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Doctor of Physical Therapy — 3-year graduate DPT program, Doctorate



The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate program will prepare you to enter the field of practice as knowledgeable and skilled expert in the treatment of movement dysfunction.

This 3-year DPT graduate program is for students who have already earned a 4-year bachelor's degree.

  • First year cadaver anatomy: 3-course series in cadaver anatomy taught by regions of the body across the entire first year of the program, and directly integrated with our courses in kinesiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics, and musculoskeletal physical therapy
  • State-of-the-art simulation center and service-learning community outreach experiences: Didactic coursework is integrated with practical case-based application in our 4-course Clinical Reasoning series
  • Innovative and fresh teaching approaches: Our diversely talented and passionate faculty team delivers a highly integrated curriculum within a student-centered, learning environment  
  • Generous community partners: Share their contemporary physical therapy practice settings for meaningful clinical education experiences
  • “Intellectual collisions” between DPT, physician assistant and nursing, and speech-language pathology students: DeSales is home to some of the best healthcare programs in the region.  This provides excellent opportunities for interprofessional interactions to better prepare you for the complex healthcare environment of today and tomorrow
  • Salesian philosophy and Christian Humanism: The DeSales program is centered on the values of respect for the individual, of gentleness and humility, and of treating each other with dignity and honesty 
  • On-campus wellness and physical therapy clinic: Our student run, faculty and alumni supervised clinic provides integrated experiential learning for students and pro bono care for the under-insured and uninsured members of DeSales University and the Lehigh Valley.

See additional program information 

DPT Graduate Program at DeSales The DeSales DPT program holds four different free physical therapy clinics each year. These faculty-supervised clinics give our students hands-on, real-world experience with a variety of clients and provide a valuable free service to our community.

Admissions Requirements

The DPT program at DeSales accepts applications from qualified post-baccalaureate candidates with degrees from accredited institutions.

Unless otherwise indicated, all items must be submitted to PTCAS by the final deadline date for the application to be considered eligible for review:

  • Submission of official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, with evidence of completion of all required prerequisite courses, or plan for completion no later than June 30 prior to the start of the session to which the applicant has applied.

  • Submission of completed Prerequisite Coursework form. Suggested minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and a suggested minimum 3.2 GPA in mathematics and science prerequisite courses at time of application. No grade below C and no more than one re-take on any prerequisite course will be accepted. Prerequisite coursework GPA will be calculated to include all occurrences, including retakes, of all required prerequisite courses.

  • Optional GRE submission for those with suggested combined verbal and analytic scores of 300 and/or verbal score of 150. Visit for additional information. DeSales University’s institutional reporting code is 4460.

  • Demonstrate understanding of and ability to meet all Technical Standards and Essential Functions required of physical therapy practice.

  • Answer all required program questions detailing your interest in the field of physical therapy, and including a description of academic, employment and volunteer preparation and experiences to support the application.

  • Complete 40 hours of observation/volunteer/internship/employment hours in a single physical therapy facility. Additional observation hours in a variety of physical therapy practice settings is highly recommended, i.e., outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, pediatrics, acute care/hospital, extended care facility, geriatrics, home health, sports medicine, etc. Referring PTs should submit their evaluation directly to PTCAS.

  • Two references, completed by non-relative, professional individuals, including, but not limited to, professors, employers, and coaches, and excluding the licensed physical therapist(s) with whom clinical observation was performed. All completed references should be submitted directly to PTCAS by the individuals that complete them—not by the applicant.

  • If selected for application review, qualified candidates must complete an on-campus interview with DPT program faculty for final determination of admission.  

  • All international applicants from a country where the official language is other than English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and present documentation of scores with the minimum requirement of 104 for the Internet-based test.  Please visit for additional information.

  • All transcripts from any degree-granting institution outside the United States must be evaluated by a NACES approved evaluation service with the resulting report submitted with the DPT program application to PTCAS.  Please visit for additional information.

Learn how to apply + download important application forms

Application Process

The 2024-2025 PTCAS (Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service) application cycle will open on June 17, 2024.

 Visit PTCAS


The program curriculum includes a foundation in basic science, followed by clinical and physical therapy science built around the body’s physiological systems.

