three images: students with skeleton model, new anatomy facility at rinker, student and professor in classroom
three images: students with skeleton model, new anatomy facility at rinker, student and professor in classroom

» Doctor of Physical Therapy

Continually accredited since 1928, Chapman's Department of Physical Therapy is one of the longest running PT programs in the United States.  The tradition of excellence continues to the present day, where professors, all of whom are licensed practitioners with advanced degrees, provide up-to-date instruction in one of the region's most advanced PT facilities.  This program offers:

  • The entry level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree for those students interested in becoming a physical therapy professional.
  • The transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy (tDPT) degree for those PT's seeking to further their education to achieve the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.

The curriculum leading to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree requires three calendar years of full-time enrollment and consists of 125 credits.  The DPT curriculum begins with basic sciences that are then applied to the clinical or practice management courses. Clinical experiences are integrated into the curriculum with full time experiences during semesters 5, 7, and 9. You will complete the physical therapy degree with 40-44 weeks of clinical experiences, depending on your personal clinical experience choices. All courses in the curriculum are based on evidence and include content to promote excellence as a professional with patients across the lifespan and across practice settings in order to produce excellent clinicians who are prepared to assume leadership roles in the profession. Chapman is very proud that in 2011, 100% of the DPT program graduates successfully passed the licensure examination on the first try.

+ - Upcoming Events

Information Session
(Prospective Students)

Saturday, March 18, 2017, 9 a.m. - Noon

RSVP is open to the first 300 prospective students.

+ - History and Mission

Historic Beginnings

The physical therapy program traces its roots to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the early 1900s.  A physical therapy program was started there by Lucile Grunewald, a physical educator, who was among the first women to offer therapeutic applications of exercise for persons recovering from diseases or injuries.1 She admitted students who already had a degree in some related field, usually physical education.  Physical therapy knowledge was added to their existing knowledge base and graduates received a certificate to practice physical therapy. When the program affiliated with Chapman University, the Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) was the degree awarded to graduates. This program has always been offered as a post-baccalaureate program, a rarity in physical therapy educational programs of long standing. Chapman University wanted the historic program to continue with enduring quality and value. The program sought and achieved accreditation for the DPT degree in May of 2001, one of the first twenty-five percent of programs to accomplish that feat. Chapman's first DPT degrees were awarded in 2004.

One, if not, the First

Records at the American Physical Therapy Association indicate that a physical therapy program existed at Children’s Hospital in 1926. That year was the first year that records were kept, and five programs were listed. The start dates of some of those five programs are known and were operating during or after World War I. Historic records allow us to conclude that the program now at Chapman University is either the nation’s longest, continuous program or one of two programs started at approximately the same time. The earliest accreditation was granted in 1928, and the current program at Chapman University is the only program from the initial accreditation that survives to current time. When programs could no longer be based in hospitals, Chapman University responded by affiliating with the Children’s Hospital. That affiliation began in 1985, and the program moved to the Orange Campus of Chapman University in 1993.

Our enduring Mission:

The mission of Chapman University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program is to foster the development of professional Doctors of Physical Therapy who are exceptional clinicians, skilled in delivering ethical care in today’s global community.  Students will be qualified as autonomous practitioners, informed in evidence-based practice, mentored in good clinical judgment, dedicated to lifelong learning, and prepared to be leaders in health care.

Our Philosophy:

The Chapman DPT program is developed and presented with a guiding philosophy founded in academic rigor.  The program emphasizes clinical reasoning including the ability to gather and utilize emergent data as well as the selection and interpretation of individual tests and measures.  The program builds on the philosophy that interdisciplinary integration enriches, broadens and increases the depth of student development in didactic, clinical, and professional settings. The program faculty are committed to the ongoing and regular update of course information and use an evidence base to provide contemporary top-quality education.  Faculty mentor students professionally, clinically, and didactically, throughout the program.  Faculty strive to foster professional behaviors in the students including a commitment to lifelong learning  Each student is viewed as an individual to model the context in which we are preparing him/her to practice.  Students are educated to exhibit cultural competency and ethical strength.

The DPT program also seeks to promote and advance clinical development in the profession by fostering student-clinician interaction in the clinical setting. To this end, students are prepared with the understanding that clinician instructors participate in the education process through mentoring; bringing a wealth of clinical and client/patient handling experience.  Conversely, students participate by bringing currency in evidence basis and concepts of contemporary clinical practice as defined by the physical therapy professional and accrediting bodies.

1Littell EH, Johnson GR. Professional Entry Education in Physical Therapy During the Twentieth Century. JOPT Educ. 2003; 17(3): 3-12.

+ - New Location: Rinker Health Science Campus

We've Moved! You can now find us at Chapman University's Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine.

We are now located at the corner of Alton Pkwy and Jeronimo Rd. in Irvine, CA, in buildings 9401 and 9501 Jeronimo Rd.

