Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy


The Ph.D. program is designed to develop future physical therapy educators and researchers with a program emphasis on cultivating a deeper understanding of the scientific basis for clinical practice.  Working closely with a faculty mentor in the student’s area of clinical interest, the School of Physical Therapy offers individualized programs for the physical therapist looking to earn a Ph.D. in specialized areas of physical therapy practice.

Marketable Skills

Defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30 Strategic Plan as, "Those skills valued by employers that can be applied in a variety of work settings, including interpersonal, cognitive, and applied skills areas. These skills can be either primary or complementary to a major and are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities."

  1. Create, develop, and teach courses in entry-level physical therapy education programs using evidence-based educational practices.
  2. ​Participate effectively as a faculty member in higher education.
  3. Publish original scholarly work in scientific journals and present at peer-reviewed conferences.


All students must meet the University requirements as outlined in the Admission to the TWU Graduate School section of the catalog.

This academic program may have additional admission criteria that must also be completed as outlined on the program's website.

Degree Requirements

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

A minimum of 60 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree or 50 semester credit hours beyond the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree, including six semester credit hours for dissertation. TWU Ph.D. coursework (including dissertation) that is included on the Ph.D. degree plan must be completed within 8 years of the first completed course as a TWU Ph.D. student. 

Research Tools
Required for Tool 1
PT 6043Statistical Methods I for the Health Care Professional3
PT 6243Statistical Methods II for the Health Care Professional3
PT 6191Applied Statistical Methods for the Health Care Professional1
Required for Tool 2
Select the following courses or equivalent
PT 6213Computer Applications in Physical Therapy Research3
PT 6083Advanced Instrumentation in Physical Therapy (or 3 semester credit hour qualitative research methods course such as OT 6643 or NURS 6523)3
Required Courses
PT 6533Academic Issues in Physical Therapist Education3
PT 6523Teaching and Learning in Physical Therapy3
PT 6193Psychometric Properties of Rehabilitation3
PT 6023Research for Clinical Scientists in Physical Therapy3
PT 6103Advanced Practicum in Physical Therapy3
PT 6503Introduction to Grantsmanship in Physical Therapy3
PT 6971Integration of Theory & Research in Physical Therapy1
PT 6983Dissertation (I)3
PT 6993Dissertation (II)3
Electives to complete needed semester credit hours22
Total SCHs60

Elective Coursework

A minimum of 12 to 23 semester credit hours based on individual student needs, consisting of concentration area courses, individual studies, field research, supervised teaching, seminars, and/or practica.

Residency Requirement

A residency requirement has been established for the purpose of ensuring that the Ph.D. program be reasonably compact, continuous, and coherent. All Ph.D. students must complete 2 semesters of residency either consecutively or non-consecutively. The School of Physical Therapy defines residency as carrying a minimum load of 4 semester credit hours in any semester including summer sessions. In all cases, the courses an individual student takes during the two residency periods and their timing must be approved by the student’s advisor and recorded on the student’s degree plan.

Qualifying Examination

The Ph.D. program is a broad, research-based program that seeks to provide a thorough education in physical therapy practice. The ability to analyze, synthesize, and critically examine theory and research in the context of a substantial research issue is essential to any student's effort to complete the program. The qualifying examination is an unassisted written product (e.g., grant application, manuscript) and an oral examination that tests the student's abilities to (a) confirm the substantial development of these essential reasoning skills, (b) identify areas in which further work is required, and (c) determine the student's potential ability to complete a dissertation.

The student and advisor initially plan and schedule the qualifying examination during the degree planning process. The qualifying examination can be scheduled following completion of the majority of core Ph.D. courses and completion of all research tools. Students must satisfactorily complete the qualifying examination before they are eligible to become a doctoral candidate and enroll in dissertation coursework.

A student will be allowed two attempts to pass each of the examinations. In the event a student fails either exam twice, the student will receive an F and will be dismissed from the program. For clarification, if the written exam is failed twice, the student will not sit for the oral exam and will be dismissed from the program. See the School of Physical Therapy Post-Professional PT Student Handbook.  

Dissertation Final Examination

Doctoral candidates must demonstrate successful completion and oral defense of their dissertation research. The oral examination includes an oral defense that is open to all faculty and the public, as well as a closed session with the committee. The oral examination will be initially limited to the content of the dissertation, but may include any topic suggested by the candidate’s answer. May be repeated only once.