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Doctor of Physical Therapy

Courses that focus on learning physical therapy clinical skills and knowledge are closely integrated with the basic sciences such as anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Pharmacology, imaging and the medical management of patients are simultaneously covered in concert with the corresponding clinical courses. Physical therapy services through the lifespan, from pediatrics through geriatrics, are interwoven in the clinical courses and there are additional, specific courses that address the needs of these special populations served by physical therapists. There are clinical case study courses in small-group seminar format that also synchronize with the other courses each semester.

  • SMU DPT students experience small class sizes with faculty support. We enroll approximately 38 students each fall and have 9 full-time faculty members. In clinical lab courses there is one faculty member for 10-12 students and in anatomy lab courses have one faculty member for 15-20 students. Case studies courses have one faculty member for 8 students.

Students have part-time clinical experiences under the mentorship of physical therapists during which they are able to see patients who have problems similar to those being covered in the classroom. Students see patients who have neuromuscular problems under faculty supervision in an outpatient free-clinic during two semesters. Two full-time clinical experiences are interspersed after key semesters so that classroom learning is reinforced with clinical experience.

  • SMU DPT students have more clinical education experiences than the national average. Ten months of full-time clinical experiences totaling 1640 hours, compared to the national average of 1208 hours. Clinical experiences start in the second semester and are interwoven throughout the curriculum, culminating in a 22 week internship.

The importance of communication and relationship between the PT and patients in a culturally diverse environment and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the health care system are addressed throughout the program. Students begin the 34 month, full-time program each fall. The final 22 weeks of the program are spent on a full-time clinical internship.

Most students will have a choice about what physical therapy program to attend for their doctoral degree. Many things should be considered when making that choice such as quality of instruction, philosophy of program, geographical location, licensure outcomes and certainly cost. We have provided some detailed information about both value and cost of attendance at Samuel Merritt University. We would encourage each of you to ask these same questions at the other schools you are considering.

Click here for more information about the cost and value of your DPT education at SMU.

See if our vision of DPT education matches your needs.

Read more about the SMU Department of Physical Therapy's mission.