Doctor of Physical Therapy


group of students for the nations first doctor of physical therapy program

Creighton University improved the landscape of physical therapy education with the creation of the nation’s first Doctor of Physical Therapy program…. a standard now followed by every PT program in the nation.

Expertise in practice, research and clinical reasoningOur nationally acclaimed faculty are committed to leadership within the profession bringing a variety of expertise in practice, research and clinical reasoning. We value the student learning experience above all, with close educator and student relationships.

In the Jesuit tradition, our students and faculty engage with our local, national and international community, including participation in a wide array of service organizations and events interwoven throughout the curriculum.

Earn a degree that makes you a practice-ready professional who strives to make a difference in the world.



The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program supports Creighton University’s Jesuit identity, existing to educate and mentor future and current clinicians for excellence in physical therapy practice, advance the profession through scholarship and provide service to the University and community for the greater good. Our goal is for graduates to become competent and compassionate physical therapists who practice using evidence to support decision-making. As a graduate, you will be expected to show commitment to serving patients, society and the profession and to demonstrate that learning and reflection are lifelong endeavors.

Curriculum Description

DPT education at Creighton begins in August each year. The program is eight semesters long and is spread throughout three calendar years by attending summer terms. The curriculum is organized and presented in a logical sequence using a hybrid model systems-based and lifespan-based learning. Early courses emphasize mastering the breadth and depth of knowledge in the foundational sciences (such as anatomy, cell biology, kinesiology and neurobiology). The clinical science courses, with accompanying laboratory skills work, are sequenced around physiological systems (such as musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary and integumentary systems). Each course addresses the physical therapy needs of individuals throughout the lifespan. Critical inquiry, clinical judgment and communication skills are emphasized to ensure that you are incorporating critical thinking skills, bridging theory with practice and developing as a professional. 

Attention to the behavioral and social sciences is complemented by service, teaching and inter-professional experiences to enhance understanding of the complexity and diversity of the patient and society. This includes psycho-social, cultural and ethical elements of patient care.

View the DPT curriculum layout by semester.

Clinical Education

Experiential learning is a fundamental strength of our program. In addition to structured laboratory activities within the classroom, students participate in community-based activities and events geared toward health promotion and prevention right after beginning the program.

Our program provides four full-time professional practice experiences for a total of 44 weeks of experiential education. A six-week clinical experience occurs at the end of Semester 3. Semester 5 concludes with another six-week experience.  Following completion of the didactic curriculum, Semester 7 consists of a16-week experience followed by another 16-week experience in Semester 8. Frequently the last two experiences are split to include different types of patients at the same site.

We offer hundreds of experiences across the United States, and our clinical education faculty work closely with you to determine what opportunities best fit your educational and professional goals.

You may also choose to participate in our four-week clinical education program in the Dominican Republic, referred to as the ILAC program. About one-third of our graduating class enrolls in the program each year. This allows students to provide professional service to under-served populations at clinical sites in Santiago while supervised by faculty members and U.S. licensed physical therapists.

Other opportunities include the China Honors Immersion Program (CHIP) and the Professional Directed Practice Experience. CHIP is a one-week interprofessional program in China in which students and faculty from physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing work with rehabilitation practitioners and their patients, exchange ideas on healthcare and experience a different culture. The Professional Directed Practice Experience is a special clinical education endeavor, typically four to six weeks in length, which is individually tailored to your goals. You may choose a specialized area of clinical practice, teaching, research, administration or other areas of focused advanced study.

If you would like to learn more about our clinical education please visit here.

Specialization Tracks

The specialization track initiative creates opportunities for physical therapy students to gain knowledge and practical experiences in specialty areas of physical therapy beyond the required entry-level curriculum. A graduate specialization is similar to a minor for an undergraduate degree. The purpose is to prepare students for advanced career opportunities, residency education, or pursuit of an advanced degree. Any student in good academic standing is eligible to apply during the 4th semester of the DPT curriculum. Upon meeting all specialization track requirements, graduates will earn a special designation on their transcripts. Specialty tracks currently offered include: 


The Sports Specialization Track is comprised of electives and specialty experiences focused on sports physical therapy. This track includes topics addressing the acute management and clinical management of sports related injuries, referral and return to activity decisions, injury prevention, and performance enhancement. 

student playing basketball


The Research Specialization Track is comprised of electives and specialty experiences focused on scientific inquiry in rehabilitation science. This track includes opportunities for participation in a seminary series exploring critical questions, problems, and contemporary issues in rehabilitation research. It also provides opportunities for students to conduct research projects, under the direction and guidance of a faculty member. In collaboration with the faculty advisor, students establish specific learning objectives, a defined scope of work, and specific products to be completed which may include a presentation or publication. 