  • Students will use the University’s gross anatomy laboratory, with dissection creating a deeper foundational knowledge of the human body.
  • Each student will participate in a research project with a faculty mentor, including a literature review, project design, data collection and data analysis.
  • The program has 36 weeks of clinical education experience distributed across four courses.

Learn more about our dynamic curriculum

Course Requirements

The DPT Program's curriculum spans nine consecutive semesters over a three year period and includes 36 weeks of full-time clinical education

Curriculum highlights include:

  • 3-course, first year, Human Anatomy series with cadaver dissection
  • 4-course Professional Development series emphasizing Servant Leadership
  • 8-course, systems-based, Differential Diagnosis and Intervention series
  • 5-course research series, culminating in a faculty-mentored, student project
  • 4-course clinical education series totaling 36 weeks of full-time clinical education

Graduation Requirements


At DeSales, replicating authentic healthcare delivery environments is critical to successful learning and skills application. 

The Area's Only Gross Anatomy Lab

Gross Anatomy Lab
Complete with cadavers, our Gross Anatomy Laboratory enhances the training of our students, giving them a real understanding of the human body. Most DPT programs only have cadaver labs if they are associated with medical schools. However, because DeSales has the only cadaver lab in the region, we offer opportunities for shared use in partnership with area hospitals.

Classroom and Labs in Wills Hall

DPT at DeSales

Most of the Physical Therapy classes at DeSales will take place in dedicated physical therapy classrooms, skills, and research laboratory facilities in Wills Hall and Chappuis Hall. Our facilities are outfitted with new, contemporary equipment currently used in physical therapy practice settings.

The Community Wellness and PT Clinic

Jessica Watson and Joseph White working with a client in the DeSales Community Wellness and Physical Therapy Clinic

Physical therapy is available for community members at the Community Wellness and PT clinic, which offers evidenced-based physical therapy services to decrease pain and improve function of patients. The Clinic provides greater access to PT services for the community, while giving students hand-on learning opportunities. This clinic is embedded in the curriculum, so a referral for service is not required.

DeSales Simulation Lab

Simulation Lab in Gambet Center at DeSales 

The Health Care Simulation Lab features state-of-the-art technology, including mannequin simulators, audio/video technology, integrated simulation management, and skills-evaluation software. The advanced capabilities of the sim lab greatly improve the learning experience by providing life-like situations in a low-risk setting. This gives our students the confidence they need to provide high-quality patient care when they eventually perform procedures on actual patients.

Gambet Center for Business and Healthcare

The Gambet Center

Our newest academic building has some of the most exciting and cutting-edge technology available in healthcare education. The Center is also a showcase of green architecture featuring environmentally advanced design consistent with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Video: Tour the Gambet Center

Tuition & Fees

Program Costs

  • Tuition per year ($11,550 per term): $34,650*
  • Professional fees per year ($500 per term): $1,500
  • Books: $2,622 total cost ($1,154 paid by the program, $1,468 paid by the student)
  • Clinical Education (estimates for entire program): $1,020
  • Graduation Fee: $125

*Tuition/year listed is for 2024/2025 academic year. Tuition and fees are reviewed each academic year and are subject to change with notice.

View a comprehensive list of financial aid forms and graduate program information sheets

Goals & Outcomes

DPT Expected Outcomes:

In addition to University graduate learning outcomes and DPT program goals, the following outcomes measures will be annually assessed for progress toward established thresholds.

  • Graduation Rate is defined by CAPTE as the percentage of students who matriculated in the first course in the program after the drop/add period and who ultimately completed the program. The most recent national average as reported by CAPTE was 97.6%. Our program established a threshold for this outcome measure of 95%. The Class of 2022 & 2023 graduation rates were 100%.
  • Employment Rate is defined by CAPTE as the percentage of graduates who sought employment and were employed (full-time or part-time) as physical therapists within one year of graduation. The most recent national average as reported by CAPTE was 99.1%. Our program consistently meets our employment rate threshold of 100% every year.
  • National Physical Therapy Examination Pass Rate is defined in two ways: (1) first-time pass rate as compared with the national average and (2) ultimate pass rate within a program. The 2-year national first-time pass rate average (2022-2023) was 86.8%. Our 2-year first time pass rate of 94.4% exceeds both the national (86.8%) and state (84.4%) averages. Our 2-year ultimate pass rate (2021-2022) is 100%.
Class of Graduation Rate NPTE 1st Time Pass Rate NPTE Ultimate Pass Rate Employment Rate
2021 96.4% 100% 100% 100%
2022 100% 96.3% 100% 100%
2022-2023 2-year average 100% 94.4% Pending 100%
 2023 100%   92.6%  Pending  100%

