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2018-2019 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Physical Therapy - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions section in this catalog.

College of Health Professions (CHP)

Department of Physical Therapy

Degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)


The Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) 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:; Website:

Career Description

Physical therapy is the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist, including (1) examining clients with physical impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities or other health-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention; (2) designing, implementing and modifying therapeutic interventions to address impairments and functional limitations; (3) preventing injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age groups; and (4) engaging in consultation, education, and research.

Physical therapists provide clients, infants through elderly adults, with services at the preventive, acute, and rehabilitative stages directed toward achieving enhanced functional independence. Physical therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals. They educate and inform others about the services they offer and their effective and cost-efficient delivery. Physical therapists are required to be licensed by the states in which they practice.


To advance the profession of physical therapy through excellence in education, scholarship, and service.


Our vision is to produce reflective physical therapy practitioners who demonstrate excellence in clinical practice, education, consultation, and research to meet the physical therapy needs of society. We strive to transform students personally and professionally. We challenge our students to achieve distinction in examination, evaluation, intervention, outcomes, and prevention of movement dysfunction. In addition, we nurture the development of leadership, for both faculty and students, to address societal health care needs, link evidence to practice, and make ethical decisions.

Core Values

  • Professional and ethical behavior
  • Respect and appreciation of differences
  • Lifelong learning
  • Excellence in teaching, scholarship, and practice
  • Appreciation of personal well-being
  • Collegiality and collaboration
  • Social responsibility
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Reflective practice
  • Advocacy
  • Leadership

Undergraduates Interested in Physical Therapy

Incoming freshmen should select a major and work with a faculty advisor in that department, as well as with the College of Health Professions Student Services prephysical therapy academic advisor. Suggested majors include but are not limited to allied health sciences, biology, biomedical science, behavioral neuroscience, exercise science, and athletic training. All of the physical therapy prerequisite curriculum course requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

Reasons to Attend PT at GVSU

  • Faculty credentials include 13 with doctoral degrees, and 11 with clinical specializations in orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, manual therapy, pediatrics, and sports
  • More than 35 part-time instructors
  • Curriculum includes research experience for all students
  • Five advanced electives (sports PT, spinal manual therapy, neurologic PT, cardiopulmonary PT, and pediatric PT)
  • Thirty-eight weeks of full-time clinical internship in five settings across the U.S. International opportunities may also be available.
  • State-of-the-art facilities and equipment
  • Four major hospitals close by to provide educational experiences
  • 98-percent ultimate pass-rate on licensure examination

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistants work with physical therapy faculty, administrators, and staff to provide quality education, research, and service. Qualified candidates are selected on the basis of aptitude, interest, and background.

Professional Conduct

The physical therapy faculty values and mentors the following student abilities: commitment to learning, interpersonal skills, communication skills, effective use of time and resources, use of constructive feedback, problem-solving, professionalism, responsibility, critical thinking, and stress management. Definitions and criteria provided upon entry into the program.

D.P.T. Completion Requirements

Demonstration of completion of the 119 credits in the professional curriculum is required for completion of the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

General Degree Requirements

General graduate academic policies and regulations can be found in the GVSU Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.

Criminal background check, drug screen check, proof of immunizations and antibody titer checks are required prior to participation in full-time clinical experiences. The cost of this evaluation will be the responsibility of the student.

Admission to the Doctorate in Physical Therapy Program

Grand Valley State University's clinical Doctorate of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) program utilizes the Physical Therapist Centralized Application System (PTCAS) for the application process. Please refer to to get general information about the PTCAS process. GVSU's specific information is posted on the PTCAS website. Students may begin applying when the application portal opens in July of each year.

All application and supporting documents for PTCAS and GVSU have a receipt deadline of October 15. It is strongly recommended that applicants submit application materials 4-6 weeks prior to October 15 to allow for PTCAS processing time.

Admission eligibility requires the following:

University Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education (must be completed by the first day of classes)
  • Completion of GVSU supplemental form: This form is available through the PTCAS online application (PTCAS Supplemental Form)
  • $30 application fee payable to GVSU: Application fee is waived for those who have previously applied to GVSU and paid the $30 application fee

