Doctor of Physical Therapy

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of Washington offers an exceptional, well-rounded, in-person education for students who want to graduate as physical therapy generalists.

At the UW, you’ll study in one of the top departments for rehabilitation services in the United States. Our DPT program is offered by the Division of Physical Therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, the eighth leading department for rehabilitation care in the United States, according to current rankings from U.S. News & World Report.

The UW DPT program is fully accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Academic Experience

The mission of the University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum is to graduate outstanding physical therapists capable of specializing in any of the different areas of PT practice. Through your coursework and clinical education experiences, you’ll develop a broad foundation of physical therapy knowledge and skills, as well as the critical thinking and clinical reasoning abilities you’ll need as a physical therapist.

The DPT program is a full-time, three-year (11-quarter) program. The first two years, or eight quarters, are focused primarily on classroom instruction, progressing from developing foundational knowledge to applying skills in clinical evaluations and showing a beginning mastery of examination, evaluation and intervention strategies.

In the summer between the first and second year, you’ll do a four-week clinical experience, which allows you to practice skills you’ve learned in the first year. In the second year, you’ll also gain hands-on PT experience through numerous integrated clinical experiences in a variety of practice settings, including the UW Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center and Hall Health, located on the UW Seattle campus. 

The final three quarters are spent almost entirely on clinical experience. You'll participate in three full-time, 11-week clinical experiences, which can take place at a variety of local, regional and national clinics and institutions. Students will be required to complete a capstone project, which will be a mentor-oriented project, a research project, or a case report.  

The program at a glance

Credits:165–167
Format:Classroom and clinical education
Length:3 years (11 quarters),
full-time
Cost:$8,487/quarter for WA state residents $13,281/quarter for nonresidents (2023–2024)

Degree Requirements

To earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at the University of Washington, you must complete 165–167 credits, including 34 credits from clinical internships and a 12-credit capstone project. While all courses are required, students can earn additional independent study credits for special research or clinical activities, or electives. Potential electives include pelvic health, sports, disability studies, imaging, and specialty pediatrics. 

Course Sequence

Below is the program plan for students in the current cohort. Credit values are listed in parentheses after each course title.

For course descriptions, see the course catalog

Year One

Autumn Quarter

  • REHAB 504: Procedures I: Basic Physical Examination of the Extremities (2)
  • REHAB 509: Rehabilitation Procedures: Functional Skills Assessment – Part A (1)
  • REHAB 517: Physical Therapy Seminar I (2)
  • REHAB 521: Physiology and Pathophysiology for Physical Therapy (5)
  • REHAB 544: Functional Anatomy for Rehabilitation of the Extremities (5)

Winter Quarter

  • REHAB 506: Procedures II: Physical Examination of the Spine (2)
  • REHAB 517: Physical Therapy Seminar II (2)
  • REHAB 524: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Practice in Physical Therapy (4)
  • REHAB 533: Diseases & Diagnosis in Rehabilitation I* (1)
  • REHAB 545: Functional Anatomy for Rehabilitation of the Spine (4)
  • REHAB 551: Neurobiology for Rehabilitation (5)​

Spring Quarter

  • REHAB 508: Principles of Therapeutic Exercise (5)
  • REHAB 509: Rehabilitation Procedures: Functional Skills Assessment – Part B (1​)
  • REHAB 517: Physical Therapy Seminar III (2)
  • REHAB 525: Exercise Physiology for Rehabilitation (3)
  • REHAB 533: Diseases & Diagnosis in Rehabilitation II* (1)
  • REHAB 536: Patient Evaluation & Clinical Decision-Making* (1)
  • REHAB 548: Kinesiology for Rehabilitation (4)
  • REHAB 554: Perspectives in Interprofessional Practice* (1)​​

Summer Quarter

  • REHAB 500: Clinical Clerkship in Physical Therapy* (4) 
  • REHAB 507: Physical Therapy Procedures III: Modalities (4)
  • REHAB 517: Physical Therapy Seminar IV (2)
  • REHAB 537: Functional Mobility Skills (2)
  • REHAB 540: Acute Care Practice in Physical Therapy I (3)

Year Two

Autumn Quarter

  • REHAB 505: Introduction to Pharmacology (2)
  • REHAB 510: Rehabilitation Psychology (2)
  • REHAB 511: Musculoskeletal IV: Clinical Management (4)
  • REHAB 523: Neuroscience III: Applied Neurology (4)
  • REHAB 531: Critical Thinking Skills in Physical Therapy (2)

Winter Quarter

  • REHAB 502: Pediatric Physical Therapy I (4)
  • REHAB 512: Musculoskeletal V: Clinical Management (4)
  • REHAB 527: Neuroscience IV: Special Topics in Neurologic Rehabilitation (3)
  • REHAB 529: Professional and Practice Issues in Physical Therapy (2)
  • REHAB 538: Integumentary, Edema Management & Circulatory Screening for PT (1)

Spring Quarter

  • REHAB 502: Pediatric Physical Therapy II (4)
  • REHAB 503: Lifespan III: Geriatric Physical Therapy* (3)
  • REHAB 512: Musculoskeletal VI: Clinical Management (4)​
  • REHAB 518: Diversity, Inclusion and Health Disparities* (2)
  • REHAB 540: Acute Care Practice in Physical Therapy II (3)
  • REHAB 569: Prosthetics and Orthotics for Physical Therapists* (1)​​​

Summer Quarter

  • REHAB 514: Systems Review for Physical Therapists* (3)
  • REHAB 515: Advanced Neuromusculoskeletal Interventions in Physical Therapy* (3)
  • REHAB 535: Physical Therapy Administration Issues (2)
  • REHAB 566: Electives (variable, not required)* (1–4) 

In year two, students will take one credit of REHAB 567: Practicum in Rehabilitation*. 

Year Three

Autumn Quarter

  • REHAB 595: Clinical Affiliation in Physical Therapy* (10)

Winter Quarter

  • REHAB 595: Clinical Affiliation in Physical Therapy* (10)

Spring Quarter

  • REHAB 595: Clinical Internship* (10)

*Taken as credit/no credit

REHAB 801A or B: Students fulfill 12 credits of capstone. Students will choose a case study (REHAB 801A) or research track (REHAB 801B). Students in the research track will spread 12 credits over their second and third years. Students in the case report track will spread their credits over the last four quarters of the program.

Clinical education is an essential part of your training to become a physical therapist, allowing you to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to actual patient care experiences. It also provides opportunities to explore different physical therapy specialties and settings.

