Physical Therapy (DPT)

View PDF of Physical Therapy (DPT) Admissions Checklist
Prospective students should use this checklist to obtain specific admissions requirements on how to apply to Graduate School.

View PDF version of the Physical Therapy catalog description

Degree Offered:


Director (D.P.T.):

Dr. Sharon Shaw


(205) 934-3566


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Web site:

Primary Faculty

C. Scott Bickel, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Skeletal Muscle Function, Electrotherapeutics

Jennifer Braswell Christy  Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Pediatrics; Vestibular Dysfunction

Diane Clark, Assistant Professor (Physical Therapy); Wound Care; Health Promotion

Jo Ann Clelland, Professor Emerita  (Physical Therapy); Pain Management

Betty G. Denton, Associate Professor Emerita (Physical Therapy); Curriculum Development

Cali Fidopiastis, Assistant Professor; Virtual Rehabilitation, Brain-Computer Interface, Test and Measurements

Matthew Ford, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Motor Control Dysfunction

Cecilia Graham, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Education, Acute Care

Cheryl J. Knowles, Associate Professor Emerita (Physical Therapy); Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

Donald Lein, Assistant Professor (Physical Therapy); Clinical Education

John Lowman,  Assistant  Professor (Physical Therapy); Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy

John McCarthy, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Exercise Physiology

David M. Morris, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Aquatic Physical Therapy,

Patrice Murphy, Assistant Professor (Physical Therapy); Developmental Disabilities, Orthotics

William Ogard, Assistant Professor (Physical Therapy); Sensory Function of Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Proprioception of Knee Joint, Anatomy, Function of Lumbar Musculature

Claire Peel, Professor (Physical Therapy); Exercise Physiology, Cardiopulmonary Therapeutics, Geriatric Rehabilitation

Patty Perez, Assistant Professor (Physical Therapy); Orthopedic Rehabilitation

Sharon E. Shaw, Associate Professor (Physical Therapy); Health Outcomes Assessment, Neurological Rehabilitation

Program Information

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a course of study for students who hold baccalaureate degrees in fields of study other than Physical Therapy.  Completion of the program after nine semesters leads to a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and serves as initial preparation for practice as a physical therapist.

Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

Physical therapists provide services to patient/clients who have body structure and function impairments, activity limitations, participation restrictions, or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, and other causes. Physical therapists also address risk and provide prevention services and promote health, wellness, and fitness. Physical therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of professionals. Finally physical therapists also function in consultative, education, administrative and supervisory roles in many different types of practice, research, and education settings.

Accreditation: The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Credentials Conferred: The Doctor of Physical Therapy degree is awarded by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

License : Graduates are eligible for the physical therapist licensure examination. Note that state law regulates the practice of Physical Therapy; contact a specific state’s Board of Licensure for Physical Therapy to obtain information on that state’s eligibility requirements.

Length of Study:  Nine semesters.

Program Entrance Date: Spring semester.

Application Procedure: This program participates in the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). Please consult for more information regarding specific PTCAS application requirements, procedures and fees. The PTCAS application needs to be completed by December  3, 2012 for the class beginning January, 2014. Applicants should send all application materials  including GRE scores (use code 7801) directly to PTCAS. PTCAS will verify the application information and send completed applications to the program.

Requirements for Admission: The applicant must hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university within the United States in a field other than physical therapy. Acceptance will be based on the student’s academic ability and aptitude for a career as a physical therapist. The candidate is expected to satisfy the following requirements:

  • Complete the PTCAS application by December  3, 2012.
  •  75% of prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of the fall semester of the year of application.
    • For example, applicants submitting their application on December 3, 2012 must have 75% of prerequisite courses completed by the end of the fall semester 2012...
  • Complete at least 40 hours of documented observation of physical therapy. Various settings are recommended. Documentation should be submitted to PTCAS by the December 3rd deadline.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation to PTCAS.
  • Letter 1: Written by a physical therapist who has interacted with the applicant for at least 20 hours in a clinical setting.
  • Letter 2: Written by a physical therapist who has interacted with the applicant for at least 20 hours in a clinical setting.
  • Letter 3. Written by a professor with whom the applicant had significant interaction in an academic setting..
  • Complete the GRE and have scores sent to   PTCAS (code 7801).
  • Have a minimum 3.0 (A=4.0) overall, prerequisite and last 60 semester hours grade point average. For prerequisite courses, no grade lower than a C will be accepted.
  • If invited, complete a personal interview with the Department of Physical

Students who are accepted into the UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy program must:

  • Complete the UAB Graduate School application to include the Graduate School fee.
  • Complete the UAB medical history questionnaire and physical.
  • Provide proof of required immunizations, and receive satisfactory screening by the UAB Medical Center Student Health Service.
  • Send all official transcripts to the UAB Graduate School.
  • Complete a criminal background check before the first semester as specified by the Department of Physical Therapy in order to participate in clinical education.

