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  Aug 14, 2020
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Physical Therapy (DPT)

The three year Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is offered through the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Physical therapists are health care professionals who provide services to patients and clients of all ages. Through a comprehensive process of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and outcome assessment, physical therapists provide care to patients to alleviate impairments and functional limitations, disabilities, or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes. Physical therapists also have an active role in consultation, education, critical inquiry, administration, and supervision of physical therapy services as well as provision of prevention and wellness services, including screening and health promotion. Physical therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of professionals, including nurses, physicians, educators, social workers, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and dentists. Physical therapists work in a variety of practice settings, including hospitals; outpatient clinics; rehabilitation centers; skilled nursing, extended care or sub-acute facilities; home health; education or research centers; early intervention programs and preschool, primary and secondary schools; hospices; corporate health centers; industrial or other occupational environments; collegiate, amateur, and professional athletic facilities; fitness centers; and sports training facilities.

DPT Mission and Philosophy

Mission Statement

Consistent with the mission of the Sage Graduate School and the American Physical Therapy Association Vision 2020 statement, The Sage Colleges Doctor of Physical Therapy Program prepares physical therapists who are exemplary, autonomous practitioners. The depth and breadth of our professional curriculum is enriched by the intellectual community found at our comprehensive university that is dedicated to liberal, professional, and specialized programs of study. Graduates embrace their role in promoting the profession through evidence-based practice that is respectful and sensitive to individual differences, commitment to lifelong learning that sustains clinical excellence, and service to community and society.

DPT Program Philosophy

The members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program believe:

  1. In the inherent worth of the individual and the value of diversity.
  2. Physical therapists are autonomous practitioners who are lifelong learners and engage in evidence-based practice. They are prepared to meet the demands of current and evolving practice by means that are consistent with the core values of professionalism in physical therapy.
  3. Clinical excellence includes the highest possible professional, ethical, legal, and scientific standards.
  4. Physical therapists need a broad base of preparation in liberal arts, professional theory, and critical inquiry integrated with practical and applied experiences.
  5. Active hands-on learning experiences with patients/clients are essential throughout the curriculum to assist students in gaining cognitive, psychomotor, and affective skills to prepare them for clinical practice, and small class sizes enhance interactive learning.
  6. The integration of mind, body, and spirit for self and others is essential to the delivery of safe, comprehensive, and effective physical therapy services.
  7. Meeting the healthcare needs of patients/clients requires effective skills in communication, collaboration, and advocacy.
  8. Effective healthcare delivery is sensitive to the cultural and financial needs of all patients/clients in order to empower them to be active in their own care.
  9. Faculty members are models for students in their roles as educators, scholars, administrators, clinicians, consultants, and providers of professional and community service.
  10. Faculty and students have a responsibility to make positive contributions to the professional community and community-at-large.

Physical Therapy Curriculum

Program Length

The typical three calendar year graduate program begins in the summer and includes seven academic semesters, two summer internships, and one fall internship. Students graduate in May following completion of the third year of the DPT program.

There is also an option for students to complete the DPT Program in a 5-year extended curriculum format. The purpose of the extended curriculum is to offer a program of high quality that meets the needs of students who, for a variety of reasons, are not able to complete the 120 credit DPT Program in its current compressed 3-year plan. The department is able to offer a very limited number of enrollments for this extended program.

Curriculum Model

The purpose of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at The Sage Colleges is to provide a quality educational experience that prepares graduates for entry into the physical therapy profession in a manner that exemplifies standards of excellence. Our mission and philosophy along with our student goals form the foundation for the physical therapy curriculum. Graduates of the DPT Program will be competent to practice physical therapy at an entry level consistent with the APTA Guide to Physical Therapy Practice: A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education, and the APTA Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020. Patient/client centered care is at the core of the curriculum design, which is based on the disablement model and the patient/client management model. The curriculum emphasizes a problem-solving approach for clinical decision-making, critical thinking skills, collaboration, communication, interpersonal interactions, and clinical research applications.

The curriculum has been developed along six organizing elements with six transcurricular themes.