Clinical Experience

University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy students participate in a total of four clinical experiences:

  • One four-week clinical experience, in any setting, at the end of the first year
  • Three full-time clinical experiences, in a variety of settings and geographic locations, in the third year

To prepare to work as physical therapist generalists, you are required to pursue a range of clinical experiences. The program maintains affiliation agreements with a wide variety of clinical sites, including outpatient and in-patient facilities serving patients across the life span and those in urban and nonurban areas. The majority of sites are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, with some sites in other parts of the United States.

Integrated Clinical Education

Integrated clinical education (ICE) complements classroom instruction by giving you opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills. ICE experiences allow you to work with actual patients at clinical sites.

In the UW School of Nursing and at Northwest Hospital simulation labs, you'll interact with simulated patients and/or high-tech mannequins in a closely mentored setting. 

You'll also participate in ICE experiences at our affiliated clinical sites, which include UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center. 

Some integrated clinical education experiences are interdisciplinary in nature, providing opportunities to work collaboratively with students in occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech language pathology and nursing.

Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program

During your clinical education experiences, you'll be mentored by licensed physical therapists who serve as clinical instructors (CIs). The UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program strives to train all clinical instructors who work with UW students through the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program (CCIP). The CCIP provides CIs with strategies to effectively design and facilitate PT clinical learning experiences, evaluate performance and provide feedback, and apply communication strategies to diverse situations.

Michelle Cangialosi is the acting director of clinical education. 

Service learning is a structured learning experience that combines community-based service or research with preparation and reflection. The University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program strives to provide students with a sustainable program of diverse service learning experiences that complement the academic curriculum and meet the specific identified needs of individuals and communities.

The Service Learning Process

You'll engage in service learning through participation in community-based service or research in response to community-identified concerns. You'll learn about the context in which the service is provided, the connection between your service and your academic coursework, and your roles as both citizens and professionals. At the end, you'll evaluate your performance and reflect on the experience. 

Under Washington state law, all service learning experiences must be supervised by a licensed healthcare professional. 

Service Learning Opportunities

Since 2006, service learning related to fall prevention awareness has been an integral part of the UW DPT program. 

Other service learning experiences currently in development are:

  • Seattle/King County Clinic
  • UW Health Fair in Red Square
  • Athlete screening for the Special Olympics
  • University District Street Medicine (UDSM) teaching clinics in the University District and at the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC)

Service Opportunities

As a UW DPT student, you'll also have the opportunity to volunteer your services through a variety of activities available locally, regionally and internationally. 

Local and regional service opportunities include:

  • Fall screening and prevention for elderly individuals in the community
  • Pediatric developmental screening and fitness education at the Latina Health Fair in Seattle
  • Collaborations with community clinicians to provide medical support at local marathons
  • Outreach services to unhoused people in Seattle’s University District with University District Street Medicine 

Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington (GROW)

You can also provide service through the student organization Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington, more commonly known as GROW. GROW developed from a shared interest in global health and community outreach among students in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. The goal of the group is to inspire rehabilitation professionals to become more engaged in their communities and play a part in building a better world.

GROW provides resources and opportunities for students to participate in a variety of local and international service projects under the supervision of UW faculty and licensed therapists from the community. International volunteer programs are available in Peru, Zimbabwe and Guatemala. Locally, GROW members volunteer with activities and groups such as the Falls Prevention Program, the Latina Health Fair and University District Street Medicine.

For more information about GROW, visit the GROW website or email grow3@uw.edu.

Department of Rehabilitation Interdisciplinary Student Organization (DRISO)

The Department of Rehabilitation Interdisciplinary Student Organization (DRISO) promotes interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration in rehabilitation through the catalyst of student action. This registered student organization provides opportunities for students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, prosthetics and orthotics, speech and hearing sciences, and rehabilitation science to participate in a variety of activities, including service learning, extracurricular educational programs and social engagement from an interdisciplinary perspective. For more information, visit the DRISO website (UW NetID required to access).

Application Dates and Deadlines

Applications open in June. Application deadline is October 15, 2024. All materials are due by this date, including official transcripts and official GRE scores to PTCAS. Admission decisions are emailed to students in late January. Students begin the program in late fall. 

Minimum Admission Requirements

To apply for admission, applicants must have the following:

  • A Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or its equivalent from a foreign institution (or be on track to earn a bachelor’s before the program begins). Any major is acceptable.
  • An overall undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Grade of 2.0 or higher in each prerequisite PT course and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in all prerequisite PT courses. Due to COVID-19, if the institution elected to use the P/F or S/NS grading option, you can use the pass/satisfactory credits to fulfill prerequisite course requirements. This only applies to the courses offered in Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Summer 2020, Autumn 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021 and Summer 2021.
  • At least half of the prerequisite PT courses completed and be on track to complete all prior to the program start date.
  • A minimum of 25 hours of PT-related work or volunteer experience. It must be completed under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist at any physical location within the U.S. 
    • All hours, whether they’re volunteer, paid, shadow or observation hours, are weighted equally in the admissions process. We recommend you gain experience in more than one practice setting.
  • Applicants are expected to arrange their own PT-related experience. Volunteering in the physical therapy department of a hospital or private clinic is a good place to begin. 
  • Demonstrated English Language Proficiency (ELP) for applicants whose native language is not English (see Information for International Students section below).

Required Application Materials

  • Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) online application
  • UW Graduate School online application
    • Note: Our program is listed under "Rehabilitation Medicine - Doctor of Physical Therapy" in the dropdown menu of the UW Graduate School's application system
  • Official transcripts from every college or university ever attended
  • Three to four letters of recommendation of which one is required to be from a physical therapist licensed to practice in the US
  • Essays
  • GRE scores. 
  • TOEFL scores (if English is not your native language)

Prerequisite Courses

You may use credits from college-level coursework taken any time in your academic career; there is no expiration date. Prerequisite courses may be taken at any accredited institution of higher education, including universities, community colleges or online providers. 

Beneath each prerequisite subject listed below, you’ll find a list of acceptable courses that will meet the prerequisite requirements. Courses from other schools may vary in content, level and credits and still meet the prerequisites for this program.   

You can also see the UW equivalent course(s) for some of the prerequisite requirements. You may compare the course descriptions in your college catalog to gauge approximate equivalencies. If you attended one of the Washington state community colleges, check the University of Washington Equivalency Guide.

Due to the large number of applications we receive each year, we do not provide pre-admission course/transcript evaluations.

Anatomy

Human Anatomy is highly recommended. Lab recommended. 

Acceptable courses: A&P combined course, Neuroanatomy, Vertebrate, Advanced, Animal, Human or Mammalian.

UW course BIOL 310.

