Dec 02, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 

Physical Therapy

The Department of Physical Therapy offers a graduate program of study that leads to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. The department is also part of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. offered by the Graduate College.


The mission of the UNLV Department of Physical Therapy is to enhance the quality of life and health of Nevada residents and beyond by:

  • Engaging in and disseminating research that advances the science and practice of physical therapy;
  • Promoting the movement system as the foundation for optimizing movement to improve the health of society;
  • Endorsing the philosophy of the Quadruple Aim;
  • Developing competent and compassionate practitioners who are prepared to engage in critical thinking, life-long learning, evidence-based practice, and to provide interprofessional care;
  • and, Modeling service to the community, including rural and underserved areas. 

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program is designed to prepare students to plan and administer treatment to help patients regain diminished physical function lost secondary to injury or disease, to promote soft tissue healing, and to relieve pain. By determining the degree of impairment, physical therapists are then able to help patients return to full function by using various physical agents such as electrical stimulation, heat, and cold to decrease pain and by using manual therapy interventions and therapeutic exercises to increase range of motion, strength, endurance, and coordination.

The purpose of the DPT program is to provide students pursuing a career in physical therapy the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills required for the safe practice of physical therapy. Students are prepared as generalists, but also have some opportunity to investigate specialized aspects of physical therapy through numerous clinical experiences. The program of study consists of approximately 112 credit hours of graduate coursework and consists of intense academic and clinical work spread over six semesters and three summers. These hours are divided between classroom, clinical and research activities.

The DPT degree is an entry-level professional program designed to provide individuals with appropriate baccalaureate degrees the knowledge and skills to develop clinical and research expertise in the provision of physical therapy. Upon receiving this degree, students will be eligible to sit for the national licensure examination in physical therapy.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences will provide students from different disciplines an opportunity to learn how to approach complex healthcare problems. Team science will direct this activity and will prepare students to create functioning teams to solve problems that interface with a number of different disciplines. Understanding team science concepts will better position graduates as valuable and productive research and academic collaborators who will be able to answer broader and more important translational research questions. This team science concept will form the core of the coursework in this program.  These core interdisciplinary courses will be the foundation of the Ph.D.; however, students will also develop expertise in a specialized area of study.

Merrill Landers, PT, DPT, Ph.D., Chair
Daniel Young, PT, DPT, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator

Program Information 

Physical Therapy Faculty  

Physical Therapy Courses  

Department Website


Doctor of Physical Therapy