Organizing Elements Transcurricular Themes
Musculoskeletal System Safety
Neuromuscular System Communication
Cardiovascular and Pulmonary System Social Responsibility
Integumentary System Ethical and Legal Behavior
Clinical Decision Making/Critical Inquiry Evidence-Based Practice
Human Interaction Life Long Learning

 Course Sequences

Clinical Education

Clinical Education is an integral part of the curriculum. Students are prepared to successfully bridge academic preparation with clinical practice through the completion of full time and part time clinical education experiences. To participate in clinical education experiences, students must complete all academic requirements and also demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills, judgment and professional behavior consistent with the APTA’s Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values. There may be additional expenses associated with the clinical education program including expenses for housing, meals, and daily commuting expenses to and from the clinical site. Some clinical facilities require a criminal background check on any student placed there for a clinical education experience. A felony conviction may affect a student’s placement in clinical education settings or a graduate’s ability to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination or to attain state licensure.


Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination and, after passing the exam, be licensed in any state.

Student Goals

Upon completion of the physical therapy program, graduates will:

  • Be autonomous practitioners able to practice in a safe and competent manner that reflects contemporary standards of practice.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to professional growth.
  • Demonstrate professionalism and act in a manner consistent with APTA’s Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values, and Code of Ethics.
  • Demonstrate commitment to making a positive contribution to the profession and the community.

Technical Standards for Physical Therapy Practice

In order to successfully complete the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, applicants must be able to meet the technical requirements of the program. The technical standards for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program include the ability to:

  1. Acquire information from demonstrations and experiences in the basic and clinical sciences, including but not limited to, information conveyed through laboratory dissection, physiologic, and physical demonstrations.
  2. Acquire information from written documents and interpret information presented in images from paper, videos, transparencies, and slides.
  3. Accurately elicit from a patient or client a history and other pertinent information required to adequately and effectively assess and manage the patient or client’s condition.
  4. Select and perform examinations, including, but not limited to, assistive and adaptive devices; anthropometric characteristics; arousal and attention; aerobic capacity and endurance; community and work integration and reintegration; environmental, home and work barriers; gait, locomotion and balance; ergonomics and body mechanics; integumentary integrity; joint integrity and mobility; motor function, muscle performance, neuromotor development and sensory integration; pain; posture; prosthetic requirements; range of motion; reflex integrity; self-care capability; sensory integrity; ventilation, respiration, and circulation.
  5. Use and interpret information from diagnostic maneuvers (observation, palpation, auscultation) in the course of conducting a comprehensive physical therapy examination.
  6. Make clinical judgments based on the data obtained in a comprehensive examination and evaluation of the patient/client to determine a physical therapy diagnosis.
  7. Synthesize information from the evaluation and other documented sources to formulate a plan of care.
  8. Problem solve and think critically to judge which theory, and/or strategy of assessment and intervention is most appropriate for facilitating the attainment of the highest level of function for individual patients and clients.
  9. Perform therapeutic interventions including, but not limited to, therapeutic exercise, patient or client related instruction, functional training, manual therapy, airway clearance, wound management, electrotherapeutic modalities, physical and mechanical modalities, and the prescription, application, and fabrication of assistive/supportive/protective devices.
  10. Communicate effectively and efficiently with faculty, patients, clients, families, and all members of the health care team about a patient’s condition.
  11. Develop effective and appropriate relationships with patients, clients, colleagues, coworkers, and relevant others.
  12. Practice in a safe manner at all times and respond appropriately to emergencies and urgencies.
  13. Provide patient-related and client-related education and consultation to identify problems, recommend solutions or produce a specified outcome on behalf of a patient or client.
  14. Impart information or skills, and instruct peers or other health care providers, in activities related to physical therapy.
  15. Read and interpret professional literature in evaluating the efficacy of new and established interventions and technologies.
  16. Adapt and function effectively under the various circumstances and rigors which are inherent in the clinical practice of physical therapy.


Students may be admitted in one of two points of entry to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program: direct entry through Sage Graduate School or through Russell Sage College. The prerequisite courses must be completed prior to beginning the DPT Program.

Prerequisite Courses for the DPT Program

Anatomy and Physiology   8
Cell Biology/Microbiology or equivalent   4
Chemistry   8
General Physics   8
Introduction to Psychology   3
Human Development   3
Statistics   3

Direct Entry through Sage Graduate School (SGS)

Qualified men and women who possess or are completing a bachelor’s degree and have fulfilled the prerequisite courses for the DPT Program may be accepted directly to Sage Graduate School. In addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to Sage Graduate School, the successful applicant to the DPT Program will demonstrate evidence of the following:

  • Earned bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
  • Minimum science GPA of 3.0 in the prerequisite science courses.
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses (listed above) for the DPT Program with a minimum grade of “C” or better in each required course.
  • Completion of at least 40 hours of physical therapy clinical observation under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  • Submission of the Academic and Program Standards Statement and Documentation of Clinical Observation Hours with the Sage Graduate School Application.

