Why UM-Flint

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

  • The Ph.D. is designed to meet the growing need for physical therapy faculty who are prepared to conduct research and serve as mentors, as well as be future leaders of academic programs.
  • Graduates of this program will not only have the credentials but also the skills necessary for successful careers in academia.
  • 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.
  • You can learn more about the Ph.D. program on the program's webpage
  • The courses in the four Specialization/Advanced Practice areas (18 credits) are delivered in an online format.
  • The five courses in your chosen area of specialty/advanced practice (18 credits) are delivered in an online format.
  • Students will engage in research that aligns as closely as possible with faculty areas of expertise so that students receive appropriate mentorship; however, the goal is to begin to establish the student's individualized scholarly agenda and record of publications and presentations.
  • You will benefit from interacting with outstanding faculty with excellent records in teaching, scholarship, service, and advanced practice to mentor you in teaching, research, engagement and clinical practice.
  • As part of the world renowned University of Michigan system, UM-Flint can tap into additional resources, expertise, and contacts at our sister campuses in Ann Arbor and Dearborn to assist our students, their research, and other initiatives.



Admission Requirements
  • Doctorate, Master's, or Bachelor's degree in Physical Therapy from an 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
  • Resume/CV
  • 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).
  • 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)


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physical Therapy

Ph.D. Degree Requirements
Students must have completed at least 9 prerequisite credits in the DPT or t-DPT program before applying for acceptance to the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program. While in the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program, students complete a minimum of 50 credits beyond the DPT/t-DPT degree coursework. Of the 50 credits, 18 credits will be based on concentration/specialization coursework, 6 credits on education leadership and teaching, 10 credits on research design, statistics and critical review of the literature, 2 credits in Ph.D. in Physical Therapy Seminar or Independent Study and a minimum of 14 credits on the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy dissertation including pre-candidacy and candidacy research. During the admission process, the student will acquire a mutually agreed upon Doctoral Chair (also the faculty advisor), designate the area of concentration/specialization, and submit the information to the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy faculty for approval.

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

Course Requirements (50 credits)

  1. Concentration (Specialization/Advanced Practice) (18 credits).
    The program features four concentration areas which are Areas of Specialization in physical therapy practice and research.  Students complete one of the areas of specialization, 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 Post-Professional Physical Therapy Clinical Residency section for more information).  The following concentration areas are available:
  1. Education Leadership and Teaching (6 credits)

          PTP 883 - Higher Education Teaching Methods and Assessment 
          PTP 884 - Higher Education Teaching Practicum. 
          PTP 885 - Educational Leadership in Higher Education.  

  1. Scholarly Activity, Research Design, Statistics, and Critical Review of the Literature (12 credits)         

       1.  HCR 500 - Epidemiology.  
            HCR 621 - Qualitative Research Methods.  
            PTP 820 - Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics.         
       2.  One of the following options:
            PTP 810 - Ph.D. Seminar.  (1 cr., elected twice).
PTP 815 - Ph.D. Independent Study.  (2 cr.).

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

PTP 990 - Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy.  (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.  (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.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is designed to assess the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy student’s knowledge in the three key areas of research methodology, teaching and leadership, and in his/her chosen area of specialization/advanced practice.  Typically, students will be assessed in the area of research methodology by written and oral assessments, in teaching and leadership by portfolio and oral assessments, and in their chosen area of specialization/advanced practice by a written assessment.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination is the student’s dissertation proposal defense.  For the examination, the student presents, an oral presentation which has been prepared in consultation with the dissertation chair and committee.

Prior to the student’s taking the examination, the Ph.D. faculty must approve the dissertation committee.  The dissertation committee, led by the Chair, must approve the dissertation topic and the proposal outline.

A student becomes a candidate in the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program after completing the required coursework with a minimum GPA of at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) and passing both the qualifying and the preliminary examination. At this time, the student is allowed to register for PTP 995  and receives a certificate acknowledging this progress toward candidacy, “all but dissertation” (ABD) status.

Dissertation Committee
The dissertation committee must include at least three faculty members, including one member outside the Physical Therapy Department.  The committee chair must be a qualified Physical Therapy Department faculty member.  More details concerning the dissertation committee may be found in the dissertation handbook.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense
The dissertation must contain research work completed by the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy candidate. The manuscript must include one to three papers ready for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.  The candidate must submit a final written copy of the manuscript to the dissertation committee for approval four weeks prior to the scheduled oral defense. The dissertation is defended at a final oral examination open to faculty, other students, and the interested public.

Other 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. 





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