Physiology

Human Physiology is highly recommended. Lab recommended. 

Acceptable courses: A&P combined course, Vertebrate, Advanced, Animal, Human or Mammalian.

UW course BIOL 118/119.

Biology (2 courses)

Any course covering macro-to-micro-focused general biology is acceptable. Lab recommended. A&P and Botany courses are NOT accepted.

Acceptable courses: Advanced, Cell, Embryology, General, Genetics, Histology, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular or Zoology.

UW course BIOL 180, 200 or 220.

Chemistry (2 courses)

Any course covering inorganic, organic or biochemistry is acceptable. Lab recommended.

Acceptable courses: Advanced, Biochemistry, Inorganic or Organic.

UW course CHEM 142, 152, 162, 120, 220 or 221.

Physics (2 courses)

A course covering mechanics, heat, sound and/or electromagnetism is acceptable. Lab recommended.

UW course PHYS 114/117, 115/118 or 116/119.

Psychology

Any psychology course is acceptable.

Acceptable courses: Abnormal, Adolescent, Advanced, Child, Death/Dying, Developmental, General, Growth & Development, Human Behavior, Life Span Development, Psychopathology, Rehabilitation, Social or Sports.

Behavioral Science

Any course focusing on human behavior across the disciplines of psychology, sociology or anthropology is acceptable.

Acceptable courses: Community Health, Human Sexuality, Marriage/Family, Personal Health or Social Work.

Statistics

A statistics course in any discipline is acceptable. Calculus is NOT accepted.

Step One: Prepare to Apply

Review the 2023 Admission & Program Overview (PDF).

Review the PTCAS general application instructions.

Complete your PT-related work or volunteer experience. A minimum of 25 hours is required.

Complete your prerequisite coursework. You must have at least half of your prerequisites completed at application with a confirmed plan to complete all prior to entry into the program. It is strongly recommended that you complete the Anatomy & Physiology pre-requisite courses before or during the term you submit your application.

Write your personal statement essays. The Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) application requires an essay and a response to a school-specific question. Because there’s no interview in the program’s application process, these statements are the primary way you can express your aptitude for the PT profession and your personal qualities and attributes that will help you succeed in this program.

Ask for letters of recommendation for you. Identify people who are willing to write you a letter and can speak to your competence and character. You’ll need to submit three to four letters of recommendation as part of your PTCAS application. You must obtain at least one recommendation letter from a physical therapist you assisted or shadowed while getting your observation hours. Other acceptable recommenders/evaluators are professors, academic professionals including TAs and pre-PT advisors, healthcare professionals, former employers, or supervisors. Make sure the people you choose can speak to your potential for a career in physical therapy.

Take the GRE (General Test). GRE scores must be sent directly to the PTCAS from the Educational Testing Service using code 0088. GRE scores must be within five years. Other standardized test scores such as GMAT, MCAT, LSAT or DAT are not accepted. There is no minimum GRE score requirement. 

Official GRE scores must be received by the PTCAS by the October 15, 2024, deadline. We strongly encourage you to take the GRE by September 30, 2024, at the latest, as it usually takes 10–15 business days to receive official scores.

Take the TOEFL (if applicable). TOEFL scores must be sent directly to PTCAS using code 5312. A minimum score of 100 (iBT) is required.

Apply early. Make sure to give yourself enough time to prepare your application. We strongly encourage you to apply as early as possible to ensure timely processing and reviews. Your PTCAS application must have a “Verified” status to be considered for admission. More information on PTCAS application statuses can be found here. Late/incomplete applications are not reviewed.

Step Two: Apply

Submit the UW Graduate School Online Application.

The UW Graduate School does not require an official transcript during the application process. You can upload an unofficial or a student copy for your UW application. Once you are admitted, you must submit official transcripts for degree verification.

Submit the PTCAS Online Application.

All required admission documents must be submitted through the PTCAS online application system. The DPT Curriculum Office will NOT accept any documents including additional recommendation letters or essays.

The PTCAS application will close at 11:59 pm ET.  Please pay attention to the closing time in your time zone.
11:59 PM (ET)
10:59 PM (CT) 
9:59 PM (MT) 
8:59 PM (PT) 
7:59 PM (AKT)
6:59 PM (HAT)

Program Selection Criteria

The UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program aims to graduate highly effective physical therapists who will drive innovation and excellence in the profession. Students who fit best within our program embody and embrace the mission and vision of the Division, Department, and University. While selecting our student body, we consider an applicant’s experiences, personal attributes, and academic history.

Criminal History Background Check

A criminal background check is required if accepted to the program and must be completed before admittance. This is because our clinical internship placement sites require potential trainees to undergo an extensive criminal history background check, especially for crimes against vulnerable populations. 

Information for International Students

We welcome international applications. You are considered an international applicant if you are not a U.S. citizen, immigrant or permanent resident. International applicants must meet all admission requirements for the program.

Visa Status

International students must have a visa status that allows for academic study at the University of Washington. If you’re admitted to the DPT program and plan to attend on an F-1 visa, you must study full time — at least 10 credits per quarter — to maintain your visa status. For more information, review the citizenship and visa status section of the Graduate School application process page, and contact Graduate Enrollment Management Services at uwgrad@uw.edu if you have any questions.

English Language Proficiency

International applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English Language Proficiency (ELP). required Test scores must be sent directly to PTCAS by the Educational Testing Service using institution code 5312. Only scores less than two years old will be accepted.

More Information

Equal Opportunity for Admissions Statement

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability or status as a protected veteran. This policy applies to all programs and facilities, including, but not limited to, admissions, educational programs, employment, and patient and hospital services. Any discriminatory action can be a cause for disciplinary action. Discrimination is prohibited by Presidential Executive Order 11246 as amended, Washington State Gubernatorial Executive Orders 89-01 and 93-07, Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Washington State Law Against Discrimination RCW 49.60, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, State of Washington Gender Equity in Higher Education Act of 1989, Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 as amended, Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 as amended, other federal and state statutes, regulations, and University policy. Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action compliance efforts at the University of Washington are coordinated by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, University of Washington, UW Box 354960 4300 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, Washington, 98195-1240, telephone(206) 543-3392 or email eoaa@uw.edu

The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To request disability accommodation in the application process, contact the Disability Services Office at least 10 days in advance at: 206-543-6450 (V), 206-543-6452 (TTY), 206-685-7264 (FAX) or dso@uw.edu.

Essential Requirements  

The DPT degree is recognized as a broad degree requiring the acquisition of general knowledge and basic skills in all applicable domains of medicine. The education of a physical therapist requires assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of skills and development of judgment through patient care experience in preparation for independent and appropriate decisions required in practice. The current practice of physical therapy emphasizes collaboration among physical therapists, other health care professionals, the patient or client and the patient or client’s family. 