Articulation Agreements with 4-Year Colleges

Sage has developed articulation agreements with several four-year colleges to guarantee admission to the Sage Doctor of Physical Therapy Program for qualified students. These agreements provide for:

  • Automatic acceptance into the DPT Program for students who have completed DPT Program course prerequisites, after initial advisement and interview, with completed application and evidence of academic eligibility;
  • Waiver of Sage Graduate School application fee;
  • Early acceptance (for students who submit applications prior to October 15 of their senior year);
  • Advisement to coordinate undergraduate electives and coursework to address DPT Program prerequisites; and
  • Opportunity to apply early for graduate assistantships.

Qualified students will:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree prior to entering the DPT Program;
  • Maintain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate program and 3.0 GPA in the DPT Program prerequisite science courses;
  • Complete an admission interview with DPT Program faculty; and
  • Document completion of clinical observation hours under the supervision of a physical therapist.

For more information about the agreements, please visit the DPT Program web site.

Entry through Russell Sage College (RSC)

Women who are entering directly from high school or transferring at the pre professional level may apply to Russell Sage College for either a typical 4+3 or an accelerated 3+3 bachelor’s degree leading to the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Students entering either of these programs at Russell Sage College will choose an undergraduate major in one of the following disciplines: Biology, Chemistry, English, Health Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, Psychology, Sociology, or Spanish.

Academic Requirements for Admission to the DPT Program from Russell Sage College:

  • Earned bachelor’s degree (4+3 students only).
  • Completion of undergraduate major requirements and RSC general education courses (3+3 students only).
  • Completion of all prerequisite courses for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program with a grade of “C” or better in each required course.
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.
  • Minimum science GPA of 3.0 in the required prerequisite science courses (BIO 201, 202, 220; CHM 103/104 or 111/112; and PHY 101/102 or 107/108).
  • Completion of at least 40 hours of physical therapy clinical observation under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist beginning the professional program.

Typical 4+3 Program (Bachelor’s and DPT)

Students who are admitted to the 4+3 program at RSC complete the bachelor’s degree in four years. This program allows greater latitude for taking additional elective courses of interest to the student and may be more conducive for success. Students who meet the academic requirements are guaranteed admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Sage Graduate School upon completion of the bachelor’s degree. The bachelor’s degree is awarded from Russell Sage College in the spring of the fourth year. The DPT degree is awarded from Sage Graduate School at the end of the seventh year. The first formal review for eligibility to progress into the professional program will occur after the fall semester of the fourth year at RSC.

Accelerated 3+3 Program (Bachelor’s and DPT)

Students who are admitted to the 3+3 bachelor’s program at RSC are eligible to accelerate into the professional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in their fourth year. Students who have completed a minimum of 90 undergraduate credits and meet the academic requirements above are guaranteed admission to the DPT Program at Sage Graduate School. The bachelor’s degree is awarded from Russell Sage College in December of the fourth year, and students participate in the spring commencement ceremony. The DPT degree is awarded from Sage Graduate School at the end of the sixth year. The first formal review for eligibility to continue into the professional program will take place after the fall semester of the third year at RSC.

Procedures for Progression/Acceleration into the DPT Program

By January 15 (fourth year for 4+3 program; third year for 3+3 program) students progressing from the 4+3 program or accelerating from 3+3 program into the DPT program must:

  • Arrange for a meeting with the PT Program Coordinator
  • Complete PT program progression/acceleration packet available from the Physical Therapy Department (Academic and Program Standards Statement, Student Information Form, Clinical Observation Documentation Form);
  • Submit a current resume;
  • Submit one professional letter of recommendation;
  • Submit a career goals essay;
  • Provide transcripts from all college institutions attended; and,
  • Provide a list of courses in progress and planned during the remainder of the undergraduate program.

Academic and Program Standards

The Physical Therapy Program at The Sage Colleges is a professional education program at the clinical doctorate degree level. Students enrolled in the program must demonstrate achievement in academic and clinical competencies necessary for the professional practice of physical therapy and meet academic standards consistent with graduate school criteria. Students must demonstrate effective professional behavior as detailed in the program’s Standards of Professional Behavior.

