PhD in Physical Therapy

Prepare for a rewarding career in Physical Therapy education and research!
Upon review of the website, please feel free to email for more information.

Program Overview

The Ph.D. in Physical Therapy (PT) program at the University of Michigan - Flint is designed to address the demand for qualified faculty in PT educational programs and to create academic leaders in PT education and scholarship. The Ph.D. in PT program meets these needs by enhancing knowledge in important areas such as: Evidence-based practice in an area of specialization/core area of teaching, research/scholarship, and academic teaching and leadership. Courses are taught face-to-face on UM-Flint's campus in Flint, Michigan with some online coursework.

Admission Requirements

Admission Requirements
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree
    (including those with a transitional DPT)
    from an accredited institution
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale
    (or 5.0 on a 9.0 scale)
  • Licensed or registered to practice Physical Therapy
  • 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.


Ph.D. Degree Requirements

While in the Ph.D. in PT program, students complete a minimum
of 50 credits; 18 credits will be based on the individual student’s
chosen area of concentration/specialization coursework (online format),
6 credits on educational teaching and leadership, 10 credits on research
design, statistics and critical review of the literature, 2 credits in Ph.D. in PT
Seminar or Independent Study, and a minimum of 14 credits on the
Ph.D. in PT dissertation including pre-candidacy and candidacy research. 
During the admission process, the student will acquire a mutually agreed
upon Doctoral Chair (also serves as the faculty advisor), designate the area
of concentration/specialization, and submit the information to the
Associate Director for the Ph.D. in PT program for approval.

Ph.D. Course Requirements

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

PTP 662 Critical Inquiry I (3)
PTP 581 Teaching, Learning & Health Education (2)
PTP 661 Literature Analysis in Evidenced Based Practice (2)
PTP 663 Critical Inquiry II (3) 
PTP 502 Independent Research (Optional)

An additional 50 credit hours in the PhD program upon
completion of the students DPT program is the minimum
required to grant the PhD.

The required curriculum includes the courses listed below:

Area of Specialization/Advanced Practice (18 credits).

Currently enrolled Ph.D. students must enroll in an area of
Specialization/Advanced Practice. Students will choose one
of the following four areas of Specialization/Advanced Practice
for a total of 18 credits: orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, or
geriatrics. This allows the student to obtain a Ph.D. degree with
an area of advanced specialized practice in an area in which
the graduate can teach, practice and perform research.
See the Post-Professional Physical Therapy Clinical Certificates
website for more information. Each student must designate a
specified Specialization/Advanced Practice area
upon admission to the program.

A. Specialization/Advanced Practice Area

Area 1: Orthopedics PTP 674, PTP 675, PTP 676, PTP 775, PTP 776.

Area 2: Neurology PTP 677, PTP 678, PTP 679, PTP 777, PTP 778.

Area 3: Pediatrics PTP 690, PTP 691, PTP 692, PTP 790, PTP 791.

Area 4: Geriatrics PTP 686, PTP 687, PTP 688, PTP 787, PTP 788.

B.  Teaching and Educational Leadership (6 credits)

PTP 883 Higher Education Teaching Methods and Assessment (2 credits)

PTP 884 Higher Education Teaching Practicum (2 credits)

PTP 885 Educational Leadership in Higher Education (2 credits)

C.  Scholarly Activity/Research (10 credits)

PTP 820 – Quantitative Research Methods and Statistics (4 credits)

HCR 621 – Qualitative Research Methods (cross-listed with PTP 821 - Qualitative Research Methods) (3 credits)

HCR 500 – Epidemiology (cross-listed with PTP 822 - Epidemiology Research Methods) (3 credits)

D.  One of the following options for a minimum of 2 credits:

               PTP 810 - PT Ph.D. Seminar (1 credit for two semesters)

               PTP 815 – PT Ph.D. Independent Study (2 credits)

           Ask us how we can further individualize your Ph.D.!

E.  Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy & Candidacy Research (minimum of 14 credits)

PTP 990 – Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy (1-3 credits) (minimum of 3 credits across one to three semesters)


Students will regularly meet to discuss and provide feedback during their research proposal preparation process. The student will prepare in writing and orally present a dissertation proposal. The research proposal will generally contain a systematic review of the student’s selected dissertation topic which is journal submission-ready. Usually, students enroll for 1 credit for three semesters in years 2 and 3 in the Ph.D. program to develop and present their dissertation research proposal. The student must register for and participate in the PTP 990 course each semester after fall semester year 2 until successful completion of the qualifying exam and the preliminary exams.


PTP 995 – Dissertation: Candidacy (1-5 credits) (minimum of 11 credits across multiple semesters)


While enrolled in this course, students will conduct and complete their dissertation research. The dissertation will generally contain 1-3 journal submission-ready manuscripts. The student must register for PTP 995 for at least 1 credit per semester upon passing their preliminary exam until successful completion of the dissertation defense.

Application Process

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 university where you
    earned your DPT degree as well as any transcript that shows completion
    of prerequisite coursework
  • 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.
    • The Ph.D. faculty member who has agreed to serve as your
      advisor and Ph.D. Committee Chair.
    • Specify how your research interests align with your
      Doctoral Chair’s research activities and interests.
  • 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.
  • The completed Ph.D. Committee Chair Acceptance form signed
    by the Ph.D. faculty member who has agreed to serve as your
    Doctoral Committee Chair.
  • 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. Application
packets submitted by February 1 are eligible for early admission
consideration; completed application packets submitted by
May 1 are eligible for regular admission consideration.

Application deadlines:

  • February 1 (early admission)
  • May 1 (regular admission)


This minimum of a 2.5 year program is designed for the professional DPT student who knows their long-term career aspirations are in academia to teach and do research. Students are expected to participate fully; and will spend sufficient time on campus for participating in the face-to-face classes, conducting research, interacting with other graduate students, and fostering intellectual activities.

Tuition and Fees

Please visit our Cashier's Office webpage for more information!

CAPTE Statement

Expectation that institutions clearly indicate on their website and other public information that programs not subject to CAPTE accreditation are not accredited by CAPTE. [§8.19(3)]