Applicant/Admissions Information

The planned class size for the DPT program is one cohort of 28 qualified students each year.  These students are selected from a pool of approximately 150 applicants.  Application information for our admitted cohorts is as follows:

Class of Matriculated Students Average cum GPA Average Prerequisite GPA
 2026 28  3.59  3.46 
2025 27 3.52 3.45
2024 27 3.46 3.33
2023 28 3.63 3.62
2022 27 3.58 3.45

Mission Statement

The mission of the DeSales University Doctor of Physical Therapy program is to provide a quality physical therapy education consistent with Christian humanism and Salesian values of service, faith and reason. Students and graduates use their knowledge and skills to integrate scientific inquiry and evidence-based clinical reasoning into everyday practice, addressing the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of movement dysfunctions. With a focus on social responsibility and ethical conduct, students and graduates are committed to the advancement of the physical therapy profession and to an ongoing personal desire for learning and growth. Through inter-professional communication and collaboration, graduates are prepared to be adaptable in the complex healthcare environment of today and tomorrow.

Program Goals

Students and graduates of the DeSales University DPT program will:

  • Practice physical therapy with compassion and understanding that exemplifies the DeSales University core values of gentleness, gratitude, hospitality, humility, and wisdom for persons in their care.
  • Function competently in a variety of physical therapy settings upon entry into the field.
  • Integrate theoretical knowledge of foundational and clinical sciences in physical therapy with evidence-based practice in the creation and implementation of effective and contemporary treatment plans.
  • Communicate effectively with a spirit of camaraderie and collaboration as productive members of an inter-professional healthcare team.
  • Demonstrate the values of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as respect the uniqueness of culture beliefs and values that influence interpersonal communication and behavior in a complex healthcare environment.
  • Engage in critical inquiry and scholarly activities within clinical practice that lead to innovation in the profession and a personal plan for lifelong learning.
  • Adopt a servant-leadership attitude to initiate and advocate for changes in health policy toward health promotion, disease prevention, wellness, and equitable access to care.

Graduate Education Outcomes

  • The University specifies that its graduate program will enable its students to demonstrate
  • Specialized competence in physical therapy practice, so that graduates will provide leadership and make significant contributions to the physical therapy profession,
  • The knowledge and/or skills necessary to apply and contribute to advanced research in physical therapy practice, and
  • A deepened understanding of Christian conscience as it is applied to ethical problems in healthcare and physical therapy practice.
Kay Malek

We recognize that there are hundreds of places where you can earn your DPT degree. However, at DeSales University, we don’t separate the academic learning from your growing as a person. Our program philosophy is based on Christian Humanistic values of respect for the individual, of gentleness and humility, and of treating each other with dignity and honesty. Not only are these ideals central to the Salesian way of life, they correlate perfectly with the principles associated with becoming a compassionate, caring physical therapist.

— Dr. Kay Malek, Program Director

student looking at a dna model

Health Humanities Scholars (HHS) Association

HHS is a student-led, faculty mentored program for students in our graduate healthcare curricula (PA, DPT, NP, DNP, Healthcare MBA, SLP). Students will facilitate humanities content and develop reflective practice through narrative medicine concepts in order to foster resiliency, empathy, and avoidance of burn-out.

Learn more about HHS
Doctor of Physical Therapy

DeSales Community Wellness and Physical Therapy Clinic

A student-run, no-cost pro bono clinic that provides a full range of screening, evaluation and therapy services to our local community.

Clinic hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

Community Wellness and PT Clinic
Doctor of Physical Therapy

Nationally Accredited Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at DeSales University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave. Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 610-282-1100 extension 1898 or email


DPT Goals & Outcomes

Our graduates boast an exceptionally high pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Examination.

DPT Goals & Outcomes
DeSales DPT Goals and Outcomes