About the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is a professional doctorate designed to prepare physical therapists for practice in an evolving health care environment. The physical therapist’s expertise in movement and movement dysfunction is unique in health care; therefore, physical therapists’ societal and health care roles and responsibilities have grown to that of an independent practitioner.

DPT Curriculum


Students in the Division of Physical Therapy at Emory earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The program of study is thirty-five months in length commencing in June and ending three years later in May. For all degree programs, the majority of credits required for graduation must be earned in the School of Medicine at Emory University. During the first two semesters, students’ study focuses on the normal structure and function of the human body, principles of movement science across the life span and process skills (interpersonal communications and teaching-learning) integral to effective practice. Beginning the third semester, study of pathophysiology and disease processes is integrated with clinical problem solving clinical sciencet courses. Following General Medical Conditions (Spring semester, year-1), Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation (Summer, year-2) and Adult Neurorehabilitation and Pediatric Rehabilitation (Fall, year-2), students go into the clinic for 2 weeks to observe and participate in the care of clients demonstrating symptoms and conditions studied in the classroom. Before students are awarded their degrees, they must successfully complete 30 weeks of full time clinical internship at sites which represent the diverse environments in which physical therapists practice. Three full-time internships, each 10 weeks long, occur in the second and third years. Emory students choose from selected clinical education sites in the metropolitan Atlanta area and greater Georgia, as well as outstanding facilities around the nation. During the last year of study, students return to Emory to complete faculty-guided research projects and advanced coursework, including choices from numerous elective courses in areas of individual interest. After graduation, all physical therapists must take a state licensure examination. Graduation from an accredited physical therapy program is required to take state licensure examinations in physical therapy.

Admission Requirements


Applicants are evaluated on the basis of probable academic success in the program; experience and knowledge of physical therapy; and, personal attributes such as good judgment, empathy, maturity, reliability, emotional stability, and effective interaction with people.

Experience in physical therapy

Successful applicants will demonstrate knowledge of the multiple roles of physical therapists in health care and a commitment to physical therapy as a profession. All potential applicants should observe physical therapists at work in different settings and maintain a record of these experiences. The variety of clinical settings observed, the total time the student has spent with physical therapists, and the number of hours of experience are used to evaluate experience in physical therapy.