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Cumberlands offers doctorate in physical therapy

Doctor of Physical Therapy

The University of the Cumberlands is proud to announce it is preparing to launch a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program with classes beginning in January 2023 (click here for accreditation information). 

Applications are being accepted now for the class beginning in January 2023. If you are interested in learning more, tell us about yourself and register for an info session

Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals that help people of all abilities and ages improve their ability to move, manage neuromusculoskeletal pain and chronic health conditions, and function in their daily lives. A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program is a rigorous professional graduate program that includes training in all areas of physical therapist practice and prepares students to be eligible for the physical therapy license examination.

The Cumberlands Doctor of Physical Therapy program empowers students to develop into excellent physical therapist through a service - oriented, accelerated, two-year full-time curriculum delivered in a format that includes instruction online, on-campus, and in physical therapy settings. Cumberlands DPT graduates will be prepared to integrate mind, heart, and hands, collaborating with healthcare teams, to improve patient and community health.

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What is a Physical Therapist?

A physical therapist is a licensed health care professional who improves people’s quality of life by optimizing movement. Physical therapists are human movement system experts who help people of all abilities and ages, from newborns to centenarians, maintain, regain, and improve their physical function and wellbeing. Physical therapists find careers in a variety of settings including hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, hospice, industry, school systems, outpatient clinics, wellness centers, sports training facilities, public health, government, and education and research centers.

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What Does a Physical Therapist Do?

Physical therapists evaluate individuals and diagnose movement system dysfunctions. After performing an evaluation, physical therapists create and implement personalized plans of care based on the best available evidence to help their patients improve mobility, manage pain and chronic health conditions, recover from injury, and prevent future injury and chronic disease. Physical therapists practice collaboratively with other health professionals to ensure the best patient outcomes. Physical therapists also empower their patients to be active participants in their health care.

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How to Become a Physical Therapist?

To become a physical therapist, a person must earn a bachelor’s degree; earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from an accredited physical therapist education program and subsequently take and pass a national licensure exam that permits them to practice. Licensure is required in each state (or other jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) in which a physical therapist practices.

For more information about a career in physical therapy:

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Accreditation

Graduation from a physical therapist education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone; 703-706-3245; accreditation@apta.org is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states.

The University of the Cumberlands is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE.  On June 1, 2022, the program submitted an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage.  Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status.  Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved.  Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

CAPTE Timing and the Licensing Exam

The DPT program will be evaluated for full-accreditation status in the second year of the first cohort (2024). Accreditation is anticipated to be received prior to graduation of the first cohort which will be December 2024. Based on Rule 7.2 (see below), graduates of the first cohort will be able to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in April 2025 and may be able to take it in January 2025 depending upon state licensure regulations. 

New Rule: 7.2 Definition of Candidate for Accreditation

The University of the Cumberlands DPT program is currently in the development phase of the CAPTE accreditation process. As a result, the institution has developed an accreditation contingency plan for students. This plan would be initiated if candidacy for accreditation was approved, but initial accreditation was later denied.  The UC DPT program is seeking Candidacy from CAPTE with the decision expected in Fall 2022, allowing for a January 2023 start date for the first cohort of students and an anticipated graduation conferral of December 13, 2024 for this cohort.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Education ruled that Candidacy is a pre-accreditation status for institutions recognized by a national or regional accrediting body.  UC is accredited by SACS.  Therefore, students who graduate from the first cohort will be considered graduates of an accredited program and eligible to sit for the FSBPT licensure examination according to the rules within their respective state.  The UC DPT program will submit documentation for initial accreditation to CAPTE prior to the first cohort graduating with anticipation that the program will achieve initial accreditation in the Fall 2024/Spring 2025 cycle.  Should the program fail to achieve initial accreditation, UC and the program will strive to resolve all concerns and provide necessary documented evidence to CAPTE for reconsideration.  All current and prospective students will be notified of the accreditation status.  The institution and program will assist students in the second cohort and any subsequent cohorts in achieving entry into other DPT programs that agreed to accept UC DPT students.  UC will not refund students for expenses related to the UC DPT program.

Complaints to the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education

The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education is a nationally recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. CAPTE grants specialized accreditation status to qualified entry-level education programs for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. The only mechanism through which CAPTE can act on an individual’s concerns is through a formal complaint process. For more information please visit the CAPTE website.

The process for filing a complaint with CAPTE is available here

Program Complaint Processes are available here

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Why Should You Earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy?

Earning a doctorate in physical therapy requires an excitement for and commitment to extensive education in anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience, and social psychology, and dedication to helping people of all ages and abilities improve their mobility, function, and overall well-being. The demand for physical therapists varies by geographical region and area of PT practice. The demand for physical therapists is strong and is expected to remain so as the United States population ages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics physical therapy employment is projected to grow 21 percent from 2021 to 2030, a faster rate than average for all occupations. Salaries vary based upon position, years of experience, education, geographic location, and practice setting. The median salary for a physical therapist is $85,000. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook; Physical Therapist and Becoming a PT, American Physical Therapy Association.

