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Curriculum Design

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum is designed to provide an in-depth and universal view of the profession, with an emphasis on clinical judgment based on current evidence to meet the evolving needs of society in a culturally sensitive manner. Courses are taught to develop comprehensive generalist skills which may be used in a variety of patient care settings and serve as a foundation for later specialization. The curriculum is designed to promote clinical reasoning and clinical judgments using evidence-based practice to provide the best foundation for clinical practice. Case studies, simulation and progressive patient interactions are utilized as effective means of ensuring knowledge synthesis and application to clinical practice.

Courses employ a variety of formats to address multiple learning styles best fits individual student needs. Knowledge, skills and attitudes are acquired and applied through horizontal and vertical integration of content throughout the curriculum. Active learning is emphasized as an important tool to engage students, maximizing learning and foster individual responsibility for on-going learning. Collaborative interprofessional learning among students from multiple professions is productive, encourages cooperation and provides the foundation for future building of interprofessional healthcare teams.

The curriculum is organized as a series of sequential, integrated courses containing 7 didactic quarters, 3 clinical education quarters. Each quarter is identified as a Quarter Module (QM) with a central theme. Early QMs provide a foundation for subsequent QMs. Content is horizontally integrated within a QM and content is vertically integrated throughout the curriculum.

With an emphasis on self-directed learning, critical thinking, and problem solving, students are presented with course work organized in series of courses, case studies, direct patient care experiences, and through academic threads woven throughout the curriculum. The Research Portfolio System completed by all students is designed to promote research throughout the curriculum. The Professional Practicum gives the student the opportunity to experience alternative roles in the areas of administration, critical inquiry (research), education, or health care policy within an individual study construct.

Incorporating Clinical Education

Clinical education in the DPT curriculum consists of three full-time clerkships in a variety of practice settings ranging from single-provider practices to large medical systems. Clerkships are designed to provide a range of supervised clinical practice experiences, and to apply, integrate and expand knowledge and skills acquired during the didactic curriculum. Clerkship affiliations are located throughout the country with the majority located in the Chicagoland area. Availability of specific sites may vary from year to year. Students are responsible for arranging their own housing and transportation during clerkships.

Degree Requirements

  • Completion of the above curriculum.
  • Acquisition a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75.
  • Successful completion of all course and program requirements within 2.5 years is anticipated, with up to a maximum of five years from the date of matriculation to complete the degree.