Our Address is:
9401 Jeronimo Rd.
Irvine, CA 92618

(Google Map)

+ - Research

You will participate in research activities with faculty members including assignments based upon your interests and talents. During the program, you will complete a series of courses intended to develop the critical skills necessary to evaluate the evidence for physical therapy practice. You will have the opportunity to choose your level of participation in actual research projects.

+ - Clinical Education

The Chapman University DPT program is designed to provide regularly spaced clinical education so you are able to apply and integrate the didactic information from your course-work to clinical setting under the supervision of practicing clinicians. These clinical experiences will be provided through partnerships with a growing national network of clinical sites. For more detailed information visit this page.

+ - Bachelor of Sciences in Health Sciences to Doctor of Physical Therapy

This program guarantees excellent Health Science students a seat in Chapman University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and makes them eligible for scholarship money awarded to outstanding physical therapy students.   Early, guaranteed admission is a three-step process.

STEP ONE: Academic Performance

Declare the Physical Therapy track through the Office of the Registrar by the end of the sophomore year.

By spring semester of the junior year, students seeking early, guaranteed admission must:

1.  Complete the following courses and adhere to the criteria associated with the courses:

1.  BIO 204, BIO 205 (or BIO 208), HESC 210, HESC 365, HESC 366, CHEM 140, CHEM 150, PHYS 107, PHYS 108, and PSY 203 (or MATH 203)

2.  Must be taken at Chapman University or must be identified as equivalent in the Chapman University/Saddleback College TAG agreement;

3.  May only be taken once;

4.  Must be taken for a letter grade;

5.  Must be completed by the end of spring semester junior year;

6.  Taken together the courses must compute to a GPA > 3.6.

STEP TWO:  Early Admission Declaration and Plan

By October 1 of the junior year, the student seeking guaranteed early admission must schedule an interview with Serena Healey (  to review requirements and establish a plan to complete successfully the requirements for guaranteed early admission. 

STEP THREE:  Requirements to Convert from Conditional to a Fully Admitted Student:

1.  Submit an application through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) in August before the beginning of the senior year.

2.  Complete the GRE before the beginning of the senior year with the following minimum scores: Verbal 152, Quantitative 148, Writing 5.0.

3.  Submit documentation showing completion of 40 hours of physical therapy observation/experience; 

4.   Complete B.S. Health Science degree with a cumulative GPA >3.4.  The degree may be completed during any term of the senior year and must be verified by the Office of the   Registrar.

5.  Submit a deposit.

+ - Curriculum Grid

The curriculum grid is a tool by which students can track their course load semester-by-semester over the entire three-year DPT program. View the full size version.

See the graduate catalog for course descriptions and other general program information. For information on how to apply to the program, visit our admissions section.

+ - Academic Outcomes

The Department of Physical Therapy is committed to providing accurate and reliable information regarding the successful student outcomes for the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program.  Chapman University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The DPT program at Chapman University is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email; website:

Licensure Pass Rate


Licensure Pass Rate (%)


Chapman Overall

Chapman First Time










* data from Federation of States Board of Physical Therapy Examination- report date  7/08/16

Employment Rate

The Department of Physical Therapy at Chapman University annually surveys the graduates in part to determine how successful the search is for employment.  Using the definition of employment rate set by CAPTE [“the percent of graduates who were employed as PTs … within six months of passing the licensure examination], we are pleased to report that our graduates demonstrated a 100% employment rate.  In fact, over the past 5 years, our graduates have reported a 100% employment rate!

Graduation Rate

The number of students who matriculated is compared to the number that graduated for the DPT program at Chapman University over the past 3 years is presented.  The three year average graduation rate is 89%. 

chart comparing graduating students vs matriculated students from 2011, 2012 and 2013.

+ - Complaints

Complaints Outside Existing Institutional Complaint or Grievance Procedures

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Chapman University has policy to address complaints that may fall outside of the existing institutional complaint procedures as stated below:

The Department of Physical Therapy values comments and concerns that relate to its curriculum, students, faculty, and graduates from parties outside the University. We strive to respond in a timely and appropriate manner.

Procedures and Responsibilities

Complaints could be submitted in writing or anonymously.

The Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy or the Dean, Crean College of Health and Behavioral Services will manage the complaint. If indicated, the DPT Chair or Dean will respond to the maker of the complaint within three (3) weeks of receiving the complaint. When appropriate, the Department Chair or his designee may consult with other University offices and personnel in addressing the complaint.

Responsible Party: Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy or Dean of the Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences.

Comments may be directed to the responsible parties. 

The Chair may be reached at:
Address: 9401 Jeronimo Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

The Dean may be reached at:
Address: 9401 Jeronimo Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

Existing Institutional Complaint, Hearing and Appeal Procedures:

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