  1. Grade Point Average (GPA)
    An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 must be maintained in the Physical Therapy Program. A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in probation for the following semester. If the semester GPA is below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters or a total of three semesters, the student will be subject to suspension from the program. A student must attain an overall GPA of 3.0 or better prior to enrolling in the clinical education courses.
  2. Passing Course Grades
    If a minimum grade of C- is not obtained in a course (P in a pass/fail course), the student will be suspended and the course must be repeated before continuing in the curriculum. A course may be repeated only once and the student must achieve a minimum grade of B- (or P in a pass/fail course) on the second attempt. The second time a student receives a grade less than a C- in any professional component course, the student will be dismissed from the program.
  3. Oral/Practical/Proficiency Exam Grades
    Each student is expected to pass every oral/practical/proficiency exam on the first attempt with a minimum passing grade of 80%. If unsuccessful, the student will be allowed one retake of the exam and the Program Director will be notified. If the student does not achieve the minimum passing grade of 80% on the retake, the student will receive a grade of F for that course and will be suspended from the program. The second occasion that a student needs to repeat an oral/practical /proficiency exam will result in a letter from the Program Director requiring the student to meet with the course faculty and advisor. On the third occasion the student will be placed on probation the following semester. On the fourth occasion the student will be suspended from the program.
  4. Retention and Dismissal
    1. Probation
      A student who receives a grade of C+, C or C- in any course will be placed on probation for the next semester. Probation for two consecutive semesters will result in suspension. Probation for a total of any three semesters will result in suspension. Violations of the Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or APTA Code of Ethics and Guide to Professional Conduct are also grounds for being placed on probation.

      Probationary status may jeopardize eligibility to apply for the PTY 769 Capstone Experience , participate in the clinical education lottery and/or apply for graduate assistant or teaching assistant positions.
    2. Suspension
      Suspension from the program will be for a one-year period of time. A program of remediation will occur during this time period. Since the program is a lock step curriculum, courses that were not successfully completed cannot be repeated until the following year. Repeated violations of the Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or APTA Code of Ethics and Guide to Professional Conduct are also grounds for suspension.
    3. Dismissal
      A student is subject to dismissal from the program for any of the following:

      • Student receives a grade less than B- in four (4) courses*;
      • Student has two (2) suspensions;
      • Student has four (4) probations;
      • Student does not achieve a minimum grade of B- (or P in a pass/fail course) when repeating a course;
      • Egregious conduct that violates professional and/or legal standards.

A student who is academically dismissed from The Sage Colleges Physical Therapy Program may apply for readmission after a period of at least one year. A program of reassessment and review will be required during this period. Students having difficulty maintaining the academic standards may be required to enroll in an extended curriculum.

*A grade in a lecture/lab course in which the same grade is given for both components of the course only counts as one (1) grade.

In addition to these standards, students admitted to the program on a provisional basis are required to meet the conditions of acceptance stated on their program of study.

Grievance/Appeal Procedure

Students may appeal any decision regarding their grade or status in the program by following the procedures for grievance/appeals specified in the Sage Graduate School Catalog and the DPT Student Handbook. Students may appeal any suspension or dismissal decision following the appeal procedures in the DPT Student Handbook.

New York State and Accrediting Agency Approval

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Sage is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) of the American Physical Therapy Association, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314-1488,, (703) 684-APTA (2782) or (800) 999-APTA (2782). The program is also registered with the New York State Education Department, Education Building, Albany, New York 12234, (518) 474-3852.

Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) Program

In June 2000, APTA’s House of Delegates endorsed the APTA Vision Statement for Physical Therapy 2020 which envisions that physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy: “Physical therapy, by 2020, will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy and who may be board-certified specialists. Consumers will have direct access to physical therapists in all environments for patient/client management, prevention, and wellness services. Physical therapists will be practitioners of choice in clients’ health networks and will hold all privileges of autonomous practice. Physical therapists may be assisted by physical therapist assistants who are educated and licensed to provide physical therapist-directed and supervised components of interventions. Guided by integrity, life-long learning, and a commitment to comprehensive and accessible health programs for all people, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants will render evidenced based service throughout the continuum of care and improve quality of life for society. They will provide culturally sensitive care distinguished by trust, respect, and an appreciation for individual differences.

