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Grand Valley State University    
  Mar 21, 2018
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physical Therapy - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions  section in this catalog.

College of Health Professions

Department of Physical Therapy

Degree: Doctor of Physical Therapy


The Physical Therapy curriculum is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association.



Chairman: Peck. Professors: Peck, Stevenson, Toot; Associate Professors: Alderink, Hoogenboom, Vaughn; Assistant Professors: Baker, Goehring, Green, Harro, Kenyon, Kinne, Ozga, Ritch, Shoemaker, Sobeck, Stickler; Clinical Faculty: Barr, Chapin, Uglietta.

Career Description

Physical therapy is the care and services provided by or under the direction and supervision of all physical therapist, including (1) examining clients with physical impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities or other health-related conditions in order to determine a diagnosis, prognosis, and intervention; (2) alleviating impairments and functional limitations by designing, implementing, and modifying therapeutic interventions; (3) preventing injury, impairments, functional limitations, and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health, and quality of life in all age groups; and (4) engaging in consultation, education, and research.

Physical therapists provide clients, infants through elderly adults, with services at the preventive, acute, and rehabilitative stages directed toward achieving increased functional independence and decreased functional impairment. Physical therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals. They educate and inform others about the services they offer and their effective and cost-efficient delivery. Physical therapists are required to be licensed by the states in which they practice.

Career Opportunities

Physical therapy provides excellent employment potential. The field continues to show growth in clinical responsibilities and in new areas of clinical practice. Some examples of settings in which physical therapists are employed include acute care hospitals, rehabilitation settings, private offices, sports medicine clinics, athletic teams, school systems, centers for the disabled, geriatric settings, home health care, industry, research centers, and universities.


To advance the profession of physical therapy through excellence in education, scholarship and service.


Our vision is to produce reflective physical therapy practitioners who demonstrate excellence in clinical practice, education, consultation, and research to meet the physical therapy needs of society. We strive to transform students personally and professionally. We challenge our students to achieve distinction in examination, evaluation, intervention, outcomes, and prevention of movement dysfunction. In addition, we nurture the development of leadership, for both faculty and students, to address societal health care needs, link evidence to practice, and make ethical decisions.

Core Values

  • Professional and Ethical Behavior
  • Respect and Appreciation of Differences
  • Life-Long Learning
  • Excellence in Teaching, Scholarship, Practice
  • Appreciation of Personal Well-Being
  • Collegiality and Collaboration
  • Social Responsibility
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Reflective Practice
  • Advocacy
  • Leadership

Undergraduates Interested in Physical Therapy

Incoming freshmen should select a major and work with an academic advisor in that department, as well as with the Student Services pre-physical therapy advisor. Suggested majors include but are not limited to health professions, biology, biomedical science, biopsychology, movement science, and athletic training. All of the physical therapy prerequisite curriculum course requirements must be taken for a letter grade.

DPT Admission Requirements

Physical therapy applicants: Applications, recommendation forms, and supplementary materials for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program may be obtained from the Admissions office and website of Grand Valley State University or online at the PT program website For first consideration for admission, the application and all supplementary materials must be returned to the Admissions office by October 15 of the calendar year preceding the year in which the student wishes to begin the professional curriculum. An annual class of 48 students is admitted. Students are accepted for fall entrance only and will be informed of the Admissions Committee’s decision by a mailing.

Admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is competitive. The criteria for acceptance includes the following:

  1. Receipt by October 15 of official transcripts from all community colleges, 4 year colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher education attended.
  2. Completion of the following prerequisite coursework. All prerequisites must be taken for letter grades; each prerequisite must be completed with a letter grade of “C” or better. The prerequisites and the undergraduate degree must be completed by the first day of class of the professional program. Students in process of completing these must submit a written plan (include course name, number, credit hours, semester, and university) outlining courses and degree completion.

    One course that includes cellular structure and function, with lab. BIO 120.

    One course in physiology, with lab. BMS 290 and 291 (and prerequisites for physiology; e.g., chemistry).

    One course in anatomy, with lab. BMS 208 and 309.

    One course in exercise physiology. MOV 304.

    One course in college algebra or college trigonometry or calculus. MTH 122 or 123 or 125.

    Two sequential courses in general physics, with labs. PHY 220 and 221.

    One course in statistics. STA 215.

    One course in introductory psychology. PSY 101.

    One course in life-span developmental psychology. PSY 364.

    One course in introductory sociology, social problems, or introduction to cultural anthropology. SOC 201 or 280, or ANT 204.