The University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy endeavors to select applicants who can become highly competent physical therapists. As an accredited physical therapy program, the University of Washington Curriculum in Physical Therapy adheres to the standards and guidelines of the Commission on Accreditation for Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association. Within these guidelines, the University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy has the freedom and ultimate responsibility for the selection and evaluation of its students; the design, implementation and evaluation of its curriculum; and the determination of who should be awarded a degree. Admission and retention decisions are based not only on prior satisfactory academic achievement but also on nonacademic factors, which serve to ensure that the candidate can complete the essential functions of the academic program required for graduation. 

The division has the responsibility to the public to assure that its graduates can become fully competent and caring physical therapists, capable of doing benefit and not harm. Thus, it’s important that students admitted possess the intelligence, integrity, compassion, humanitarian concern and physical and emotional capacity necessary to practice physical therapy. 

The Division of Physical Therapy, as part of the University of Washington, is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. The division does not discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability. When requested, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified students with disabilities. 

Technical Standards 

Technical standards, as distinguished from academic standards, refer to those 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 at graduation. The essential abilities required by the curriculum are in the following areas: motor, sensory, communication, intellectual (conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities for problem solving and patient assessment) and the behavioral and social aspects of the performance of a physical therapist. 

The University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy curriculum requires essential abilities in information acquisition. You must have the ability to master information presented in course work in the form of lectures, written material and projected images, and be able to seek and synthesize information from appropriate and varied sources. You must also be able to recognize your own limits, both personally and related to your skill in and knowledge of physical therapy. 

You must have the cognitive abilities necessary to master relevant content in basic science and clinical courses at a level deemed appropriate by the faculty.  These skills may be described as the ability to comprehend, memorize, analyze and synthesize material and to do so in a timely manner. You must be able to discern and comprehend dimensional and spatial relationships of structures and be able to develop reasoning and decision-making skills appropriate to the practice of physical therapy. 

You must have the ability to take and document in a patient’s record an appropriate history and perform a physical examination. Such tasks require the ability to communicate with the patient and family. You must also be capable of perceiving the signs of disease, especially neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction, as manifested through the physical examination. Such information is derived from observation and palpation of the body surfaces, palpable changes in various organs and tissues, and auditory information (such as a patient's voice and heart tones).

You must have the ability to discern skin, subcutaneous masses, muscles, bones, joints, lymph nodes and intra-abdominal organs (e.g., liver and spleen). You must be able to perceive the presence of abnormalities, which are not within the musculoskeletal system, such as masses in the abdomen. 

A major component of the practice of physical therapy is the assessment and management of movement disorders.  Therefore, you should have the ability, within reasonable limits, to safely assist a patient in moving, for example, from a chair to a bed, or from a wheelchair to a commode. You must also move yourself in a three-dimensional space to perform motor function tests and treatments. Additionally, you should be able to always ensure the physical safety of a patient. 

You must be able to communicate effectively with patients and family, physicians and other members of the health care team. The communication skills require the ability to assess all information, including the recognition of the significance of nonverbal communication and immediate assessment of information provided to allow for appropriate, well-focused follow-up inquiry. You should be capable of responsive, empathetic listening to establish rapport in a way that promotes openness on issues of concern and sensitivity to potential cultural differences. 

You should be able to process and communicate information on the patient's status with accuracy in a timely manner to physical therapist colleagues and other members of the health care team. This information then needs to be communicated in a succinct yet comprehensive manner and in settings in which time is limited. Written or dictated patient assessments, etc., must be complete and accurate. The appropriate communication may also rely on your ability to make a correct judgment in seeking supervision and consultation in a timely manner. 

You must be able to understand the basis and content of ethical physical therapy practice. You should possess the following attributes: compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, responsibility and tolerance. You should have the emotional stability to function effectively under stress and to adapt to an environment, that may change rapidly without warning and/or in unpredictable ways. 

These essential functions of physical therapy education identify the requirements for admission, retention and graduation of applicants and students at the University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy. Graduates are expected to be qualified to enter the field of physical therapy. If you have a disability, it's your responsibility to request accommodations that you feel are reasonable and needed to execute the essential requirements described. 

The University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a self-sustaining, fee-based program administered by the Division of Physical Therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in collaboration with UW Continuum College.

Program and Living Expenses

The UW DPT program is 11 consecutive quarters (33 months) long. Tuition is charged as a flat quarterly rate. For the 2023–2024 academic year, tuition is $8,497 per quarter for resident (Washington state) students and $13,281 per quarter for nonresidents. Payment is due by the third Friday of the quarter. Tuition rates are subject to change and may increase 5–10% per year.

In addition to tuition, you’ll need to budget for other program-related costs, such as required UW and program fees, books, and travel and housing expenses for out-of-town clinical experiences. (Students are required to do at least one of their clinical experiences outside of the greater Seattle area.)

Estimated Total Program Expenses

 ResidentNonresident
Tuition$93,500$146,100
Fees$4,700$4,700
Books and Copies$1,500$1,500
Immunization $500$500
Clinical Experience-Related Expenses$10,000$10,000
Total$110,200$162,800

Estimated Living Expenses

Below are estimated living expenses for a single person living in Seattle. A one-bedroom, off-campus apartment typically runs $1,500 a month, and the U-Pass ($92 a quarter) may cover local transportation needs. 

Housing$49,500
Food and Entertainment$27,000
Health Insurance$2,000
Transportation$1,000
Total$79,500

Washington State Residency

Out-of-state resident? Find out what’s needed to establish Washington state residency.  

Financial Aid and Other Funding

Because the UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program is full time, students have little time to work while enrolled. If you need financial assistance, you can apply for various forms of financial aid, including federal financial aid, scholarships and loans. For more information, visit the fee-based programs page of the Office of Student Financial Aid website. Fee-based students are not eligible for tuition exemptions or University grants.

Residents of Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and Wyoming can pursue tuition support through the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Professional Student Exchange Program. This program enables qualified residents of these states to pay reduced tuition rates because physical therapy is not available as a field of study at public institutions in their home state. Call 303-541-0200 for more information.

You may also check the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Financial Resources for Students. They have a list of various scholarships and awards, loan forgiveness opportunities information and financial education tools on their website.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Scholarship Fund

Currently the following scholarships are available to DPT students:

  • Jo Ann McMillan Endowed Fellowship Fund  
  • Maureen McGee Endowed Fund
  • Dr. Marjorie A. Moore Endowed Scholarship
  • Mary Gross Hutchinson Memorial Scholarship
  • Dr. Mark Guthrie Scholarship

The amount of each scholarship award could vary depending on available funding and number of students selected. The program will let students know how they can apply.

