Do you want to become an expert on the function and movement of the human body? Do you want to provide support to a wide variety of people?

ECU's Department of Physical Therapy offers a doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree that is a three-year, 106-semester-hour program with 32 weeks of clinical education. It is a professional doctorate degree designed to prepare graduates for clinical practice in physical therapy.

Physical therapy involves extensive contact with people, both patients and other healthcare professionals. Employment of physical therapists is expected to grow much faster than average. Job opportunities continue to be good, especially in acute hospital, rehabilitation, and orthopedic settings.

A master's degree is not required to apply for the doctor of physical therapy program. However, you must have a baccalaureate degree to begin the program. We do not give preference to specific undergraduate majors. Many students apply for admission with undergraduate majors in exercise physiology, exercise science, sports medicine, athletic training, biology, physical education, health fitness specialist or rehabilitation studies. We advise students to choose a major in an area of their interest and one, which they will be academically successful.

Entry-level skills and knowledge needed in the general practice of physical therapy are obtained through working in a variety of settings and with patients of all ages and clinical conditions. The Department of Physical Therapy affiliates with approximately 300 hospitals, clinics, and facilities. Students are assigned to clinical affiliations for a total of 32 weeks of full time clinical experience.

ECU Advantage

Our program is designed to prepare you as a generalist and capable to practice in any of the areas common to physical therapy. By nature of specialty certifications, research, clinical focus and national reputations, the faculty represent most of the special areas in PT and offer excellent learning opportunities in pediatrics, neurology, orthopedics, sports medicine, prosthetics, cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation and wound management. You may select specialty electives and clinical experiences that would focus on a specialty area of interest.

The College of Allied Health Sciences is the largest university-based allied-health provider in the state of North Carolina. The college has eight departments: Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, Biostatistics, Clinical Laboratory Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Services and Information Management, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies, and offers degrees on the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

Delivering a comprehensive professional education that will prepare allied-health graduates to make a difference in the health of the region, state, and nation was the primary reason for the creation of the College of Allied Health Sciences and its departments. Fueled by the growth and aging of our population, the demand for these highly skilled specialists is expected to greatly increase as health care continues to be a priority for our citizens.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Amy Gross McMillan (2410B Health Sciences Building; 252-744-6232; grossmcmillana@ecu.edu)

The doctor of physical therapy (DPT) provides the scope, depth, breadth, and rigor of scholarly activity to prepare an entry-level physical therapy practitioner for current and future practice trends. The program includes 80 s.h. of didactic course work, 10 s.h. of clinical specialty and research experience, and 32 weeks of clinical education (16 s.h.).

Students begin the program in the first term of the summer and continue for nine continuous semesters. At the end of the final semester, the student will take a written comprehensive examination and provide both an oral defense and written documentation related to clinical specialty and research concentration. The departmental chairperson's verification of the completion of all degree requirements is necessary to meet physical therapy practice licensure statutes of the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.

Admission guidelines to the Department of Physical Therapy are available at www.ecu.edu/pt.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: www.capteonline.org.

Minimum degree requirement for the program is 106 s.h. as follows:

Core - 102 s.h.
  • PTHE 8007 - Functional Anatomy
  • PTHE 8008 - Gross Anatomy
  • PTHE 8009 - Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Therapy
  • PTHE 8100 - Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy I
  • PTHE 8101 - Neuroscience
  • PTHE 8102 - Physical Therapy Modalities and Instrumentation
  • PTHE 8103 - Introduction to Patient Care I
  • PTHE 8104 - Pharmacological Agents and Pathological Processes
  • PTHE 8105 - Introduction to Patient Care II
  • PTHE 8200 - Clinical Biomechanics
  • PTHE 8201 - Electrotherapeutic Diagnosis and Treatment
  • PTHE 8203 - Clinical Education I *
  • PTHE 8300 - Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy II
  • PTHE 8301 - Motor Control and Movement Disorders
  • PTHE 8302 - Adult Therapeutic Intervention I
  • PTHE 8401 - Pediatric Therapeutic Intervention
  • PTHE 8402 - Adult Therapeutic Intervention II
  • PTHE 8403 - Clinical Education II *
  • PTHE 8500 - Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy III
  • PTHE 8501 - Prosthetics
  • PTHE 8502 - Muscle Physiology
  • PTHE 8603 - Clinical Education III *
  • PTHE 8700 - Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • PTHE 8701 - Administration of Physical Therapy Services
  • PTHE 8702 - Research Design
  • PTHE 8703 - Geriatric Physical Therapy
  • PTHE 8704 - Health Promotion for Physical Therapists
  • PTHE 8801 - Seminar in Physical Therapy (repeated 1 time)
  • PTHE 8803 - Clinical Education IV *
  • PTHE 8906 - Clinical Specialty Concentration (repeated 1 time)
  • PTHE 8907 - Research Concentration (repeated 2 times)
Electives - 4 s.h.
  • PTHE 8900 - Advanced Concepts in Sports Physical Therapy
  • PTHE 8901 - Advances in Muscle Research
  • PTHE 8902 - Advances in Lower Extremity Evaluation
  • PTHE 8904 - Advances in Prosthetics and Orthotics
  • PTHE 8905 - Advanced Seminar in Evidenced Based Practice
  • PTHE 8908 - Advanced Topics in Pediatric Physical Therapy
  • PTHE 8909 - Geriatric Balance and Gait Disorders
  • PTHE 8910 - Muscle Plasticity
  • PTHE 8911 - Advanced Concepts in Spine and Manual Therapy
  • PTHE 8912 - Pain Mechanisms and Treatment
  • PTHE 8913 - Measurement and Analysis of Human Movement
  • PTHE 8914 - Advanced Vestibular Rehabilitation
  • PTHE 8915 - Pathomechanical Approach to Treatment of the Injured Runner
* Note:

Only one clinical education course (PTHE 8203, PTHE 8403, PTHE 8603, PTHE 8803) may be repeated.

    For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

    Careers With This Degree

    Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

    • Physical Therapy/Therapist
    • Health and Human Services
    • Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary
    • Physical Therapists
    • Physical Therapy/Therapist

    Career Opportunities

    ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

    NC Tower

    This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

    • Self-employed;
    • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
    • Work outside of North Carolina.

    US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

    This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

    Degree-specific internships

    For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.