May 22, 2024  
2020-2021 ATSU University Catalog 
2020-2021 ATSU University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy (Residential), DPT

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program - residential

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who work to restore movement and function through direct treatment, education, consultation, and management of rehabilitation resources. Physical therapy means the examination, treatment, and instruction of human beings to detect, assess, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, and pain from injury, disease, and other bodily and mental conditions. This includes the administration, interpretation, and evaluation of tests and measurements of bodily functions and structures; the planning, administration, evaluation, and modification of treatment and instruction, including the use of physical measures, activities, and devices for preventive and therapeutic purposes; and the provision of consultative, educational, and other advisory services for the purpose of reducing incidents and severity of physical disability, movement dysfunction, bodily malfunction, and pain.

The entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is a post-baccalaureate program that requires completion of didactic and clinical coursework, including a capstone project.

Program Mission Statement

The A.T. Still University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is committed to educating highly competent and professional entry-level physical therapists who are dedicated to clinical excellence, whole person health care, cultural competence, critical inquiry, and lifelong learning.

Length of Program

The DPT entry-level program is a three-year degree program. Students are required to complete a minimum of 142 semester credit hours to obtain the degree. The curriculum plan includes 55 required courses (including two comprehensive practical exams and the final comprehensive written exam).

Tuition and Fees

Tuition is due twice a year at ATSU. It is due at the beginning of the first and second semesters. Each payment is half the cost for the entire year. Tuition may be paid any time during the week that it is due. Delinquent tuition penalties accrue at 1.5% per month, which is 18% per year.

Class/Year Tuition Educational Supply Fee Medical Equipment Fee
Class of 2023, year 1 $36,764.00 $1,150.00 $176.00
Class of 2022, year 2 $36,764.00 $1,150.00  
Class of 2021, year 3 $35,352.00 $1,150.00 $210.00


Application Process

ATSU-ASHS’ residential DPT program participates in a centralized application processing service called the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). PTCAS provides a web-based service that allows applicants to submit a single application to multiple participating PT programs. All official transcripts and letters of reference are sent directly to PTCAS as part of the application process.

Applications may be obtained through PTCAS at Questions regarding the PTCAS account may be directed to PTCAS at 617.612.2040 or by email at All other questions should be sent to Admissions at or 866.626.2878 ext. 2237.

Applicants meeting the minimum GPA requirements will be invited by ATSU via email to submit a secondary application. This application, in addition to a $70 application fee, must be submitted to ATSU for admission consideration.

Application Deadline

The deadline to apply with PTCAS for the ATSU-ASHS residential DPT program is December 16. Program enrollment is based on rolling admissions. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to meet all ATSU and ATSU-ASHS general admission requirements

  1. Applicants must have achieved a minimum 2.80 cumulative GPA and a 2.80 prerequisite GPA on a 4.0 scale. These GPAs are calculated and reported by PTCAS. The ATSU Admissions Department does not recalculate GPAs.
  2. Applicants must have earned a baccalaureate degree.
  3. Applicants must complete all pre-requisite courses prior to the start of school. Applicants with four or more outstanding pre-requisites will not be considered for admission. Applicants must show proof of enrollment in any pending pre-requisite courses by the end of the Spring quarter. Due to COVID-19, Pass/Fail pre-requisite courses will be temporarily permitted. 
    1. Biology/Anatomy – Two courses in Human Anatomy and Human Physiology, each including lecture and lab (two semesters or quarters of lecture and lab). Example: Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Human Anatomy and Human Physiology, all with lecture and lab.
    2. Biology/Zoology – Two courses in Biology/Zoology, each including lecture and lab (two semesters or quarters of lecture and lab). Examples: General Biology I and II, Genetics, Molecular, Cellular and Microbiology, all with lecture and lab.
    3. General Chemistry – Two courses in Chemistry, each including lecture and lab. (two semesters or quarters of lecture and lab). Examples: General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, all with lecture and lab.
    4. Physics – Two courses in Physics, each including lecture and lab (two semesters or quarters of lecture and lab). Examples: General Physics I and II, or College/University Physics I and II all with lecture and lab.
    5. Statistics – One course, minimum of 3 semester/4 quarter hours. Examples: Applied Statistics, Elements of Statistics, and Statistics of Bio-
    6. Psychology – Two courses: One abnormal psychology and one either lifespan developmental or child psychology, minimum of 6 semester/9 quarter hours. No substitutes accepted.
    7. Exercise Physiology – One course, minimum of 3 semester/4 quarter hours.
  4. Official transcripts for all college level courses must be submitted directly from the institution to PTCAS.
  5. Applicants are required to obtain a minimum of 30 contact hours with a physical therapist in a variety of physical therapy settings prior to application submission. Exposure to multiple types of physical therapy practices such as, geriatrics, pediatrics, neurology and orthopedics is desired, and a consideration in the decision to offer admission. Students may contact hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient physical therapy clinics to meet the required observation hours. Observation hours do not have to be verified.
  6. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores.
    1. Scores older than three years prior to admission year will not be accepted.
      1. The GRE general test Code for ATSU-ASHS is 7695 listed under Arizona on the ETS website.
      2. Applicants are required to have a minimum GRE of 140 for verbal and quantitative as well as a 3.5 on the writing score.
  7. Letters of References: Specific information regarding letters of reference can be found in PTCAS. For the secondary application, applicants only need to supply the name of the references listed in the primary PTCAS application.