About the Program

Q: How long is the University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program?

A: It is an 11 quarter full-time program (two years and nine months)

Q: What is the size of a DPT cohort?

A: 48 students

Q: Are there research opportunities available for students?

A: Yes. Students are required to register for 12 credits towards a capstone project in research or a case study. In addition, it may be possible to do an independent study in the area of research that is of interest to the student and aligns with that of a faculty member. 

Q: When does the program start?

A: The program begins in late September.

Q: Are there any resources for pre-PT students at the UW?

A: Yes. The UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs (UAA) has pre-health information on its website.

Q: Do you host information sessions so I can learn more about the program?

A: Yes. We hold online information sessions throughout the year. We'll post dates and registration links on the home page a few weeks before each session.

About Admission

Q: What is the GPA requirement?

A: You must meet the minimum GPA requirements — an overall undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale, a grade of 2.0 or higher in each prerequisite PT course, and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in all prerequisite PT courses.

Q: How are GPAs calculated?

A: You can find the information regarding GPA calculation on the PTCAS website.

Q: Is the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) required for admission?

A: Yes. You must take the GRE within five years of application to the program and the scores must be sent directly to the PTCAS using 0088 code. See the score reports information on the ETS website.

Q: What is the minimum score required for the GRE?

A: There is no minimum score requirement.

Q: I already have a master’s degree. Do I still need to submit the GRE scores?

A: Yes, you must submit valid GRE scores.

Q: I am an international student. Do I need to take the TOEFL?

A: If your native language isn't English, you must demonstrate English language proficiency. A minimum of 100 on the TOEFL iBT is required for our program.

If you have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree from a regionally accredited institution in the U.S. and where English is the medium of instruction, the TOEFL isn't required. See the UW Graduate School English Language Proficiency Requirements.

Q: I have not completed all of the prerequisite requirement courses. Can I still apply?

A: If you have half of the prerequisite courses completed (5 out of 11 courses), you're eligible to apply. All prerequisites must be completed prior to entering the program in September.

Q: Are there time limits on the prerequisite requirement?

A: No. There's no expiration date on prerequisite courses.

Q: Can I take prerequisite courses at a community college?

A: Yes. We accept course credits from regionally accredited institutions, including community colleges. 

Q: Can you review transcripts and check if the courses I have taken would satisfy your prerequisite requirements?

A: Due to the large number of applications we receive each year, we don't provide pre-admission course/transcript evaluations. We suggest reviewing UW course descriptions and comparing the course description in your college catalog to gauge approximate equivalencies.

Q: Do you accept Advance Placement (AP) credits?

A: Yes. If the institution accepted the AP credits, you can use credits. AP credits must appear on the official transcript.

Q: How many PT observation hours do I need?

A: Due to COVID-19, we've reduced the 50-hour minimum observation requirement to 25 hours. Please note that you must complete your observations under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist at any physical location within the U.S. Observation hours supervised by other professionals such as a medical doctor, registered nurse, athletic trainer or massage therapist aren't applicable toward this requirement.

Q: Are interviews a required part of the admission process?

A: No. Interviews aren't part of the UW DPT admission process.

Q: What are the tuition rates? How about financial aid for students?

A: Tuition and financial aid information is available in our Cost & Financial Aid section, above.

Q: Do I need to apply to the University of Washington Graduation School in addition to the PTCAS?

A: Yes. The UW Graduate School application is required. The nonrefundable application fee is $85 (USD).

Q: Are official transcripts required for the UW Graduate School application?

A: No. The UW Graduate School doesn't require an official transcript during the application process. You can upload an unofficial or a student copy for your application. Once you're admitted, you'll be asked to submit an official transcript to verify your bachelor’s degree. See the Admission FAQs.

Q: Do you accept late applications?

A: No. Please make sure to allow yourself sufficient time to prepare your application. We strongly encourage you to apply as early as possible to ensure timely processing and reviews. Please be aware that the PTCAS application must have “verified” status to be considered for admission. Late/incomplete applications won't be reviewed.

Q: Do you accept transferred students?

A: No. Graduate level coursework taken at another academic institution isn't applicable toward a doctoral degree at the UW.

The University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy supports a variety of innovative research programs designed to lead advances in the field of rehabilitation medicine. Unique aspects of our research environment include our PhD in Rehabilitation Science program and our extensive research collaborations both within and beyond the University of Washington. Our faculty are actively involved in research at UW-based institutions such as the Center for Neurotechnology and the Pacific Udall Center.

Our research programs span a variety of approaches, from basic science to clinical research and community- and population-based studies. 

Musculoskeletal Research

Clinical Biomechanics

Murray Maitland studies clinical musculoskeletal biomechanics. Past research has focused on areas such as joint replacements and rehabilitation techniques. He is currently designing and testing artificial hands and feet. With the foot project, his goal is to improve community mobility for people with amputations by developing a foot that adapts to uncertain placement or uneven ground. The overall goal of the hand project is to reduce the number of control variables required for a versatile grasp.

Chronic Pain

Sean Rundell conducts epidemiologic and health services research of chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions, particularly lower back pain in older adults. His research focuses on the prognosis of back pain and investigates how the type, amount and timing of physical therapy services affect outcomes in older adults with back pain. He’s also exploring methods to extract and utilize data from electronic health records for use in comparative effectiveness studies.

Neurologic Research

Rehabilitation for Neurodegenerative Disease

Valerie Kelly primarily studies the interaction between cognition and mobility in people with Parkinson’s disease. Her current research projects examine how cognitive impairments impact the response to gait rehabilitation in people with Parkinson’s, with the goal of optimizing gait rehabilitation strategies for an individual’s cognitive abilities. She’s also working with the Pacific Udall Center to examine the relationship between genetic factors, cognitive dysfunction, and balance and gait impairments in people with Parkinson’s.

Patti Matsuda studies falls and fall prevention in older adults and those with neurologic diagnoses. She’s a core member of the International Multiple Sclerosis Falls Prevention Research Network, a group that investigates the factors associated with falls in people with multiple sclerosis and develops fall prevention strategies and interventions. In addition, through the University of Washington’s Healthy Aging & Physical Disability Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, Patti is studying falls in several neurologic populations, including people with multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and post-polio syndrome.

