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Physical Therapists are health professionals educated at the doctoral level with expertise in the area of diagnosing and treating patients who have movement disorders. A professional doctoral degree involves extensive study over a wide range of courses integrating basic sciences with skilled professional practice.  The practitioner must exhibit strong clinical skills and reasoning based on evidence-based rationale. Graduates will be able to enter practice with skills required to independently examine, evaluate, diagnose, render a prognosis, and assess outcomes for interventions in the management of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities of the cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and integumentary systems. Graduates will also be able to advocate and negotiate on behalf of high-quality health care, the consumer, and the profession.

The Doctor in Physical Therapy Degree represents a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The collaborative inter-institutional relationship is designed to maximize educational opportunities, promote the use of shared resources for research and scholarly activities, and enhance creative endeavors for students, program graduates, and faculty.

The graduate-level professional curriculum is nine semesters long. Six semesters will emphasize classroom and laboratory learning and take place on the UW-L campus. The final three semesters (36 weeks) will be comprised of internships that take place off-campus and culminate with students returning to campus for a one-week debriefing session. The purpose of the internship is to allow students to mentor under a master clinician to ensure that didactic knowledge translates into skill. Internship sites are selected based upon their learning environment and clinical instructors are located nationwide. To be licensed to practice as a physical therapist, program graduates must also pass the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.


Entrance into the program is competitive.  Students will be selected based upon their application portfolio.

Students seeking admission to the DPT program must have:
* Completed all pre-requisite coursework at the time of entry into the program.
* Submitted scores on the general test portion of the Graduate Record. Examination (GRE); test taken within the last five years.
* Achieved an undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
* Completed undergraduate degree by the time of entry into the program.*
* Completed at least two 20-hour clinical experiences under the supervision of a licensed PT with clinical letters of recommendation.
* Submission of program application.
* Submission of Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) application.

*Select students may be able to enter the program prior to receiving their undergraduate degree under dual-degree agreements.  At UW-L, such agreements exist with the Departments of Physics and Biology.

Degree Completion Requirements

All applicants must successfully complete the following prerequisite courses:

General Biology: 4 credits (Lab)
Human Anatomy: 4 credits (Lab)
Human Physiology: 4 credits (Lab)
Chemistry: 8 credits (Lab)
Physics: 8 credits (Lab)
Statistics: 3 credits
Psychology or Sociology: 3 credits

The program has an early and general admissions deadline of August 15th and November 15th and students are accepted until the class is filled. Students are accepted during the months of September and December after a review process.

Admission to the Physical Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is based on academic and personal qualifications considered necessary for a successful and competent entry level physical therapist and is therefore competitive. The UW-L Physical Therapy Program grants the privilege of admission to applicants who have met the criteria set by the Physical Therapy Admission Committee.

Physical Therapy Degree

Professional Curriculum
UW-La Crosse

Summer I (10 weeks)
PTS 511     Human Anatomy (6 credits)    
PTS 512     Medical Physiology (4 credits)
PTS 520     Intro to Physical Therapy Practice and Evaluation Techniques (3 credits)
Total Credits: 13

Fall I (14 weeks)
PTS 516     Physiological Regulation of Exertion & Disease (1 credit)
PTS 517     Applied Physiological Reg of Exertion & Disease (1 credit)
PTS 527     Foundations of the PT Exam (3 credits)
PTS 528     Applied Foundations of the PT Exam (2 credits)
PTS 523     Physical Agents (3 credits)
PTS 525     Biomechanics & Kinesiology of Movement (2 credits)
PTS 526     Applied Biomechanics & Kinesiology (1 credit)
PTS 535     Functional Neuroanatomy (2 credits)
PTS 536     Applied Functional Neuroanatomy (1 credit)
Total Credits: 16

Winter Intersession (2 weeks)
PTS 651     Fieldwork: Intro to Clinical Learning (1 credit)
Total Credits: 1

