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Doctor of Physical Therapy Program


For more program videos please visit 'Our Story'.

Virtual Open Houses

VOH's are an excellent opportunity to  learn about our program from faculty and current students.  Sessions generally run from 5:15 - 6:45.   Join us at one of our upcoming virtual open houses on:

  • June 19
  • Aug 28
  • Sept 18

Register with Mia Kelton .


We promote the advancement of health, wellness, and rehabilitation through education, research and service. Our commitment is to provide a student-focused environment with a faculty whose primary role is to prepare compassionate, competent doctors of physical therapy who are experts in the examination and treatment of the movement system, value inter-professional collaboration, engage in outreach to address regional and international  health needs, and uphold the highest professional standards across the continuum of care.  

Our Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is a 33-month, full-time, entry-level program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE).*

Physical Therapy Clinic at HHS building


In August of each year, a 48-student cohort begins a dynamic learning process that promotes interprofessional collaboration, evidence-based practice, scholarship, and community engagement. The challenging curriculum is taught by faculty who are committed to molding students into exceptional clinicians.

The design of our program allows students at the Cullowhee campus and Biltmore Park instructional site to have a synchronous learning experience with faculty members teaching from both locations. Students receive in-person guidance for all hands-on experiences. There are 32 students at the Cullowhee location and 16 at the Biltmore Park location for each cohort.

Admission to the program is highly competitive. Students must have earned a bachelor’s degree with a high grade point average during their last 90hrs of coursework and prerequisite courses

Review student outcomes data over the past four years.

Why Choose WCU?

  • 100% First-time Pass Rate: 100% of DPT students have passed the National Physical Therapy Examination and 100% passed on their first attemptfrom in 6 of the past 8 cohorts.  
  • Educational Value: Students get a great education for a relatively low cost.
  • 100% Employment: All graduates seeking employment have been successful.
  • Student-Centered Learning: Faculty’s primary role is preparing students to be exceptional physical therapists.
  • Facilities: Access to state-of-the-art facilities, clinical equipment, and technology for teaching and research including the Human Movement Science Laboratory and the Balance and Fall Prevention Clinic. 
  • Location: The pristine beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, and the arts and cultural vibrancy of the greater Asheville area make WCU an amazing place to live and learn.
  • Student run pro bono clinic: The award-winning Mountain Area Pro Bono Health Services Clinic provides students the opportunity to apply what they learn in class while also serving our community. 
  • PT specific curriculum: All courses are taught specifically to physical therapy students with built in interprofessional experiences. 


Physical Therapy Classroom Curriculum Work


Program Summary:
33-months (full-time only)
8 semesters
112 credits
3 terminal clinical education experiences (30 weeks) with integrated clinical experiences throughout the curriculum (4 weeks total)
Classes begin in August
Graduation in May
DPT Curriculum Summary

The curriculum consists of 112 semester hours of coursework offered in eight consecutive semesters, that begins by building a strong foundation of knowledge in the movement sciences and progresses to more complex applied clinical science and reasoning. Students attend classes full-time at the College of Health & Human Sciences building or the Biltmore Park Instructional Site. Just as physical therapists must acknowledge the whole patient—not simply a set of presenting symptoms—we honor each student and encourage his or her unique personal and professional development by implementing a variety of learning styles. 

Our students are equipped to be dynamic entry-level clinicians who are prepared to practice as generalists or apply for residencies after graduation. Clinical experiences are integrated early in the curriculum and throughout the entire program to provide students clinical context and opportunities to apply their skills to authentic scenarios. We continue to expand and strengthen our robust partnerships with clinical sites to create additional opportunities for clinical education experiences.