Sujata Pradhan is researching how to leverage technology to develop objective measures of motor function and physical activity, with the goal of designing more effective interventions for people with Parkinson’s disease. Sujata’s current research projects explore the use of wearable technologies to assess physical activity in people with Parkinson’s and examine the effects of multi-modal exercise programs on cognitive and motor function in this group.

Brain-Computer Interfaces and Neurotechnology

Headed by associate professor Chet Moritz, the Moritz Lab develops neuroprosthetic technology for the treatment of paralysis and other movement disorders. Some of the lab’s current projects include developing techniques to bypass damaged areas of the nervous system and restore control of movement and sensation to the hand and arm; promoting recovery and perhaps regeneration of damaged neural tissue; and testing novel methods for physical therapy and rehabilitation of movement disorders.

The Moritz Lab is an integral part of the Center for Neurotechnology, a National Science Foundation-funded engineering research center that aims to improve people’s lives by connecting brains and technology.

Mobility

Patti Matsuda has developed outcome measures related to walking in the community for a variety of older adult and neurologic populations. She has also been instrumental in the development of the modified Dynamic Gait Index, a measure of the ability to adapt gait for complex walking tasks.

Aging Research

In collaboration with the UW Health Promotion Research CenterKim Bennett is involved in research on using physical therapy clinics to promote exercise; the possible role of physical therapists in patient education about the health benefits of exercise in lieu of primary care physicians; and techniques to increase awareness among physical therapists of the availability of this program.

Support Our Research

The Division of Physical Therapy is dedicated to advancing research in rehabilitation medicine that improves function, independence and quality of life. Your generous donations to the Physical Therapy Research Fund enable us to continue to do valuable research on pediatric, musculoskeletal, neurologic and aging populations.

Make a Gift 

Graduates of the University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program are eligible to sit for the national physical therapist licensure examination.

Below are acceptance rates, matriculation rates, graduation rates, licensure exam pass rates and employment rates of recent UW DPT cohorts: 

  • Acceptance rate for most current cohort, Class of 2026: 21%
  • Matriculation rate for most current cohort, Class of 2026: 87%
  • Average graduation rate of Classes of 2022 and 2023: 97%
  • Average first-time licensure exam pass rate of Classes of 2019–2022: 91%
  • Average ultimate licensure exam pass rate of Classes of 2021 and 2022: 97%
  • Average employment rate of Classes of 2021 and 2022: 100%*

*Percentage of graduates who sought employment and have been employed as physical therapists within one year of graduation, based on a graduate survey

Our graduates work as physical therapists in a variety of settings across the United States and throughout the world. 

Core Faculty

The UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine’s Division of Physical Therapy has an outstanding faculty with extensive clinical and research expertise in physical therapy. 

Cristine Agresta, PT, MPT, PhD

Cristine Agresta, PT, MPT, PhD

Alumni Stories

Graduates of the University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy program pursue a variety of career paths in physical therapy, from work in acute care and inpatient rehab to outpatient clinics, pediatric facilities and more. Read what several of our recent alumni have to say about how the program prepared them to enter the field.

Brandon Bailey
As a physical therapist at the University of Washington Medical Center inpatient rehab unit, Brandon Bailey helps people recovering from brain and spinal cord injuries prepare to return home. The patients Brandon works with often face difficulties doing simple tasks, like sitting up or standing. It’s a vital but challenging job, and one his UW training readied him for. "The UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program did an excellent job of preparing me for life in the clinic." 

Can you tell us a bit about your current job?

On the rehab unit, I work with our neurologic population, people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke and such. I'm seeing people fairly early after an injury. My job is helping them learn how to manage a new disability and get to the point where they're safe to go home.

How do you approach your work as a physical therapist?

I'm very aware that the person I'm working with could easily have been me or a family member, and I want to do the best job I possibly can for them. I want them to feel, in the end, that they’re more prepared for what they’re going through than when they first arrived at the hospital. Anytime things like this happen to people, it’s nothing they asked for — I know how much they want to get back to a normal life.

How did the UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepare you for the work you’re doing today?

When I first went into physical therapy I thought I would be doing sports medicine, and here I am doing mostly neurologic PT. That came from being in the UW program. With the variety of topics in neurologic PT in the program, the quality with which they were taught and the close proximity we had to the UW Medical Center and Harborview’s rehab departments, neuro really felt like a strength of the program to me, and it all just clicked.

The UW DPT program did an excellent job of preparing me for life in the clinic. Professor Valerie Kelly’s classes, Applied Neurology and Special Topics in Neuro Rehabilitation, gave me the skills and the knowledge to handle the type of caseload that I would see at an inpatient rehab facility like the one I'm at now. I'll never forget how nervous I was going out to do internships as a third-year student and how quickly I was able to calm myself once I realized that I was well prepared and knew how to do this better than I realized.

What appealed to you about the UW program in particular?

When I was in undergrad, I learned that part of the requirements to get into physical therapy grad school is to have a certain amount of hours of experience. For me to get my hours, I was a work study student during the summers for the UW Medical Center clinic.

The experience I had there, and getting to see those therapists work, was a huge part of why I chose the UW. Because the DPT program had a connection to the physical therapy department at the UW Medical Center, it meant not only would I be going to school and getting the didactic portion in the classroom, but I could have a relationship with therapists who are already well established and have great caseloads and patient stories to share. That was the best part — to be able to watch and learn from PTs who are so good at their jobs.

Can you tell us about an especially rewarding case you’ve worked on in your job?

A woman had come to us after a significant car crash and had a very bad brain injury. She had spent a few weeks at another facility, and they just weren't seeing a lot of return, maybe a little bit of wiggling in her hand. They sent her to us to try to continue with rehab.

It was an amazing process to watch the changes she would make every single day. Because of the level she was at, we worked a lot on simple movements. Even having the ability to sit up was a major accomplishment. With the severity of her brain injury, she had bad contractures throughout her body — upper body, lower body, especially at the ankles. We used a standing frame to help support her in standing, to get that weight bearing through the body and to allow her to even have the strength and control to lift her head up and look straight ahead.

Now this person comes in for outpatient visits. The other day, when she and her family came in, I stopped by to say hi. Her mom and dad were so proud of how far she had come. They wanted to show me that she could now stand up from the chair and keep her own balance. We're talking about somebody who it took three or four people when she was inpatient to help get her into the standing machine. Now she just stood up on her own and gave me a big hug. We took a picture together with her standing up and smiling. She can actually make expressions now, smile and show emotion and communicate a little bit. It’s amazing to see what the human spirit can do.

Sanatan Golden
Sanatan Golden has a single overarching goal: to keep people active their whole lives. And he stays busy doing just that. Sanatan, a University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate, is an independent physical therapist specializing in treating and preventing lower extremity injuries. He’s also a regional expert in running mechanics and is the strength and conditioning coach for the Portland Stags ultimate Frisbee team.

