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Doctor of Physical Therapy Program


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Upcoming Virtual Open House

The DPT program will be hosting a virtual open house on Thursday July 20th, 2023 at 5pm. To register, please email Preston at

Virtual Open House

Thursday, November 2: 5-6:30pm

Join us at one of our upcoming virtual Graduate School Open House events on Zoom! You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Western Carolina University,  understand the Graduate School application process, and meet key program representatives.

Register Today

During the breakout, faculty and students from the DPT program will provide a virtual tour of the teaching labs at both of our locations in Biltmore Park (Asheville) and the Health and Human Science Building (Cullowhee).  You will get first-hand experience of the high-fidelity audio-visual technology used everyday to bridge our two locations. There will also be plenty of time to answer all of your questions from both the sudents and faculty perspectives.            


We promote the advancement of health, wellness, and rehabilitation through education, research and service. Our commitment is to provide a student-focused environment with a faculty whose primary role is to prepare compassionate, competent doctors of physical therapy who are experts in the examination and treatment of the movement system, value inter-professional collaboration, engage in outreach to address regional and international  health needs, and uphold the highest professional standards across the continuum of care.  

Our Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is a 33-month, full-time, entry-level program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).*

Physical Therapy Clinic at HHS building


In August of each year, a 48-student cohort begins a dynamic learning process that promotes interprofessional collaboration, evidence-based practice, scholarship, and community engagement. The challenging curriculum is taught by faculty who are committed to molding students into exceptional clinicians.

The design of our program allows students at the Cullowhee campus and Biltmore Park instructional site to have a synchronous learning experience with faculty members teaching from both locations. Students receive in-person guidance for all hands-on experiences. There are 32 students at the Cullowhee location and 16 at the Biltmore Park location for each cohort.

Admission to the program is highly competitive. Students must have earned a bachelor’s degree and completed prerequisite courses with a high grade point average. Due to the standard of excellence we uphold our students to, our Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates have had a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam for five of the past six years.

Review student outcomes data over the past four years.

Why Choose WCU?

    • 100% First-time Pass Rate: 100% of DPT students from 6 of the past 8 cohorts have passed the National Physical Therapy Examination on the first attempt.  
    • Educational Value: Students get a great education for a relatively low cost.
    • 100% Employment: All graduates seeking employment have been successful.
    • Student-Centered Learning: Faculty’s primary role is preparing students to be exceptional physical therapists.
    • Facilities: Access to state-of-the-art facilities, clinical equipment, and technology for teaching and research including the Human Movement Science Laboratory and the Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic. 
    • Location: The pristine beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the arts and cultural vibrancy of the greater Asheville area make WCU an amazing place to live and learn.
    • Student run pro bono clinic: The award-winning Mountain Area Pro Bono Health Services Clinic provides students the opportunity to apply what they learn in class while also serving our community. 
    • PT specific curriculum: All courses are taught specifically to physical therapy students with built in interprofessional experiences. 


Physical Therapy Classroom Curriculum Work


Program Summary:
33-months (full-time only)
8 semesters
112 credits
3 terminal clinical education experiences (30 weeks) with integrated clinical experiences throughout the curriculum (4 weeks total)
Classes begin in August
Graduation in May
DPT Curriculum Summary

The curriculum consists of 112 semester hours of coursework offered in eight consecutive semesters, that begins by building a strong foundation of knowledge in the movement sciences and progresses to more complex applied clinical science and reasoning. Students attend classes full-time at the College of Health & Human Sciences building or the Biltmore Park Instructional Site. Just as a physical therapists must acknowledge the whole patient—not simply a set of presenting symptoms—we honor each student and encourage his or her unique personal and professional development by implementing a variety of learning styles. 

Our students are equipped to be dynamic entry-level clinicians who are prepared to practice as generalists or apply for residencies after graduation. Clinical experiences are integrated early in the curriculum and throughout the entire program to provide students clinical context and opportunities to apply their skills to authentic scenarios. We continue to expand and strengthen our robust partnerships with clinical sites to create additional opportunities for clinical education experiences. We believe the structure of our curriculum is a highlight of our program that allows for optimal student learning.

Curriculum chart



Step 1. First, applicants must apply through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS)




Step 2. Next, applicants must complete Western Carolina University’s Graduate School application and pay the application fee.




Step 3. Applicants must complete the CASPer assessment.




Details on how to apply

Outcomes from 2016-2020


WCU's graduating students had a first time pass rate of 100% for the first five years of the DPT program with an average 97.3% first time pass rate over the past two years. This accomplishment indicates that students are well-trained to tackle the working world or apply to specialization programs called residencies. Residencies are intensive training opportunities that allow clinicians to specialize in one of many areas such as pediatric, neurologic, cardio-pulmonary, women's health, and orthopedic physical therapy. The applicant pools for residencies consist of the best students from across the country, and the process of being chosen is highly selective. Residency Programs Our Graduates Have Attended

What does WCU have to offer you?



As one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Western North Carolina attracts people who want to get out and enjoy nature. Our students and staff often spend their free time hiking or mountain biking through national forests, and plenty of nearby camping destinations provide a fun way to unwind on weekends. 

Learn more about the university, "Top Adventure College" by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, and the surrounding area at LIFE IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA.

DPT Life

Student hiking


Hiking: The Health and Human Sciences building (HHS) is nestled half a mile from main campus at the foot of WCU's trail system.

The trailhead to challenging hikes and beautiful views is right in our parking lot, so you don't have to stray too far to get a good, scenic hike in!

Paradise Falls, Black Balsam Knob, Waterrock Knob and Cullowhee Falls are other popular spots that aren't too far away.


Class of 2019 rafting


WCU trail map
Whee Falls Guide
Blue Ridge Parkway Mileposts

Learn more

MAPHealth is our student run pro bono health clinic offering physical therapy, social work, and nutrition services. Our student board, with the oversight of an advisory board, is responsible for all clinic operations. Students evaluate and treat our clients with supervision by faculty and community clinicians. 

Our Mission

MAPPT Students with Dr. Hudson


Our mission is to provide effective, pro bono physical therapy and social work services to the under-served and under-insured population of western North Carolina. We strive to improve quality of life, health, and function of our clients while serving the community and fostering student education. 

Physical therapists diagnose movement dysfunction that interferes with quality of life at any age, design treatment plans to restore and optimize function and prevent disability, and also promote healthy lifestyles and injury prevention by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs.

In collaboration with other healthcare professionals, social workers contribute to patient’s health and wellness by providing mental health prevention and treatment services with special focus on behavioral and bio-psychosocial issues. Healthcare social workers help patients with the emotional adjustment to their condition and work to improve quality of life.

Who We Serve

Mountain Area Pro Bono Health Services serves uninsured or under-insured individuals in western North Carolina, regardless of socio-economic or health status. 

Learn more about our clinic and eligibility.

Western Carolina University is designated as a Carnegie Foundation Community-Engaged Institution for its many service-learning opportunities available to students. WCU DPT students are involved in this mission through service oriented doctoral projects, our student-run pro bono clinic, and even international service opportunities. These initiatives allow students to:

  • Engage in meaningful community-based service
  • Apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom
  • Glean experience needed to use our skill set as physical therapists to practice altruism long after graduation

Learn more about our local community engagement, research projects, and international outreach.

Request more info!

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