Program Requirements

  • PTCAS online application (
  • Completion of prerequisite courses:
    The prerequisites must be completed by the first day of classes of the professional program. All of the physical therapy prerequisite curriculum course requirements must be taken for a letter grade. The program does accept AP courses for prerequisites (scores of 3, 4, or 5.) For each prerequisite course, a grade of C or higher is required.
    • For courses from Michigan universities that fulfill GVSU DPT prerequisites:
Prerequisite Course Name GVSU Course Equivalent
Introductory biology (that includes cellular structure and function) with lab BIO 120
Anatomy with lab BMS 208 AND BMS 309, strongly preferred
Two chemistry courses with labs Options include: CHM 109, CHM 115, CHM 116, CHM 230, CHM 231, CHM 232, CHM 241, CHM 242, CHM 461
Physiology with lab BMS 290 AND BMS 291, strongly preferred
Anatomy and Physiology I and II may substitute for the preceding two requirements BMS 250 AND BMS 251
Exercise physiology MOV 304
College algebra or trigonometry or calculus MTH 122 OR 123 OR MTH 125 OR MTH 201
Statistics STA 215
Two sequential courses in physics with lab PHY 220 AND PHY 221
Introductory psychology PSY 101
Lifespan developmental psychology PSY 364
Introductory sociology or social problems or cultural anthropology SOC 101 OR SOC 205 OR ANT 204
  • Official transcripts from ALL colleges and universities attended
  • Students must have a minimum average GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale in prerequisite course requirements, and a 3.2 overall GPA to be considered for admission.
  • Official results from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general and written test.
  • Subject tests are not required. GRE scores must be sent directly to PTCAS using GVSU's PTCAS GRE code 0282.
  • Two recommendations
  • Submit the names and email addresses of your two references on the PTCAS electronic application. Your references complete and return the electronic form directly to PTCAS. A licensed physical therapist with whom you have worked/job shadowed/volunteered must complete one of the two recommendations. The deadline for receipt is October 15.
  • PTCAS application fees
  • Documentation of volunteer/work/job shadow PT hours on the PTCAS application
  • A minimum of 50 hours of observational experience in physical therapy is required at the time of application: The experience may be volunteer or paid. Observational experience in a variety of clinical settings is valued. Examples of clinical settings include in-patient, out-patient, extended care, and school. GVSU does not require students to submit PTCAS verification forms.
  • Employment, professional, leadership, scholarly, extracurricular, and volunteer activities
  • These are valued and taken into consideration in the admission process. All activities should be documented on the PTCAS application.
  • Ability to perform all essential functions of the physical therapy program

International Student Admission Materials:

In addition to the required PTCAS and GVSU admissions materials, the following items must be sent directly to GVSU's Admission's Office.

  • *Original or certified original transcripts
  • *Official TOEFL test score
    Minimum of 610 (paper-based) or 253 (computer-based) or 102 (Internet-based) required
  • *Statement of financial support (refer to GVSU Physical Therapy Supplemental Form)
  • *Official credential evaluation (WES, ECE)

*These test scores and documents must be sent directly to:

Grand Valley State University
Admissions Office
1 Campus Drive
Allendale, MI 49401-9403

Graduate Outcomes

Students graduate in 36 months. Students may take the national licensing exam during their last semester or after graduation. 90-percent pass the exam on the first attempt. 98-percent pass with subsequent attempts. 100-percent are successful at job placement in Michigan and across the United States.

Progression, Retention, and Termination

A student must achieve passing grades in every course to meet the prerequisite requirement of the next semester's courses. Any course grade that results in probation may result in the student being held back one year. A grade of F always results in the student being held back a year. A graduate GPA less than 3.0 with nine or more hours for which a grade of less than B-minus was earned will result in dismissal from the graduate school.

Grounds for Probation

  1. A final grade below a 2.7 (B-) in any required course in the D.P.T. program. Note: An instructor, or the D.P.T. faculty at-large, is afforded this option, at his/her discretion, and is not required to offer remediation.
  2. A cumulative graduate level GPA less than 3.0 (B) after completion of nine or more hours of graduate level coursework (i.e., at the end of semester one).
  3. A GPA below 3.0 for any semester in the D.P.T. program
  4. Failure to remediate a specific course requirement at the required level that leads to faculty recommendation for probation.
  5. A final grade of "no credit" in PT 636, PT 656, PT 675, PT 677, PT 681, or
  6. Having three faculty letters of reprimand regarding professional conduct on file.
  7. Faculty recommendation to withhold student from clinical education experience due to deficient professional behavior.

Clinical Education

Students will not be allowed to participate in clinical experiences if there is a reason to believe that they are unprepared for this type of experience. Sufficient reasons include:

  1. Probationary status
  2. Questions about the student's ability to safely manage patients
  3. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior
  4. Medical or psychological conditions that could endanger the safety of the student or the patients entrusted to them, or that prevent the student from fully participating in the clinical experience
  5. Problems identified with professional behaviors may result in a student being regarded by faculty as unprepared for clinical assignment. With the assistance of faculty, the student must resolve the problem area prior to the clinical assignment.
  6. Clinical education courses are sequenced (I, II, III, IV, V). If a student does not satisfactorily complete one course, he/she may not progress to the next course without completion of remedial work or repeat of the course.

Grounds for Removal from the PT Program

Any one of the following items may constitute grounds for removal from the program:

  1. Failure to complete required remedial work at the required level, and in a timely fashion, while on probation.
  2. Failure to complete items required in a remediation contract at the required level, and in a timely fashion, while on probation.
  3. Final grades in two semesters that result in probation.
  4. Failure to demonstrate "continued competency" per VII. B.
  5. At the time of application to physical therapy, and throughout matriculation as a PT student, failure to report a felony record or arrest for a crime for which criminal charges are pending.
  6. Evidence of unethical, illegal or dishonest behavior in academic or community life from the date that GVSU's offer of admission is accepted to the date of graduation.
  7. See IX below for automatic removal.

Program Location

  • Semester one is at Pew Grand Rapids Campus in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and at Allendale Campus.
  • Semesters two through six and eight are at Pew Grand Rapids Campus in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.
  • Clinical experiences are in Michigan and other selected states during semesters three, five, seven, and nine.


The following program is available:

Doctor of Physical Therapy

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.