College of Health Sciences

Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

College of Health Sciences

Colleges / Schools

Physical Therapy



Program Types

An Integral Part of Our Evolving Healthcare System

Physical therapy continues as an integral part of America’s evolving healthcare system, and practitioners can have a satisfying career helping people, from newborn to elderly, function at their optimum ability. Physical therapists work to prevent or overcome the effects of disease or injury for clients in a range of vibrant environments, including acute care hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, outpatient centers, individual homes, skilled nursing facilities, public school systems, and private practice. Physical therapists also work as educators, researchers, and consultants.


Innovative Patient-Centered Curriculum

In Arcadia's innovative patient-centered curriculum, students learn to integrate and apply clinical, behavioral, and basic science knowledge. Time spent in lectures and labs is structured to nurture students’ critical thinking skills and help them absorb the full depth of knowledge for evaluating, treating, and instructing clients.


Aligned for Excellence

The Arcadia University physical therapy program adheres to the standards set by The American Physical Therapy Association. Additionally, the APTA set a vision shared by Arcadia that, by 2020: physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy; that consumers will have direct access to physical therapists in all environments; that physical therapists will be practitioners of choice in clients’ health networks; and, that physical therapists and their assistants will maintain active responsibility for the health of the people they serve, as well as the growth and respect of the physical therapy profession. Arcadia’s entry-level program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Opportunity, Far and Wide

Arcadia University believes that to understand the world students should experience the world, and has become a recognized leader in global education, providing interested students with international opportunities to experience the world as medical professionals. Arcadia's D.P.T. students have options for clinical education across the United States, in England, or the chance to join a service project in Jamaica, Peru or Guatemala.

Prepared, Employed Graduates

With the combined classroom and experiential learning offered throughout the program, Arcadia graduates surpass the national average for passing the licensure examination on the first attempt, and have done so since the program's inception. So admired is Arcadia’s program and its licensing exam record that U.S. News and World Report ranks it 24th of 239 accredited graduate physical therapy programs, and many graduates are offered their first professional physical therapy job from the connections they made during their clinical experiences. Arcadia's DPT Program is recognized in all 50 states.

See Program Outcomes

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Arcadia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 215-572-2950 or email

Current Requirements for the D.P.T Program

Students must meet the following requirements, earning 111 credits:

  1. Satisfactory completion of 6 semesters of classroom work.
  2. Satisfactory completion of full-time clinical study.
  3. An overall minimum GPA of 2.70 maintained throughout the program. A grade below “C” is not acceptable toward the degree.
  4. Continuous enrollment. If extenuating circumstances make additional time necessary, approval to continue beyond the scheduled duration of the program must be obtained from the Department Chair and the Physical Therapy Review Committee. Students who withdraw for reasons other than academic or clinical performance may re-apply for admission. Departmental approval is necessary for re-admission.


Clinical Experience

Each student must successfully complete 34 weeks of full-time clinical experience before graduation and an integrated clinical education experience equivalent to one week of clinic time. The full-time clinical experience consists of eight weeks in an inpatient or outpatient setting in the second fall of the program after completion of the first didactic year, and a 26-week full-time clinical internship after the completion of the second academic year.

Academic Policies

A student accepted into the Physical Therapy program is expected to abide by the regulations set forth by Arcadia University and the written policies of the Physical Therapy program. For a discussion of the general academic policies and procedures for graduate students, see Graduate Academic Policies and the Arcadia University Student Handbook. The policies of the Physical Therapy program are published in the Physical Therapy Policies and Procedures Student Handbook, revised annually.

Academic Standing

To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.7 in each semester. If a student receives less than a 2.7 for a semester, the student will be placed on probation. Failure to improve the grade point average in the subsequent semester will result in dismissal from the program.

We are facing an unprecedented and challenging time in academia. Arcadia University has offered the student-centered approach of adopting a revised pass/fail grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester. The Physical Therapist Program recognizes that many undergraduate institutions from across the country have adopted this policy as well. Please note that a passing grade for any prerequisite course taken this semester will meet guidelines for admissions criteria. This will include guidelines for our assured admission pathways. Please contact us with any questions at

Applying for Admission

All Doctor of Physical Therapy applicants must use the PTCAS Online Application.

  • Application requirements, deadlines, deposits and deferment.
  • Information for students intending to apply via the assured admissions process.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition for the cohort starting in 2019 will be $15,660 per semester for 7 semesters. Visit for more information.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Students are automatically considered for merit scholarships and graduate assistantships based on their academic records upon applying for admission to the program.

More information about tuition, expenses, financial aid and scholarships.

Essential Functions for Participation

The Physical Therapy Department has developed a set of Essential Functions in order to achieve the goals set forth in the Physical Therapy program’s mission statement: the preparation of physical therapists to excel in evidence-based practice and become effective, compassionate practitioners. All students must have the physical and mental capacity, with or without reasonable accommodations, to independently meet all of these criteria, which apply in the classroom, lab, community, and clinical settings as part of the physical therapy program. View criteria.