"The No. 1 thing that physical therapists are is teachers," Sanatan said. "We're educating people about their body, about pain, about management, about movement. We teach people so they can take it forward on their own."

Can you tell us a bit about your career?

I'm an independent physical therapist, and I split time between two clinics in Portland. One of them is Optimal Results Physical Therapy and the other one is Evolution Healthcare and Fitness.

I work a lot with runners. I partnered with a podiatrist in town, and we founded a course called Natural Running for All. We've given over a hundred running clinics where we work on people’s running form and foot mechanics to reduce their likelihood of injury.

I used to be a competitive ultimate Frisbee player, so I also work as the strength and conditioning coach for the Portland Stags, which is an ultimate Frisbee team.

What kinds of patients do you see in your clinical work?

Because I'm known for running and foot and ankle mechanics, and ultimate Frisbee, my patient load probably skews toward the younger, more active population than the average therapist, but I don't specialize in that.

Last week I saw someone who just had a hip replacement. She has arthritis in her hips. For a long time she’s been trying to get strong, be mobile. She's trying to get her life back, and we have to start small. In the next session I might see somebody who is a runner at the University of Portland. They’re training for their upcoming cross-country season, and they're at a much higher level. Next it's somebody who sits at their desk all day and their neck and shoulders hurt because they're not moving enough.

Is there one common thread that runs through all your physical therapy work?

My mission is to help people embrace an active lifestyle for their entire life span. It's going to look different for different people, but that power of movement and regular movement is what I hope to help people understand — that they can nourish themselves, feed themselves, in terms of their health. If we get that right, that can be a monumental gift for them and their family. That long-term perspective is really where I come from.

How did the UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepare you for the work you do today?

The foundational matter was really good. One thing that stands out is anatomy. Working in the cadaver labs, looking at the bodies and getting an inside picture of this incredible movement system that we have.

The other thing I really took away from was just the mix of people in our class. There were some people who went in straight from undergraduate. A whole different subset of people had done something else first, like me.

There was no cookie-cutter approach. We all collaborated together and tried to solve things in different ways. That variety in our class showed me that there's a lot of different ways to approach people and approach what we do.

When you started the program, did you know you wanted to do orthopedic work?

Going in, because I had had a sports background, I had a feeling that I might end up doing orthopedic work. But one of the things I really enjoyed about the University of Washington program is that it has a balanced approach. Some schools want to focus on, let's say, orthopedic outpatient therapy and not as much on other things. But the UW program gave me exposure to neuro PT, urgent care, geriatrics. All of that was really great. I didn’t know where I was going to end up, but by the end I found an opportunity to work at Olympic Physical Therapy in Seattle in an outpatient orthopedic group. Then I moved back to Portland a year after that and continued in the outpatient realm.

Can you tell us a little more about your work with the Portland Stags?

I use evidence-based tests that look at how players are moving and where their issues are. We use algorithms, comparing two like athletes to see who's at a higher likelihood for injury and who needs extra attention to their core strength, mobility or stability and motor control. We take the whole team through that battery, and we get metrics to look at who needs more attention to keep them on the field, keep them healthy.

What do you enjoy most about being a physical therapist?

Every hour, it's a new present that I get to open, and we try to figure it out together. That's what makes physical therapy so much fun. This person who has a hip replacement is not the same as another person who has a hip replacement. You have to work together as a team to figure out the right angles to take. That's why I love what I do. It's a joy.

Jessica Mendoza
By the time she was in high school, Jessica Mendoza knew that physical therapy was her calling. “I loved the idea of being in a profession that helps people rehabilitate and get back to their full potential,” said the University of Washington Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate, who now works as a pediatric physical therapist at Valley Medical Center.

Jessica says the DPT program prepared her to work with the broad range of patients she sees on a daily basis, from infants with developmental delays to high school athletes recovering from injuries.

Can you tell us a bit about your current job?

I work with kids from birth to age 19 with a variety of neuromuscular and orthopedic issues. It's really interesting because my job can look totally different from day to day. I can go from seeing a baby with a developmental delay to a 7-year-old child with cerebral palsy to a 16-year-old athlete. I really have to think on my feet about each patient and what they need.

Our patients usually get hour-long sessions. That can include anything from exercises to structured play to assessment, depending on what that patient needs, how old they are and what their diagnosis is.

How did the UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepare you to work with such a range of conditions?

My third year had three distinct 10-week internships, one in outpatient orthopedics, one in rehab, which encompasses pediatrics, and one in an acute care setting. They were all helpful for what I'm doing today.

The pediatrics one was the most directly applicable. But the orthopedics one really helps me when I'm working with young athletes who come to the clinic with injuries. For the children who have complex medical conditions, including cardiac or pulmonary issues, I have knowledge from my acute care internship to draw on. Every piece of it helps inform me as a physical therapist and makes me a better therapist.

Were any classes especially valuable for the work you’re doing today?

In the particular clinic I work in, we get people from all walks of life, all socioeconomic statuses, all different experiences and cultures. The UW program put a high emphasis on cultural competence and building relationships with your patients. It was woven throughout a lot of classes, but we also had a seminar devoted to the idea of cultural competence, with role playing and practice in that. Cultural competence can be the hardest part to teach, and because of the diversity of the caseload that I work with, I feel that seminar was really helpful.

You recently went on an outreach project as a clinical instructor with the UW DPT program. What was that experience like?

I was invited to go to Peru with the Global Rehabilitation Organization at Washington, or GROW, team. GROW is a student-founded group at the UW that does global outreach with physical therapy and rehabilitation.

We served in Cusco, a city that’s in the rural highlands near Machu Picchu. Life is often very difficult for children with disabilities there, often because of a lack of resources and understanding about disability. We had the opportunity to work with teachers and a physical therapist at the only private school geared specifically toward children with disabilities in Cusco, helping with exercises, positioning and transfers. We also did home visits to give families ideas on how to help the kids at home.

I think the trip helped the students in their development as physical therapists. They have a better understanding of what therapy looks like around the world and the resources we have that not everybody does. The experience teaches you to be creative and more sensitive to where people are coming from. I think it will help make them better clinicians, and I think it helped me be a better clinician, too.

What do you find most rewarding about being a physical therapist?

You get a chance to really see change. Like any career, there are things that can be frustrating, but you get a chance to work one-on-one alongside people and see that change and growth. It's a powerful and rewarding experience. I think it's such a great career, and every day that I get a chance to do it just reinforces for me why I chose it in the first place.

