DPT White Coat Ceremony 2023

What is the DPT?

The Doctor of Physical Therapy is a clinical, post-graduate doctoral degree that is 3 years in length and deemed to be the preferred credential for optimally preparing graduates to make significant contributions to the profession.  The first DPT educational program was accredited by CAPTE in 1995-96.  There are currently 229 accredited and developing DPT Programs in the country.  By January 1, 2016 all physical therapy educational programs must offer the DPT degree.

Is Physical Therapy the career for me?

Individuals who typically migrate toward a career in physical therapy are those who are passionate about helping others.  They enjoy human interaction and are effective at collaborating and engaging others.  Physical Therapists are also effective problem-solvers and enjoy the rewards and challenges of having an impact on the lives of others.  A strong academic background in the biological and physical sciences is valuable in supporting the Physical Therapist’s efforts to change lives.

How difficult is it to find a job after I graduate?

The profession of Physical Therapy was considered the 8th best job in America in 2012 with an expected 40% increase in job opportunities by the year 2020 with an anticipated 77,000 new job opportunities (US News and World Report, 2/27/12).  A 30% increase in job opportunities is expected between 2008 and 2018 (US Department of Labor, 2010-2011).  Physical Therapy is considered one of the best jobs for “fast growth” ranked #2 in 2011 and ranked #4 on the “Best Jobs in America” list in 2010 (CNNMoney.com).

After graduation, will I be able to work anywhere?

Alvernia’s DPT Program is dedicated to providing professional physical therapy education designed to prepare graduates to work in any physical therapy practice setting.  As generalists, graduates will be sufficiently trained to provide expert care in any setting in which physical therapy may be offered.  The curriculum is built on an instructional philosophy that progresses from foundational to complex.  The emphasis is placed on the clinical Practice Pattern core which is designed to prepare students for clinical practice within the 4 primary areas of clinical practice: musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary.  Students will also be expected to complete 39 weeks of clinical internships that span each of the common practice settings.  Based on personal preference, students will be given some ability to pursue specific areas of clinical specialization.  With a DPT degree from Alvernia, graduates will be sufficiently prepared to pass the licensure examination and practice in the setting of their choice after graduation.

How difficult is it to gain admission into Alvernia's DPT program?

Programs in the health sciences continue to be appealing and marketable because of the sustained need for graduates within the myriad of allied health professions.  This need is due, in part, to the current population of aging Americans who are increasingly requiring healthcare resources. Alvernia provides two paths in which to gain admission into the DPT program, the accelerated 3+3 format and the 4+3 format.

Within the 3+3 format, students are provided with an opportunity to gain entrance in the program in their senior year. To ensure that students entering the program are prepared for the academic rigor of the program, the criteria to enter this program upon admission into the university are challenging. An 1170 on the SATs and a 3.5 high school GPA are required. In order to eventually enter the professional phase of the program in their senior year, students must achieve a 3.5 science and overall GPA and a 3.0 GPA in their pre-requisite courses. This path is challenging and is intended for students who are academically strong.

The 4+3 path to admission into the DPT program is designed for students with an earned bachelor's degree from Alvernia or another university. Admissions criteria are also stringent for this path, which includes a science and pre-requisite GPA of 3.0, and an overall GPA of 3.25. This path also requires completion of the GRE with scores of 150 on Verbal and Quantitative and 3.5 on Analytical.

Both admission formats require references, observation experiences, written essays, and an interview with DPT faculty.

The primary intent of establishing high standards for admission into the program is to ensure that students entering the program are prepared for the academic rigors of the post-graduate curriculum that seeks to prepare the next generation of doctors of physical therapy.

Can I work while I am enrolled in the program?

The rigorous nature of the DPT curriculum in addition to the possibility of clinical placements that are not local will make it challenging for students to work while they are enrolled in the program.  To increase their chances of success, students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the program.

Is on-campus housing available?

Yes, Alvernia is pleased to offer on-campus housing for DPT students. In addition to several choices on campus, a wide variety of housing is also available in close proximity to campus. For more details on student housing, prospective students are encouraged to contact the Residence Life Office at (610) 796-8320.

How much is tuition? 

See the Tuition and Fees page.

Are there any additional costs or fees?

See the Tuition and Fees page.

Is financial aid available? 

Yes, a multitude of financial aid solutions may be available to support your academic endeavors. For details of financial aid available to Alvernia DPT students, please contact:

The Office of Student Financial Planning   
400 Saint Bernardine Street
2nd Floor – Bernadine Hall
Room 1103
Reading, PA 19607
Phone: 610-796-8356
Fax: 610-796-8336

When is my application due?

