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Physical Therapy Graduate Program

Graduate Program

The profession of physical therapy has different academic preparation for professional (entry-level) practice and for post-professional (after entry-level or advanced) practice. Generally, entry-level students receive a Master’s in Physical therapy (MPT) or Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) after completing a professional educational program. Graduates then take a national board examination, and apply for state licensure to practice as a physical therapist. Post-professional academic degrees for practicing physical therapists can be at master (MS, MA) or doctoral level. The traditional doctoral degree programs (PhD or EdD) are most appropriate for physical therapists pursuing the role of clinical/basic science research or teaching. Post-professional clinical doctorates are being offered for physical therapists. Analogous to post-professional clinical doctorate degrees such as Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Doctor of Public health (DPH), the clinical doctorate prepares professionals for advanced clinical practice, research and teaching.

The clinical doctorate in physical therapy (ScDPT) at University of Tennessee builds upon entry-level physical therapy education, incorporates advanced practice competencies from the existing MSPT Program, and addresses the additional competencies necessary for advanced practice. The curriculum at University of Tennessee provides the clinical rigor and scholarship essential for doctoral level education.


Pamela D. Ritzline, Ed.D., P.T.
Director of Graduate Program
Department of Physical Therapy

The University of Tennessee
Health Science Center
930 Madison – Suite 640
Memphis, TN 38163