Physical Therapy

Program Contacts

Kevin Garrison, PT, PhD: Department Chair
Telephone: (501) 450-5559 | Email:

David Taylor, PT, PhD: DPT Program Coordinator
Telephone: (501) 450-5552 | Email:

Mark Mennemeier, PhD: PhD Program Coordinator
Telephone: (501) 450-5557 | Email:

[1] Mission

The mission of the UCA Department of Physical Therapy is to develop collaborative physical therapist practitioners, leaders, and scholars.

[2] Professional Degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

[2.1] Program Admission Requirements

Applications to the Professional DPT Program must be submitted using the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PT-CAS) at

In addition to meeting the general requirements of the Graduate School, the applicant must complete a graduate application.

All applicants to the Professional DPT Program must submit the following:

  1. Evidence of a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 on a scale of 4.00 and a science GPA of 3.00 on a scale of 4.00 for all biology, chemistry, and physics course work.
  2. A score report for the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE).
  3. Documentation of 45 hours of PT observations at three different clinical settings (10-20 hours per facility).
  4. Evidence of completion of the following courses or their equivalents:
    General Psychology (PSYC 1300 or higher)3
    Chemistry (CHEM 1402 and 2450 or 1450 and 1451; other courses such as CHEM 2401 and 3411 are available by approval)8
    Physics (PHYS 1410 and 1420; Physical Science not accepted)8
    Biology, including the following: 2 courses in biological sciences (BIOL 1440; one course above BIOL 1440, not botany); one course in anatomy with lab and one course in physiology with lab, or a 2-course sequence in anatomy and physiology)15-16
    Statistics (PSYC 2330, MATH 2311, SOC 2321, QMTH 2330)3
  5. Documentation of completion of 22 of the 31 hours of science course work prior to the application deadline.

In addition, students accepted to the DPT program must submit an official transcript from every college attended, including a transcript showing an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution, to the UCA Graduate School. The degree must be awarded by the August enrollment date. (Students pursuing a baccalaureate degree at UCA may want to consider the BS in Health Sciences with a physical therapy emphasis.)

Students enrolled in the DPT program must perform certain essential functions in order to participate in and complete program requirements. A list of these essential functions and the departmental policy is available at

All prospective students should review the document “Essential Functions of the Student in the DPT Program” and the departmental policy prior to applying for admission to the DPT Program.

[2.2] Options for Admission

The professional curriculum in physical therapy has enrollment limitations, and entry is by specific application and competitive admission. Two options exist for application to the professional DPT program.

[2.2.1] Freshman Admission

Application Deadline: Selection of this option should be confirmed with the pre-PT advisor by October 1 of the freshman year.

Students who begin study at UCA as a freshman and score at least a 30 on the ACT (from high school) or 1320 on SAT (verbal and math) will be accepted into the Professional DPT program. Specific performance standards must be met in order to maintain the position in the program. Actual enrollment into the professional program will occur after completion of the baccalaureate degree.

To maintain freshman admission:

  • Take all coursework at UCA;
  • Attend three Pre-PT Club meetings each year (12 total in 4 years);
  • By September 1 of the application year, hold a 3.70 cumulative GPA and a 3.50 cumulative science GPA for all undergraduate work;
  • Complete 45 hours of observation at 3 different physical therapy clinics/facilities by application deadline;
  • Complete 22 hours of 31 required science prerequisite hours by the DPT application deadline;
  • Complete the baccalaureate degree and all required prerequisites by August of the year of enrollment in the DPT program;

No interview is required of applicants entering the program under Freshman Admission. Contact the UCA Pre-Physical Therapy Advisor for more details regarding Freshman Admission.

[2.2.3] Regular Admission

Application Deadline: October 1, each year

Those applicants not using the Freshman Admission must complete an application for Regular Admission. The deadline for Regular Admission is October 1 of the year prior to planned enrollment. Applications to the Professional DPT Program must be submitted using the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PT-CAS) at

In addition to meeting the general requirements of UCA’s Graduate School, the applicant must complete the application using the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (

To be eligible for Regular Admission, by the application deadline, the applicant must:

  • Possess a cumulative GPA of at least a 3.0 based on a 4.0 scale;
  • Possess a science GPA of at least 3.00 for all biology, chemistry, and physics course work;
  • Have received a score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
  • Have completed a minimum of 22 hours of the 31 required hours of science prerequisites by the DPT application deadline;
  • Have completed 45 hours of PT observation at 3 different clinical settings (10-20 hours per facility) by the application deadline.

