Mar 23, 2023  
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

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Sheri A. Allen, Interim Director
Health Professions Building, 1775 North Sector Court, Suite 219, (540) 665-5520

Physical Therapy (PT) is a challenging and satisfying profession — one with many career pathways from which to choose. The wide range of clinical settings, the diversity of the patient populations, and the variety of specialty areas provide a vast array of employment and professional growth opportunities for the new graduate. Shenandoah University’s entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy professional degree program prepares students for the challenges of the profession and provides an excellent foundation for further graduate study.

The Division of Physical Therapy Mission

The mission of Shenandoah University’s Division of Physical Therapy is to prepare students as doctorally educated physical therapists who are reflective, collaborative practitioners that provide evidence‐based, compassionate and ethical care for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of movement dysfunction across the global community.

The Division of Physical Therapy Vision

The Division of Physical Therapy will become recognized as a leader of physical therapy education driven by innovation, local and global service, and dedication to professional advancement.

The Physical Therapy Program at Shenandoah University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and is fully accredited until December 2018 (reaccreditation process currently in progress).

Applicants to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program must have demonstrated success in academics and have a strong background in the sciences. Completion of the bachelor’s degree is required. A demonstration of well-developed problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills and commitment to service is necessary. Those applying to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program should be prepared to work closely with other students in the program, make contributions to the learning process of others and contribute to the enrichment of the curriculum and the profession.

The Physical Therapy program is closely affiliated with Valley Health System and Inova Health System. These relationships provide extensive clinical opportunities, equipment, space and human resources.

Admission Requirements

The Division of Physical Therapy offers three avenues for admission into the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program: 1) traditional admissions, 2) articulation agreements, and 3) SU undergraduate Physical Therapy pre-admissions program. Regardless of the route of application, processing for the DPT program is through the Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS) at Although these applications are processed through PTCAS, they are held to the same standards as Shenandoah  University’s other graduate programs. All offers of admission into the DPT program are determined by the Division of Physical Therapy Admissions Committee.

Although the three admission programs are distinct from one another, there are some common admission requirements. All applicants must:

  1. Have a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of a 2.8 on a 4.0 scale in all completed coursework and in all prerequisite coursework.
  2. Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). For non-native speakers of English, a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) must be completed.
  3. Submit two letters of reference; one from a licensed practicing physical therapist and one from a college professor.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of the profession by completing a minimum of 40 documented hours (volunteer or paid) of exposure to physical therapy practice under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

The primary method for admission into the DPT program is through the traditional admissions program. In addition to the global requirements as listed above, consideration for admission through this process requires applicants to complete a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution prior to matriculation. The bachelor’s degree must include the 41 credit hours of prerequisite coursework and applicants must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 on a 4.0 scale for these courses.

A second means of admission into the DPT program is through articulation agreements established by the Division of Physical Therapy with other universities and colleges. This program follows the same admission criteria as noted for the traditional admissions program except for the prerequisite coursework GPA. To qualify for one of the reserved seats, applicants must achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale for the 41 credit hours of prerequisite coursework. Applicants who meet the criteria for admission through the Articulation Agreement will be granted priority status for admission to the Division of Physical Therapy. Four to five seats in each incoming class are reserved for students from each participating institution. These universities and colleges include: Bridgewater College, Ferrum College, James Madison University, Shenandoah University, Virginia Tech University and West Virginia Wesleyan College. If more than four/five applicants qualify for priority status, the Division of Physical Therapy will rank-order all priority applicants based on consideration of the full set of application materials and the evaluations from the admissions interview. Copies of the articulation agreements can be found at

Articulation Agreement Pathway

The School of Health Professions has established an articulation agreement with the undergraduate College of Arts and Sciences. This agreement provides a pathway into the graduate admission process by reserving a set number of seats in the program for students applying from within Shenandoah.

Taking advantage of this agreement works as follows: Any student currently enrolled at SU as an undergraduate student applies to the Physical Therapy program. The graduate program will evaluate the applications from SU students individually, and as long as they meet admissions requirements, will be invited to interview for the graduate program.  The program has reserved a certain number of seats for SU students in their program, and those seats will be filled with qualified applicants to the graduate school.

This articulation agreement is designed for applicants who have completed the prerequisites and will be obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University. The agreement is available to all students enrolled full time at SU for undergraduate study. If a student applies under the articulation agreement and is not accepted, their application is automatically entered in the pool of traditional applicants. They do not need to reapply that cycle. Students who take a gap year or more will not be eligible and must apply to the graduate program via the traditional pathway.