State law regulates the practice of Physical Therapy. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to review the nonacademic eligibility requirements for licensure to practice physical therapy upon completion of the program. These may be obtained from each individual state’s Board of Licensure for Physical Therapy.  

Variations in these requirements are considered. In instances where applicants do not meet the principle requirements for admission, they may be admitted on probation with the approval of the Graduate School Dean. Such students must establish themselves in good standing by achieving not less than a B average by the time they have completed 1 term of approved work taken at UAB for graduate credit.

Program Prerequisites–UAB Equivalents

(Course requirements are listed in semester credit hours)

Arts and Humanities
English Composition–EH 101, 102 (6)

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Psychology (9)

Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Precalculus with Trigonometry–MA d 106 (3)
Statistics (must be taken in Math, Psychology, or Sociology)–MA 180, PY 214, or SOC 110 (3-4)
Physics*—PH 201/211 lab, 202/212 lab or PH 221/231 lab, 222/232 lab** (8)
General Chemistry for science majors with labs*—CH 115/116 lab, 117/118 lab (8)
Biology including Human or Mammalian Physiology*—BY 116 or 309 (16)
Medical Terminology - AHS 350 (2-3). Online courses are accepted.

*For these prerequisite courses, credit older than ten years from the application deadline must be validated by examination or other appropriate mechanism.

**The physics course sequence must be designed for science majors and include laboratory sessions. A minimum of 8 semester hours is required. The following topics must be studied: mechanics, heat, electricity and magnetism, wave motion and sound, and light.

It is strongly recommended that applicants take the following courses: practical reasoning or logic course, biomechanics or kinesiology and upper level biology (physiology).

Essential Requirements: Fundamental tasks, behaviors, and abilities necessary to successfully complete the academic and clinical/residency requirements of the program and to satisfy licensure/certification requirements, if any, have been outlined and are available upon request from the academic program office. Students requesting disability accommodations must do so by filing a disability accommodation request in writing with the academic program office.

Typical Program
(Course requirements are listed in semester credit hours)

First Year

PT 700 Human Gross Anatomy I (4)
PT 702 Functional Anatomy (3)
PT 730 Essentials of Human Physiology (3)
PT 711 PT Examination I (2)
PT 713 PT Intervention I (3)
PT 760 PT Professional Practice I (2)

PT 701 Human Gross Anatomy II (2)
PT 712 PT Examination II (3)
PT 720 Pathology & Pharmacology for Movement Disorder I (3)
PT 731 Human Performance Physiology (3)
PT 770 Clinical Education I (1)
PT 790 Scientific Inquiry I (1)
PT 791 Scientific Inquiry II (1)

PT 706 Neuroscience I (4)
PT 704 Analysis of Human Movement (3)
PT 714 PT Intervention II (2)
PT 715 PT Intervention III (3)
PT 721 Pathology & Pharmacology for Movement Disorder II (3)
PT 771 Clinical Education II (2)
PT 792 Scientific Inquiry III (1)

Second Year

PT 705 Human Movement Dysfunction (4)
PT 707 Neuroscience II (3)
PT 740 PT Management of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction I (5)
PT 743 PT Management of Cardiopulmonary Dysfunction (3)
PT 772 Clinical Education III (2)
PT 798 Scholarly Activity Project (1-3)

PT 744 PT Management of Neuromuscular Dysfunction I (4)
PT 761 PT Professional Practice II (3)
PT 793 Scientific Inquiry IV (1)
PT 798 Scholarly Activity Project (1)

PT 741 PT Management of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction II (5)
PT 746 PT Management of Neuromuscular Dysfunction II (4)
PT 762 PT Professional Practice III (3)
PT 799 Scholarly Activity Project (1)

Third Year

PT 763 PT Professional Practice IV (2)
PT 764 PT Professional Practice V (2)
PT 773 Clinical Education IV (8)

PT 774 Clinical Education V (9)

PT 775 Clinical Education VI (9)
Total Credit Hours for Program: 119

Additional Information

For detailed information, contact Betsy Coleman,  Physical Therapy Department, School of Health Professions, SHPB, Room 333, 1705 University Boulevard (mailing address: SHPB 333,  1720 2nd Avenue South), Birmingham, Alabama 35294-1212.

