Clarkson is ideal for highly qualified and motivated students who want a career in physical therapy.

As a physical therapist, you are a movement expert who diagnoses mobility and pain-related disorders, prevents disease and disability, and prescribes exercise supported by hands-on techniques to optimize physical function.

Physical therapy is a deeply rewarding healthcare profession that improves the lives of people. As a physical therapist you’ll diagnose and treat individuals of all ages with a variety of different health conditions that limit their ability to move and perform tasks. The therapist’s job is to restore pain free movement and the ability to do everyday activities. With physical therapy consistently rated among the top 10 growing professions, physical therapists serve a dynamic and comprehensive role in healthcare, engaging in treatment, consultation, education and research.

We offer a graduate level, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program as well as a pre-graduate program track for undergraduates.

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About Our Department

Graduate Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Students

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Clarkson University is a 101 credit, full time, post baccalaureate curriculum that takes 2 and 2/3 years to complete.

Physical Therapy Clinical

The Department of Physical Therapy has state of the art technologies for clinical practice and research. Faculty in the department bring decades of clinical experience and scholarly vision to the classroom. Because classes are small and problem-based, you will work closely with faculty members, which promotes professional growth and success.

Our program uses a problem-based learning (PBL) curricular model, which uniquely prepares you to become a lifelong learner and expert clinician using an integrated case based approach to learning.  You will participate in 4 full time clinical experiences in addition to hands on clinical experiences interwoven throughout the didactic portion of the curriculum.

The PBL model uniquely prepares students to become lifelong learners and expert clinicians through an integrated case-based approach to learning. The philosophy behind PBL is simple: the best way to learn a new concept is to experience it firsthand. At Clarkson, we introduce doctorate students to a wide variety of clinical scenarios, some involving “paper patients,” and some with real clients.

Textbook knowledge is important, but the goal of PBL is to stimulate the development of real-world problem-solving skills. Students are trained to ask three questions: “What do I know?” “What don’t I know?” and “How will I find the answer?”

Undergraduate Pre-Physical Therapy Students

If you are applying to start your undergraduate career, you can also apply to our graduate program track at the same time by completing all required material for the freshman application for undergraduate admission and checking the box on the application for pre-physical therapy as a "special advising option" in addition to selecting the undergraduate major of your choice. This does not automatically qualify you for the DPT program but ensures you have the prerequisites for a physical therapy program. The pre-physical therapy program is not a major but a series of core coursework (biology, chemistry, physics, math, statistics and psychology) and two physical therapy seminars. In fact, you’re free to pursue any major and still apply to our department. You might, for example, study engineering and management to gain a better understanding of how physical-therapy equipment works and how the mechanical principles apply to the human body. Or you might choose to study psychology to learn how to motivate and direct patients and their families. Whatever you study, the specialized knowledge and skills you acquire as an undergraduate will broaden your career opportunities as a physical therapist.

Our department helps students transition smoothly into the doctor of physical therapy program. Some of the advantages of being enrolled in the pre-physical therapy program are:

  • At least 50% of the available seats in each cohort will be held for Clarkson University pre-PT undergraduate students who successfully complete all of the necessary pre-requisite requirements.
  • A physical therapy program adviser. In addition to your major adviser, you'll be assigned a second faculty adviser from the Department of Physical Therapy. This extra mentoring relationship adds another dimension of support to your experience. You and your PT adviser will work together to define your career goals, balance your PT course requirements with major requirements, and make a successful transition to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
  • A solid foundation in Problem-Based Learning, which is a cornerstone of the graduate program. The pre-physical therapy courses will introduce you to this student-centered, collaborative and self-directed education model. Problem-Based Learning (PBL), based on patient case studies, more closely resembles actual clinical experience. It better prepares you to be a self-motivated lifelong learner, which is essential to being a competent healthcare professional.


General Admission Requirements

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Clarkson University is a full-time graduate program. In order to be considered for admission, students must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Complete a baccalaureate degree with an overall grade point average (GPA) greater than or equal to 3.2.
  • Take all the necessary prerequisite courses (see below) with a GPA greater than or equal to 3.2 in all prerequisite courses and no grade lower than a C in these courses.
  • Submit documentation of a minimum of 50 hours of observation, volunteer or work experience in physical therapy and/or another healthcare setting, of which a minimum of 30 hours must be completed under the supervision of a physical therapist.
  • Submit three letters of recommendation. At least one must be from a physical therapist and one must be from a faculty member. None can be from family, friends or clergy.
  • Meet the technical standards of the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program, with or without reasonable accommodations.
Applying to the Program

All applications must be submitted through the Physical Therapy Common Application Service.  The deadline for submission of applications is March 1st. The department uses a rolling admissions process; applications are reviewed and students offered admission on an on-going basis.

The department follows all applicable laws and guidelines to ensure that all prospective students' rights are protected.

Transferring from Another Physical Therapy Program?

The Clarkson University Department of Physical Therapy will review the application of any individual who wishes to transfer from other physical therapy programs.  However, we do not accept transfer credits.  All students who would like to apply for our physical therapy program, including those who have already taken graduate level physical therapy coursework, must apply through the Physical Therapy Central Application System (PTCAS).  Everyone who is accepted into our program, including those who have already taken and successfully passed graduate level physical therapy coursework, must begin at the start of the Clarkson Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum and successfully pass all coursework in order to graduate.