  3. Academic achievement. All applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 overall and 3.2 average in prerequisite course requirements to be considered for admission.
  4. Acceptable GRE scores submitted prior to October 15.
  5. Recommendations. Two recommendations must be submitted on university forms prior to October 15. One must be from a licensed physical therapist. These forms are available from the website
  6. Abbreviated resume. Educational, scholarly, volunteer, leadership, and work experiences/activities must be documented on GVSU PT forms (available on the PT website) and submitted prior to October 15.’
  7. Observational experience. A minimum of 50 hours of self-documented experience is required at the time of application (October 15) and must be recorded on the abbreviated resume under volunteer and/or work (paid) experience. Experiences in a variety of clinical settings are valued. Examples of clinical settings include in-patient, out-patient, extended care, and school.
  8. Communication and interpersonal skills. On-site interviewing may be required. Practice interviews are available by contacting Career Services at (616) 331-3311.
  9. Technical standards. Individuals must be able to perform all technical standards of the Physical Therapy program. This is available for view on the website:
  10. Foreign born student applicants must be able to communicate well in English. The following minimal scores are expected: TOEFL 610 or computer based TOEFL 253. TOEFL scores must be received by October 15.

Reasons to Attend PT at GVSU

  • Faculty credentials include 6 with Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D., and 8 with clinical specializations in orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, manual therapy and pediatrics.
  • 35+ Adjunct faculty.
  • Completely revised curriculum that includes research experience for all students.
  • Three advanced electives (sports PT, spinal manual therapy, and neurologic PT).
  • Thirty-eight weeks of full-time clinical internship in 5 settings across the United States.
  • State of the art facility and equipment.
  • Four major hospitals close by to provide educational experiences.
  • 100% Pass-rate on licensure examination.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistants work with physical therapy and college faculty, administrators and staff to provide quality education, research and service. Qualified candidates are selected on the basis of aptitude, interest and background.

Professional Conduct

The physical therapy program values and will mentor the following student abilities: commitment to learning, interpersonal skills, communication skills, effective use of time and resources, use of constructive feedback, problem-solving, professionalism, responsibility, critical thinking, and stress management. Definitions and criteria will be provided upon entry into the program.

General Degree Requirements

General graduate academic policies and regulations can be found in the Grand Valley Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog.

Physical Therapy assumes the responsibility to assure the public that our students have met high standards of professional behavior and academic achievement. We require that students attain a minimum of 80 percent competency in each learning module. These modules are defined by faculty and are reflected in each course syllabus across the professional curricula.

Criminal background and drug screen checks may be required prior to participation in certain clinical experiences. The cost of this evaluation may be the responsibility of the student.

Program Location

Semester 1 is at Pew Campus Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and Allendale campus.

Semester 2-6 and 8 are at Pew Campus Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

Clinical experiences are in Michigan and other selected states during semesters 3, 5, 7, & 9.

DPT Completion Requirements

Demonstration of completion of the 120 credits in the professional curriculum is required for completion of the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Graduate Outcomes

Students graduate in 36 months, then take the national licensing exam. 90%+ pass the exam on the first attempt. 100% pass with subsequent attempts. 100% are successful at job placement in Michigan and across the United States.

Retention and Termination

Grounds for Probation

  1. A final course grade below a 2.7 (B-) in a 500, 600, or 700 level AHS, PSY, PT, or STA course.
  2. A final grade below a 2.0 (C) in a 400-500 level BMS course.
  3. A final grade of “no credit” in PT 636, PT 656, PT 675, PT 677, or PT 696.
  4. A cumulative graduate level GPA less than 3.0 (B) after completion of nine hours of graduate level course work (i.e., at the end of semester one.)
  5. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior while matriculating as a student in the PT program.

Clinical Education

Students will not be allowed to participate in clinical experiences if there is a reason to believe that they are unprepared for this type of experience. Sufficient reason include:

  1. Probationary status.
  2. Questions about the student’s ability to safely manage patients.
  3. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior.
  4. Medical or psychological conditions which could endanger the safety of the student or the patients entrusted to them, or that prevent the student from fully participating in the clinical experience.
  5. Problems identified with professional abilities may result in a student being regarded by faculty as unprepared for clinical assignment. With the assistance of faculty, the student must resolve the problem area prior to the clinical assignment.
  6. Clinical Education courses are sequenced (I, II, III, IV, V). If a student does not satisfactorily complete one course, he/she may not progress to the next course without completion of remedial work or repeat of the course.

Dismissal from the Program

Grounds for Dismissal: Any on of the following items may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program:

  1. Failure to complete required remedial work at the required level.
  2. Failure to complete items required in a remediation contract.
  3. Final grades that result in probation during two consecutive semesters.
  4. Failure to demonstrate “continued competency,” of past course content.
  5. Evidence of unethical or illegal behavior while matriculating as a student in the PT program.
  6. Cumulative graduate GPA of less than 3.0

The following program is available:

Doctor of Physical Therapy