While fully availing themselves of new technologies, as well as basic and clinical research, physical therapists will continue to provide direct patient/client care. They will maintain active responsibility for the growth of the physical therapy profession and the health of the people it serves.” (APTA)

APTA and SAGE are unequivocally committed to a fully inclusive transition to the status of a doctoring profession. Inclusiveness means that every U.S.- licensed physical therapist will be afforded the opportunity to attain degree parity with those practitioners who possess the DPT. In addition to the benefits for the physical therapist, an inclusive transition also benefits the profession as a greater critical mass of physical therapists are prepared to practice using the most current body of knowledge and skills, including all aspects of patient/client management.

tDPT Program Purpose

The purposes of the Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at The Sage Colleges are to provide:

  1. A quality educational program, primarily through a distance learning online curricular format, that reflects an augmentation in the physical therapist professional body of knowledge and practice over the last 10 years, allowing physical therapists to complete the program in a format that supports continued employment.
  2. A mechanism whereby experienced physical therapists may augment their knowledge and skills in areas that, together with any specialized knowledge and experience acquired over the years, would position them more strongly as a provider of physical therapy in a competitive health care system.
  3. A valuable and exciting context for learning, including the rich and diverse interactions among physical therapists whose respective experiences provide an invaluable source of shared learning.
  4. A curriculum that is customized to particular learners based on the date and degree level awarded in physical therapy, and their knowledge and experience, thereby minimizing the prospects for duplication of content.
  5. A learning context, including the learner’s experience and discourse, that reflects a breadth and depth of experience that cannot be present in a professional degree program with students who have no clinical experience.
  6. Credentialing at the clinical doctorate level with the opportunity for graduates to achieve parity with other clinical and associated professions that have converted to the doctoral level, including optometry, podiatry, audiology, pharmacy and law.

Admission Requirements

  1. Earned entry-level bachelor’s, master’s, combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in physical therapy from an accredited program
  2. Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  3. Current license to practice physical therapy in the United States
  4. Current Resume
  5. Two professional letters of recommendation
  6. A career goals statement/personal essay
  7. Letter of request and portfolio of professional development courses and activities if requesting course waivers

Evaluation of Equivalency of Required tDPT Courses:

Clinicians who are able to demonstrate equivalency in formal graduate level academic coursework or through advanced clinical professional development courses or activities may be waived from some of the required courses.

tDPT Curriculum

The tDPT curriculum is based on the APTA’ s Preferred t-DPT Curricular Guide and is also consistent with the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice and A Normative Model of Physical Therapist Professional Education, Version 2004. Eight core courses in the tDPT curriculum are designed to “bridge” the gaps typically found between the entry-level bachelor’s and master’s programs and the current professional DPT programs. The tDPT curriculum reflects an augmentation in the physical therapist professional body of knowledge and practice over the last 10 years and includes content in physical therapy differential diagnosis and screening for medical referral, medical imaging, pharmacotherapeutics, business management and administration, educational strategies, principles of evidenced-based practice, and scientific inquiry. A capstone experience provides students the opportunity to engage in a faculty-mentored clinical inquiry/research project related to their area of clinical practice. At the completion, tDPT students present their research/culminating project at the annual Sage Graduate School Research Symposium.

Delivery Model

The tDPT program is delivered in a combination on-site/distance learning format, with the majority of the coursework delivered in an online format. The students enrolled in the tDPT program are practicing clinicians who will need minimal laboratory experiences, which lends itself to the online format. Students meet on campus one weekend each semester with each course meeting from 4-8 hours during the weekend.

tDPT Course Schedule

Each course is offered one time each year.

Grievance/Appeal Procedure

Students may appeal any decision regarding their grade or status in the program by following the procedures for grievance/appeals specified in the Sage Graduate School Catalog. Students should first seek resolution through the course instructor, program director and department chair before seeking resolution outside the program. In the event that a student wishes to appeal a grade, the student must submit in writing to the course instructor the reasons for requesting a change in grade. For grades on an exam or assignment, this request must be submitted within two weeks of the graded work being returned to the student. To appeal the final course grade, the request must be submitted within the first two weeks of the next academic semester that follows the semester in which the course was taken (eg. fall course grades must be appealed within the first two weeks of spring semester and spring course grades must be appealed within the first two weeks of the fall semester).