Due to the competitive nature of the program, prospective students are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Applications for each subsequent class will be accepted from July 1 to January 15. Students will be informed of their application status no later than March 1. 

Note: The application deadline for the DPT class starting in Fall 2022 has been extended to May 16, 2022. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling admissions basis and students will be informed of their application status no later than June 1, depending on when their online application was submitted.

The application for Fall 2023 will open on June 15, 2022.

When will I know if I've been accepted? 

Strong applicants may be notified soon after submission regarding their status. All applicants will receive written notice of their status no later than March 1 of the year in which they are planning to begin the program of study.

When do classes start?

The DPT program has a Fall semester start. Orientation is typically scheduled for the last Friday of August and classes begin on the last Monday of August.

Will I have a summer break?

The DPT Program is comprised of 121 credits spanning 8 semesters. Students will be required to engage in two full-time 6-week clinical education experiences in the summer between year 1 and year 2 and again in the summer between year 2 and year 3 of the program.  DPT 524 will occur from May to June and DPT 624 will occur from July to August. In addition, each student will complete two back-to-back 12-week, post-didactic internships from February until August.

Will I be placed in a clinic that is far away? 

Every effort will be made to contract with clinical sites that are within 25 miles of Alvernia, particularly during the part-time clinical experiences. In some cases, especially for the post-didactic clinical internships, students may need to travel a greater distance. The student may be responsible for additional costs related to travel and accommodations.

What type of clinical settings will I be experiencing?

In order to prepare students for generalized and specialized areas of physical therapy practice, students will be placed in a variety of practice settings during their 4 full-time clinical education experiences. Each part-time clinical experience is designed to help students to connect the classroom to the clinic by engaging students in experiences that reflect current course instruction in content, breadth, and depth. The type of practice setting may include acute care hospitals, subacute rehabilitation hospitals, transitional care units, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, pediatric care facilities, hospital-based outpatient facilities, free-standing outpatient facilities, home health agencies, among others.

What is academic dismissal? 

A student will be dismissed from the DPT program for the following academic reasons:

  1. One additional semester after being placed on poor academic standing, a student is unable to attain a cumulative GPA at or above a 3.0,
  2. One additional semester after being placed on poor academic standing, a student earns a semester GPA below 3.0,
  3. One additional semester after being placed on poor academic standing, a student earns a final grade of "C" in more than one course in the same semester.
  4. A student who earns a final course grade that is below a "C" or "P", thus indicating failure of the course. Students who receive a final course grade below a "C" or "P" will be dismissed but may be given an opportunity to be readmitted. Decisions related to readmission are made by the ARC after careful consideration of each case. If readmission is offered, the student will be required to re-take the course when it is next offered and will be unable to continue in the program until they have successfully completed course. The student's initial grade will remain on the student's permanent transcript but the most recent course grade will be used to calculate the student's cumulative GPA. To be readmitted, the student must also fulfill all required tasks outlined in the learning contract developed by the ARC. The student will be dismissed without opportunity to be readmitted if the student fails to pass the course upon retaking.  
  5. A student who is on poor academic status more than once throughout the program will be dismissed.
How does DPT education differ from my undergraduate education? 

Depending on the undergraduate school that you attended and your undergraduate major, the DPT curriculum may be unlike what you have previously experienced.  Unlike most undergraduate degrees, physical therapy education includes a vast amount of practical lab and clinical practice experiences.  Although theoretical knowledge is foundational, the effectiveness of any therapist rests in their ability to provide hands-on care.  To facilitate entry-level skill, application of knowledge must be taught and assessed through psychomotor training.  For some students, these experiences may be new and may require a different approach to preparation.  It is not enough to simply read and study theories and concepts.  To succeed within the program and thereafter, repetitive practice of lab skills is expected that goes beyond formal classroom instruction. 

How long is the program? 

The program spans a total of 111 weeks over 8 semesters with a Fall semester start and 2 summer semesters. There are 75 weeks of didactic classroom instruction and 39 weeks of full- and part-time clinical education experiences, comprising 121 total credits including 89 credits of classroom learning experiences and 32 credits of clinical education experiences. 

Can I complete my DPT education on a part-time basis?

No, the "lock-step" nature of the DPT curriculum disallows students from completing the coursework on a part-time basis. Although a request for leave may be granted on an individual basis, continuous enrollment in the program is required.





Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-568-1546 or email christopher.wise@alvernia.edu.

For more information regarding the process of accreditation, please contact the:

Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education
3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100
Alexandria, VA 22305-3085
Phone: 703-706-3245
Email: accreditation@apta.org

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Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)