The Division of Physical Therapy first was established in the late 1960’s as the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy, a component of the newly founded Division of Allied Health, School of Medicine. At that time, the Division of Allied Health also included Dietetics, Radiologic Technology, and Speech Therapy, and soon thereafter, Physician Assistant educational programs. In 1981, the Division of Allied Health was dissolved and these programs placed in a clinical department in the School of Medicine, the Department of Community Health. In1985, the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy was re-titled the Division of Physical Therapy (the Division) to accurately reflect the scope of activities within the Division, which now included education, research and clinical practice in various contexts. Also in 1985, the administrative home of the Division was changed to the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, in which the Division continues as an integral departmental component. Other divisions within the Department include Clinical Services, Neuropsychology, Research, and Residency Training (physiatry).
The educational program initially offered in the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy was the Master of Medical Science (MMSc) degree. This program offered graduate study to Physical Therapists in education, research, administration and clinical specialty areas. This program was continuously supported by training grants from the Department of Education and/or from the Department of Health and Human Services for training leaders in Physical Therapy and in maternal and child health clinical practice, respectively. In 1993, the Physical Therapy faculty placed a moratorium on the MMSc program and applications have not been accepted since that time. This moratorium occurred because of increased focus on the doctoral degree as the recommended educational level for Physical Therapists seeking graduate study.
Across the early 1970’s, an increasing number of requests for information about professional entry education were received from individuals with baccalaureate degrees and seeking a career change. In response, a post baccalaureate, professional education program was developed and first offered in 1975. A Certificate in Physical Therapy was awarded upon completion of the program. This program was lengthened and changed and became a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree program in 1983. The MPT program continued until September 2001, when the professional degree program in Physical Therapy officially became a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program.
In Fall of 2006, a joint DPT-MBA degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy and Masters of Business Administration), a joint collaboration between the School of Medicine and the Goizueta Business School was approved by Emory University Board of Trustees.
In Fall of 2007, a joint DPT-MPH degree (Doctor of Physical Therapy and Masters of Public Health), a joint collaboration between the School of Medicine and the Rollins School of Public Health was approved by Emory University Board of Trustees.
Today, the Division continues to grow in the areas of Physical Therapy education, research and clinical practice. All educational programs are at the doctoral level. Clinical and research activities include corroborative projects both within the University and Emory Healthcare and with partner agencies and institutions. Most importantly, students have multiple opportunities for participation in these varied experiences.