Guaranteed Graduate Admission Pathway & 3+3 Early Assurance for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Pathway

In addition to the articulation agreement, the Division of Physical Therapy has established a unique admissions process with the undergraduate Office of Admissions for Shenandoah University.  (The Guaranteed Graduate Admission Pathway will transition to the Early Assurance Pathway for students beginning Fall 2019). The purpose of this program is to allow highly qualified high school students to be guaranteed an admission interview with the graduate program as long as criteria are maintained during the undergraduate years. In order to be admitted to this program as a freshman at Shenandoah University (out of high school) the student must achieve the following:

1.     High School GPA: minimum 3.5

2.     Minimum High School Course Requirements: Minimum B- in both biology and chemistry  

3.     Test Score (only 1 required):

                SAT: 1170

                ACT: 24

Observation hours: Students must complete a minimum of 20 hours of observation of a physical therapist in practice.

Successfully complete an interview with Division of Physical Therapy faculty

In order to remain in the program and matriculate into the DPT Program at the end of three years of undergraduate study at Shenandoah University, the student must fulfill the requirements stipulated in the contract signed upon matriculation to the College of Arts and Science. These requirements include but are not limited to:

Successfully complete a minimum of 90 hours of undergraduate coursework with a grade of “C” or above which includes the required prerequisite courses.

At the time of application, have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale for the 90 hours of undergraduate coursework and have a minimum 3.4 GPA for prerequisite courses by the end of the spring semester of the junior year.

Successfully have completed in-depth study of upper division concentrated coursework in an area of study that satisfies at least 18 credits, which is equivalent to minor.

Regardless of the admissions process, all science courses must be less than 10 years old at the time of application. Exceptions are made at the discretion of the PT Admissions Committee, if the applicant is able to provide documentation of functional use of the information. Detailed instructions for the admissions process are at or

Criminal Background Checks

All students admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program are required to authorize a criminal background check. Some students may be required to have a pre-clinical drug test and submit to random drug testing as required by clinical practice sites. Non-compliance with the criminal background checks and/or drug testing policies may be cause for dismissal from the program.

Requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

Students must take all courses in the specified order to be retained in the curriculum and receive the DPT degree. All courses must be passed with a grade of “C” or higher and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 must be achieved by the end of each semester. The student who receives a grade of “D” or below will be dismissed from the program. A student who fails to reach the cumulative 2.80 GPA in any semester will be put on academic probation. The 2nd time a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 2.80 they will be dismissed from the program. Students dismissed from the program for academic concerns may petition the faculty for a seat in the next year’s class.

Any student who demonstrates inappropriate affective behavior may receive disciplinary action. Conduct or honor violations may result in course failure and/or immediate dismissal from the program.

In addition to policies and procedures of the university as identified in this catalog and the Student Handbook, students enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program are responsible for reading, understanding, and implementing the policies and procedures found in the Division of Physical Therapy Student Handbook.

Pre-Clinical Screening

The Pre-Clinical Screening is conducted at the end of the first semester of study in the Physical Therapy curriculum. Students will be asked to demonstrate understanding of medical terminology and proficiency in medical documentation. Faculty will evaluate each student’s mastery of these topics at the end of the first semester, prior to being approved for matriculation into the physical therapy integrated clinical experiences.

Students must complete the following requirements:

  • Pass a medical terminology competency exam with a grade of 70% or higher;
  • Pass a medical documentation competency exam with a grade of 70% or higher; and
  • Successfully document a patient experience with a grade of 70% or higher.

Students who do not satisfy the Pre-Clinical Screening requirements will not matriculate to the physical therapy integrated clinical experiences.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is administered at the end of the fall semester of the third year and is intended to identify the student’s preparedness to enter his/her full-time clinical internships. Prior to the final two full-time clinical internships, students are required to pass the written and oral components of the comprehensive examination. Successful completion of both components of the comprehensive examination is required of all students as a condition for continued progress through the curriculum.

Subtotal: 18 credits

Subtotal: 18 credits

Subtotal: 17 credits

Subtotal: 18 credits

Year 2, Summer

Subtotal: 3 credits

Subtotal: 11 credits

Subtotal: 12 credits

Year 3, Summer

Subtotal: 3 credits

Total: 100 credits

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