curriculum. Students participate in a total of 36 weeks of full-time clinical experiences. Affiliations with over 500 clinical facilities will give you numerous options for experiences here in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

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Program Faculty

Chatham’s Physical Therapy faculty members bring a wealth of clinical experience as well as teaching experience in a range of practice settings. They serve as mentors and advisors and are there for you every step of the way.

Meet the Faculty : Checkerboard 7 - Program Faculty
Rolling grassy hills, historic red brick buildings, and multicolored autumn trees decorate Chatham University's Shadyside campus in Pittsburgh.

Accreditation & Outcomes

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Chatham University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Click the button below to review details on accreditation, program student outcomes, a financial fact sheet, and licensure information. 

View Details : Checkerboard 9 - Accreditation & Outcomes
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Support a PT Student

  • The PT Fund was created in 2005 as a way to support DPT student attendance at professional conferences and other student professional needs. The fund, now endowed, uses the annual interest as matching funds to support current students’ attendance at CSM.
  • In 2017, DPT alumni and faculty Raj Sawhney and Steve Gough created the Sawhney-Gough Clinical Excellence Scholarship. The purpose of this scholarship is to provide recognition and financial assistance to a second-year physical therapy student. Funds donated match those provided by Drs. Sawhney and Gough to create a $10,000 scholarship.

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Resources & Partnerships

Our collaborators and community—including preceptors, clinical sites, and guest speakers—are an essential (and highly appreciated!) part of the healthcare education system. Many get involved to give back to the profession, but there are a number of other benefits, too.

Explore Resources for Partners : Checkerboard 15 - Resources & Partnerships

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

A Chatham hockey player skates with the puck during a game, with an opponent behind

Evolving on the Ice with Michael Lamison

Professional headshot of Sue Perry

Dr. Sue Perry Honored by APTA

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Celebrating World Physical Therapy Day

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Play Video
Photo of a physical therapy student working with a woman amputee

Physical Therapy Students and Local Women Amputees Assist Each Other

For 10 years, Chatham University's Doctoral of Physical Therapy program has invited clinicians, authors, and researchers to share their expertise at our Grand Rounds Presentations. 

Do you have questions?

We make it easy to get in touch:

Call Us


Text Us

412-419-3772 (standard text/SMS rates will apply)

Email Us

Request Information

Complete our Request for Information form

Or, answer a few questions and we will be glad to help.

Expand to Get In Touch!