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 perform research and teach in their chosen area of Specialization/Advanced Practice.


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, and clinical practice.


As a student of the program, you’ll work alongside faculty members on research projects that align with faculty research areas 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 teaching, research, and 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.


Degree Requirements (50 or 60 credits)

Students with a previous DPT or tDPT are required to complete a minimum of 50 credits; those with a master’s degree are required to complete 60 credits.

A. Core Courses (41 credits)

Higher Education Teaching and Leadership (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)

Scholarly Activity, Research Design, Statistics, and Critical Review of the Literature (15 credits)

  • HCR 500 - Epidemiology (4)
  • HCR 621 - Qualitative Research Methods (3)
  • PTP 820 - Quantitative Research Methods (4)
  • PTP 821 - Statistical Analysis for Quantitative Research (4)

Ph.D. Seminars (2 credits)

  • PTP 810 - Ph.D. in PT Seminar l (1)
  • PTP 811 - Ph.D. in PT Seminar ll (1)

Movement Analysis and Instrumentation (4 credits)

PTP 816 - Movement Analysis and Instrumentation (4)

Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy Research (14 credits minimum)

  • PTP 990 - Dissertation: Pre-Candidacy (1-3) (elected for a minimum total of 3 cr. in 2-3 semesters)
  • PTP 995 - Dissertation: Candidacy (1-5) (elected for a minimum of 11 cr., at least 1 per semester of candidacy)

B. Electives (9 or 19 credits)

A plan of study for the remaining 9 credits (for students with a previous DPT degree) or 19 credits (for students with a previous master’s degree) is created depending on the student’s chosen areas of concentration, appropriate preparation for the teaching practicum, and individual needs and goals.

Note: 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.

Program Processes

The PhD program has several components in addition to coursework:

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 and statistics, teaching and leadership, and in his/her chosen area of specialization/advanced practice. Typically, students will be assessed in the areas:

  • Research methodology and statistics, through written and oral assessments
  • Teaching and leadership, through portfolio and oral assessments
  • The chosen area of specialization/advanced practice, through written and oral assessments

Preliminary Examination
The preliminary examination is the student’s dissertation proposal defense. For the examination, the student prepares in writing a research proposal and presents an oral presentation in defense of the research proposal which has been prepared in consultation with the dissertation Chair and committee. Prior to the students’s taking the examination, the PhD faculty must approve the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee, led by the Chair, must approve the dissertation topic and the proposal outline.

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 PhD in PT Program Student Handbook.

A student becomes a candidate in the PhD 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 preliminary examinations. 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) or PhD (c) status.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense
The dissertation must contain research work completed by the PhD in Physical Therapy candidate. The dissertation must include one to three manuscripts ready for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The candidate must submit a final written copy of the dissertation 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.



  • 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 (Recommended)
    • 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.


It is strongly suggested that prior to submitting an application, prospective students meet with the Associate Director of the PhD in PT program to discuss career and professional development goals and to help determine if the UM-Flint PhD in PT program can provide a good fit. Each PhD student must have a doctoral committee and chair, and prospective students must meet with potential chairs or co-chairs to determine if there is a match between the student’s and faculty interests. In addition, applicants should meet with coordinator of the student’s desired area of specialization or advanced practice (orthopedics, neurology, or pediatrics). The Physical Therapy Department will 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) (if license has lapsed submit a copy of most recent license)
  • 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
    • 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:
    • A letter from a faculty member from the program granting the most recent degree.
    • A letter from a faculty member or another individual (clinical supervisor, administrator, etc.) who can comment on the attributes listed above.
  • Please attach a sample of a recent technical/scientific manuscript or report you have written. If you have questions regarding this manuscript/report, please discuss this with the Associate Director for the Ph.D. in PT program before submitting.
  • Copy of FCCPT Educational Credentials Review, for applicants educated outside the U.S. or Canada.
  • International students must submit additional documentation. Visit the International Students page for details.
  • After Physical Therapy Department’s initial review of the application materials above, a completed Ph.D. Committee Chair Acceptance form signed by the Ph.D. faculty member who has agreed to serve as the applicant’s doctoral committee chair.
Application Deadlines

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

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