Doctor of Physical Therapy

Whether you want to help a child walk properly again after 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% Licensure Test Pass Rate, 100% Placement Rate
  • Interprofessional Opportunities
  • Orthopaedic Residency Program
  • Comprehensive, State-of-the-Art Facilities

DPT lab

health sciences center exterior

DPT students in 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 our fact sheet on the DPT program (pdf)

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More Information on the Doctor of Physical Therapy

What makes the DPT program at SAU unique?

At SAU, you benefit from small classes – an average of 36 students – which is smaller than most DPT programs. This allows our faculty to give you more personal attention and guidance.

We focus your education on evidence-based practice. Here, it is a constant topic and integrated throughout the DPT curriculum. Each year, the SAU Physical Therapy Department hosts an Evidence-Based Practice Symposium where you can build on your knowledge and network with peers and experts in the field.

We believe health care must be person-centered and approached in an interdisciplinary manner. Our College of Health and Human Services is noted for educating health care professionals who can work as a team, in partnership with the patient, to achieve the best outcome. At SAU, you get many interprofessional and cross-discipline opportunities, including:

  • TeamSTEPPS training. We bring our physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and nursing students together to complete interactive learning experiences and to learn from faculty across different departments. 
  • Interdisciplinary Day. Each year students in the physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, and speech-language pathology programs spend a day working through a patient scenario and addressing every aspect of patient care. Students work in teams to tackle the case, and each team includes a representative of each program.
  • Interprofessional Health Clinic. This clinic provides student-led interprofessional healthcare services to underserved populations with a focus on compassionate care, empowerment of the individual, management of health conditions, and overall wellness. Want to learn more? Watch this video about the Interprofessional Health Clinic.

Read about our Institute for Person-Centered Care (IPCC) at St. Ambrose

You'll get 1,400 hours of patient care experience in the clinical education program, working at seven sites for 35 weeks. SAU has established relationships with more than 400 clinical sites across the U.S., including general and specialized practice settings.

We offer three tracks of admission. Up to 36 students are admitted into the DPT program each fall. Track I is exclusively for high school seniors planning to enroll at SAU. Each year, up to 15 high school seniors are granted placement in Track I positions conditionally reserving them a place in the DPT class that begins during their senior year at SAU. Individuals interested in Track II or Track III must submit applications through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service at

Get involved with our Student Physical Therapy Organization (SPTO) which helps PT students to meet and enrich their relationships with classmates and professors through professional, social, fundraising and philanthropic activities including:

  • SPTO's primary fundraising event is an annual volleyball 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.
Human Movement Studies Laboratory

The St. Ambrose University Human Movement Studies Laboratory is a research and education facility focused on the study of human biomechanics and motor control in health, aging, and disease. Research is conducted using state-of-the-art measurement techniques including kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic analyses.

While Physical Therapy Department faculty manage the facility, it is the goal of those conducting research in the laboratory to collaborate with interested faculty from other departments across the university, as well as individuals in the community who may wish to participate. In addition, the laboratory exposes DPT students and undergraduates to advanced measurement systems and interaction with faculty researchers.

The laboratory is located on the Genesis Medical Center West Campus, adjacent to the St. Ambrose University Center for Health Sciences Education.

Equipment available in the lab includes:

  • 8 infrared cameras
  • 10-meter walkway
  • 2 three-dimensional force platforms
  • 10 EMG amplifiers
  • Cortex and Visual 3-D motion capture and analysis software

Research Activities:

  • Age and mental processing on balance performance in healthy adults
  • Gait initiation in older adults
  • Effects of Yoga in older adults
  • Development of a rudimentary biomechanical model to produce a low-cost prosthetic hand that might later be tested in patients with amputations

Teaching Activities:

  • DPT 530: Kinesiology/Biomechanics
  • KIN 361: Kinesiology 
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, including through the TeamSTEPPS approach. Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is a program designed to build strong healthcare teams, improve quality of care, and decrease medical errors. It's built around four teaching skills: communication, leadership, mutual support, and situation monitoring.
  • The Human Movement Lab is a research and education facility focused on the study of human biomechanics and motor control in health, aging, and disease. Research is conducted using state-of-the-art measurement techniques including kinematic, kinetic, and electromyographic analyses.

Explore Clinical Education

What are some possible job outcomes?

Physical Therapist careers can be found at  

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

DPT Curriculum

Click here to see course descriptions.

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 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 Education1, 2 credits
DPT 581 Clinical Education, 0 credit
DPT 635 Clinical Exercise Physiology, 3 credits
DPT 650 Evidence-Based Practice I, 3 credits
TOTAL: 20 credits


DPT 525 Pathology and Medical Management II, 2 credits
DPT 582 Clinical Education, 3 credits
DPT 590 Pharmacology, 1 credit
DPT 645 Pediatrics, 2 credits
DPT 700 Evidence-Based Practice II, 1 credit
DPT 800 Applied Anatomy and Physiology, 2 credits
TOTAL: 11 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 Education3, 2 credits
DPT 710 Evidence-Based Practice III, 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 715 Evidence-Based Practice IV, 1 credit
DPT 720 Musculoskeletal Therapeutics II, 3 credits
DPT 760 PT Procedures II, 3 credits
DPT 780 Clinical Education4, 2 credits
DPT 820 Differential Diagnosis, 2 credits
TOTAL: 18 credits


DPT 781 Clinical Education, 8 credits
DPT 830 Medically Complex Patient5, 1 credit
TOTAL: 9 credits

Year 3


DPT 782 Clinical Education, 8 credits
DPT 784 Clinical Education, 10 credits
DPT 835 Portfolio Project, 0 credits
TOTAL: 18 credits

Total Credit Hours: 114

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

Cost and Financial Resources

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 knows the total tuition costs and can plan accordingly.

For the cohort of students entering the DPT Program in Fall 2019 and graduating in December 2021, the total program cost will be $90,127. Students will be billed the following amounts each semester/term:

Fall 2019 - $15,021
Spring 2020- $15,021
Summer 2020 - $7,511
Fall 2020 - $15,021
Spring 2021 - $15,021
Summer 2021 - $7,511
Fall 2021 - $15,021

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 cannot use undergraduate scholarships awarded from St. Ambrose University toward 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/federal grants and private scholarships could still be used during the first year in the DPT program. Students accepted into Track I can use scholarships during their first three years at St. Ambrose University.


Priscilla Weaver, Assoc. Professor and Program Director
Carrie Meador-Bliss, Office Administrator
Laura Shook, Office Support

Bryon Ballantyne, Professor
Sandy Cassady, Professor
Nicholas Cooper, Asst. Professor
Dana Dailey, Asst. Professor
Barb Ehrmann, Clinical Professor
Kevin Farrell, Professor
Lynn Frank, Asst. Professor
Kathie Lampe, Asst. Professor
Kathy Lukavsky, Secretary
Karolyn (Lyphout) Miller, Instructor
Mike Puthoff, Professor
Nora Riley, Professor
Kristin Ryan, Clinical Asst. Professor

Ready to Apply?

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

Colleen Persaud

Doctor of Physical Therapy,Class of 2019

Yes, we strive to be our best so we can provide the best patient care. Our DPT students are challenged, and they succeed; consistently achieving a 100% licensure test pass rate and placement rate. Here, you'll benefit from small classes, evidence-based practice, interprofessional opportunities, an orthopedic residency program, TeamSTEPPS training, and more.

See My Story

Apply Visit Info


Priscilla Weaver, PT, DPT, PhD, Program Director

Doctor of Physical Therapy
Center for Health Sciences Education
1320 W. Lombard St.
Davenport, IA 52804

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 29 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!