Enrolled Student Profile

DPT Class — Enrolled Fall 2019

  • Total number enrolled:  59
  • Average Overall GPA:  3.59 (range 3.0-4.0)
  • Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.44 (range: 3.0-4.0)
  • Average GRE (new): 155 Verbal, 154 Quantitative, 309 combined-verbal + quantitative, 4.0 Analytical Writing

Articulation Agreements

The Physical Therapy Department has developed a set of Essential Functions in order to achieve the goals set forth in the Physical Therapy program’s mission statement: the preparation of physical therapists to excel in evidence-based practice and become effective, compassionate practitioners.

Innovative Patient-Centered Curriculum

The ultimate goal of the program is to graduate the next generation of clinicians who are solidly grounded in the fundamentals of physical therapy and competent in critical thinking and problem-solving.

Critical thinking and the use of evidence for making clinical decisions is emphasized throughout the curriculum. Relevant literature is considered in each unit with the goal being graduates who use current evidence in their practice of physical therapy. Students also write case reports based on patients they have treated in each of their clinical affiliations. The culminating event for the program is the presentation of a poster reporting the case report results or a platform presentation by those students who have participated in a research project.


Patient-Based Units/Courses

Structure of PT Curriculum: 20 case-driven 3 week units

The curriculum is organized into 20 patient-based units/courses that integrate knowledge from every practice area of physical therapy. The curricular content addresses aspects of injury prevention, recovery, and rehabilitation. Students learn to apply the principles of physical therapy practice to all patient populations and conditions: from the young child to the older adult, from fractures to traumatic brain injury. Each unit/course is designed so that students can immediately apply the material to the patient case central to each, allowing them to develop their skills continuously as they advance through the program.


 A 25-year-old male fell while playing recreational basketball. The patient reported immediate pain and edema and an inability to put full weight on his leg. Example #2: An elderly female fell at home, landed on an outstretched hand, and sustained a fracture of the distal right radius and ulna.



Clinical Education

Doctor of Physical Therapy students embark upon an amazing journey of both personal and professional growth when they begin their clinical education. These experiences are interspersed throughout the program and are key in applying the knowledge obtained in the classroom to real patients under the direct supervision and mentoring of a licensed physical therapist in a clinical setting. In collaboration with the Director of Clinical Education, students are evaluated by their Clinical Instructor on their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes. Students will learn and work with physical therapist/mentors and patients/clients in:

  • major medical centers
  • community hospitals
  • community-based health centers
  • rehabilitation hospitals and agencies
  • home health
  • school-based clinics
  • private practices

The program includes a part-time clinical experience in the first year and 34 weeks of full-time clinical education. Arcadia has developed more than 250 clinical relationships with a wide variety of top-flight local, regional, national and international facilities. The majority of sites are in the mid-Atlantic region. Many students are offered their first jobs through the relationships they develop during these experiences.

Integrated Clinical Education Experience

Students observe and assist the physical therapists in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Mercy Health System, and the MossRehab system half days for a total of 10 visits over the first year. The experience consists of alternating weeks in the clinic with weeks of small group explorational reflection on campus. The primary purposes of the ICE experience are to introduce students to physical therapist practice in both inpatient and outpatient settings, to mentor students in professional behaviors, and to integrate classroom knowledge and clinical experience.

Full-time Clinical Experiences

Full-time clinical education begins in the fall of Year 2, with an 8-week clinical education experience. Students are responsible for the additional costs of travel and housing associated with their clinical experiences. Through these weeks, students develop into professionals and can begin to deliver effective physical therapy services. Clinical assignments are made in consultation with the Director of Clinical Education and clinical facilities for a placement that is ideally suited to the strengths and interests of the student.

Upon completion of the second academic year, students will begin their culminating clinical experience. This final clinical assignment, which lasts for 26 weeks, is a hybrid between traditional clinical education and the residency model of clinical training that is rich in mentoring and structured learning experiences to facilitate accelerated learning. Clinics affiliated with this program are among a select group with strong relationships to our program and the patient-centered curriculum.

Clinical Education Abroad

Second-year D.P.T. students can take advantage of the opportunity to spend the first eight weeks of the final clinical experience in London. The application process begins in the preceding summer, and physical therapy opportunities may be sought in amputee rehabilitation and acute care settings. Expenses above and beyond the normal semester tuition exist. Interested students need to contact Susan S. Tomlinson, Director of Clinical Education, well in advance to initiate the process, as these spots are not always available. This experience is coordinated between the Physical Therapy Department and Arcadia’s The College of Global Studies.

Learning and Serving Close to Campus and Around the World

Local Experiential Learning

Arcadia University’s physical therapy students are regularly welcomed at West Oak Lane, an urban senior center day program, and The Foulkeways, a continuing care retirement community, where they work with seniors who want to stay fit. With faculty oversight and in coordination with the facilities’ fitness directors, this experiential learning augments their academic and clinical preparation for physical therapist practice. Because patient/client education is central to clinical practice, students also work in groups to design and present health and wellness educational programs to various support groups.

