Physical therapy graduate programs are most commonly offered at the doctoral level in North Carolina from several different institutions. These Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs are typically 3 years (36 months) in length and provide plenty of hands-on learning. Here we discuss a handful of schools and their programs in detail.
North Carolina Schools with Physical Therapy Graduate Programs
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has a DPT program that includes 36 weeks of clinical rotations. Students in the program are also required to complete a capstone project and 4 simulated clinical cases. The program is full-time and is made up of coursework that is primarily on-campus, except in the third year students take some online courses. Students may take courses that cover topics in areas like motor control, anatomy, evidence-based practice and interventions.
Duke University in Durham offers a DPT program that follows a team-based learning format. The program requires 2 different 12-week internships for hands-on experience and may take advanced practice coursework that focuses on areas such as sports, neurology, global health, women's health or research. Students also have the opportunity to participate in research and/or global physical therapy programs in countries including Jamaica and Norway. Other courses in the program cover topics in pain, adaptive technologies, pediatrics and patient management.
Western Carolina University
Cullowhee, North Carolina is home to Western Carolina University and its DPT program that includes a full-time, 34-week clinical internship. The program is offered on-campus and can be completed in 33 months with summer terms, but students have up to a maximum of 6 years to finish. In addition to the internship, students take a capstone course, clinical practicums and complete a doctoral project. Students also take coursework in areas including statistics, biomechanics, pharmacology and research methods.
Elon University in Elon provides a DPT program that includes a total of 48 weeks of clinical practicum experience. The program is taken full-time and begins each January. The curriculum is set up in modules that include traditional coursework and practicum experiences and cover topics such as musculoskeletal or neuromuscular issues. Specific course topics may include, but are not limited to, motor development, health care systems, pathophysiology and geriatric health.
East Carolina University
Greenville's East Carolina University has a DPT program that requires 32 weeks of clinical experience. Only 30 students are admitted each year and the program begins each summer term (May). Students can compete for graduate assistantships and must complete a comprehensive exam and oral and written research presentation. Students can customize the program through elective courses in topics like muscle plasticity, orthotics, sports, vestibular rehabilitation and human movement.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to DPT programs must hold a bachelor's degree and generally need to meet specific GPA and/or GRE score requirements that vary based on the program. The majority of programs require some prerequisite coursework, usually in areas including biology, psychology, physics, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Depending on the program, students may also be expected to have a set amount of observation hours in physical therapy and/or may need to complete an interview process for admission. Typically DPT programs require applicants to submit their official transcripts, GRE scores and letters of reference (usually 2 to 3) with their application.
There are several DPT programs in North Carolina to choose from that typically include multiple months of hands-on, clinical experience. Some of these programs may only admit a specific number of students, and applicants usually have to meet GPA requirements.