Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Department of Physical Therapy

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program prepares graduates to excel in serving patients as generalist physical therapists, capable of autonomous practice in the health care system. During our 34-month program, students progressively build clinical reasoning skills with increasingly complex patient presentations through both academic and clinical courses. Our curriculum features simulated and actual clinical practice opportunities integrated within and between academic semesters, beginning in the first semester and continuing throughout the program.

Why choose Samuel Merritt University?

  • Clinical experiences. SMU DPT students have more clinical education experiences than the national average: ten months of full-time clinical experiences totaling 1640 hours, compared to the national average of 1208 hours. Clinical experiences start in the second semester and are interwoven throughout the curriculum, culminating in a 22 week internship.
  • The faculty. Faculty members are engaged in research investigating balance and falls in people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson ’s disease, and stroke, clinical reasoning, and ethical development.  When possible, faculty with grants or on-going research projects encourage student involvement, including students providing advanced balance testing for persons with multiple sclerosis.  Several faculty members are board certified clinical specialists, including specialists in orthopedics, neurology, and geriatrics.
  • Small class sizes. We enroll approximately 38 students each fall and have 9 full-time faculty members. In clinical lab courses there is one faculty member for 10-12 students and in anatomy lab courses have one faculty member for 15-20 students. Case studies courses have one faculty member for 8 students.
  • Outcomes. In 2015, 94% of first-time test takers from SMU passed the NPTE compared with a national average of 91%. Additionally, SMU has a 0% loan default rate, indicating that SMU alum are successful in securing employment as a physical therapist after graduation.

Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

In July 2016, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) was awarded $7.8 million in scholarship money for disadvantaged students who will join the University's mission to diversify the healthcare workforce and improve outcomes in underserved communities. The federal assistance, known as the Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program, will be available to students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Under this program, the University will award up to $30,000 per year to each recipient, depending on need. New and continuing students are eligible to receive this scholarship. 

More information about the scholarships

DPT Application Deadline: October 1 at 11:59 p.m. EASTERN time
Questions about admission to the program?
Contact the Office of Admission