Technical Standards and Essential Functions

Participation in and successful completion of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at DeSales University requires that all candidates and any enrolled students possess the ability to acquire academic knowledge, perform essential physical functions, and demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors involved in physical therapy practice. The clinical doctorate degree awarded at the completion of the student’s educational process certifies to the public that each individual has acquired this broad foundation of knowledge and skills requisite for safe, effective and efficient care to the community being served. 

The following technical standards and essential functions represent minimum skill sets ensuring the successful completion of the degree requirements and future success in the provision of physical therapy services. These standards and functions are described and defined by both (1) category and (2) examples. The examples are for clarification and do not represent an exhaustive list of all possible activities.


Every applicant and student in the DeSales DPT program must be able to demonstrate the ability to perform these essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodations.  Reasonable accommodations may be offered to a student upon request in accordance with the provisions outlined in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, and DeSales University policy for students with disabilities.   Reasonable accommodations may not: (1) fundamentally alter the nature of the didactic or clinical education curriculum, (2) compromise the essential elements of the program, (3) cause an undue financial or administrative burden for the University, or (4) endanger the safety of patients, self or others.  It should also be noted that completion of all clinical education courses is a graduation requirement, and some facilities with which the program affiliates may not be able to meet the same accommodations as those offered to the student by the University during the didactic portion of the curriculum.  

While certain technological compensations can be made for some disabilities on a case-by-case basis, a candidate/student should be able to perform in all of the standard areas in a reasonably independent and timely manner.  The use of a trained intermediary means that a candidate/student’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation and as such is unacceptable.  

The DPT Program at DeSales University is committed to the principle of equal opportunity, and as such does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability.  When requested, the University will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with documented disabilities. It is the student’s responsibility to reveal the need for reasonable accommodations and provide the diagnostic data to substantiate this request.  Requests for accommodations are made through the University’s Academic Resource Center (ARC) by contacting the Coordinator of Learning and Disability Services at 610.282.1100, ext. 1453 or visiting additional information.

Applicants to the DPT program do not need to disclose information about reasonable accommodation needs prior to an admission decision. An offer for admission can be withdrawn and/or a student already in the DPT program may be withdrawn if it becomes apparent that the applicant/student is unable to perform any of the essential functions or meet any of the technical standards.

References used to create these standards include:

American Physical Therapy Association.  Minimum Required Skills of Physical Therapist Graduates at Entry Level.  BOD G11-05-20-449 accessed on February 21, 2013 at

DeSales University Academic Resource Center Webpage

Ingram, D.  (1997).  Opinions of Physical Therapy Directors on Essential Functions.  PHYS THER; 77: 37-45

Online information from PT/PTA Programs including: Campbell University, Gannon University, Greenville Technical College, Lynchburg College, Marshall University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, North Texas State University, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Rosalind Franklin University, University of Missouri, University of North Dakota, University of the Sciences, University of Washington

Fall 2019 Graduate Program:

Early application deadline:  10/15/18
Final application deadline:  1/10/19

Fall 2019 Undergraduate
(BS in Health Sciences 3+3 majors):

Application deadline: 12/15/18

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