All applications of candidates who meet qualifications for Regular Admission are reviewed by the DPT Admission Committee. Applicants are ranked using a composite score derived from the cumulative grade point average (CGPA), the science grade point average (SGPA), and scores on the GRE. Although the grades from extra science course work are included in calculating the science GPA, additional points are not added to the composite score for extra science courses. However, extra science course work is considered positively by the admissions committee. Of the criteria, the SGPA and GRE are weighted most heavily. The top applicants are invited to a mandatory interview scheduled for early December. The DPT Admission Committee Chair will inform invited applicants of their interview time. The interview is used to assess such factors as the ability to present oneself professionally, to use verbal and non-verbal communication appropriately, to express knowledge about the profession of physical therapy, to function within the group for the interview, and to express ideas quickly and succinctly.

Applicants accepted for admission are notified of acceptance in late December. A ranked alternate list is also prepared. Individuals may be chosen from this list to replace applicants who decline their appointment at any time, up to the date of August 1. Ranking as an alternate is indicative of the Committee’s high opinion of a candidate’s potential, but does not assure placement in the class or in any future class. If class positions are not filled in the first application process, applications will be received until all class positions are filled or until August 1.

Students who do not meet the stated criteria for admission may appeal to the DPT Admission Committee. Requests for exceptions to the prerequisite course work and policies must be submitted to the Chair of the DPT Admission Committee by the application deadline. Failure to be admitted does not prevent reapplying for a later year.

Grade Point Averages for recent course work (30 semester hours or 45 quarter hours): The GPA for recent course work may be considered by the DPT Admission Committee as a substitute for the cumulative GPA for admission purposes only. The substitution may be made if the GPA for the last 30 semester hours (45 quarter hour equivalent) is at least 10% higher than the cumulative GPA and includes 15 hours of appropriate science course work. A minimal 3.00 cumulative GPA requirement and a minimal 3.00 science GPA requirement must be met prior to utilizing this option. No more than 8 hours of the science course work may be repeated course work. The total hours for the recent college GPA are obtained by beginning with the last semester or quarter of course work and moving backwards chronologically on the transcript(s) until 30 semester hours or 45 quarter hour equivalents are obtained. All courses are included. No more than one-fourth of the non-science course work included in the recent course work GPA may be repeated course work. All other requirements still apply.

[2.3] Tuition and Fees

In addition to the general registration and other mandatory fees established by the university, a Health Sciences Fee of $14.00 per semester hour and a $5.00 per semester hour lab fee are required for physical therapy course work. Information on general registration and other mandatory fees is available from the Office of Student Accounts. Textbooks cost approximately $2,200 for the DPT curriculum, and other required fees total approximately $200. Fees are subject to change at any time.

[2.4] Simultaneous Admission to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program

Students who are admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program may be eligible for simultaneous admission to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in physical therapy. Admission to the PhD program requires a separate departmental application process. Simultaneous enrollment in the DPT and PhD programs will allow students wishing to pursue the PhD to get a head start on the doctoral research and will provide an opportunity to complete the PhD degree in less time than if the two degrees were completed sequentially. See section 2.7 for details on which PhD courses will be integrated into the DPT curriculum.

