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.

As we continue to adapt our program to help reduce the spread of COVID, we wish to thank our students (current and incoming) for their ongoing flexibility, positive attitude and professionalism during these trying times.

Degrees Offered
  • DPT
Program School
Application Deadline

October 1

Applications must be e-submitted to PTCAS by October 1st. 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

107 (7 terms)

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

Cost Per Term

$12,687

Cost consists of program tuition (cost per term times number of terms) as well as any applicable University and degree-specific fees. Students are subject to tuition increases.

Student Success

Licensing and Employment

The DPT program enjoys a 97.4% graduation rate, with 99% of graduates passing their licensure examination (95% on the first attempt) and 100% becoming employed within six months of graduation. Average over 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

Explore the Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree: 

Chatham University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is a 107-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.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, several requirements have been updated for the 2020-21 application cycle and are noted in the "Admission Requirements" section below. 

How to Apply

Applicants to Chatham University’s entry-level physical therapy program must use the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Beginning in mid-June, applications may be submitted through the PTCAS application with all relevant materials: official transcripts, PT volunteer experience, and references. Please note official GRE scores are required, but there is not a supplemental application requirement.

Important Dates for Fall 2021 Admission

Application Deadline: October 1*
Virtual Admission Interview Date: Saturday, November 7, 2020 (by invitation only)

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

  1. Applicants need to have at least 60% (24 credits) of the ten prerequisites complete by August 31
  2. PTCAS applications must be e-submitted by October 1*
  3. Applications must be complete and include all other Chatham admission requirements (see below) by October 15

*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.

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 “C” are not acceptable, and prerequisite courses must have been completed no more than ten years prior to the anticipated start date of the program.

2020-21 CYCLE 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 ten completed prerequisite courses by August 31st of the application year. 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.
    • Statistics or Research Methods – one term
    • Developmental Psychology or Lifespan Development – one term
      • A combination of developmental psychology courses that cover the lifespan —birth to death— are also acceptable
  • Official GRE scores sent directly to PTCAS using school code 0412
    • GRE scores will only be accepted if taken within three years of the application date. 
    • There is not a cutoff or minimum GRE score; however, a competitive score is considered a 300 combined with an analytical writing score of 4.0.
    • Chatham will use your highest section—quantitative, verbal, writing—scores across all GRE test dates.

2020-21 CYCLE UPDATE: The GRE Exam will be waived.

  • 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
      • FacilityAcute/Sub-acute Rehabilitation
    • Outpatient 
      • Free-standing PT Clinic/Hospital-based Clinic
      • Industrial/Occupational Health
    • Home Health
    • School/Pre-school

2020-21 CYCLE UPDATE: We understand volunteer/work experience may not be accessible due to COVID-19 and are advising affected students to develop insight into the PT profession through alternative ways: interview a PT (may be virtual) or research the field via the American Physical Therapy Association website. Students will not be required to verify their interview or research experiences.  

  • Three letters of reference included in the PTCAS application: two academic (faculty or advisor) and one licensed physical therapist OR one academic 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.

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 2019-2020 academic year: Allegheny College, Baldwin Wallace University, Grove City College, Penn State Mont Alto, Washington and Jefferson College, and Waynesburg University. Pre-existing agreements with Mount Aloysius College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University are only applicable to undergraduates who matriculated at these institutions prior to August 31, 2017. 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
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
800-837-1290
412-365-1394
Fax: 412-365-1609
Email

Admitted Student Profile

Students Beginning Fall 2019

Number Enrolled: 40
Average Overall GPA: 3.66
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.62
Average Combined GRE: 302
Average Writing GRE: 3.9
Average Age: 23
Out-of-State Residents: 35%
Females: 70%
Males: 30%

Students Beginning Fall 2018

Number Enrolled: 40
Average Overall GPA: 3.65
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.62
Average Combined GRE: 303
Average Writing GRE: 3.9
Average Age: 24
Out-of-State Residents: 40%
Females: 68%
Males: 32%

Students Beginning Fall 2017

Number Enrolled: 40
Average Overall GPA: 3.7
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.68
Average Combined GRE: 304
Average Writing GRE: 3.9
Average Age: 24
Out-of-State Residents: 30%
Females: 55%
Males: 45%

PTH704: Fundamentals of Exercise Physiology

Students will learn the basic principles of exercise physiology using a firm understanding of both anatomy and physiology. These principles stem from how the human body’s normal structure and physiological functioning alters with physical activity. Understanding these adaptations is critical to the understanding of the physiological demands of rehabilitation programs.

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

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program at Chatham University prepares physical therapists who will serve as generalist practitioners. Graduates of the DPT Program must have the knowledge and skills to function in a variety of clinical settings and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Thus, certain skills and abilities must be demonstrated in order to successfully complete both the didactic and clinical components of the curriculum with or without reasonable accommodations, regardless of disability status.

The Physical Therapy faculty have a dual responsibility for the welfare of the patients with whom students/graduates interact, and for the educational welfare of their students. The technical standards outlined below describe specific expectations for student performance in didactic and clinical environments. Inherent in these expectations is providing patient care within a time frame appropriate to the context of care. Individuals must be able to pass assessments throughout their course of study.

Students who believe they may need academic accommodations to fulfill these standards must contact the Office of Academic & Accessibility Resources (OAAR) at 412-365-1523 or oaar@chatham.edu. At any time while enrolled in the DPT Program, if a student is having difficulty meeting the standards, the student must inform the Program Director at that time. After consultation, if it is deemed the student is in need of academic accommodations, they can contact the OAAR.

To perform the essential functions of a physical therapist and succeed in the Doctor of Physical Therapy 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.

One of the unique aspects of our physical therapy program is the emphasis on critical thinking and clinical decision making. These skills are developed as part of the problem-based learning approach within the curriculum and allow students to be very well prepared for clinical practice.

—JOE SCHREIBER, PT, Ph.D., professor, physical therapy program director

Our Faculty

Faculty members are accomplished teachers, scholars, practitioners, and active leaders in the field.

Full Faculty
Ann Williamson
Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education
John Dube
Program Director, MA Biomedical Studies

Problem-Based Learning

An innovative problem-based learning (PBL) approach presents the clinical arts and science of physical therapy in an integrated manner organized around body systems.

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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.

Community Service

Service to a variety of communities is encouraged, and all students participate in service learning as part of the curriculum.

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Program Philosophy

We view learning as an evolving, collaborative and continuous process, one that integrates the learner's needs and goals and that extends beyond the climate of formal education. Learn more about the DPT experience on our student-run Instagram page.

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Support a PT Student

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 at Chatham University's School of Health Sciences.

Give Now

News & Stories

Stay updated on recent news and stories for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

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In Touch Newsletters

Learn about DPT student and faculty accomplishments, alumni achievements, and various activities that occurred over the last academic year—in Pittsburgh, and all over the country.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Want more details? Download our PDF for answers to the most frequently asked questions about Chatham's Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Download the PDF

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.

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GoBabyGo!

The GoBabyGo! club at Chatham aims to help children with mobility impairments become more mobile by modifying drivable toy cars.

Grand Rounds Presentations

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. Local Physical Therapists are invited to attend at no cost and receive direct access credits and continuing education credit. A variety of topics are presented using the latest evidence and offering insight into current clinical reasoning and patient care. 

Making an Impact in Ecuador

For many of the School of Health Sciences students, it would be their first time treating patients in such a context—navigating different cultures, different specialties, even different words. And if that weren’t novelty enough, they’d be doing it in Ibarra, Ecuador.