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Program Mission and Goals

Mission: The mission of the program is to provide an innovative career-focused education that nurtures highly skilled Doctors of Physical Therapy. Graduates will excel as leaders in addressing the movement system through the application and integration of habits of the head, heart, hands, and health in evidence-based practice. Students and graduates will join the faculty in community engagement, serving to optimize the health and well-being of all people, with a deep commitment to rural and underserved populations in the local Appalachian region, nationally, and globally.

Goals Related to Students  

  1. Students will be prepared for contemporary entry-level practice as movement system specialists who integrate habits of the head, heart, hands, and health. 
  2. Students will be prepared for servant leadership integrating habits of the head, heart, and hands to advance positive health practices and well-being of people.  

Goals Related to Graduates 

  1. Graduates will demonstrate competence as movement system specialists who integrate habits of the head, heart and hands, and health in their settings of practice.  
  2. Graduates will be committed to advancing the profession through participation in physical therapists’ professional organizations and community entities that advance positive health practices and well-being of people. 

Goals Related to Faculty 

  1. The program faculty will demonstrate excellence in delivery of learner-centered physical therapy education in a blended format. 
  2. The physical therapy program faculty will contribute to the advancement of evidence-based physical therapy education and clinical practice through scientific inquiry, leadership, and service.  

Goals Related to the Program 

  1. The physical therapy program will advance accessibility of physical therapy education for learners from diverse backgrounds through blended delivery of a dynamic integrated case-based curriculum.  
  2. The physical therapy program faculty, students and graduates will advocate for equitable access to quality physical therapy, with a deep commitment to rural and underserved populations in the local Appalachian region, nationally, and globally.

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Curriculum and Degree Requirements

The University of the Cumberlands Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum is rich in integrated case-based instruction that builds in complexity and depth and in community-based learning experiences to prepare aspiring physical therapists for real-world practice and servant leadership. It is an intensive, full-time graduate degree program designed to be completed in six consecutive semesters, within just 24 months1. Cumberlands DPT curriculum is delivered in a hybrid format including a combination of:

  • Self-guided online coursework. Course content includes assigned readings, video recordings of lectures and labs and case-based presentations. Students will actively engage with the coursework through opportunities for formative assessments of knowledge and application and feedback
  • Live classes in a virtual classroom.  Students will participate online in interactive presentations, case discussions, and collaborative question and answer sessions. Live classes in the virtual classroom will be held each weekday and some evenings and Saturdays.
  • Hands-on training held on campus. During these hands-on immersions you will learn alongside a skilled and caring faculty and a cohort of thirty classmates which is much smaller than other hybrid DPT program. You will apply the knowledge you gained in online education to engaging with real patients in supervised community-based service-learning experiences. You will participate in formative assessments and feedback on knowledge, skills, and clinical decision making. The curriculum includes eight immersions. The number and duration of immersions varies by semester.  Semesters one through three (in year one) include two immersions, one at midterm and one at the end of the term, each approximately 14 days . The fourth and fifth semesters (in year two) include one immersion at midterm, each approximately 14 days, followed by an eight-week practicum at a contracted clinical site.
  • Thirty-one weeks of clinical education experiences. This begins after one year of academic coursework and includes two 8-week and one 15-week full-time clinical education experiences at contracted clinical sites in Kentucky and across the country. Over the clinical education experience, emphasis is placed on becoming caring and skilled in all roles of the physical therapist in different practice settings.

Click here for Curriculum and Course Details

1 Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress and other factors. 

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Tuition

Costs for programs of study at University of the Cumberlands are competitive and affordable. Click here to view tuition rates and fees. The DPT program does have additional fees relative to Universal Background Screening for background screening and drug screening services. 

  • Background screen fee is $59 (unless in New York, then it is $144)
  • Drug screen fee is $29 (can be completed at a LabCorp or Quest facility)
  • CPR/First aid fee is $40-$60 (price can vary depending on instructor)

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Admission Requirements

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program considers for admission those students who possess the academic and professional promise necessary for development as competent, caring members of the healthcare community. The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is open on a competitive basis to applicants having met admissions requirements. A competitive admissions framework, involving multiple criteria are used to select the most qualified candidates.

This holistic admissions process considers academic and non-academic criteria. Some of the non-academic criteria that are given special admissions considerations are: geographic (rural, medically underserved) and/or economic background, first generation graduate student, history of service/leadership, and record of military service. 

Our program will put the emphasis on the student in the classroom with cohorts of only 30 students for each class. 

Click HERE to view the admission requirements for the University of the Cumberlands' DPT program.

