Physical Therapy

Physical therapists are healthcare professionals who are dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life. Physical therapists are “movement specialists” who provide services aimed at preventing the onset and/or slowing the progression of conditions resulting from injury, disease and other causes. They help to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve function.

Physical therapy is the examination, evaluation, management and education of persons to detect, assess ongoing effects of intervention, prevent, correct, alleviate, and limit acute or prolonged movement dysfunction. As a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, you will learn to assess joint motion, muscle strength and endurance, function of heart and lungs and performance of activities required in daily living. You will also learn treatment techniques that a physical therapist provides including therapeutic exercise, cardiovascular endurance training and training in activities of daily living.

Maryville’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is a six and one-half year freshman-entry program. Acceptance into the program as a freshman assures the student a place in the professional portion of the program if the student maintains satisfactory academic progress in the program. Students earn an undergraduate degree in Health Science upon successfully completing this first four years of the program.

In 2005, The Higher Learning Commission of The North Central Accreditation approved Maryville University to offer the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).  The program is also accredited by the Commission of Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).

Program Features

Seven program goals have been adopted by the faculty of the Maryville University Physical Therapy program. The program is designed to integrate the liberal arts pre-professional education into the professional curriculum and to assure that students graduate as physical therapists. It is the intent of the faculty to develop generalist clinicians who will use knowledge in the foundational and clinical sciences to provide safe, compassionate physical therapy services in a variety of settings throughout the lifespan  Upon graduation, the generalist clinician will achieve all curriculum goals.  The program’s goal is to prepare graduates in physical therapy with an education grounded in the liberal arts who are:

  • Reflective practitioners who will critically evaluate and improve the effectiveness of their practice in the light of personal experience and changing information derived from research.  He/she will integrate the five elements of patient/client management, which are: examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis and intervention to enhance outcomes
  • Professionals who will serve their profession, work within the health care system, and serve society through support and improvement of the profession of physical therapy
  • Colleagues who will develop and maintain mutually respectful relationships with other members of the health care system
  • Educators who will provide effective teaching methods to meet the needs of the learner for a variety of audiences
  • Learners who will seek and expand knowledge for professional growth and development to help others
  • Administrators who will manage the resources necessary for providing physical therapy service
  • Alumni who will engage in and support the Physical Therapy Program at Maryville University

Essential Functions

The Maryville University Physical Therapy Program seeks to admit and retain students who have the ability to become highly competent physical therapists. Essential functions, skills, and abilities ensure that the student possesses all of the necessary attributes of the academic program required for graduation.

Essential functions, skills, and abilities refer to the physical, cognitive, and behavioral abilities required for satisfactory completion of all aspects of the curriculum and the development of professional attributes required by the faculty of all students.

  1. Cognitive ability is required to master relevant content in basic science and clinical courses and to think critically and reflectively; for example, evaluating all aspects of a patient and assessing each component of data for its impact on the possible diagnoses as well as the same process of assessing the alternatives and the potential impacts of each on the patient’s problems.  All aspects include educational, community, societal, work related, and family related areas as well as direct physical and psychological findings from the patient.
  2. Interpersonal skills are required to interact with groups of individuals from a variety of backgrounds; for example, establishing rapport with patients, clients, and colleagues;  recognizing psychosocial impact of dysfunction/disability; and integrating the needs of the patient and family into the plan of care.
  3. Communication ability is required to communicate both in verbal and written form; for example, explaining treatment procedures, obtaining essential information from the patient and others, educating patients, and documenting physical therapist actions and patient responses.
  4. Mobility skills are required to move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces; for example, transferring patients and responding to emergencies.
  5. Gross and Fine Motor skills are required to provide safe and effective physical therapy; for example, simultaneously doing different activities with each hand, calibrating and using equipment, positioning patients/clients, guarding and assisting with transfers and ambulation, performing ROM, debridement, CPR, using physical agents, and the ability to lift, carry, pull, push, reach, stand, walk, kneel, bend, climb, balance, and operate electrical equipment.
  6. Hearing ability is required to monitor and assess health needs; for example, hearing and monitoring alarms, emergency signals, and cries for help.
  7. Visual ability is required to monitor and assess health needs and equipment; for example, measuring and observing patient responses, monitoring vital signs, visual inspection and calibrating or adjusting equipment.
  8. Tactile ability is required for physical assessment; for example, performing palpation, physical examination or intervention and applying resistance during treatment or assessment.
  9. Coping skills are required to perform in stressful environments or during impending deadlines; for example, working with terminally ill patients, fast paced clinical situations, psychological responses of patients to their disabilities, etc.
  10. Behavioral skills are required to demonstrate professionalism and possess attributes which include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility, and tolerance; for example: practicing safely, ethically, and legally; participating in scientific inquiry; and demonstrating responsibility for lifelong professional growth and development.

