Why UM-Flint

What Sets UM-Flint’s Ph.D. in Physical Therapy Apart?


Graduates of the PhD in Physical Therapy are well prepared to assume leadership roles in academia as faculty members and mentors teaching and inspiring the next generation of physical therapists. This program will prepare graduates to take and pass the ABPTS Specialist Certification examination in their chosen area of Specialization/Advanced Practice in Orthopedics, Neurology, Pediatrics, or Geriatrics. Details of Ph.D. program are available on Physical Therapy's webpage


The program’s faculty bring excellent records in teaching, scholarship, service, and advanced practice to their instruction. Throughout the program, faculty remain available to mentor you in teaching, research, community engagement, and clinical practice.


As a student of the program, you’ll work alongside faculty members on research projects that align with faculty specialties while reflecting your personal scholarly and professional interests. These research opportunities allow you to build your record of publications and presentations valued in academia.


Along with the guidance of faculty, you’ll also have the support of a small group of fellow students who enter and complete the program alongside you. You’ll develop close connections with your classmates who share your journey as well as your passion for excellence in patient care.


As part of the world-renowned University of Michigan community, you’ll also have access to the academic and research resources at the Flint, Dearborn, and Ann Arbor campuses.



Students must have taken the following courses in teaching, research and evidence-based practice (or their equivalents) in the DPT or t-DPT curriculum:

  • PTP 662 - Critical Inquiry I (3)
  • PTP 663 - Critical Inquiry II (3)
  • PTP 681 - Teaching, Learning & Health Education (2)
  • PTP 861 - Literature Analysis in Evidence-Based Practice (2)
  • PTP 602 - Independent Research (1-10) (optional)
  • PTP 603 - Post-Professional Independent Study for Physical Therapy Students(1-5) (optional)

Requirements (50 credits)

A. Concentration (18 credits elective choice)

Students complete one of the following four concentration areas, which are Areas of Specialization in physical therapy practice and research, which allows the student to obtain a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy degree with a concentration in an area of advanced specialized practice and research.  (See the Physical Therapy Post-Professional Clinical Residency section for more information).


  • PTP 690 - Advances in Development in Pediatric Diseases and Disorders (4)
  • PTP 691 - Evidence-Based Examination and Outcomes in Pediatric Practice (4)
  • PTP 692 - Evidence-Based Plan of Care in Pediatric Practice (4)
  • PTP 774 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Advanced Practice and Clinical Specialization (1)
  • PTP 790 - Case Studies in Pediatric PT (3)
  • PTP 791 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Pediatric Physical Therapy (2)

Adult Neurology

  • PTP 677 - Advances in Neuroscience in Neurologic Diseases and Disorders (4)
  • PTP 678 - Evidence-Based Examination and Outcomes in Neurologic Practice (4)
  • PTP 679 - Evidence-Based Plan of Care in Neurologic Practice (4)
  • PTP 774 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Advanced Practice and Clinical Specialization (1)
  • PTP 777 - Case Studies in Neurologic PT (3)
  • PTP 778 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Neurologic Physical Therapy (2)


  • PTP 686 - Advances in the Physiology of Aging in Geriatric Diseases and Disorders (4)
  • PTP 687 - Evidence-Based Examination and Outcomes in Geriatric Practice (4)
  • PTP 688 - Evidence-Based Plan of Care in Geriatric Practice (4)
  • PTP 774 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Advanced Practice and Clinical Specialization (1)
  • PTP 787 - Case Studies in Geriatric PT (3)
  • PTP 788 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Geriatric Physical Therapy (2)


  • PTP 674 - Advances in Histology, Anatomy and Kinesiology in Musculoskeletal Diseases & Disorders (4)
  • PTP 675 - Evidence-Based Examination and Outcomes in Musculoskeletal Practice (4)
  • PTP 676 - Evidence-Based Plan of Care in Musculoskeletal Practice (4)
  • PTP 774 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Advanced Practice and Clinical Specialization (1)
  • PTP 775 - Case Studies in Orthopedic PT (3)
  • PTP 776 - Health Policy and Practice Administration in Orthopedic Physical Therapy (2)

B. Education Leadership and Teaching (6 credits)

  • PTP 883 - Higher Education Teaching Methods and Assessment (2)
  • PTP 884 - Higher Education Teaching Practicum (2)
  • PTP 885 - Educational Leadership in Higher Education (2)

C. Scholarly Activity (12 credits)

Research design, statistics, and critical review of the literature:

  • HCR 500 - Epidemiology (4)
  • HCR 621 - Qualitative Research Methods (3)
  • PTP 820 - Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics (4)

One of:

  • PTP 810 - Ph.D Seminar (1) (elected twice)
  • PTP 815 - Ph.D Independent Study (1-4) (elected for 2 credits)

D. Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy and Candidacy Research (14 credits minimum)

  • PTP 990 - Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy (1-3) (elected to a total of at least 3 credits): Students prepare in writing and orally present a dissertation proposal (journal submission-ready), which generally contains a systematic review of the student’s selected dissertation topic.  Students meet in class and with their advisor regularly to discuss and provide feedback during the proposal preparation process.
  • PTP 995 - Dissertation: Candidacy (1-5) (elected to a total of at least 11 credits): Students conduct and complete dissertation research and write the dissertation, which generally comprises one to three journal submission-ready manuscripts. Students must register for PTP 995 each semester upon passing the preliminary exam and until successful completion of the dissertation defense.

E. Additional Requirements

  • It is expected that each Ph.D. in Physical Therapy student will spend sufficient time on campus for completing coursework, conducting research, interacting with other graduate students, and fostering intellectual activities.
  • All students in the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program are required to attend PTP 990 on campus, and present at least one seminar on his/her research each semester until the dissertation proposal is completed.

Additional information on the Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy Program including course descriptions can be found in the catalog


  • Doctorate, Master's, or Bachelor's degree in Physical Therapy from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or its equivalent in another country. For individuals with a bachelor's degree in PT, a Master's degree in PT or another health-related field is also required
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale (or 5.0 on a 9.0 scale)
  • Physical Therapy license or registration (or equivalent)
  • Completion of prerequisite courses or their equivalents:
    • PTP 662 – Critical Inquiry I
    • PTP 663 – Critical Inquiry II
    • PTP 681 – Teaching, Learning & Health Education
    • PTP 661 – Literature Analysis in Evidence-Based Practice
    • PTP 602 – Independent Research (Recommended)

Note:  You are encouraged to speak with the Associate Director of the Ph.D. in PT program regarding your eligibility for admission. Meeting the minimum admission requirements does not guarantee entrance into the program.


Prior to submitting your application, it is strongly suggested that you meet as early as possible with the Associate Director of the Ph.D. in PT program to assist you in your career and professional development. You should also meet with the coordinator of the specialization/advanced practice area of interest. It is required that you meet with your potential Doctoral Committee Chair. Please contact the Physical Therapy Department to assist in scheduling these meetings.

To be considered for admission, submit the following to the Office of Graduate Programs, 251 Thompson Library:

  • Application for Graduate Admission
  • $55 application fee (non-refundable)
  • Copy of current Physical Therapy license or registration (or equivalent)
  • Official transcript from the colleges or universities where you earned your PT and other graduate degree(s) as well as any transcript that shows completion of prerequisite coursework
  • Curriculum Vitae or Résumé
  • A clearly defined Statement of Purpose that includes the following:
    • Why you are interested in an academic and/or research career
    • The specific area of Specialization/Advanced Practice (orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics or geriatrics) that you wish to focus on while completing the Ph.D. in PT degree program
    • Your proposed area/topic(s) of scholarly inquiry
    • If you have secured a PT faculty member to serve as your advisor and Ph.D. Committee Chair, explain how your research goals align with your chair’s scholarship. If you have not yet secured a chair, name the faculty member(s) you could likely work with and how your research goals may align with their scholarship (see the PT website for a current listing of faculty with Ph.D. degrees).
    • Statements may be submitted online during the application process or emailed to graduate@umflint.edu.
  • Two letters of reference are required. Please include individuals who are able to comment on your academic and clinical abilities, personal qualities, and potential teaching, research/scholarship, and service capabilities. Please include:
    • One letter from a DPT or t-DPT faculty member from the program that granted your degree
    • One letter from a faculty member with specific expertise in your area of Specialization/Advanced Practice
  • Please attach a sample of a recent technical/scientific paper or report you have written. If you have questions regarding this paper/report, please discuss this with the Associate Director for the Ph.D. in PT program before submitting.
  • International students must submit additional documentation. Visit the International Students page for details.
Application Deadlines

Students are admitted for the fall semester only. After Fall 2016, the next class will be admitted for Fall 2018.  Application deadline:

  • February 1 (early deadline)
  • May 1 (final deadline)