[2.5] Accreditation Status

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (professional degree) is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). Contact information for CAPTE is

1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

phone: (800) 999-2782 or (703) 706-3245

[2.6] Professional Curriculum (124 hours)

CourseCourse Title
PTHY 5505Gross Anatomy
PTHY 6105Research I *
PTHY 6205Research II *
PTHY 6250Pharmacology in Physical Therapy
PTHY 6303Patient Management and Documentation
PTHY 6307Professional Development I
PTHY 6314Neurophysiological Principles of Motor Control
PTHY 6401Kinesiology I
PTHY 6402Kinesiology II
PTHY 6404Clinical Foundations in Physical Therapy Practice
PTHY 6405Therapeutic Exercise
PTHY 6406Human Pathophysiology I
PTHY 6407Human Pathophysiology II
PTHY 6424Clinical Administration and Management
PTHY 6501Neuroscience
PTHY 7103Outcomes Assessment in Physical Therapy
PTHY 7105Research III
PTHY 7115Research Practicum in Physical Therapy (2 credit hours) *
PTHY 7209Complex Patient Management in Physical Therapy
PTHY 7210Integumentary System: Principles and Practice
PTHY 7213Analysis and Synthesis of Physical Therapy Practice
PTHY 7228Clinical Education Practicum I
PTHY 7307Professional Development II
PTHY 7403Physical Agents
PTHY 7404Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy I
PTHY 7405Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy II
PTHY 7406Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy III
PTHY 7409Clinical Reasoning and Differential Diagnosis
PTHY 7411Physical Rehabilitation
PTHY 7428Clinical Education Practicum II
PTHY 7429Clinical Education Practicum III ***
PTHY 7515Neurological Rehabilitation in Pediatrics
PTHY 7516Adult Neurological Rehabilitation
PTHY 7520Cardiopulmonary Principles and Practice
PTHY 7529Clinical Education Practicum IV ***
PTHY 7530Clinical Education Practicum V ***

[2.7] Curriculum Substitutions for DPT/PhD Students

For students simultaneously enrolled in DPT and PhD programs, the following substitutions in the DPT curriculum may be made depending on the time of acceptance:

* PTHY 6105, 6205, 7114 may be replaced with PSYC 6330 Advanced Psychological Statistics and PSYC 6331 Research Design or PTHY 7319 Research Design.

*** One of the 10 week clinical practica (PTHY 7429, 7529, OR 7530) may occur in a clinical research laboratory related to the student’s doctoral research.

[3] Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

[3.1] Objectives

The PhD degree program graduate will be able to

  1. Demonstrate skill in original research, providing evidence of an understanding of research design and the ability to implement the scientific method for qualitative or quantitative research.
  2. Engage in scholarship through dissemination of knowledge to advance understanding of the theoretical principles underlying the framework of the discipline.
  3. Exhibit a breadth of knowledge of the discipline and the skill to critically evaluate the published literature with respect to evidence-based models.
  4. Organize and integrate current evidence and best practices in teaching clinical and didactic physical therapy courses.
  5. Display leadership traits that guide the profession in identifying and resolving important questions, issues, and problems.

[3.2] Application Process

Students wishing to pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree program in physical therapy will be admitted through a process involving a mutual decision between the graduate dean and the Department of Physical Therapy. Applicants must submit the application materials to the Graduate School and should contact the department for further information. The following materials must be submitted:

  1. A completed application for admission to the PhD program from the Department of Physical Therapy (online application and resources at
  2. An application for admission to the Graduate School at the University of Central Arkansas (online application and resources at
  3. Scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  4. Score of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is also needed for international students. Contact the Graduate Office for the minimum acceptable score.
  5. Two letters of reference
  6. A brief letter indicating a statement of purpose
  7. Verification (transcripts) of completion of a CAPTE accredited physical therapy curriculum or equivalent with a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 (4.0 scale).
  8. International students should refer to for important additional requirements concerning graduate admissions.

[3.3] Admission Process

[3.3.1] Review by the PhD Admissions Committee

Upon submission of the application materials, the PhD Admissions Committee will determine whether the applicant meets the criteria for acceptance including academic credential, GPA, scores on the GRE and TOEFL (if required), and appropriate interest area and statement of purpose.

[3.3.2] Interview

Applicants who meet the criteria are invited for an interview. An on-site interview at the University of Central Arkansas is preferred, but a telephone interview may be conducted when extenuating circumstances prevail.