Spring I (14 weeks) 
PTS 518     Motor Behavior (1 credit)
PTS 519     Applied Motor Behavior (1 credit)
PTS 545     Foundations of Clinical Research (1 credit)
PTS 546     Applied Foundations of Clinical Research (1 credit)
PTS 611     Applied Motor Behavior (2 credits)
PTS 619     Early Intervention and Acute Care PT (2 credits)
PTS 620     Applied Early Intervention & Acute Care PT (1 credit)
PTS 627     Therapeutic Exercise & Manual Techniques (1 credit)
PTS 628     Applied Therapeutic Exercise & Manual Tech (1 credit)
PTS 625     PT Management of Cardiovasc & Pulmonary Syst (2 credits)
PTS 626     Applied PT Cardiovascular & Pulmonary (2 credits)
PTS 631     Professionalism & Ethos of Care (3 credits)
Total Credits: 18

Summer II (8 weeks)   
PTS 542     Research & Applied Statistics (3 credits)
PTS 543     Instrumentation (1 credit)
PTS 544     Applied Instrumentation (1 credit)
PTS 623     Integumentary System (2 credits)
PTS 728     Musculoskeletal: Spine (2 credits)
PTS 729     Applied Musculoskeletal: Spine (1 credit)
Total Credits: 10

Summer II: August (4 weeks)
PTS 751     Fieldwork: Rural Practice (2 credits)
Total Credits: 2

Fall II (14 weeks)
PTS 701*    Applied Adult Clinical Practice (2 credits)
PTS 709     Health and Wellness in PT Practice (1 credit)
PTS 711     Pharmacology (2 credits)
PTS 712     Clinical Radiology (1 credit)
PTS 715     Musculoskeletal Evaluation and Treatment: Lower Extremity (2 credits)
PTS 716     Applied Musculoskeletal Evaluation and Treatment: Lower Extremity (1 credit)
PTS 735     Adult Neurorehabilitative Phy. Therapy (2 credits)
PTS 736     Applied Adult Neurorehabilitative PT (2 credits)
PTS 732     Clinical Teaching & Patient Education (2 credits)
PTS 741     Evidence-based Prac: Interventions (2 credits)
PTS 742     Research Practicum (1 credit)
Total Credits: 16-18

Spring II (14 weeks)
PTS 701*    Applied Adult Clinical Practice (2 credits)
PTS 710     Applied Health & Wellness in PT Practice (1 credit)
PTS 737     Musculoskeletal Evaluation and Treatment: Upper Extremity (2 credits)
PTS 738     Applied MS Eval & Treatment: UE (1 credit)
PTS 730     Pediatric Neuro (2 credits) 
PTS 731     Applied Ped Neuro (2 credits) 
PTS 727     Case-based Clinical Decision Making – Interventions (1 credit)
PTS 733     Health Care Systems and Administration (3 credits)
PTS 742     Research Practicum (1 credit)
PTS 743     Evidence-based Practice Seminar (1 credit)
Total Credits: 14-16

Summer III (13 weeks)
PTS 851     Internship I (12 weeks)** (6 credits)
Total Credits: 6

Fall III (14 weeks)
PTS 831     Clinical Decision Making (1 credit)
PTS 852     Internship II (12 weeks)** (6 credits)
Total Credits: 7

Spring III (14 weeks)
PTS 853     Internship III (12 weeks)** (6 credits)
PTS 854     Case Report / Capstone Project (1 credit)
Total Credits: 7

* Students can take this course one time, either in fall OR spring semester, not both
**Internship I, II, III: Inpatient, Outpatient, and Autonomous Practice
(NOTE: Focus of internship may occur in different order per student)


Cohort size: 45 admitted per year
Total program credits: 112 credits
Curriculum length: 34 months
Didactic study: 74 weeks (1790 contact hours)
Full time clinical study: 42 weeks (1680 contact hours)
Terminal internships: 36 weeks