Brandon Nguyen
Brandon Nguyen was in high school when he first thought about a career in physical therapy, but he was less interested in taking the typical life-sciences undergraduate journey to get there. He instead majored in mechanical engineering as a UW undergrad, where a professor introduced him to the concept of the human body as the ultimate machine.

When Brandon decided to enroll in the UW Doctor of Physical Therapy program, “my worlds really collided academically,” he said.

Brandon’s academic interests further converged with HuskyADAPT, a multidisciplinary UW community that supports the development of accessible design and play technology, and his current job as a pediatric therapist with Edmonds School District.

Where do you work, and what do you do?  

I’m a pediatric therapist, and I work in special education in the Edmonds School District, where I support children with disabilities in K–12. It’s a little bit different than the medical model. In the school model, I’m a capacity-builder either by supporting children directly or by coaching educators so that children have the best opportunity to access their environment and education. We do a lot of collaborative teaching of social, emotional, adaptive and fine- and gross-motor skills. With all these different skills, we can create an integrative classroom experience and help facilitate learning.

How did you first get interested in physical therapy?

I went to high school in Everett, and as part of my community service project I started volunteering for Providence Hospital in Everett. I worked at Camp Prov, their summer camp for children with disabilities, and that’s where I got my first exposure to physical therapy.

When you initially think of physical therapy, most people imagine an athlete or older adult recovering from an injury at a clinic. At Camp Prov, the physical therapist came out to the park to support the children. What seemed like “just playing” was the therapist working on therapy goals for the child. It was also exciting to see the collaboration between the physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, behaviorist, educator and parents to help make camp fun and educational.

How did you go from interested in to applying to PT schools? And why the UW?

A lot of people who go the physical therapy route do something in the life sciences — biology, kinesiology — but those majors never appealed to me. I wanted a major that taught me different skills and ways of thinking that I could apply to my career, but one that was also not a huge stretch from health care.

Since I’d always been good with math and more technical skills, my parents suggested that I try engineering as an undergrad. I ended up pursuing mechanical engineering at UW and met Dr. Kat Steele, who says “the human body is the ultimate machine.” That statement totally changed my perspective and got me thinking about the possibilities of applying engineering to physical therapy practice. It’s a collaboration that I believe is paramount in moving both professions forward.

Dr. Steele is my mentor, and she’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back to UW as a DPT student.

How would you describe your experience in the program?

I appreciated the diverse group of people in my cohort. You work with people from different backgrounds — some on a second career, some older, some younger — with different life experiences than I had. It was really exciting to bounce ideas off people with various points of view. That was also true of the professors and instructors. The program also brings in different people from the community who have built their own businesses or worked in other areas you might not have even considered.

What do you enjoy most about being a physical therapist?

I love seeing the growth in the kids and parents I work with. One of my coolest experiences was during my first year working as a PT with the school district, and I reconnected with one of the kids and families I’d originally met as a volunteer in the summer camp. I first met this kid when he was two, and he was 12 now. I remembered all the things they experienced and had to learn on a day-to-day basis with support from their pediatric therapists. And now fast-forward 10 years, and you can see their confidence. It’s such a great connection — in this little way, you’ve grown up with them.  

What would you say to someone considering the UW DPT program?

It’s a program that has it all. If you look at the curriculum, it’s a comprehensive education. And then you have this diverse faculty and staff who are so supportive and knowledgeable. You also have so many opportunities to network and connect professionally — there are associations to get involved with and conferences you can attend and present at. And to top it off, you have a diverse cohort through which you can develop and build those relationships. Your classmates become lifelong friends, colleagues and people you can bounce ideas off. It’s an amazing community.

Jason Ofodile
Jason Ofodile has long felt called to serve. As an undergraduate student, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and after graduating, he became a commissioned officer. He continues to serve as a medical operations officer today.

After completing his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Washington in 2019, Jason felt compelled to continue serving in the federal system. “I wanted to get the most out of my opportunities and see what I could give back,” he said. Jason completed a post-doctoral residency with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Gainesville, Florida, before landing his current position as an orthopedic specialist with the Veterans Health Administration of Central Texas. 

How did you first get interested in physical therapy?

As a lifelong athlete, I’ve always appreciated how the human body can develop, recover and improve over time based on your training and preparation. Whether you’re a specialized athlete preparing for a particular contest or someone simply looking to maximize your health or performance, we’re all training for something.

How did you first hear about UW’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and what appealed to you about it?

I initially enrolled in a DPT program at a private institution in California, but I had to defer a year because of my military obligations as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. Looking back, it was a serendipitous turning point because I was able to explore other options. My mother was already living in Washington at the time — she was in the UW Ph.D. program for nursing — so I’d visit her and explore Seattle. I liked the city and told myself, “Let’s keep the UW in mind.” On top of all that, UW DPT’s tuition was less than half of the program in California. It was a no-brainer.

How did the Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepare you for what you’re doing now?

The UW provided a foundation of skills and knowledge that I could use as a baseline every day, but the various experiences we had outside of Seattle for clinical rotations were essential. Traveling to different areas and settings to work allowed me to appreciate the bigger picture — not every patient will be a 20-year-old, healthy, highly motivated, high-profile athlete with a knee problem. The UW helped me understand the broad levels of complexity across patient populations, and I’ve been able to apply that to my career with the VA.

What do you enjoy most about being a physical therapist?

I enjoy working with folks of all ages, backgrounds and different mobility needs based on their condition. It’s empowering being able to confidently support anyone, from my 7-year-old niece to my 70-year-old father. You cannot beat the aging process, but you can adapt to the body’s changing demands across your lifespan.

It’s tough for some of my 60-year-and-older veterans to accept, especially when they compare themselves to when they were in their 20s, but that realization leads into another aspect I love: the counseling. I enjoy educating patients on the rehabilitation process and expectations, so we can create a plan that aligns with their goals. A lot of folks understandably want a quick and easy fix, but unfortunately that’s uncommon. The overarching goal is to facilitate an active approach to enjoying life with the least amount of physical limitations.

What would you say to someone considering the UW DPT program?

When selecting a program, it’s important to understand what each program values and what they envision for their students — and what you envision for yourself. If you feel that all DPT programs are about the same, and you’re looking for an affordable option, the UW is on that list. If you’re looking for a program that values diversity and inclusion, the UW tops that list. If you’re looking for a professional program that values feedback and prepares you for the profession, the UW is on that list. It’s a very personal and professional program.

On day one, the message from our instructors was the same: “In the next three years, we’re going to become colleagues.” It wasn’t a hierarchy; I was treated as a person and a respected future colleague.

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