Transitional DPT programs offer a path for physical therapists with a bachelor’s or master’s to earn a doctorate degree. Designed for licensed PTs, transitional doctor of physical therapy programs may come in flexible formats, including online and hybrid programs. Check out our list of transitional DPT programs that might help you boost your professional readiness. Or, keep reading to learn more about pursuing a transitional DPT.
written by Shannon Fandler
List of Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs
These ten partner schools have transitional DPT programs that may be ideal for licensed physical therapists. Check them out, or fill out our form to get matched!
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences is a private, graduate-level school based in Kirksville, Missouri. The school focuses on health sciences and is the world’s first institution of osteopathic healthcare. (Not sure what osteopathic medicine is? Developed in 1874 by Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of A.T. Still University, it is the practice of treating the body as an integrated whole rather than a collection of symptoms.)
The Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at ATSU is designed for practicing physical therapists who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Students study online, in a program that may vary according to the individual. Each student is given a prior learning assessment (PLA) that considers current knowledge and skills in order to design an optimal plan of study.
Program: Transition Doctorate of Physical Therapy
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is a public university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. The university places emphasis on experiential learning, working with regional partners to help students pursue their goals. UTC is a member of the University of Tennessee System.
The Transition Doctorate of Physical Therapy at UTC is a bridge program designed for therapists with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Among other requirements, applicants must be a U.S.-licensed physical therapist in good standing, with at least two years of relevant work experience. While students are typically admitted as a cohort, tDPT courses are delivered in a convenient online format.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT)
Boston University is a private research institution with two campuses in Boston and 17 schools and colleges. BU serves more than 33,000 graduate and undergraduate students across over 250 programs of study.
BU’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program is offered both on campus and online. The program is designed for U.S.-licensed physical therapists, with a curriculum that builds on students’ current knowledge foundations. Applicants must have graduated from an accredited physical therapy program, among other requirements.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
Creighton University is a private Jesuit, Catholic university that focuses on education in health, law, business, and the arts and sciences. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton serves over 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. They are known for their occupational and physical therapy programs, among other areas.
Creighton offers a Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program for licensed practitioners seeking post-professional education. Applicants must hold current U.S. licensure in one or more states and have spent at least one year practicing physical therapy, among other requirements.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy with an Emphasis in Pediatric Science
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions (RMUoHP) is a graduate, post-professional healthcare institution based in Provo, Utah. They serve both full-time, traditional students and limited-residency students with the goal of balancing work, life, and graduate education.
RMUoHP offers an online Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program with an emphasis in pediatric science. Students learn about areas of physical therapy pertaining to children and infants, like pediatric pharmacology and imaging, pediatric gait, embryology and fetal development, and more. Though the program is three semesters long, candidates may opt to pursue a fourth semester in order to complete a Pediatric Science capstone project.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
The College of St. Scholastica is an independent, private college founded on Catholic, Benedictine values. They offer both undergraduate and graduate programs at campuses across Minnesota. The college enrolls about 4,000 students, who are attracted to St. Scholastica’s online, evening, and weekend courses in addition to more traditional paths.
The Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program at St. Scholastica is 100% online and designed for working clinicians. Serving as a bridge between a bachelor's or master's degree and earning a doctorate, the curriculum delves into the latest healthcare policies and practices, helping working physical therapists to update and enhance their knowledge.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (t-DPT)
The University of Michigan–Flint is a public, urban university, and a satellite campus of the University of Michigan. UM-Flint was founded in 1958 and continues to foster excellence in teaching, learning, and scholarship. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in academic areas like healthcare, business, education, and much more.
UM-Flint’s Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (t-DPT) features a flexible learning plan, which lets students work at their own paces and adjust their studies to their own schedules. Coursework is completed online, though students have access to on-campus resources. Students will study the latest biomedical literature, approach topics from an evidence-based practice perspective, and enhance their professional preparation.
Program: Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy
Utica College is an independent, private college located in Central New York. Utica is home to Certificate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs, including online programs. In addition to Physical Therapy, they offer programs in Nursing, Cybersecurity, Business Administration, and more.
The Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Utica College is comprised of online courses taught by experienced clinicians. Students also complete a campus residency and participate in a physical therapy practicum course. You may study areas like Foundations of Autonomous Practice, Diagnostic Imaging, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, and more, while building on your current professional knowledge.
Program: The Transition Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT)
Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is a private graduate school based in Chicago. Named after Dr. Rosalind Franklin, who was instrumental in the discovery of DNA’s structure, the university is dedicated to the study of the health sciences. Over 30 graduate health profession and science programs are offered.
The Transition Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) program at RFU is designed to be a part-time program aimed at working physical therapists. The curriculum features collaborative learning, a focus on building scientific inquiry skills, and the chance to grow as a leader and clinician. The degree may be earned in about two years.
Program: Transition Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (T-DPT)
Nova Southeastern University is a private research university offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs. NSU emphasizes research activity, personal attention from faculty, and participation in a vibrant campus life. They have a main campus in the Fort Lauderdale area of South Florida.
NSU’s Transition Doctor of Physical Therapy (T-DPT) program is designed to help practicing physical therapists enhance their skills, in light of an industry shift toward clinical doctorates. The curriculum focuses on areas like clinical reasoning, evidence-based practice, radiology and pharmacology, patient management, and more. Eligible APTA members may even be able to qualify for a tuition discount!
Physical therapists earned a median salary of $86,850 per year in 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.[i]
5 Things You Should Know While Searching for Transitional DPT Programs
Transitional DPT programs are aimed at current physical therapists who are already licensed but wish to earn a doctorate degree. (Not yet a licensed PT? Check out potential entry-level physical therapy programs.)
Finding a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy program that’s perfect for you requires a bit of research. Here are the top 5 things you may want to know as you evaluate post-professional doctorate programs in physical therapy.
1. A Rose by Any Other Name…
Not all DPT programs aimed at licensed physical therapists are called “transition” or “transitional.” So, don’t be thrown off by programs that call themselves “post-professional” or “bridge” programs, since they’re usually the same thing. You may also spot the common abbreviation, tDPT.
2. Not All Programs Accept International Students
If you’re an international student searching for transitional DPT programs in the USA, be aware that many programs may not be appropriate for your needs. Many programs require students to have U.S. licensure as a prerequisite for potential admission. However, the American Physical Therapy Association states that some programs may accept students who do not have U.S. licensure, as long as they don’t plan to practice in the U.S. Since rules and requirements vary, it’s important to contact the program you’re interested in to learn more.
3. Transitional DPT Programs Are Not CAPTE-accredited
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) accredits professional, entry-level physical therapy programs, not continuing education programs. Since transitional DPT programs are considered post-professional physical therapy education programs, CAPTE doesn’t accredit them. That doesn’t indicate anything about a program’s quality, however!
4. PTA to PT Transition Programs Are Rare
Hoping to transition from Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) to Physical Therapist (PT)? According to the American Physical Therapy Association, this is actually a pretty rare career move, since most PTAs remain in the same career track while honing their unique skillset. However, there are currently a couple of universities that offer formal PTA to PT bridge programs, including The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
5. Online Programs May Be Ideal for Your Life and Schedule
Currently, quite a few graduate schools offer online transitional DPT programs. So, if you haven’t considered distance learning yet, you may want to find out more about this path. Online DPT programs may feature flexible coursework that can be completed at the time that suits you, potentially great for working physical therapists who don’t want to relocate or put their careers on hold.
Search for Graduate Schools That Offer Transitional DPT Programs
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