Doctor of Physical Therapy

PTs working on mobility

Our entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is designed so graduates excel in serving patients and clients as generalist physical therapists capable of transforming health and health care for diverse populations. During our 33-month program students progressively build clinical reasoning skills with increasingly complex patient presentations through a series of academic and clinical courses that are closely integrated in a uniquely designed curriculum.

Why Choose Samuel Merritt University for your DPT?


Learn about the admissions process, including:

  • Application Deadlines: 
    • Early Decision Application Deadline: August 15
    • Regular Decision Application Deadline: October 1
  • How To Apply via PTCAS
  • Admissions Stats
  • Chat with an Admissions Counselor


Review requirements for admission, including:

  • Minimum recommended criteria
  • Prerequisites
  • Transcripts

SMU Doctor of Physical Therapy Outcomes

Graduation, Employment  & Licensure Rates

Outcome by DPT Cohort 2016 2017 2018

Average Rate of Most Recent Two Years

Graduation Rate* 89.5% 83.3% 91.4% 87.4%
Completion Rate** 94.7% 89.7% 97.0% 93.4%
Employment Rate*** 100% 100% 100% 100%
Ultimate Licensure Exam Pass Rate + 100% 96.8% 97.1% 96.9%

*Graduation rate is the percentage of students admitted to the DPT program who completed the program on time and with their original cohort. 

***Employment rate is the percentage of graduates who sought employment and were employed in physical therapy (full-time or part-time) within 1 year of graduation.
Both of the above are the definitions used by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

**Completion rate is the percentage of students admitted to the DPT program who complete the program.

+From Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, Samuel Merritt University, Basic Pass Rate Report, 11/14/2018


National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) Pass Rates

SMU Cohort SMU 1st Time Pass Rate National Average 1st Time Pass Rate+ SMU Ultimate Pass Rate+ National Average Ultimate Pass Rate+
Class of 2016 100% 93.1% 100% 99.4%
Class of 2017 93.6% 92.5% 96.8% 98.7%
Class of 2018 94.1% 91.2% 97.1% 95.3%

+From Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, Samuel Merritt University, Basic Pass Rate Report, 11/14/2018


Mission of the Department of Physical Therapy at SMU

The Department of Physical Therapy at Samuel Merritt University serves students, the public, the profession and the University by educating highly skilled and compassionate doctors of physical therapy. Our graduates provide patient-centered care using evidence-informed practice to positively transform society and the experience of care in diverse communities. We are dedicated to advancing the profession through a commitment to life-long learning, critically reflective practice, scholarship, service and socially responsible action on behalf of patients, the public, and the profession.

Additional Links

Click the image above to view confirmation of program accreditation

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 510-879-0334 or email


In less than two years, my family has a better life. It was a fast program and I spent many nights studying after the kids went to bed, but now I’ve got a lot to show for it: A new career Alejandra Villegas FNP
Our background in sports and passion for physical performance drove us to study the science of human movement. Tino and Tron Tino & Tron Hardy Physical Therapy
So many foot problems can be successfully treated if they are identified early, and corrective measures are taken. Then, there are patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases that require specialized, ongoing foot care. We see everything in our clinics. Samantha Ralstin Samantha Ralstin Podiatric Medicine

Program Resources

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