It is the responsibility of the student with disabilities to request those accommodations that he/she feels are reasonable and are needed to execute the essential functions.  Students with documented disabilities are encouraged to contact the Center for Academic Success and First-Year Experience and request the accommodations.  The decision regarding the reasonableness of the accommodation will be made by the Center in consultation with the Physical Therapy Program Director.

Program Outcomes – The information below is based on a three-year average (2011-2013).

  • Graduation Rate – 82%
    The graduation rate for the Physical Therapy Program at Maryville University is the percentage of students who began the professional phase of the program and graduated within three years.
  • Licensure Exam Pass Rate – 100%
    As stated on the American Physical Therapy Association’s website, every graduate of a physical therapy program must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to become a licensed therapist in the United States.
  • Employment Rate – 100%
    The employment rate for the Physical Therapy Program at Maryville University is the percentage of graduates who were employed as physical therapists within six months of passing the licensure examination.

Clinical Education
Maryville affiliates with over 184 physical therapy clinical sites in the United States. Students complete a total of 40 weeks of clinical education in a variety of settings such as hospitals, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, school settings and rehab centers.

Students in the Physical Therapy Program are required to have physical examinations, be current on all vaccinations, be certified in CPR for adult, infant, and child and have annual TB-Tuberculin PPD tests. Flu vaccines are required. Other immunization requirements may be needed depending upon a clinical facility’s requirements. Prior to participation in clinicals, students must provide proof of health insurance and must undergo criminal background checks and urine drug screens. Background checks and drug screenings may be required at any point in the program.

Program Completion
Upon completion of all academic coursework, you will spend approximately 30 full-time weeks on clinical experiences where you will be expected to accept responsibility in the examination and treatment of patients in a variety of clinical settings under the supervision of a qualified physical therapist. Successful completion of the program does not guarantee that you will pass the licensure exam and practice as a physical therapist.

Other requirements for physical therapy practice vary from state to state according to physical therapy practice acts or state regulations governing physical therapy. A state board may refuse to issue a license for specific reasons related to moral turpitude, intemperate use of alcohol or drugs, conviction of a crime or failure to pay child support.

Physical Therapy Club
The Physical Therapy Club is one of the most active student organizations on campus. The PT Club participates in enrichment activities that expand on a student’s learning about physical therapy in a fun, interactive and service-focused manner. The club promotes the profession of physical therapy through a variety of community awareness activities. The club also sponsors fundraising events to assist students who attend national physical therapy conferences as well as fundraising for special community needs. Participation in the PT Club fosters student leadership and mentoring and allows for networking with peers, students of other classes and students from other physical therapy schools.

Professional/Career Opportunities

More than 120,000 physical therapists are licensed in the U.S. today, treating nearly one million people every day. Employment in areas of orthopedic outpatient and hospital-based facilities, sports medicine, acute care, long-term care, rehabilitation centers, pediatric facilities, skilled nursing facilities and home health care are available for licensed physical therapists. The median salary for a physical therapist in the Midwest is $73,000.  The median salary for a new physical therapy graduate is $60,000.

Degree Offerings and Requirements

Admission Requirements

Before students can be admitted to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, they must meet certain freshmen entrance requirements. Current Maryville University students should apply directly to the Physical Therapy program and not through Admissions.

At the present time, the Physical Therapy Program at Maryville University is designed to be a freshman entry program and is not accepting external transfer students

University Accreditation

Maryville University of Saint Louis is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, 30 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL 60602-2504. You can contact them by calling 800.621.7440.

School and College Accreditation

The Physical Therapy Program at Maryville 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:

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