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Programs in Physical Therapy

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The domain of physical therapy is the application of human movement science to maintain or enhance activity level and social participation. Physical therapy is a health profession that includes evaluating, alleviating and preventing impairments, functional limitations, and disability from injuries, disease and other causes. Physical therapists serve a dynamic and comprehensive role in health care engaging in treatment, consultation, education and research.

The mission of the Department of Physical Therapy is: 

  • To graduate physical therapists who are autonomous practitioners who emulate the core values of the profession; and
  • For faculty, graduates, and students to contribute to the profession, community, and society through education, research, and practice.

Pre-Physical Therapy (Pre-PT) Undergraduate Concentration

To prepare candidates for entry into the graduate physical therapy professional curriculum, the University offers an undergraduate Pre-Physical Therapy (Pre-PT) Concentration. The Pre-PT Concentration consists of three unique aspects:

  • Preparation for the DPT curriculum by taking all prerequisite courses while earning a Clarkson undergraduate degree in any major offered by the University;
  • A physical therapy faculty advisor as an undergraduate in addition to the major advisor; and
  • Reserved space in the DPT program provided all prerequisites are completed successfully, and the appropriate application is submitted.

The graduate professional curriculum (DPT) emphasizes problem-based learning, technology in education, a strong basic science partnership, and a strong commitment to cultural diversity. The Pre-PT Concentration provides an introduction to problem-based learning.

Pre-PT Concentration Application Requirements
Pre-PT Concentration applicants must complete all the required material for general Clarkson undergraduate admission, and indicate on the undergraduate application that Special Advising - Physical Therapy is desired. Of the required recommendations by the University, applicants to the Pre-PT Concentration should have at least one academic, and preferably one in a health-care field.

Length of Pre-PT Concentration
An undergraduate degree normally takes four academic years. There are plans of study in some undergraduate majors that can be completed in three years.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Application Requirements

  • Completion of baccalaureate degree (B.S., B.A., etc.) prior to matriculation into the professional curriculum;
  • A grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for all undergraduate courses;
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses, with a grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for all prerequisites, and no prerequisite course grade lower than a “C-”;
  • A total of 30 hours of observation or volunteer experience in health-care settings - of which a minimum of 20 hours must be in a physical therapy setting under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

All applications to the graduate physical therapy program must be submitted through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS -

Prerequisite Courses

  • Biological Science: 2 courses with lab, one of which must be human anatomy, human physiology, or a combined human anatomy and physiology course (minimum 4 credits each – total of 8 credits)
  • Chemistry: 2 courses with lab (minimum 4 credits each – total of 8 credits)
  • Physics: 2 courses with lab, which must include mechanics, electricity, and magnetism (minimum 4 credits each – total of 8 credits)
  • Statistics: 1 course, which must be within a department of math, statistics, or psychology (3 credits)
  • Psychology: 2 courses, which must include Introduction to Psychology and Developmental Psychology - which must be a life-span developmental psychology course, and not child psychology or adolescent psychology only (minimum 3 credits each); and
  • Pre-PT Health Care –  4 credits (Physical Therapy Seminar I and Physical Therapy Seminar II). These are Clarkson courses, and similar content in courses at other colleges/universities is strongly recommended.

Academic Learning Experiences
The DPT curriculum utilizes a problem-based learning (PBL) approach to education, providing students an active, exciting and effective way to learn. PBL is student-centered, collaborative, self-directed, and an active learning process based on patient case studies. Students are prepared for clinical practice and lifelong learning.

Clinical Learning Experiences
Clinical internships are integrated into the curriculum throughout the educational process. To prepare students optimally for work in a variety of clinical settings, Clarkson continuously develops new clinical internship sites. Contractual relationships exist with many clinical internship sites in the North Country of New York State, throughout the United States, and some international sites as well.

The DPT Curriculum
The DPT professional curriculum is a full-time program, starting in the fall semester. Each year is divided into three semesters (trimesters), and includes Clinical Education. The professional curriculum takes three years to complete, finishing in May of the third year.

Fall — Semester 1
Cr. Hrs.
Spring — Semester 5
Cr. Hrs.
PT505 Foundational Sciences
PT606 Neuromuscular Physical
  for Physical Therapy
  Therapy II
PT506 Professional Foundation
PT615 Physical Therapy for
  for Physical Therapy
  Multiple Systems
PT508 Principles of Measurement
  Disorders I
Spring — Semester 2 PT617  Professional Practice IV
PT515 Cardiopulmonary/
PT618  Research Data Collection
  Exercise Science
Summer — Semester 6   
PT517 Professional Practice I
PT616 Physical Therapy for
PT518 Evidence-Based Practice
  Multiple Systems
Summer — Semester 3     Disorders II
PT525 Musculoskeletal
PT627  Professional Practice V
  Physical Therapy
Fall — Semester 7
PT527  Professional Practice Preparation
PT645 Practice Management
PT528 Physical Therapy
  in the Autonomous  
  Research Design
Fall — Semester 4 PT648  Writing & Presenting
PT537 Professional Practice II
PT605  Neuromuscular Physical
PT657  Advanced Clinical Skills
  Therapy I
PT607  Professional Practice III
PT608 Physical Therapy
Spring — Semester 8
  Data Analysis
PT667 Professional Practice VII
      PT677  Professional Practice VIII

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) curriculum is housed in Clarkson Hall. The Department of Physical Therapy provides a focus on health sciences education, treatment and research in physical rehabilitation for the University and the community. Clarkson Hall houses Clarkson’s academic physical therapy programs, Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Services, and the Clarkson site of the Syracuse VAMC R&D Service.

Accreditation Status
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) accredited Clarkson University’s graduate physical therapy professional curriculum on October 24, 2001. The State Education Department of the University of the State of New York approved Clarkson University’s graduate physical therapy as the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) on April 21, 1999, and the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) on May 18, 2005. CAPTE reaffirmed Program accreditation on October 28, 2009.