Prerequisite Courses

The following pre-requisite courses must be successfully completed within 10 years in order to be considered for admissions to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program:

  • Biology courses: 
    • Cellular and Molecular Biology/Lab (Clarkson course: BY160/BY162), 5 credits
    • Human Anatomy and Physiology I/Lab (Clarkson course: BY 471/BY 473), 5 credits and Human Anatomy & Physiology II/Lab (Clarkson course: BY 472/BY 474) 5 credits
  • Chemistry courses: 
    • General Chemistry I with lab (Clarkson course: CM 131 or CM 103/105: Structure and Bonding with lab) 4 or 5 credits
    • General Chemistry II with lab (Clarkson course: CM 132 or CM 104/106: Chemical Equilibrium and Dynamics with lab) 4 or 5 credits
  • ​​​​​​Physics courses: 
    • Physics I with lab (Clarkson course: PH 131 or PH 141) 4 credits
    • Physics II with lab (Clarkson course: PH 132 or PH 142) 4 credits
  • Statistics course: 
    • Statistics (Clarkson courses: STAT 282, STAT 284, STAT 318, STAT 383) 3 credits
  • Psychology Courses 
    • General Psychology (Clarkson course: PY 151) 3 credits
    • Another 3 credit Psychology course, we recommend Developmental Psychology, life span (Clarkson course: PY 370) 3 credits
  • Medical Terminology

Curriculum & Clinical Education

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

The Doctorate in Physical Therapy program at Clarkson University is a 101-credit, full-time, post-baccalaureate curriculum that takes two and two-third years to complete.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

One of the 25 Colleges with the Highest-Paid Graduates, Money & Career Cheat Sheet 2017
Clinical Education

We strive to produce physical therapists who are effective in clinical practice. This mission informs the entire curriculum which is modular, practice-oriented, evidence-based and problem-based with over 38 weeks of full-time clinical experience/internship and numerous integrated clinical experiences throughout the curriculum, starting at the end of year one.

Learn more about Clinical Education

See For Yourself


The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Clarkson University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone, 703-706-3245; email,; website, If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call (315) 268-3876 or email

The program was originally accredited on Nov. 16, 2001, reaffirmed on Oct. 28, 2009, and reaffirmed again on April 26, 2017. CAPTE is the sole accreditation agency for physical therapy programs in the nation. Licensure through the state is required for practice as a physical therapist. Licensure is gained through successful completion of the National Physical Therapy Examination offered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. 

Provided Student Outcomes
  • Graduation Rate: 89.9 percent of admitted students to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program graduated (two year average from 2017-2018)
  • Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy National Physical Therapy Licensure Exam Pass Rate: 95.5 percent (two year average from 2017-2018)
  • Employment: Of those program graduates responding to surveys, 100 percent who sought jobs as physical therapists were employed as physical therapists within 12 months.
  • The program and institution are also accredited by
  • Comments or complaints about the Clarkson University doctor of physical therapy program should be sent to the chair of the program or the dean of the School of Arts & Sciences:
    • Chair, Department of Physical Therapy, Clarkson University, 8 Clarkson Ave, Potsdam, NY 13699,, 315-268-3786
    • Dean, School of Arts & Sciences, Clarkson University, 8 Clarkson Ave, Potsdam, NY 13699,, 315-268-6738
  • Comments or complaints about the Clarkson University doctor of physical therapy program or Clarkson University can be mailed to the Department of Accreditation, American Physical Therapy Association, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488; Fax: 703-684-7343; or emailed to

Contact Us

Interested in learning more?

Contact: Brittany Ashley
Administrative Assistant for Physical Therapy

Our Mission

We strive to produce physical therapists who are effective in clinical practice. This mission informs the entire curriculum which is modular, practice-oriented, evidence-based and problem-based with over 38 weeks of full-time clinical experience/internship and numerous integrated clinical experiences throughout the curriculum, starting at the end of year one. The commitment to this mission is so much a part of our DNA that our curriculum is designed to ensure that by the first clinical experience/internship, students will have developed many of the skills needed to be effective practitioners.

When clinics agree to host one of our students, they can expect a student who has 1) both content and practical knowledge, 2) clinical workplace skills including safety, billing, team patient care and interactive skills, and 3) most importantly, an investigative and reflective approach to the practice.

Our Philosophy

Our program and its faculty believe that the program mission can best be accomplished through a professional curriculum based upon a strong liberal arts foundation. Further, we believe that the curriculum of the professional program should place at its center the process of clinical problem solving as a construct for: 1) the acquisition of knowledge, attitudes and skills; and 2) for the process of clinical decision-making in professional practice. The application of the clinical problem solving process is patient-centered and utilizes the ability to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the profession's body of knowledge through effective use of the professional literature and current information technologies. We believe that the problem-based learning model provides the optimal tools for developing graduates who value self-directed learning, who are prepared for the clinical decision-making demands of professional practice and who anticipate and respond to changes in the health-care delivery system.

We believe that role models who are professionally competent and personally committed to serving the greater community are best able to foster the behaviors of a socially responsible professional. We believe that in order to be effective, graduates must be sensitive to the diversity of individuals with whom they interact, and to regional differences in the practice of physical therapy.

Clarkson University's Physical Therapy Program is among the nation's select institutions to obtain accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in addition to the University's overall accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

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