Applicants who are considered potential candidates may be required to participate in an applicant interview process. Personal interviews are conducted both on-site and by video conference. Dates are not released prior to reviewing an applicant’s application.

Priority Consideration Agreements

ATSU-ASHS maintains admission agreements with Arizona State University (ASU), Grand Canyon University (GCU), Truman State University (TSU) and Chaminade University of Honolulu. More information on these admission agreements may be found at

Minimal Technical Standards for PT


The Department of Physical Therapy at A.T. Still University has a responsibility to the public to assure that its graduates are prepared to become fully competent and caring physical therapists. In order to fulfill this obligation, physical therapy students must safely and competently demonstrate the technical standards described in this document as well as in individual course requirements.

Technical standards (also called competencies) refer to the physical and mental abilities, skills, attitudes and behaviors that comprise cognitive, psychomotor, affective, and communicative domains of physical therapist practice and are required for admission, retention, and graduation. Technical standards apply to classroom, laboratories, and clinical settings. ATSU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program uses independent clinical education sites that may or may not be able to offer the same reasonable accommodations that are made available by ATSU.

A student is required to develop entry-level proficiency across all four domains (cognitive, psychomotor, affective, and communicative) to achieve satisfactory completion of the curricular requirements and to develop the qualities consistent with the profession of physical therapy. Entry-level proficiency is defined as the minimum knowledge, skills and abilities to practice independently, competently, legally, ethically, and safely as a licensed physical therapist. Students must meet all of these standards with or without reasonable academic adjustments. Applicants and current students who have questions regarding the technical standards, or who believe they may need to request academic adjustment(s) in order to meet the standards, are encouraged to contact Learning and Disability Resources. Procedures to apply for academic adjustments are found at the conclusion of this policy.

If a student cannot independently demonstrate the following competencies, it is the responsibility of the student to request an appropriate academic adjustment. The University will provide academic adjustments as long as it does not fundamentally alter the nature of the program offered and does not impose an undue hardship such as those that cause a significant expense, difficulty or are unduly disruptive to the educational process.

In order to gain admission, matriculate, and remain a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at ATSU each student must be able to meet the program qualifications—including these technical standards, with or without academic adjustments. If it becomes apparent that either:  a) the student cannot meet the technical standards even with academic adjustments; or b) the requested academic adjustment(s) would fundamentally alter the nature of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at ATSU or the practice of physical therapy in ATSU clinical education placements; or c) create a significant risk of harm to the health or safety of others, then an offer of admission may be withdrawn or a student may no longer be otherwise qualified for the program.


A brief description of each domain, along with a behavioral example, is provided below. These examples are representative but not all-inclusive. Additional details are outlined in individual course requirements and in the Department, the School of Allied Health and the University policies and procedures.

Cognitive Domain: The student must possess the cognitive abilities necessary to independently integrate information from courses in the basic, clinical, and behavioral sciences in order to problem-solve effectively during the patient/client management process. In order to achieve entry-level proficiency, students must progress from the basic skills of memorization, comprehension, and application to the advanced skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Students also must be able to measure and calculate as well as use data collected to formulate and test hypotheses. Students must have the ability to communicate proficiently in English in both written and oral forms in a timely manner under high paced stressful environments.

Example: Physical therapy students must gather and integrate information pertaining to human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, medicine and related health care services, as well as psychosocial factors, in order to discern the nature of and to develop and implement a plan of care for a patient/client’s actual or potential impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. Results of the patient/client management process must be communicated professionally orally and/or in written format with other patient care providers, patients and families.

