Doctor of Physical Therapy

Whether you want to help a child walk properly again after suffering a broken leg, teach patients with Parkinson's to be safe by focusing on their balance, or enable an athlete to smash all the records, St. Ambrose University's Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program will train you how to improve the quality of people's lives.

Our graduates work in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, sports centers, and the armed services. 

Ambrose Advantages

  • 100% Pass Rate, 100% Licensure Test Pass Rate, 100% Placement Rate
  • Locked-in Tuition Rate Throughout the Cohort Program Duration
  • Well-Established PT Department with Award-Winning Faculty

DPT lab

Mike Puthoff and students

DPT students in study group

Our rigorous curriculum bridges both theory and practice to produce top-notch physical therapists. You’ll gain skills in a variety of clinical practice settings and have the option to explore specialty areas of interest.

see outcomes on the National Physical Therapy Examination

Serving Our Community

Interprofessional Health Clinic
Free Physical, Occupational, and Communication Therapy

Offered by a team of students and faculty from the departments of Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Social Work, and Speech-Language Pathology.

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More Information on the Doctor of Physical Therapy

What will I learn?

As a DPT student at St. Ambrose, you'll learn to:

  • Safely and efficiently analyze an existing or potential movement dysfunction
  • Analyze functional capabilities of the movement system, including: the assessment of cognitive/mental status, vital signs, skin and vascular integrity, wound status, endurance, segmental length, girth and volume, sensation, strength, tone, reflexes, movement patterns, coordination, balance, developmental stage, soft tissue, joint motion/play, cranial and peripheral nerve function, posture, gait, functional abilities, assistive device fit/use, and the cardiopulmonary system
  • Develop and document a plan of care for a patient that considers the psychosocial impact of the dysfunction or disability and integrates the needs of both the patient and the family
  • Demonstrate management skills and the ability to work as a member of a multi-disciplinary team

Explore Clinical Education

What are some possible job outcomes?

The study of physical therapy at the doctoral level is good preparation for many settings, including: hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, athletic centers, and the armed services.

You can obviously work as a physical therapist, but there are also specialties of physical therapy such as pediatrics, senior/geriatric, orthopedics, or sports. You can also advance and become a physical therapy manager or rehabilitation director.

Being involved in the Student Physical Therapy Organization (SPTO) can also help you make connections by facilitating ways for PT students to meet and enrich their relationships with classmates and professors through professional, social, fundraising and philanthropic activities.

  • SPTO's primary fund raising event is an annual volley ball tournament "Spike for the Health of It."
  • Every other year, SPTO members are involved with the All-Iowa Wheels for the World mobility equipment drive.
  • Members also participate in state, regional and national conferences related to the physical therapy profession. SPTO meets once a month.
How much will this program cost?

The St. Ambrose University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program sets a One-Price Tuition for all tuition and fees for the full 2.5 years of the DPT Program. The total cost of the program is then divided across seven payments and the cost will not change over the course of the program. This format ensures that the student know the total tuition costs and can plan accordingly.

For the cohort of students entering the DPT Program in fall 2017 and graduating in December 2019, the total program cost will be $85,084. Students will be billed the following amounts each semester/term:

Fall 2017 - $14,180
Spring 2018 - $14,180
Summer 2018 - $7,092
Fall 2018 - $14,180
Spring 2019 - $14,180
Summer 2019 - $7,092
Fall 2019 - $14,180

This set price includes all tuition, course fees, liability insurance, technology fees, graduation application fees and a physical therapist tool kit that is used throughout the curriculum.

Additional Costs

Additional costs are not included in the One-Price Tuition Plan because they may vary based on the student's prior training, clinical site placement, and decisions on what course supplies to purchase.

These additional costs include:

All housing and living related expenses
Books and optional course supplies
Parking fees
CPR Certification
Background checks required for clinical education
Immunizations for clinical education
Travel and housing during clinical education
Graduation regalia (cap and gown)

Undergraduate Scholarships and Institutional Aid for Track I and II Students

Starting in Fall 2020, Track I and II students will not be able to apply any undergraduate scholarships awarded from St. Ambrose University to tuition and fees associated with the first year in the DPT Program.

That includes athletic scholarships and funding through the faculty/staff tuition remission and exchange programs. Other state or federal grants and private scholarships could still apply during the first year in the DPT Program. Those students accepted into Track I will still be able to use scholarships during their first three years at St. Ambrose University.



CAPTE logo

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at St. Ambrose University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE):

1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1488
703-706-3245 phone

The Othopaedic Residency Program is accredited through the American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education:
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1488
800-999-2782, ext 8552 phone

The program also is registered through The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools:
30 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602-2504
800-621-7440 or 312-263-0456 phone
312-263-7462 fax

Information on how to file a complaint with CAPTE, is available here

What have alumni of this program done?
  • Kelly Kersten, who graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2005, is currently employed as an Outpatient Orthopedic Physical Therapist at Rock Valley Physical Therapy.
  • Tara DeWolfe, who graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2005, is a Pediatric Physical Therapist at Genesis Health Systems.
  • Anthony Caronia, who graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2009, is giving back to St. Ambrose with his wife through the Anthony and Jennifer Caronia Scholarship.     
Pre-Professional College Course Prerequisites

Students wanting to pursue a degree in physical therapy come from several different majors, the most popular being Exercise Science, Human Performance and Fitness, Sport Management, Psychology, and Biology. Certainly, other majors also pair well with Physical Therapy; it's important to talk about these options with your advisor.