All D.P.T. students are required to participate in two local experiential learning programs during their first year. In the second year of the curriculum, all students participate for six weeks in the Dan Aaron Stay Fit Program for individuals who have either Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis. Students also rotate through the Mercy Clinic in West Philadelphia where physical therapy services are provided pro bono as part of a comprehensive treatment program to clients who have impairments, functional limitations or changes in function and health.

The combination of these experiences broadens students’ understanding of health, wellness, fitness, and physical therapist practice, and provides opportunities to refine their clinical skills while meeting people from different cultural backgrounds.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Faculty members work with students to research, plan, and conduct presentations on the benefits of exercise to chronic disease support groups, community organizations, and clinicians. Students have presented on a variety of topics, including: juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, breast cancer, fibromyalgia, end-stage renal disease, and childhood fitness.

International Service Learning

All Arcadia entry-level D.P.T. students have the opportunity to experience the world as developing health professionals.  Students can apply to take a 2-credit elective to provide physical therapy services, under the supervision of Stateside licensed physical therapists, in a variety of low- or middle-income countries. Current countries include Guatemala, Jamaica, and Haiti.  These planned, mentor-accompanied trips are generally two weeks in length and occur after completion of the didactic curriculum.

An example of Arcadia’s successful efforts to prepare students for life in our global society is that of a program run by Arcadia University graduate, Jodee Fortner ’99. Fortner lived in Arequipa, Peru, and regularly hosted teams of physical therapists, Arcadia students and volunteers who provided services and equipment for children with disabilities. After seven years, Jodee has returned to the States and the Arequipa clinic is fully staffed by Peruvian physical therapists. The fact that the clinic is self-sustaining is a credit to Jodee’s efforts to “work herself out of a job.”

One elective site is in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, where Dr. Brooke Riley ’04, has provided services since she graduated. The local clinic was established by Dr. Karen Sawyer and Karen Koch (Arcadia class of 1996) in 2002. It provides predominantly out-patient services and home visits to people with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diagnoses. Several times per year, the clinic runs an Intensive Neurologic Clinic for Jamaicans with stroke or incomplete spinal cord injury.

Students going to Guatemala spend two weeks in Zacapa providing physical therapy services for adults and children with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diagnoses, working with persons with lower extremity amputations, and participating in evaluations and treatments for clients in adult day care, community, and home settings.

Facilities & Technology

Classroom and Student Labs - Our department facilities are located in the Health Sciences Center, on our campus in Glenside, Pennsylvania. The Center consists of modern teaching labs, seminar rooms, student lounges, faculty/staff offices and a clinical practice operated by the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Simulation Center - The D.P.T. curriculum includes a variety of patient simulation experiences using standardized patients or state of the art human simulators. We partner with the Penn Medicine Simulation Center to provide these opportunities. We also have the ability to record and share real-time feedback about patient interaction experiences.

Shoulder Lab - The Shoulder Research Center is committed to understanding the underlying mechanisms of shoulder pain and developing optimal treatment approaches to manage it. The center uses various state-of-the-art measurement tools including muscle activation testing, surface and fine-wire electromyography (EMG), inertial measurement devices, quantitative pain analysis, Electromyography (EMG), 3-D Motion Capture, Force Transducers

Neuromuscular Performance Lab - The Neuromuscular Performance Lab is a collaboration of multiple faculty in the Physical Therapy Department interested in understanding mechanisms related to altered movement in various patient populations and improving rehabilitation outcomes.  This lab uses cutting edge technology including isokinetic dynamometry to examine muscle performance, electromyography to examine muscle activity, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to examine corticospinal excitability, and function near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to examine cortical activation.  Faculty who specialize in sports rehabilitation and neurological rehabilitation utilize this lab to study a variety of patients including athletes after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and patients following stroke.    

Motor Performance and Gait Lab - The Motor Performance and Gait Lab, which is also housed in the Health Science Center, is a fully accessible 1650 ft2 space that includes force plates, motion capture system, exercise capacity testing devices, ultrasound machines and gait mat. It also includes several computer workstations for data reduction and analysis and software including ImageJ, custom-designed data collection software, statistical analysis (SPSS) and typical word processing and related software.

Dan Aaron Stay Fit Clinic- This space is used for running supervised exercise sessions for people with Parkinson disease and Multiple Sclerosis. It has state-of-the art exercise equipment, including stationary bicycles (upright and reclining),elliptical, arm ergometer, leg press devices. 

Nationally Recognized Faculty

Meet Our Faculty

Our full-time faculty members include three nationally recognized FAPTA members, multiple textbook authors, several who hold editorial board positions of leading national journals, and officers of various APTA specialty sections. Many have received prestigious teaching awards and all have active research including eight currently funded projects from various sources including NIH, Orthopaedic section, Sports section.

All faculty are licensed medical professionals in addition to their other credentials. All have significant clinical experience from a wide variety of practice settings and patient populations. Seven members of the full-time faculty have served as directors of physical therapy services or as owners in private practice. 

Faculty Research

Learn more about our department research projects.