Telephone 205-934-4363

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Course Descriptions

Physical Therapy (PT)

700, 701. Human Gross Anatomy I, II. A study of the ross anatomical structure of the human body includes e limbs, back, abdominal wall and cavity. Specific emphasis includes regional study of the relationships between musculoskeletal, nervous, and vascular systems, joint structure, cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, and surveys of selected viscera PT 700-4 hours; PT 701-2 hours.

702. Functional Anatomy. Integrated study of anatomy, kinesiology, muscle biology, and biomechanics to develop an understanding of and ability to analyze normal and pathologic human movement. Includes palpation and surface anatomy.  3 hours.

704. Analysis of Human Movement. Study of human movement through an examination of the movement patterns during common motor skills (eg: walking). The kinematics and kinetics related to movement will be studied across the lifespan.  3 hours

705. Human Movement Dysfunction. Study of human movement dysfunction including recovery processes related to injury, impairments associated with pathology and behavior and kinematic/kinetic descriptions of movement dysfunction related to cardiopulmonary, musculoskeletal, and neuromuscular pathology across the lifespan. 4 hours

706. Neuroscience I . A study of structures and functions of the human nervous system with emphasis on sensory/motor function. 4 hours

707 Neuroscience II Continuation of 706. Study of the theories of motor control and motor learning will serve as a foundation for the understanding how the CNS is organized in relation to human movement. 3 hours

711. Physical Therapy Examination I. Introduction to the physical therapy examination process which includes history taking, systems review, and tests and measures. Emphasis will be placed on systems review and medical screening for each of the major systems. Overview of the major types of tests and measures employed by physical therapists and the type of data generated with a focus on self-care for patient. 2 hours.

712. Physical Therapy Examination II. Continuation of Physical Therapy I with focus on knowledge and skills needed to test and measure strength, range of motion, and posture. 3 hours.

713. Physical Therapy Intervention I. Introduction to the components and process of physical therapy intervention. Emphasis on beginning communication & documentation skills and basic procedural interventions of patient transfers, gait with assistive devices, superficial physical agents, massage, and passive range of motion. Overview of major categories of procedural interventions utilized by physical therapists. 3 hours

714. Physical Therapy Intervention II. This course covers procedures and techniques for the design and implementation of fundamental therapeutic exercise. By recognizing impairments and in body function  and structure and activity limitations that are amenable to physical therapy, the students will utilize therapeutic exercise interventions for prevention and rehabilitation of movement dysfunction and disability. 2 hours

715. Physical Therapy Intervention III. The study and use of knowledge and skills needed to select and use both  electrodiagnostic and electrotherapeutic modality interventions for various impairments and functional limitations. Emphasis will be placed on integrating electrical evaluation, electrical and deep heat therapy with previously learned examination, evaluation, and intervention skills. An overview of integument system repair and the management of chronic wounds will be discussed with an emphasis on examination, clinical decision making, and intervention. 3 hours

720, 721. Pathology and Pharmacology for Movement Disorders I, II. Basic principles of pathology and pharmacology. Medical and surgical management of disorders involving the cardiovascular/pulmonary, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, endocrine, integumentary, genitourinary, and GI systems. For each disease discussed, the diagnosis, medical, surgical, and pharmacological management will be included, as appropriate. PT 720 – 3 hours, PT 721-3 hours.

730. Essential of Human Physiology . Fundamental principles and concepts of human physiology are covered regarding cell physiology, the cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, renal, and skeletal muscle systems, , as well as thermoregulation of the body. Both cellular and systemic issues are addressed with an emphasis on a mechanistic and integrative approach to understanding function. 3 hours.

731. Human Performance Physiology. Course provides fundamental knowledge about the adaptability of human physiological systems in meeting a range of exercise demands. Areas covered include energy transfer during rest and exercise, physiologic and performance adaptations, exercise prescription for healthy adults, and body composition. Research evidence regarding how exercise and physical activity impact health, wellness, and disease is included. 3 hours.

740, 741. PT Management of Musculoskeletal Dysfunction I, II. Application of biological and physical sciences in understanding musculoskeletal disorders. Diagnosis of common musculoskeletal dysfunctions; clinical decision making concerning treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders. Medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment procedures with implications for rehabilitation. Focus for one course is on the lower quarter and the thoracic spine; focus of the other course is on the upper quarter. PT 740 – 5 hours, PT 741 – 5 hours

743. PT Management of Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Dysfunction. Physical therapy examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention for patients with primary and secondary disorders involving the cardiovascular/pulmonary system. 3 hours.

