2008 - 2009 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Physical Therapy, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines
Application Deadline:

Fall: April 1

Applications are evaluated on an ongoing basis, after all of the applicant’s materials have been received.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 2

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from those who can judge the applicant's capability to succeed in a doctoral program. At least one letter should be from a faculty member who can fairly judge the applicant's academic potential.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

No specific coursework is required.

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

A master's degree in Physical Therapy is not required.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree at Temple University. All International students must have their educational transcripts reviewed by a credentialing agency in the United States.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be no more than one typed page in length. It should include the following elements: your interest in Temple's program; your research interests; and your future career goals.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. GRE scores are required to be at or above the 50th percentile in verbal, quantitative, and analytical components.

Minimum TOEFL score needed to be accepted: 575 paper-based, 230 computer-based, or 88 internet-based.


Qualified applicants are invited to interview with members of the graduate faculty. Phone interviews are available when travel costs are prohibitive.


A resume is required.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 66

Required Courses:

Human Movement Science Core (15 s.h.):

PHYS THER 9621: Issues in Motor Learning for Physical Therapists

PHYS THER 9624: Human Movement Science II: Mechanics and Models

PHYS THER 9627: Neural Regulation of Posture and Movement

PHYS THER 9654: Laboratory Rotations

Research and Statistics (15 s.h.):

PHYS THER 9653: Research Strategies

PUB HLTH 5002: Biostatistics

PUB HLTH 8012: Multivariate Biostats

University Teaching (6 s.h.):

PHYS THER 9673: Curricular Design and Teaching in the Health Professions

PHYS THER 9675: Teaching Practicum

Electives (21 s.h.)

Dissertation Research (9 s.h.):

PHYS THER 9994: Preliminary Exam Preparation

PHYS THER 9998: Dissertation Proposal

PHYS THER 9999: Dissertation Research and Colloquium

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Culminating Events:

In addition to completing the required coursework, students are expected to complete an area paper, a preliminary written and oral examination, and a dissertation research proposal prepared in the form of a grant proposal.  Students are also expected to write and submit an abstract for their research and present that research at a scientific or professional meeting. The dissertation must include a publishable article.

Area Paper:

Prior to the preliminary examination, students must write a publishable-quality paper in their chosen area. Students could enroll in an elective course, a laboratory rotation, or independent study to complete this paper. The paper can be a report of research completed with a faculty member; a systematic review of literature related to the projected area of dissertation work; or a representation of theoretical work. In each instance, the student is expected to be the lead or sole author. Students are encouraged to select and submit the paper for peer review to an appropriate journal, but the publishable quality of the paper will be determined by faculty members with sufficient background in the area to judge the quality of the work. Students who have published a peer-reviewed paper in a journal as lead author prior to entry into the doctoral program can request a waiver of this requirement.


Preliminary Examination (PHYS THER 9994):

All students must pass a preliminary examination prior to defending their dissertation research proposal. The exam consists of written and oral components. The take-home written examination is based on required coursework with an emphasis on human movement science and research strategies. The exam is to be completed within a one-week period. The questions for the exam are prepared by a Preliminary Examination Committee comprised of three faculty members, one of which must be the individual with whom the student will likely undertake dissertation research.


Dissertation Proposal and Defense (PHYS THER 9998):

With the approval of the Ph.D. Program Director, each student is expected to identify a Dissertation Committee. The committee shall be comprised of at least three members. Two of the members shall be from within the Physical Therapy department and at least one shall be from outside the department. At least two of the three members must hold full graduate faculty status.


Students are expected to prepare and submit a dissertation proposal in the form of a grant proposal and successfully defend it orally in front of their committee. As appropriate, they must obtain IRB approval for their proposed research and submit a copy of the grant proposal to the Graduate School. Students are expected to have developed and defended their dissertation grant proposal within one year of successfully completing their preliminary examination.


Any student who does not adhere to this timeline must petition the Departmental Ph.D. Program Advisory Committee for an exemption to this requirement. Extensions are not guaranteed. If a student does not receive an extension, her/his case will be considered at the time of the Annual Review of Progress toward the degree. Failure to pass PHYS THER 9998 within one year can result in dismissal from the program.


Dissertation Research (PHYS THER 9999):

Students are expected to complete and orally defend their dissertation research. Students must be enrolled continuously in PHYS THER 9999 until their dissertation is successfully defended. The Graduate School requires at least 6 s.h. of dissertation coursework. Students must be enrolled in the semester that they graduate.

The dissertation must be successfully defended in a public oral defense as determined by the student's Doctoral Advisory Committee. This committee evaluates the student's ability to express verbally her/his research question, methodological approach, primary findings, and implications. The Doctoral Advisory Committee votes to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation.

Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation must confirm a time and date for the oral defense with their Doctoral Advisory Committee at least 15 days before the desired defense date. After the student and department have arranged the time, date, and room for the defense, the student must provide the official announcement to the Graduate School at least two weeks before the defense.

Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Physical Therapy
3307 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140


Department Contacts:


Cynthia Grant


Program Coordinator:

Ann F. Van Sant, PT,  PhD, FAPTA



Department Chairperson:

Emily Keshner, PT, EdD

About the Program

The mission of the Ph.D. program is to promote interdisciplinary and translational research that will impact the field of Physical Therapy by preparing individuals to conduct independent research and to assume roles as faculty members and researchers in academic and clinical settings.

Building on the strengths of our faculty, the program provides students with the theoretical foundations for understanding the typical function of the human movement system and disorders of that system that could lead to limitations in mobility and function. The strength of our faculty is their active engagement in research that examines the cellular, mechanical, physiological, and perceptual systems that support human movement.


By providing the opportunity for admission to those who are not physical therapists, we seek to enrich the profession with individuals from diverse backgrounds who can contribute to translational and interdisciplinary research. Human movement science is one of the most rapidly evolving areas of Neuroscience and one in which translational and interdisciplinary research is critical and fundamental. The rapid advance in knowledge is in large measure due to the application of principles of engineering and computer technology to the study of brain function.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are encouraged to undertake full-time study.

Department Information:

Dept. of Physical Therapy
3307 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19140


Interdisciplinary Study:

Students may use their elective coursework to pursue interdisciplinary study throughout the university. The Ph.D. program participates in the interdisciplinary program in Neuroscience at Temple University.


Not applicable.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

All students complete the same set of course requirements, but may focus their elective coursework to prepare them for future work in areas related to their specific interests.  Opportunities for interdisciplinary study are available throughout the university.

Job Placement:

Ph.D. graduates are prepared to practice in research and academic positions in the field of Physical Therapy and related areas.


Licensure is not required of applicants or graduates of the program.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

Non-matriculated students may enroll in up to three Ph.D. courses with the permission of the Director of the Ph.D. Program.

Financing Opportunities

Assistantships are available for a limited number of students based on the academic plan of the student and the current needs of the department. The position can be either a Research Assistantship or Teaching Assistantship. The duties of a Research Assistant are assigned by the research mentor. The duties of a Teaching Assistant lie primarily in offering teaching support for the department's D.P.T. program under the direction of teaching mentors.

Updated 12.18.08