College Of Health & Human Sciences

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Physical Therapy Clinic at HHS building


Our students find that the combination of our collaborative approach, curriculum, service learning opportunities, outstanding facilities, and our location make WCU the perfect environment for a physical therapy program. 

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is lock-step in nature and requires a continuous 33 month commitment.  An experienced faculty have a primary commitment to education and provide a challenging but supportive environment. This professional program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).  This program is highly competitive; only 32 students are accepted in the fall semester each year. 

See required pREREQUISITE COURseS 

Our administration and faculty are enthusiastically committed to the physical therapy profession and to superior teaching and learning, recognizing that a physical therapist's first responsibilities are to the patient and the community. 

We are very proud of our Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates for a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam for the past three years.  See sTUDENT OUTCOMES DATA - PAST FOUR YEARS  


 The curriculum is relatively traditional with the basic sciences providing a strong foundation for progressively more emphasis on clinical reasoning.  The curriculum consists of 113 semester hours of coursework offered in eight consecutive semesters. Enrolled students are expected to attend classes full time. All academic courses are taught on the campus. In addition to traditional physical therapy education, we offer practical and reflective activities enabling our graduates to face the urgent challenges present in today's health care environment. Just as a physical therapist 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.  

The entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program offers students the foundational coursework to become a generalist clinician. Our teaching philosophy and methodology emphasize the unity of theory and practice in a team-based teaching and learning environment.

The program is 33 months in length and builds from a strong foundation in the basic sciences (human anatomy, clinical biomechanics, and human physiology) to the more complex clinical reasoning required for practice with clients across the lifespan and in diverse clinical settings.

We offer integrated clinical experiences, coordinated by exceptional faculty members, and we continue to expand and strengthen our robust partnerships with clinical sites to create additional opportunities for clinical education experiences.

DPT degree program:

WCU is formally recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a community-engaged institution.  The voluntary Carnegie designation formalized the institutions’ commitment to involving faculty and students in service to the state and region.  Service-learning has always been a strong component of WCU’s physical therapy curriculum and the curriculum includes a course on Health Promotion and Wellness with a major community-based project requirement, the option to complete the two-semester doctoral project based on comprehensive, research-based community engagement, as well as short-term service-learning opportunities integrated throughout the curriculum. 


Doctoral Projects and Partnerships

Health Promotion and Wellness


The Doctor of Physical Therapy at Western Carolina University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; Email:; Website:

Licensure to become a physical therapist requires graduation from an accredited physical therapy program, and satisfactory scores on the state licensure exam. You will find specific licensure requirements from the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT).


DPT students or other individuals may file a formal complaint against a physical therapy program with CAPTE if they feel a program is not in compliance with CAPTE Evaluative Criteria or if CAPTE expectations related to academic integrity have been violated. More information on this process.

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