Jun 25, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Physical Therapy

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This program is accredited by: CAPTE. More information can be found at: unlv.edu/provost/vpaa/accreditation

Plan Description

The course of study at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas is an entry-level professional program designed to prepare students to enter the profession of physical therapy. A Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree is awarded following the successful completion of the program that consists of intense academic and clinical work spread over six semesters and three summers. Students are prepared as generalists, but also have an opportunity to investigate specialized aspects of physical therapy through numerous clinical exposures. The program of study consists of 112 credit hours of graduate course work. These hours are divided among classroom, clinical, and research activities.

For more information about your program, including your graduate program handbook and learning outcomes, please visit the Degree Directory.

Plan Admission Requirements

Application deadlines

Applications available on the UNLV Graduate College website.

Students enrolling in any class in the  Department of Physical Therapy  must be admitted (graduate standing only, no graduate provisional standing accepted) to the program in the Summer semester of each year. Since enrollment is limited in the Physical Therapy program, satisfactory completion of prerequisite courses does not assure an applicant of admission. No student may take any class as a “Non-Degree Seeking” student. Admissions criteria are reviewed by the faculty annually and are subject to change.

Prior to application to the program, the individual is advised to fully explore the nature of the profession of physical therapy. Students are expected to volunteer in or visit various physical therapy facilities in order to gain a broad view of the roles and responsibilities of a physical therapist. As part of the interview process, students will be assessed on their knowledge of the scope of the profession of physical therapy.

After applications are received, they are reviewed regarding the minimum requirements, i.e., baccalaureate degree, GPAs, etc. Only the leading candidates will be invited for interviews during the Spring semester, which are based on satisfactory completion of the admission requirements.

All domestic and international applicants must review and follow the  Graduate College Admission and Registration Requirements. 

The following requirements are considered for admission into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program:

  • Prior to entering the program, candidates must complete prerequisite courses and earn a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. There is no preference given to any particular baccalaureate degree.
  • A minimum overall undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale with a minimum average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for prerequisite courses.
  • A composite score of 300 or higher on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is preferred. A score of 4 out of 6 is recommended on the Analytical Writing Section of the GRE.
  • Students must apply to the DPT program via the new Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Only applications from PTCAS will be considered. Please use the URL www.ptcas.org to complete your application.

The following are required with your application to PTCAS:

  1. Three letters of recommendation. Two of the letters need to be from a licensed physical therapist who can evaluate the applicant’s potential as a student in the physical therapy program. The remaining letter can be from a former professor or employer.
  2. An autobiographical statement of approximately 300 words describing the student’s professional goals and reasons for seeking graduate education in physical therapy.
  3. Knowledge of the field through actual work or volunteer experience (a minimum of 100 hours or more divided among hospital and outpatient facilities). Additional hours in diversified settings are strongly recommended.
  4. An interview will be required.

Information to be submitted to the Graduate College:

  1. Complete and submit the Graduate College online application for admission, with appropriate fees.
  2. Official transcripts from all previous college and professional schools.

The program is open to qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, national origin, marital status, or the presents of any physical, sensory, or mental disability.

Prerequisite Courses:

In addition to completing the requirements of a baccalaureate degree, applicants must have completed or be able to complete the necessary specific hours of prerequisite course work with a grade of at least a C prior to admission to the program. Grades below a C in prerequisite courses will not be accepted. No more than two prerequisite science courses should be in progress or incomplete and all prerequisite science courses must be completed by the end of the spring semester (quarter) prior to commencing the program. Those students in the process of fulfilling the requirements of a prerequisite course must realize that their acceptance into the program is contingent upon satisfactory completion of that course during the application process.

Courses taken on a pass-fail basis may not fulfill prerequisite requirements. Prerequisite course work must have been completed within 10 years from application cycle to fulfill requirements, which are as follows:

  • One year of lecture-based biology courses
  • One year of laboratory and lecture-based anatomy and physiology courses
  • One year of laboratory and lecture-based inorganic chemistry
  • One year of laboratory and lecture-based physics
  • One year psychology (introduction to psychology and one semester of either child, adolescent, developmental or abnormal psychology)
  • One semester statistics

All entering students will be assigned a specific faculty member for advisement.

Policies and Procedures:
Policies and procedures for didactic and clinical work regarding course grades, probation, separation, and reapplication are detailed in the Department of Physical Therapy Student Manual and Clinical Education Manual.