Along with satisfying requirements for the declared major, students must also complete these prerequisites before applying to the DPT program:

Note: Beginning with Fall semester 2017, St. Ambrose University Physical Therapy Department will not accept online lab courses to satisfy prerequisite requirements.  All lab courses must be taken on campus.

CourseSAU EquivalentCredits
General Biology (with labs) Biology 199 & 200 8
Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II (w/ labs)* Biology 230 & 232 8
General Chemistry (with labs) Chemistry 105 & 106 8
College Physics (with labs) Physics 203 & 204 8
Statistics / Biostatistics Statistics 213 3
Introduction to Psychology Psychology 105 3
Upper Level Psychology / Sociology elective Psychology 255** 3

*At SAU, human physiology is combined with anatomy in a two-semester sequence of courses with labs. A human physiology course with labs fulfills this requirement.
**At SAU, any upper level psychology/sociology will meet this requirement. PSYCH 255 Brain and Behavior is strongly recommended.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 / 4.0
  • Official Graduate Record Exam results
    • Official transcripts from all institutions attended
    • Two references
    • Statement of purpose several paragraphs in length
    • Documentation of at least 50 hours of observation in two or more physical therapy settings including inpatient and outpatient, hours must be completed at the time of submitting application
  • CLEP Policy: The Physical Therapy Department will follow guidelines set forth by the St. Ambrose University Office of the Registrar for accepting College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam results towards prerequisite courses. For example, students can take the psychology CLEP exam and receive course equivalent for PSYC 105. This would count as meeting one of our psychology prerequisites. While there is a CLEP exam for biology, the Registrar's policy is to only give the equivalent of BIOL 101, which we do not accept as a biology prerequisite. The full list of Course Equivalents for CLEP exam can be found here.

Click here to read course descriptions for DPT

Plan to Graduate

Year 1


DPT 500 Human Gross Anatomy 5 credits
DPT 515 Professional Seminar 0 credits
DPT 530 Kinesiology/Biomechanics 5 credits
DPT 531 Functional Anatomy 1 credit
DPT 550 Introduction to PT 3 credits
DPT 560 PT Procedures I 3 credits
TOTAL: 17 credits


DPT 520 Pathology 3 credits
DPT 540 Neuroanatomy 5 credits
DPT 570 Physical Agents 4 credits
DPT 580 Clinical Education (2 weeks) 2 credits1
DPT 581 Clinical Education 0 credit
DPT 635 Clinical Exercise Physiology 3 credits
DPT 650 Issues in Research I 3 credits
TOTAL: 20 credits


DPT 525 Pathology and Medical Management II 2 credits
DPT 582 Clinical Education (3 weeks) 3 credits3
DPT 590 Pharmacology 1 credit
DPT 645 Pediatrics 2 credits
DPT 800 Applied Anatomy and Physiology 2 credits
TOTAL: 10 credits

Year 2


DPT 600 Issues in Patient Care 3 credits
DPT 620 Musculoskeletal Therapeutics 5 credits
DPT 630 Neuromuscular Therapeutics 5 credits
DPT 640 Cardiopulmonary Therapeutics 3 credits
DPT 680 Clinical Education (2 weeks) 2 credits4
DPT 700 Issues in Research II 1 credit
DPT 810 Advanced Diagnostics I 2 credits
TOTAL: 21 credits


DPT 660 Professional Practice and Health Care System 3 credits
DPT 670 Orthotics/Prosthetics 3 credits
DPT 674 Integumentary Therapeutics 1 credit
DPT 705 Critical Inquiry 2 credits
DPT 720 Musculoskeletal Therapeutics II 3 credits
DPT 760 PT Procedures II 3 credits
DPT 780 Clinical Education (2 weeks) 2 credits5
DPT 820 Differential Diagnosis 2 credits
TOTAL: 19 credits

Year 3


DPT 781 Clinical Education (8 weeks) 8 credits
DPT 830 Medically Complex Patient 1 credit6
TOTAL: 9 credits


DPT 782 - Clinical Education (8 weeks) 8 credits7
DPT 784 - Clinical Education (10 weeks) 10 credits
TOTAL: 18 credits

Total Credit Hours: 114

1 - DPT 580 is a two week clinical held in early January. Other courses begin in Mid-January.
2 - Summer courses are held over six weeks from the end of May through June.
3 - DPT 582 is a three week clinical held after the rest of the courses.
4 - DPT 680 is a two week clinical held mid-semester.
5 - DPT 780 is a two week clinical held mid-semester.
6 - DPT 830 is a one week course held in May right after spring semester finals week. DPT 781 is an 8-week internship.
7 - DPT 782 is an 8-week internship and DPT 784 is a 10-week internship.

During clinical education experiences, DPT students are required to:

  • have personal health insurance;
  • provide their immunization history;
  • have a criminal background check completed upon entry into the program;
  • have reliable transportation to, from, and during the clinical experience;
  • and assume financial responsibility for room and board during each clinical assignment.

In addition, select clinical facilities may require the student to provide an updated criminal background check, a pre-clinical or random drug screen, or to be fingerprinted.

Ready to Apply?

Take the next step to earning your doctorate and apply to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Apply Visit Info


Michael Puthoff, PhD, Program Director

Doctor of Physical Therapy
Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis
1320 W. Lombard St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

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