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Doctor of Physical Therapy

DPT Program

The Professional Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepares individuals to become licensed physical therapists*. Following a selective admission process, 60 students are invited each fall semester to begin study in the three year Professional DPT Program.  See the UCA DPT Brochure 2021-2022 (updated 6-22-2021). The curriculum includes 124 credits (graduate level) where students progress from foundation sciences and skills to application to patient care concluding with full-time clinical internship rotations at clinical education facilities in and out of the state.  The UCA DPT Curriculum Sequence  outlines professional program courses for each semester; a description of those courses can be viewed in the UCA Graduate Bulletin (see Physical Therapy courses).  See our UCA DPT Course Checksheet for courses needed in addition to a bachelor’s degree in order to apply to the UCA DPT Program.

Lauren (far right) & UCA alumni Kara, Megan and Ben at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, Dallas.

“Among the Best of the Best” – Lauren Petrisin, SPT

“As a third year DPT student beginning my 5th clinical rotation, I can confidently say that UCA’s DPT program is among the best of the best. The broad expertise of the faculty, welcoming environment, and pursuit of excellence in professional involvement are among many aspects that make me proud to be a part of this program. Over the last 3 years, I have grown intangibly, both professionally and personally, all while learning clinical skills and having fun with wonderful classmates. I am confident to that UCA has well prepared me for entering the profession and continuing life long learning to best impact the patients I will treat and the field as a whole.” – Lauren Petrisin, SPT. 

*With respect to code 668.43 (a)(5)(v):  By virtue of being an accredited program by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), the UCA Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program graduate is eligible to apply for physical therapy licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and is eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Successful applicants for licensure must meet specific application requirements as directed by each state (i.e. as paying a fee, completing a jurisprudence exam, submission of a background check, and providing official transcripts, etc.) as well as receiving a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Exam. The following links provide more information about licensure requirements:,

DPT Application Update – Observation Hours: February 5, 2021

The UCA Department of Physical Therapy will continue to suspend the requirement for DPT Applicants to complete physical therapy observation hours for the October 1, 2021 application deadline in order to support social distancing efforts that are still in place for COVID 19. We appreciate your understanding as this allows our clinical partners to focus on patient needs. Students are encouraged to learn about the profession of physical therapy in other ways. For example, the American Physical Therapy Association provides information about the profession at the following link Becoming a Physical Therapist | APTA.

DPT Application Update:  April 15, 2020

  • The UCA DPT program will accept all pass/fail courses that are passed at an accredited 2 or 4 year institution.
  • The GRE and TOEFL exams are offering at home tests and have increased availability and accessibility -click to see recent updates for GRE and for TOEFL.

UCA Ranked for Best Physical Therapy ProgramBest Grad Schools - US News Rankings

The UCA Physical Therapy program was ranked #42 of 237 DPT programs in the U.S. by US News and World Report for 2020. See article at  Part of the Best Graduate School, Best Health School rankings.  Fully accredited DPT programs were surveyed.  Those schools with the highest average scores appear in the rankings sorted in descending order based on their average peer assessment score.

UCA Doctor of Physical Therapy Rated Best by Region

Logo orange and gold Best DPT Programs by Region 2019-2020

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at UCA was named by as a Top Pic for the Best DPT Programs by Region.  Their list was prepared in part by schools with a “proven track record of exceptional graduate outcomes as evidenced by a 100% pass rate on the NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam) for recent cohorts”.  Click here to view the article.  UCA is listed among schools in The South region that also included University of North Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Duke University, Medical Center of South Carolina, University of Miami, University of Tennessee, and University of South Florida.


UCA ranked 3rd in Nation for PT

Logo award SR Education Group 2018 Top Degrees Doctoral in Physical Therapy

“The 2018 Top Graduate Program rankings represent graduate schools and programs all across the nation and are based on student reviews. Due to extremely high student satisfaction ratings, the University of Central Arkansas made the rankings at #3 in Physical Therapy degrees! The full rankings are available here:

DPT Accreditation 

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Central Arkansas is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:  If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (501) 450-3611 or email at 

Student Outcomes

Bar Graph of NPTE first time and ultimate pass rates for years 2018, 2019 and 2020 for both UCA (purple) and National Average (gray)


First Time Pass Rate on the NPTE: (2019, 2020) = 88.8%
Ultimate Pass Rate on the NPTE: (2018, 2019) = 100%
Graduation Rate (2019, 2020): 97.6%
Employment Rate (2019, 2020): 100%

* 2-year averages are reported based on CAPTE requirements and are updated annually once the data stabilizes. Updated 1/29/2021



Student applying shoulder technique to another student on a treatment table

Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

The professional DPT program requires a Baccalaureate degree as well as specific prerequisite coursework.  Students attending UCA for their undergraduate work may declare a major of their choice and incorporate the required UCA DPT Course Checksheet for the DPT program.  Other requirements for admission to the program include a minimum overall GPA of 3.00 and GPA of 3.00 in sciences.  At the time of application a minimum of 22 of 31 hours of required prerequisite sciences must be successfully completed (before the application deadline).The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) must also be completed as well as a minimum of 30 hours of observation of a physical therapist (at least 10 hours in each setting including a variety of two or more clinical settings). Some example settings could be:  an outpatient clinic, a pediatric facility, an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, an acute care hospital, or a skilled nursing facility, etc. 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 provided below.  The UCA DPT Brochure 2021-2022 (updated 6-22-2021) provides a complete description of the program and admission process.

