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Winter 2005 • Volume 11, Issue 1

Bradley to offer doctoral program in physical therapy

Bradley University will begin offering a professional doctorate in physical therapy in June 2005. The accredited DPT program is the first professional doctorate offered at Bradley and the only program of its kind in downstate Illinois.

Image of a student learning to help a person out of a wheelchairDr. Joan Sattler, dean of the College of Education and Health Sciences says, “The health care industry is expecting physical therapists to handle the realm of positions and health care demands found in rehabilitation units, health, wellness, and fitness centers, and sports medicine. This program was developed in response to those changing needs. It will require greater breadth and depth of knowledge and clinical experiences for our students to become proficient, general practitioners.”

“The DPT program mirrors the evolution of the field of physical therapy,” adds Dr. Mary Jo Mays, chair of the department of physical therapy and health science. “The program has matured as the health care industry has changed, requiring more from each health care professional. We’ve revamped our entire curriculum so it doesn’t resemble our master’s program at all.”

The new program consists of 36 months of concentrated academic and clinical work in which a student will earn 105 credit hours of graduate course work divided among traditional classroom coursework, clinical experiences, and research. Students will have five closely supervised clinical experiences from a choice of 125 clinical settings across the United States. They include but are not limited to pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopaedics, neuralgic, and general acute care.

Bradley started the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy degree program in 1990 and transitioned to the Master of Physical Therapy degree in 1997. The new three-year program replaces the master’s degree program. “The administration has been extremely supportive and instrumental,” says Mays. “Plus, the faculty, in general, has been key to the creation of this program, because by and large, the type of education our students receive here and the abilities they’ve shown have been top-notch. We hated to see our physical therapy students leave for other programs. When the faculty saw that we were losing these talented students, we looked at what we wanted to provide and what the students needed to succeed. With our doctorate program in place, I don’t anticipate losing as many of the good students. Additionally, our new facilities in the Olin Hall of science have given us a bonus.”

The inaugural DPT class will be limited to 20 students, and Mays says, “I don’t anticipate any problem filling those slots with highly qualified students. The demand for physical therapists is up again. Recruiters are constantly calling us.” Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree with two courses in biology, chemistry and physics, and one course of kinesiology, physiology, anatomy, and statistics.

Bradley also offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate health science program leading to the graduate physical therapy program. According to Mays, “The flexibility this program offers benefits the students and the health care industry. A university-educated student should be as flexible as he or she can be. We help them see the many opportunities out there for them.” This program also positions students for jobs or other professional careers in the health care industry including hospital or health care administration, public relations, advertising, patient management, medicine, fitness and wellness programs, health care advocacy, technical support, research, and more. The health science major, who meets preset criteria, may continue as a direct access option into the doctor of physical therapy degree program.

For the incoming class total tuition for the three years is $55,000 when the student begins the DPT program and will not increase. Scholarships, assistantships, and financial aid are available. Bradley’s physical therapy graduates have experienced a 100 percent placement rate, and all graduates have passed the national licensure exam (95% first-time pass rate).

Interested high school seniors should contact undergraduate admissions at (800) 447-6460, or the Department of Physical Therapy & Health Science at (309) 677-3489. For more information, visit the Web site at

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