DPT/PhD Dual Degree Programs

Apr 16, 2019

Students wishing to earn a PhD in addition to a DPT can choose from fields like engineering, rehabilitation sciences, and biomedical science. Learn about each dual-degree program's requirements and how to apply.

Students interested in gaining advanced research and clinical skills may pursue a dual Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)/ Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree program. The DPT portion of these dual programs typically requires clinical work and a clinical internship, while the PhD portion can be in various fields, but usually requires a dissertation. Explore some of the dual-degree options and find out what makes each one unique.

Dual DPT/PhD Degree Programs

DPT/PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences

One of most popular dual DPT/PhD programs pairs the DPT with a PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences. These programs prepare students for careers in clinical research and academia and generally take 6 to 6.5 years to complete instead of the traditional 8 years if each degree were taken separately. This accelerated pace is achieved by allowing some of the credits for the 3-year DPT portion of the program to count towards the PhD. Students in these programs may take courses in topics like biomechanics, physiology, rehabilitation, kinesiology, research methods, and neuromuscular and musculoskeletal science.

DPT/PhD in Engineering

Another fairly available dual degree is a DPT/PhD in Engineering or a specific field in engineering, like bioengineering. Students in these programs are trained to improve rehabilitation technologies and therapies and may be able to complete the program in about 6 to 7 years. This dual program may require around 196 credits and may include a teaching requirement for the PhD portion of the program. Students may take coursework in topics such as motor control physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, statistics, ethics, engineering mathematics, and rehabilitation engineering.

DPT/PhD in Biomedical Science

There is at least 1 dual-degree program that pairs the DPT program with a PhD in Biomedical Science and can be completed in 6 years. The program is designed for those wishing to become clinician-scientists and the PhD portion allows students to focus their coursework and research in specific areas of biomedical science. Students may focus their research in areas like biochemistry, cancer biology, microbiology, bioinformatics, infectious disease, and exercise physiology. Other requirements for the PhD portion may include attending literature review courses and seminars.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students interested in a dual-degree program will commonly need to apply to each individual degree program at some point, whether before they are admitted into the dual-degree program or during the DPT portion of the dual degree. Students applying to any of these dual-degree programs must have a bachelor's degree and some programs may require students to meet a minimum GPA. Many of these programs also require GRE test scores and may require students to have observation, volunteer, or work experience hours with a licensed physical therapist for the DPT portion of the dual degree. Applicants may also need to have prior coursework in areas such as chemistry, biology, physiology, statistics, and more. Common application materials may include letters of recommendation and a personal essay or statement of interest and students may need to indicate possible labs or faculty members with which they are interested in conducting research.

There are at least 3 different dual DPT/PhD degree programs available that provide students with advanced clinical and research skills to work in academia or a clinical setting. All of these programs take about 6 years to complete and do require a dissertation.

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