  1. To prepare students to be the purveyors of physical therapy practice through clinical excellence, critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and social responsibility.
  2. To prepare students to differentially diagnose enabling them to establish an appropriate plan of care and provide referral as necessary.
  3. To prepare graduates who will be able to work autonomously in a wide variety of settings and roles as practitioners, clinical educators and researchers, supervisors, administrators and consultants.
  4. To prepare students to adapt to changes in health care and society and be prepared to work in challenging environments with elderly, rural, and underserved populations.
  5. To educate students in the design and implementation of culturally competent health care.
  6. To develop scientific practitioners, who are able to demonstrate the ability to critically analyze literature, utilize evidence-based integrated treatment approaches, and value clinical based research.
  7. To prepare graduates to educate and encourage patients to achieve functional independence so they may have an improved quality of life and become more productive members of society.
  8. To prepare graduates who will be able to organize and promote health awareness, wellness, and prevention education, and reintegrate populations with special needs into the community throughout-reach programs.
  9. To prepare graduates to assume a leadership role in addressing critical issues that affect clinical practice, education, research, and public policy.
  10. To prepare graduates to be committed to a lifetime of self-directed learning, professional development, integrity, community involvement, and to exemplify professional and personal ethics and values.
  11. To prepare graduates to demonstrate understanding of medico-legal issues in physical therapy practice through active involvement in professional organization.
  12. To educate students on the benefits of working interdependently with other health care professionals using a team approach to patient care.

Students are accepted into a degree program as described in the Graduate Catalog. The faculty and corresponding sub-disciplines and sub-plans within the described programs are subject to change at any time.

Plan Requirements

Total Credits Required: 112

Course Requirements

Spring Semester 3rd Year Courses - Credits: 9

Degree Requirements

Satisfactory completion of the 112 credits of the Physical Therapy program including the required period of clinical education with a grade point average of 3.00 or higher on a scale of 4.00.

Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or above each semester enrolled.

Receive a grade of B- or above in all required physical therapy courses. Students who do not maintain a 3.00 average or who receive any grade less than a B- in any course at the end of the semester will be notified in writing and placed on probation at that time. A second grade of C+ or lower received in any course in the ensuing semester or failure to restore the cumulative average to 3.00 or above during the ensuing semester will bring about separation from the program. The student’s status in the program will be determined the Chair/Director on the recommendation of the Academic Review Committee (ARC) regarding the student’s separation or action plan for remediation.

The student will not progress in the program if any of the following occur:

  • An earned F in any didactic course. This results in immediate separation without the option for reapplication.
  • Failure of a third attempt of any clinical competency check-off with the exception of the final practical exam.
  • A failure of a final practical exam (different than the competency check-off).
  • A grade of C+ or below in more than one course in any semester.
  • Inability to rectify probationary status within the time frame allotted by the ARC.
  • A student on probation whose actions warrant probation in another category (academic, professional behavior, clinical) may also be separated.

A student may register for a Supervised Clinical Education course only two times if the option to reapply is approved by the ARC and a recommendation is made to the department chair/director. This option is only available to students who have failed a clinical rotation and have been separated from the program. This option is not available to students failing didactic course work. A student who is registered for the same course twice and has withdrawn or received a Fail is ineligible for readmission unless otherwise approved by the ARC, Department Chair, and Graduate Dean.

The students must follow the proposed curriculum in the specified time frames unless otherwise approved by the ARC, Department Chair, and Graduate Dean.

Credit by Challenge Examination: Graduate courses in the Department of Physical Therapy may not be challenged for credit.

The program must be completed within six years from the date of matriculation. The chair/director will evaluate potential exceptions.

In addition to the course requirements, the student must satisfactorily prepare a written document and oral presentation of a final research project, professional paper, or case report. The presentation will satisfy the requirements for a final capstone experience and will be open to the public.

Students must be in good standing with the Department of Physical Therapy and cannot be on a probations status at the time of graduation. Policies related to student probation, separation, and academic progress as stated in the current physical Therapy Student Manual are in compliance with the Graduate College.

Plan Graduation Requirements

The student must submit all required forms to the Graduate College and then apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing his/her degree requirements.

The student must submit and successfully present his/her final research project, professional paper, or case report by the posted deadline. The presentation must be advertised and is open to the public.

The student must electronically submit a pdf copy of his/her approved, properly formatted thesis, doctoral project, or dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once approved, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest by the posted deadline. Deadlines can be found here.

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