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Requirements for the Doctoral Degree, DPT

Type: University Requirements
Effective Date: 7/19/2019

The following general requirements pertain to all students pursuing the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree. Additional program and discipline-specific requirements not addressed by this policy may be found in the program/department/school graduate handbook as well as the Academic Catalog

General Degree Requirements – Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

The Doctor of Physical Therapy is a clinical doctoral plan that emphasizes clinical experience and didactic study (lecture, reading, and observation). This degree emphasizes the development of competencies in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, applying interventions, and evidence-based practice. The D.P.T. degree requires a minimum of 98 units.  Prerequisite courses are not included in this total. The degree is designed to be completed in 28 months of full-time study. This degree plan does not require a dissertation. However, it does include an internship experience requirement equivalent to two full semesters (30 weeks). 

Individuals who wish to enter into the physical therapy profession must complete this degree, which is known as the “entry-level doctoral degree.” 

To graduate with the D.P.T. degree, the student must meet following requirements:

Academic Requirements

Students must complete all courses in an approved Program of Study (POS) totaling the number of units specified for the program and meet all academic requirements and standards set by the academic unit for the doctoral program. The POS must be approved by the student’s major advisor and other appropriate academic unit administrators designated by the program. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (on a scale where 4.0 = “A”). 

All graduate students must adhere to the academic requirements and criteria outlined by their program, Graduate College, and NAU. See NAU Policy 100319: Academic Continuation, Probation, Dismissal, and Readmission - Graduate for more detailed information. 

Graduate students must, at a minimum, meet the “Academic Requirements for Continuation in a Graduate Program” found in NAU Policy 100319: Academic Continuation, Probation, Dismissal, and Readmission - Graduate, in order to graduate. To begin the graduation process, please see NAU Policy 100334: Applying for Graduation, Graduate Students. 

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree with an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • Quantitative Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 146 (550)
  • Verbal GRE score of at least 149 (440)
  • Analytical Writing GRE score of at least 3.5
  • Three letters of recommendation, with at least one from a licensed physical therapist 


Before beginning the program, students must have:

  • completed approximately 36 units of undergraduate course requirements in anatomy and physiology, exercise physiology, general chemistry, physics, general psychology, statistics, and abnormal or developmental psychology. Some of these requirements may have been part of the student's bachelor's degree;
  • Completed and submitted the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) application;
  • Completed and submitted the Northern Arizona University Graduate College application. 

Residency Requirements

NAU’s residency requirement provides doctoral students the benefit and opportunity to engage and contribute to the full spectrum of educational and professional opportunities provided by faculty and other students within their program and across the campus. The D.P.T. degree requires full-time residency on the campus that houses the program during the length of the degree; thus, residency requirements are automatically met with the completion of the degree. 

Candidacy - Application and Admission/Designation

There is no discrete candidacy stage associated with this degree. 

Time Parameters to Complete Degree

Students who are admitted to the D.P.T. program with an earned master's degree have eight years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. This eight-year period starts with the student's first semester of doctoral study at Northern Arizona University. If the student does not complete the degree in eight years, the student may petition the Graduate College for one extension of this time limit.

Students who start the D.P.T. program with a bachelor's degree, have ten years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree.

Fees may apply. See Program Fees Policy for current fees.
Appeal eligible: Yes

Students can appeal or petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Academic Appeal and University Graduate Committee Hearing Panel is more appropriate. 

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.

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