744, . PT Management of Neuromuscular Dysfunction I,I. Application, analysis, and synthesis of principles of neurophysiologic rehabilitation in physical therapy examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and intervention. PT 744 – 4 hours,

746. PT Mgt. Neuromuscular Dysf II.  Continuation of PT 744. Application, analysis and synthesis of principles of neurophysiologic rehabilitation in physical therapy examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis and intervention4 hours

760. PT Professional Practice I. Introduction to the profession of physical therapy, including history, APTA, and scope of practice. Introduction to legal, ethical and other regulatory mechanisms that guide the practice of physical therapy. Presentation of cultural diversity issues related to physical therapy practice. 2 hours.

761. PT Professional Practice II. Synthesis and application of regulatory mechanisms, legal mandates and ethical principles and theories to issues facing the physical therapy student and the physical therapist functioning in a multifaceted role; values clarification and decision making related to current professional issues.  Strategies for dealing with diverse cultures and conflict.  Utilization of documentation strategies to promote effective physical therapy practice and payment3 hours

762. PT Professional Practice III. Forces contributing to the health care environment and the effects of this environment on physical therapy practice, research and education.  Concepts of health promotion (including wellness and patient education) and the role of the physical therapist in promoting healthy lifestyles in the health care and community settings.  Theoretical basis for health behaviors and application of theories to physical therapy practice.  Concepts of consultation, program planning, implementation, and evaluation applied to health promotion-oriented physical therapy programs. 3 hours

763. PT Professional Practice IV. Study of management and supervisory principles and current issues related to physical therapy practice: Practical concepts of marketing, organizational structure, fiscal management, facility planning, design and entrepreneurship.  2 hours

764. PT Professional Practice V: Capstone Experience. Integration of all previous coursework applied to reflection of the scope of PT practice: direct patient care, professional growth/development, professional issues, education, consultation, evidence based practice (EBP), communication, cultural competency, and promotion of the profession in achieving Vision 2020. Development and presentation of an individual portfolio that reflects core values, personal & professional growth and accomplishments, and appropriate plans for future professional development. 2 hours

770. Clinical Education I. Part-time clinical experience. Supervised clinical education in basic patient care skills and an introduction to practice issues related to physical therapy. 1 hour

771 Clinical Education II Part-time clinical experience. Continuation of PT 770. 2 hours

772. Clinical Education III. Part-time clinical experience. Continuation of PT 771. 2 hours

773, Clinical Education IV,. 10 week, full-time supervised clinical education in a clinical setting to provide student with the opportunity to apply previously acquired knowledge & skill to client care. Emphasis is on examination and evaluation skills; intervention techniques and treatment planning (including care of problems related to musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary and integumentary systems). Available experiences in supervision, consultation, research, management, and teaching are also included.These students have completed all academic course work and is the first full-term clinical experience for these students. 8 hours

774. Clinical Education V Continuation of PT 773. 9 hours

775 Clinical Education VI. 9 hours.

790. Scientific Inquiry I. This is the first course in the research series for physical therapy students. Students will be introduced to sources of bibliographic information and database searching, annotated bibliographies, critical review of scientific literature, and beginning concepts of the application of research to clinical practice. 1 hour

791. Scientific Inquiry II. This course combines concepts of measurement principles, experimental design, qualitative, survey outcomes research and a review of basic statistical concepts that will prepare the graduate to critically analyze and use the scientific literature to improve clinical practice. Emphases will be placed on understanding the components of a research report and the concepts associated with judging quality of research design as applied to clinical practice. 1 hour

792. Scientific Inquiry III. Emphasis will be placed on the assessment of research literature in Physical Therapy and the application of research findings to clinical practice. Additionally, advanced clinical research designs will be discussed. 1 hour

793. Scientific Inquiry IV. This is the final course in the Scientific Inquiry Series. The emphasis will be placed on peer review and professional presentation of scholarly work. 1 hour

798.  Scholarly Activity Project. Implementation of project activities with data collection, analysis, and preparation of manuscript of scholarly activity project.  Student and mentor work together to identify specific project components to be completed during each specific term the course is taken. 1 hour

799. Scholarly Activity Project: Implementation of project activities with data collection, analysis, and preparation of manuscript of scholarly activity project.  Student and mentor work together to identify specific project components to be completed during each specific term the course is taken.  1 hour

Physical Therapy (PTGR)

747. Seminar in Interdisciplinary Services for Infants, Children, and Youth with Developmental Disabilities. Synthesis of team-based approaches to intervention for infants, children, and youth with known or suspected disabilities. Focus on legislation and policy, team processes and practices, and family-centered applications. Open to upper level students in disciplines which have roles in service provision for the described population. Prerequisite: acceptance into the traineeship program, or consent of department. 1-2 hours