Integrated clinical education (ICE) experiences are authentic clinical opportunities occuring throughout the program. They are designed to help students integrate in a clinical setting the knowledge and skills gained during each semester of didactic work and to model professional behavior. These experiences also provide an opportunity to gain context for future coursework. Clinical learning opportunities and experiences depend on semester coursework and student experience (beginner / intermediate / advanced). Clinical settings may include hospitals, outpatient centers, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers, and federal/state facilities (including public schools) of various types, as well as simulated clinical education experiences.  Read more about the specifics of the integrated clinical experiences. 

We believe the structure of our curriculum is a highlight of our program that allows for optimal student learning.

Curriculum chart



Step 1. First, applicants must apply through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Physical Therapy Central Application Service (PTCAS)




Step 2. Next, applicants must complete Western Carolina University’s Graduate School application and pay the application fee.




Step 3. Applicants must complete the GRE and have it submitted to WCU. Request that Educational Testing Service (ETS) send official scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test to Western Carolina University: PTCAS GRECode 0342.  (Note: the last acceptable date for this cycle is September 17, 2024 to ensure your score will be received by the deadline.)

STEP 3: COMPLETE and submit GRE



Details on how to apply



WCU's graduating students had a 100% for the first 8 years of the DPT program. This accomplishment indicates that students are well-trained to tackle the working world or apply to specialization programs called residencies. Residencies are intensive training opportunities that allow clinicians to specialize in one of many areas such as pediatric, neurologic, cardio-pulmonary, women's health, and orthopedic physical therapy. The applicant pools for residencies consist of the best students from across the country, and the process of being chosen is highly selective. Residency Programs Our Graduates Have Attended

What does WCU have to offer you?



As one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Western North Carolina attracts people who want to get out and enjoy nature. Our students and staff often spend their free time hiking or mountain biking through national forests, and plenty of nearby camping destinations provide a fun way to unwind on weekends. 

Learn more about the university, "Top Adventure College" by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, and the surrounding area at LIFE IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA.

DPT Life

Student hiking


Hiking: The Health and Human Sciences building (HHS) is nestled half a mile from main campus at the foot of WCU's trail system.

The trailhead to challenging hikes and beautiful views is right in our parking lot, so you don't have to stray too far to get a good, scenic hike in!

Paradise Falls, Black Balsam Knob, Waterrock Knob and Cullowhee Falls are other popular spots that aren't too far away.


Class of 2019 rafting


WCU trail map
Whee Falls Guide
Blue Ridge Parkway Mileposts

Learn more

MAPHealth is our student run pro bono health clinic offering physical therapy, social work, and nutrition services. Our student board, with the oversight of an advisory board, is responsible for all clinic operations. Students evaluate and treat our clients with supervision by faculty and community clinicians. 

Our Mission

MAPPT Students with Dr. Hudson


Our mission is to provide effective, pro bono physical therapy and social work services to the under-served and under-insured population of western North Carolina. We strive to improve quality of life, health, and function of our clients while serving the community and fostering student education. 

Physical therapists diagnose movement dysfunction that interferes with quality of life at any age, design treatment plans to restore and optimize function and prevent disability, and also promote healthy lifestyles and injury prevention by developing fitness and wellness-oriented programs.

In collaboration with other healthcare professionals, social workers contribute to patient’s health and wellness by providing mental health prevention and treatment services with special focus on behavioral and bio-psychosocial issues. Healthcare social workers help patients with the emotional adjustment to their condition and work to improve quality of life.

Who We Serve

Mountain Area Pro Bono Health Services serves uninsured or under-insured individuals in western North Carolina, regardless of socio-economic or health status. 

Learn more about our clinic and eligibility.

Western Carolina University is designated as a Carnegie Foundation Community-Engaged Institution for its many service-learning opportunities available to students. WCU DPT students are involved in this mission through service oriented doctoral projects, our student-run pro bono clinic, and even international service opportunities. These initiatives allow students to:

  • Engage in meaningful community-based service
  • Apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom
  • Glean experience needed to use our skill set as physical therapists to practice altruism long after graduation

Learn more about our local community engagement, research projects, and international outreach.

Request more info!

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