[3.4] Residency Requirements

A minimum of three years of study will be necessary to attain the level of achievement required for completion of the Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy degree. To assist in achieving the required level and to have ample opportunity to be part of the scholarly environment, the student is required to be in residence onsite in the Department of Physical Therapy in the form of two full semesters (Fall/Spring), or three Summer semesters. The minimum time for a Summer semester will be 10 weeks, while the minimum for a Spring/Fall semester will be 15 weeks each semester. During this residency, the student is required to be registered full time (9 credits) or part-time (6 credits) and expected to serve as a research or teaching assistant within the department. Specific requirements of the residency will be negotiated with the research advisor.

[3.5] Program of Study

As graduates of accredited physical therapy educational programs, applicants to the PhD degree program are expected to possess knowledge regarding the profession of physical therapy and its practice environments and culture. The program of study will be individualized for each student based upon current skills in statistics, research design, and a specific interest area. The program includes a major field, independent scholarship (consisting of core and research courses), and elective courses that provide breadth within the student’s interest area.

Apprenticeship to and close association with faculty members allow the student to evaluate pertinent literature, determine issues and problems, apply appropriate principles and procedures, and commit to ethical practices necessary for research. The course of study is individualized for each student based upon recommendations by a faculty advisor and two committee members. A minimum of 60 credits beyond the master’s degree is required. An individual holding the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree may be allowed to apply up to 15 hours of course credit from the DPT degree toward the PhD. Minimum credits for master’s degree holders are outlined below.

[3.5.1] Core Courses (27 credits + 12 credits of dissertation)

Through seminars and specific courses, students learn to interpret the implications of research and identify complex questions and possible answers for the profession. The core emphasizes pertinent issues for physical therapy researchers and educators as well as continuous involvement in scholarship.

CourseCourse TitleSCH
PTHY 7387Lifespan Movement Analysis3
PTHY 7316Advanced Biomechanical and Kinesiological Analysis3
PTHY 7310Professional Leadership in Physical Therapy3
PTHY 7315College Teaching in Physical Therapy3
PTHY 7324Theory and Practice of Evidenced Based Physical Therapy3
EXSS 6316Data Analysis3
PTHY 7318Grant Writing for the NIH3
PSYC 6330Advanced Psychological Statistics3
PTHY 7319Research Design3
PTHY 7V02Dissertation (variable credit 1-9 for total of 12)12

[3.5.2] Guided Elective Courses (6 credits chosen from the following)

Guided electives provide for more in depth study, allowing students to acquire the tools essential for conducting research and effectively disseminating the findings.

CourseCourse TitleSCH
PTHY 7V01Advanced Research in Physical Therapy (variable credit 1-9)*1-9
PSYC 7315Application of general linear models3
PSYC 7320Regression and multivariate analysis3
PTHY 7385Teaching Practicum in Physical Therapy3
PTHY 7390Advanced Anatomy3

*PTHY 7V01 may be repeated as needed. The student will learn to use the research tools necessary for the dissertation and professional scholarship.

[3.5.3] Elective Courses (Interest Area) (15 credits chosen from the following)

The elective courses foster development of breadth in the student’s area of clinical interest. These courses are typically taken by those entering with a Master’s degree in order to fulfill the 60 credit hour requirement. The student’s committee will approve specific courses to complement the research focus. Students may not repeat for credit any course equivalent to one taken for a previous degree.

CourseCourse TitleSCH
PTHY 6235Advanced Spinal Cord Injury Management3
PTHY 7212Advanced Spinal Manual Therapy2
PTHY 7234Aquatic Therapy2
PTHY 7304Sports I3
PTHY 7308Upper Quarter and Cervical Spine3
PTHY 7309Lumbopelvic Dysfunction3
PTHY 7360Advanced Evaluation and Intervention in Pediatric Physical Therapy3
PTHY 7390Advanced Anatomy3
PTHY 6V38Directed Graduate Study in Physical Therapy (variable credit 1-3)*1-3
PTHY 6V01Special Problems in Physical Therapy (variable credit 1-3)*1-3

*PTHY 6V01 and 6V38 may be repeated.

[4] Graduate Course Links

Follow this link for PTHY course descriptions: course link.
Follow this link for EXSS course descriptions: course link.
Follow this link for PSYC course descriptions: course link.