Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Description of the Profession of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a growing profession that promotes optimal movement and physical health for people of all ages. A doctor of physical therapy (DPT) is trained in skills to thoroughly examine and evaluate the human movement system. Based on exam findings, the practitioner then determines a human movement system diagnosis and prognosis through developed clinical reasoning skills, and establishes an evidence-based treatment plan to optimize movement, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. A DPT is an integral member of a healthcare team working in various settings, including acute care, sub-acute rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, schools, home health, wellness/sports, occupational environments, and research centers. A DPT treats a variety of conditions that impact human movement involving the cardiopulmonary, integumentary, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems.

Description of DPT Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at College of Saint Mary prepares future physical therapists to be competent clinicians in evaluating and treating patients/clients across the lifespan and conditions effecting all body systems. Using a blended-learning model of instruction that includes online learning and multiple on-site hands-on intensive laboratory sessions throughout each semester, the 31-month program develops students to be competent clinicians and servant leaders. The first 23 months of the program include didactic preparation in evidence-based physical therapy skills in evaluation, clinical reasoning and treatment for all body systems across the life span; research practice; professional development; and service-learning experiences. The clinical education program includes integrated clinical experiences that occur throughout the coursework and two full-time clinical internships that are each 16-weeks long.

College of Saint Mary Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Mission Statement

The mission of College of Saint Mary's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is congruent with the mission of the college, to guide the strategic plans and goals. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program’s mission is to offer a blended curriculum to prepare competent, compassionate, and professional physical therapists who demonstrate excellence in the physical therapy practice to diverse and medically underserved communities. The program prepares graduates to be lifelong learners and health care leaders in accordance with the values of CSM as inspired by the Sisters of Mercy: excellence, service, dignity, compassion, inclusivity, and integrity. 

CSM DPT Program Goals

  1. The DPT Program will support the delivery of quality physical therapy services to medically underserved and/or culturally diverse communities to increase health equity and access.
  2. The DPT Program will provide a contemporary, blended, evidence-based DPT education.
  3. The DPT Program will support the advancement of knowledge in physical therapy, teaching and learning, and health sciences and will support the achievement of University expectations for the scholarly role of faculty.


Effective April 28, 2020, the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at College of Saint Mary has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone: 703-706-3245; email: [email protected]. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 402-399-2640 or email [email protected].

Candidate for Accreditation is an accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates the program may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status does not assure that the program will be granted Initial Accreditation.

Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit

All courses required for the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree program must be completed at College of Saint Mary (CSM). The CSM DPT Program does not grant advanced placement, credit for experiential learning, or transfer credits from another program or institution. Advanced placement credits will not be accepted for prerequisite courses.

Professional Licensure

As the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program is an academic program that leads to a professional license required in many states, it is highly recommended that applicants first seek guidance from the appropriate licensing agency in their home state before beginning the academic program located outside of the state. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the appropriate licensing board in his/her home state to confirm whether College of Saint Mary DPT Program will meet the requirements for licensure in that state. The following link provides contact information for state licensing authorities:

State Authorization

College of Saint Mary (CSM) seeks to make available all online programs/courses to residents of Nebraska and other states, and to allow completion of required clinical or practical experiences in those states. We work through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) process and with states directly to ensure that when authorization or licensure is necessary, required approvals are secured. Nebraska is a member of SARA and CSM is an approved SARA institution. As such, we adhere to a set of national standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. SARA also covers all interstate placements in clinical or practical situations among SARA member states, no matter the nature of the main program. However, not all states are SARA members (i.e. California). While we do monitor the laws in each state, authorization of distance education is a dynamic environment and prospective students should check often for updates. It is the student’s responsibility to understand current circumstances or special requirements in their state of residence.

Clinical Experience Requirements

Requirements for clinical experiences are the responsibility of the student and at their expense. Requirements include:

  • CPR Certification through American Heart Association
  • Background Check
  • Health Requirements: All students must have proof of immunizations, physical examination, and TB testing. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program requires additional immunizations, drug, and/or health screenings as needed to meet clinical partners’ requirements. In addition, the student must show proof of personal medical insurance prior to clinical assignment. Non-compliance with health record requirements will affect the student’s ability to complete the clinical education requirements, and therefore, inability to graduate from the DPT program.

Fall — Year 3

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