Official Transcript Information: In accordance with University of the Cumberlands admissions policies and procedures, those students selected for admission to the DPT program are required to submit official transcripts from all colleges/universities previously attended. These transcripts must be received directly from the college/university. Student-submitted copies are not acceptable. Official transcripts should be submitted through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Transcripts must be received prior to the scheduled class matriculation date or class standing will be revoked. Failure to submit the mandatory transcripts or fulfill any other requirements specified in a conditional offer of admission to the program, prior to the scheduled class matriculation will result in withdrawal of the conditional offer.  Any official transcripts that are not in the PTCAS portal must be mailed directly to:

Graduate Admissions Office
649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769
Phone: 606.539.4390
Toll-free: 855.791.7199
Email: gradadm@ucumberlands.edu

Transfer and Course Credit Policy: No transfer credit will be accepted for courses from other DPT programs.

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Application and Interview Process

We are now accepting applications through November 1st for the class starting in January 2023 for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at University of the Cumberlands. Tell us about yourself and we’ll let you know when our application opens.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program uses the Centralized Application Service for Physical Therapy Schools (PTCAS). The Physical Therapy program operates on a rolling admissions basis, with completed applications reviewed throughout the admissions cycle to determine the applicant's eligibility for an interview. Admission decisions are generally made within one month of the interview.

Click HERE to view the application and interview processes for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

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Technical Standards

A candidate must have abilities and skill in five areas: 1) observation, 2) communication, 3) motor/psychomotor, 4) cognitive (intellectual, conceptual, integrative, and quantitative), and 5) behavioral and social.  Technological compensation can be made for some limitation in certain of these areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

Candidates are required to certify that they understand and meet program Technical Standards. Candidates must provide such certification prior to matriculation. Candidates who may not meet the Technical Standards must inform the Director of Admissions, who will then contact the Director of Student Accommodations. The Director of Student Accommodations, in consultation with the academic dean (and program director), will identify and discuss what accommodations, if any, the University and Program would need to make that would allow the candidate to complete the curriculum. The University and Program is not able to grant accommodations that alter the educational standards of the curriculum. Students must meet the Technical Standards for the duration of enrollment in their professional program.

Click HERE to view the technical standards for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What degree and major is required for admission?
DPT Program applicants must have completed a baccalaureate degree prior to matriculation. There is not a required major. Applicants may have majored in any subject as long as they meet the admission requirements including course prerequisites with a satisfactory GPA of 3.0 or higher.

How do I know if my completed courses meet the prerequisite requirements?
Click here to find the prerequisites for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Are community college courses accepted as fulfillment of prerequisites?
Community college courses may or may not fulfill prerequisites – the courses can be reviewed for acceptance, and must meet the content, level, and lab requirements

What are the specific entrance exam requirements?
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for consideration for admissions.

How often and how long are the on-campus lab immersion?
The curriculum includes eight on-campus immersions. The number and duration of immersions varies by semester. During these hands-on immersions you will learn alongside a skilled and caring faculty and a cohort of thirty classmates, apply the knowledge you gained in online education to engaging with real patients in supervised community-based service-learning experiences, and participate in formative assessments and feedback on knowledge, skills, and clinical decision making.  Click here for curriculum and course details.

Where will the clinical education experiences be located?
Clinical practicums will be in Kentucky and other states. Students will be expected to travel for clinical experiences. Students are expected to pay for all living arrangements and costs associated with clinical experiences.

How many applicants are accepted each year into a cohort?
Thirty students are accepted to begin as a cohort each January

When are applications due?
The application cycle for the first cohort will open January 3, 2022 and will close September 1, 2022. 

Can I apply before all of my prerequisites are complete?
Candidates may have their bachelor’s degree and/or prerequisites in progress, as long as both are complete prior to matriculation.

How do I apply?
All applicants must apply and follow the PTCAS application guidelines. A University of the Cumberlands Supplemental application and $30 application fee are also required. The link to the supplemental application will be provided once your PTCAS application has been verified.
PTCAS Website 

Can I work while in the program?
We understand that some students, for various reasons, may desire to maintain some level of employment while enrolled in a DPT program with a hybrid-learning format. However, working while enrolled in our full-time accelerated program is not recommended.  The academic demands of the accelerated curriculum, time for travel to and from on-campus lab immersions, and full-time clinical education make it very difficult to work and be successful in a your didactic and clinical education.  

University of the Cumberlands Financial Aid Office helps students plan for and find financial assistance needed to put their graduate educational goals within reach. Information related to financial aid for graduate students can be found here

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Faculty

Click here to view a list of the physical therapy faculty. 

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Admissions Office

Contact Us

Phone: 606.539.4390
Tollfree: 855.791.7199
Email: gradadm@ucumberlands.edu

Visit Us In Person

649 S. 10th Street Suite C
Williamsburg, KY 40769