Student running on treadmill

For a full list of courses required for the specializations, please refer to the Creighton University Course Catalog.

For questions specific to the Sports or Research Specializations, please contact Terry Grindstaff, PT, ATC, PhD at or 402-280-5674. 

Financial Information


Electronic bills for tuition and fees are issued to all registered students. Prior to the beginning of each semester, registered student will receive an email message in their Creighton email account stating that their eBill is available to view online through the NEST website. The initial billing notifications for registered students are sent mid-July for the fall semester, late December for the spring semester and early May for the summer session. Students who register later will receive their eBill notification email shortly after their registration is processed. 

Please visit the Business Office web page for more detailed information about billing and payment options.

Withdrawals and Refunds

Students withdrawing before the end of a semester will be charged tuition and recurring fees on the following basis:

Withdrawals and Refunds

During the first week


During the second week


During the third week


During the fourth week


During the fifth week


Over five weeks


Program Outcomes

Upon graduation, each student should be able to demonstrate the following abilities as a professional and a physical therapy practitioner.

Professional Core Abilities

  • Professional formation and critical self-reflection: The student will use a process of deliberative self-reflection to enhance his or her understanding of self and engage in continued professional formation. Formation of professional identity is based on the following core values: accountability, altruism, compassion, excellence, integrity, professional duty and social responsibility.
  • Communication skills: The student will read, write, speak, listen and use media and technology to communicate effectively. The students will demonstrate respectful, positive and culturally appropriate interpersonal behaviors in the counsel and education of patients and families, as well as when communicating with other health care professionals.
  • Critical thinking and clinical judgment: The student will acquire, comprehend, apply, synthesize and evaluate information, integrating these abilities to identify, resolve and prevent problems and make appropriate decisions. The student will demonstrate the behaviors of the scholarly clinician by developing and utilizing the process of critical thinking and systematic inquiry for the purpose of clinical reasoning, decision-making, and exercising sound critical judgment.
  • Learning and professional development: The student will consistently strive to expand his or her knowledge and skills to maintain professional competence and contribute to the body of professional knowledge. The student will demonstrate the ability to gather, interpret and evaluate data to assess the suitability, accuracy and reliability of information from reference sources.
  • Ethical foundation and moral agency: The student will practice in an ethical manner, fulfilling an obligation to demonstrate moral responsibility and social justice. The student will identify, analyze and resolve ethical problems.
  • Social awareness, leadership and advocacy: The student will provide service to the community and to the profession, assume responsibility for proactive collaboration with other healthcare professionals in addressing patient needs and be prepared to influence the development of ethical and humane health care regulations and policies that are consistent with the needs of the patient and society.


Physical Therapy Care Abilities

  • Patient examination: The student will perform a thorough patient interview with appropriate medical history and review of systems as well as a physical examination using appropriate tests and measures.
  • Patient evaluation and physical therapy diagnosis: The student will interpret results of the physical therapy examination and other diagnostic procedures, synthesize pertinent data and then formulate an accurate physical therapy diagnosis. The process of evaluation also may identify the need for consultation with or referral to other health care providers.
  • Patient prognosis: The student will predict the level of optimal improvement that a patient may attain through intervention within a given period of time.
  • Patient intervention: The student will design an appropriate, customized plan of care consistent with the physical therapy diagnosis and prognosis, as well as with the patient’s/family’s expectations and goals. The student will also assume responsibility for delegating patient care activities and supervising those entrusted with them.
  • Patient re-examination/re-evaluation: The student will perform an accurate re-examination and re-evaluation to determine changes in patient status and to modify or redirect physical therapy intervention. This process also may identify the need for consultation with or referral to other health care providers.
  • Patient outcomes: The student will track the results of physical therapy management, which may include the following domains: pathology; impairments; functional limitations; participation; risk reduction/prevention; wellness; community and societal resources and patient satisfaction.

  • Systems management: The student will identify the specific contribution of physical therapy management within the healthcare system and the influence of health care policy on that system. In addition, the student will demonstrate knowledge and be able to effectively interact within the independent framework of the health care team in a complex society. The student will extend his/her responsibility for physical therapy care beyond individual patients to include care of communities and populations.

State Licensure Requirements

The programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy and pharmacy within the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions meets the appropriate and relevant degree requirements for licensure for all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.