Freshman Admissionpurple UCA bear trademark logo

Students who begin at UCA as a freshman with a 30 or higher on the ACT (1320 on SAT in critical thinking and math) from high school are eligible for Freshman Admission to the DPT Program.  Freshman admit students who maintain the necessary requirements will be automatically admitted to the DPT program.   Actual enrollment will occur after completion of the baccalaureate degree. To maintain freshman admission status students must:  take all coursework at UCA, attend three Pre-PT Club meetings each year, by September 1 of application year hold a 3.70 cumulative GPA and 3.50 cumulative science GPA, complete a minimum of 30 hours of observation of a physical therapist (at least 10 hours in each setting including a variety of two or more clinical settings), complete 22 hours of required science by October 1 of senior year and complete the BS degree and all required prerequisite courses by August of the year of enrollment in the DPT program.  Students who are interested in freshman admission can contact Mr. Mike Hawkinson for more information by email at or by phone at (501) 450-5541.

ApplicationLogo for Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service PTCAS

The UCA Department of Physical Therapy application deadline is October 1st each year.   Application to the Professional DPT Program requires completing an on-line application at the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) website at The top applicants are invited to a mandatory interview scheduled for the first Friday in December.

DPT Interviews

The DPT Application deadline is October 1.  Candidates who are selected for interviews will be notified.  Interviews will be held at UCA on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Documents and Links:

UCA DPT Brochure 2021-2022 Program description and admission process, updated 6-22-2021.
UCA DPT Course Checksheet List of DPT prerequisite courses required for admission.
Course Equivalencies Link DPT prerequisites and equivalent courses at Arkansas Four Year Colleges & Universities for transfer credit.
Arkansas Course Transfer System Link For UCA courses versus Arkansas two-year and four-year colleges and universities
PTCAS link Applications to the UCA DPT Program are processed on-line through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS)
UCA DPT Program Essential Functions List of essential functions that students enrolled in the DPT program must perform in order to participate in and complete program
UCA DPT Curriculum Sequence Updated 6-22-2021 Professional DPT Curriculum Sequence of Courses beginning Fall 2020 to present.

Estimated Cost of ProgramPurple 10 foot D, P, T signs outside in front of PT Center with Students standing beside looking through

Total costs for the three years of the UCA DPT program are below national average for public universities. As of the Fall 2021 semester, GRADUATE tuition and hourly fees for Arkansas residents AND residents of states contiguous to Arkansas (Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas) is $361.96 per credit hour plus $128.50 per semester in fees. When calculated with Fall 2021 tuition rates, the three year DPT program (124 credits) is estimated to cost approximately $45,654.04 (not including room/board or books) for an Arkansas resident (and residents of states contiguous to Arkansas) and for out-of-state residents who utilize university owned housing. For students from out of state or states not contiguous to Arkansas or students not utilizing university owned housing, the total cost for the three year program is around $81,605.31. The College of Health and Behavioral Sciences Fee of $14.00 per credit hour and a Lab Fee of $5.00 per credit hour is included. In example, students in the first semester of the DPT Program take 17 credit hours resulting in combined tuition and fees of $6,548.00 for 2021 for an in-state student. Students seeking financial aid should make known in their application for aid the actual per semester hours in the DPT Program as noted in the curriculum sequence. Tuition and fees are subject to change at any time. Information on tuition and fees is available from the UCA Student Accounts office at

Upon enrollment in the Professional DPT Program students are required to have personal health insurance covering at minimum accidental injury. Upon enrollment students must also provide a copy of immunization records and complete an annual Tuberculosis (TB) skin test or chest x-ray. During the first year of the program, students will be instructed regarding completion of a national criminal background check and become certified in Healthcare Provider Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Depending on clinical education placements, students may possibly need to become certified in First Aid or complete a Child Maltreatment Registry Check, drug screen, physical exam, or update of immunizations. Students will be informed in advance and responsible for the costs of such items. Students should also anticipate potential expenses related to travel for clinical education experiences.  See attached UCA DPT Program Expenses Worksheet with estimates of some of the expenses.

Information on tuition and fees is available from the UCA Student Accounts office at

International Students

All international students applying to the DPT program must also meet the requirements for international students (see below) and submit an application through the UCA International Affairs office (see below) in addition to their application to the DPT program through PTCAS.  Please note that World Education Services (WES) is the preferred foreign transcript evaluation service for PTCAS applicants with non-US coursework.  Only WES will be accepted beginning with the 2014-2015 application cycle.

UCA DPT International Applicant Information

UCA International Engagement

International Student Admission Information