Physical Domain: The student must be able to independently accomplish the physical demands of the work performed by physical therapists which are categorized as “medium” in difficulty. “Medium work” is defined as: “Exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally, or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently, or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects.” (Department of Labor)

The physical therapy student also must possess the physical and sensorimotor abilities (including gross motor and fine motor skills, vision, hearing, and tactile and proprioceptive awareness) to perform the patient/client management elements of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention in a timely manner. This includes possessing the physical abilities to conduct required examination and treatment procedures and communicate with patients about the proposed physical therapy management. This requires walking, standing, bending, and lifting to assist patients, while assuring the student’s own safety as well as that of the patient. In addition, this requires the sensory skills for observational and discriminative capabilities to ensure patient and student safety.

Example: Students must observe, inspect, palpate, test, measure, position, and assist patients/clients with movement in order to determine the extent of, and intervene with, a patient/client’s actual or potential impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions.

Successful demonstration of psychomotor skills requires physical therapy students to:

  1. Complete a task within a specified timeframe that is consistent with actual clinical practice in physical therapy. Actual clinical practice is determined through input from current practicing physical therapists who serve as clinical instructors or as advisors to the program. Time allotments are defined for each course, where relevant, by the:
    1. amount of time to execute the psychomotor skill (i.e., set the patient up, calibrate the equipment, apply the equipment, instruct the patient, perform the technique, remove the equipment, etc.)
    2. amount of time to perform the overall activity or task (i.e., read the chart, discuss the situation with the patient or instructor, answer questions prior to and at the conclusion of the performance of a psychomotor skill, complete necessary documentation)
  2. Demonstrate the physical capacity (i.e., balance, strength, flexibility) to safely position themselves prior to assisting a patient/client with movement.
  3. Demonstrate the physical capacity (i.e., balance, strength, flexibility) to safely position the patient/client prior to treatment and to assist (i.e., manually guide or lift) the patient/client, as indicated, with:
    1. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
    2. Balance, coordination, flexibility, strength and functional exercises
    3. Positioning
    4. Movement in bed
    5. Transfers from one surface to another
    6. Ambulation on various surfaces
    7. Stair climbing
    8. Wheelchair mobility

Affective Domain: Students in the Department of Physical Therapy must be able to independently demonstrate attributes of empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and self-motivation, as such qualities are assessed not only during the admissions process but throughout physical therapy education. Students must be able to exercise sound judgment, complete the responsibilities attendant to the evaluation and care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Students must be able to adapt to ever-changing environments, display flexibility, respect individual differences and learn to function in the face of uncertainties and stresses that are inherent in the educational process, as well as the clinical problems of many patients. Acknowledge and respect individual values and opinions in order to foster harmonious working relationships with colleagues, peers, and patients/clients.

Communicative Domain: Physical Therapy students must be able to independently speak, hear, and observe patients in order to obtain information, distinguish nonverbal communications, sense changes in mood, communicate effectively, and instruct patients and their families.  Students must be able to communicate quickly and effectively in oral and written English and electronically with all members of the health care team.

Example: Physical therapy students must effectively inform and educate patients/clients, and other health care providers, regarding the consequences of actual or potential impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions.

Statement of Agreement

I have read the above document and have sought clarification where needed. I understand that I must pass, with or without reasonable accommodation, all four domains that comprise the technical standards, in order to be qualified for admission, promoted to the subsequent terms, and to achieve eligibility for graduation from the professional physical therapy program.

Graduation Requirements

To earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in the residential program, all students must:

  1. Pass all prescribed didactic and clinical courses, including completion of a capstone project, with a minimum grade of ‘C’ and a minimum GPA of 2.5
  2. Pass all practical and written comprehensive exams
  3. Discharge all financial obligations to ATSU


During the first year, students build on their prerequisite coursework through courses in the basic sciences and introductory courses in patient care and therapeutic exercise. As the year progresses, the students are introduced to clinical courses in the areas in both musculoskeletal and neurologic rehabilitation. Additionally, students begin core courses in critical inquiry covering evidence-based practice, research design, and statistics. They also begin coursework in professional practice that will continue throughout the curriculum. The first year ends with the first full-time clinical experience. In the second year students continue with clinical courses in both the musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation areas. They progress into courses focusing on special populations and then finish with seminar courses aimed to assist with integration of concepts and a holistic approach to patient care. Students are introduced to the two capstone project options and begin working toward completion of either an applied research or outcome measure project. During the third year, students continue work on their capstone projects while completing three full-time internships and participating in virtual grand rounds.


Descriptions and Credit Values

A typical course schedule consists of the following. Additional course options may be available and listed below under Other Courses.

Other Courses