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 44-50 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

Fall 2015 Admitted Student Luncheon will be held on Saturday, June 6 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., 9401 Jeronimo Rd, Irvine CA Room 128.  Please contact Serena Healey for additional information at

Chapman University's Physical Therapy students, faculty, and alumni will be volunteering at the Special Olympics World Games - LA 2015 working with the Healthy Athletes FUNfitness testing on July 26 and 27, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

+-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)


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:

As you search for the ideal education program, understanding the programs and their educational outcomes may provide important information to help with your decision making.  We have provided you with information regarding entering class information, as well as the licensure pass rate, employment rate, and graduation rates for recent graduates.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions. 

Licensure Pass Rate

      Chapman University DPT program has excellent licensure pass rates, historically exceeding both State and National average rates.  For the previous 5 years, overall, 100% of the DPT program graduates have successfully passed the licensure examination (see Table).  In addition, the content area scores demonstrated by Chapman DPT graduates are consistently higher than the US National Averages. 

For more information on the licensure pass rate for Chapman University DPT program, please feel free to examine our 2013 FSBPT report  from the Federation of States Board of Physical Therapy Examination or our 2013 FSBPT Content Area  report for comparison of Content Area Scores from Chapman University DPT graduates and US test takers. 

Licensure Pass Rate (%) Comparison of Chapman University DPT to State and National rates*


Chapman Overall

Chapman First Time

































* data from Federation of States Board of Physical Therapy Examination- report date  5/24/13

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.


How do I apply for Chapman’s DPT program?

Please apply to our program through the Physcal Therapy Centralized Applicatoin Service (PTCAS) website

When is the application deadline?

For early decision, the application deadline is in August. For regular admission, the application deadline is in November.  Please visit the PTCAS website for specific deadlines.

What is early decision?

Early decision is for competitive applicants who only want to pursue one school. If accepted through early decision, the applicant is unable to apply to any other school and is obligated to submit an enrollment deposit.  Please visit the PTCAS website for specific early decision GPA and GRE requirements.

What happens to my application if I do not get accepted during early decision?

The application is considered for the regular admission process and the applicant is able to apply to other schools.

How many applications do you receive each year?

There are approximately 1400-1600 applicants per year. 

If I get denied can I reapply?

Yes, you just need to resubmit an application through PTCAS during the next application cycle.

What is the average cohort size?

The average cohort size is 48-50 for the fall cohort and 36-38 for the summer cohort.

Does Chapman require a supplemental application?

No, Chapman does not require an additional supplemental application.

When are application decisions made?

Application decisions will typically start in December or January. For both application cycles, decisions are given on a rolling basis. Acceptance, waitlist, and decline decisions continue to go out until the class is filled.  

How much is the deposit for the DPT program?

The deposit amount for the DPT program is $500, non-refundable.

Does Chapman require interviews as part of the admissions process?

No, Chapman does not require formal interviews as part of the admissions process.

Does Chapman require letters of recommendation?

No, Chapman does not require letters of recommendation as part of the admissions process.

What is the minimum prerequisite GPA required?

3.0 (regular admission); 3.5 (early decision)

What is the minimum cumulative (overall) GPA required?

3.0 (regular admission); 3.5 (early decision)

What are the minimum GRE scores required?

Regular Admission:

  • Verbal: 146
  • Quantitative: 144
  • Analytical: 3.5

Early Decision:

  • Verbal: 152
  • Quantitative: 148
  • Analytical: 4.0

What code should I use when sending Chapman my GRE scores?

Chapman’s DPT program GRE code is 7669.

What degree do I need to apply?

A bachelor’s degree in any area of study is required.  All applicants must complete all required prerequisite courses.

What are the prerequisite courses required to apply to Chapman?

Please see our website for required prerequisite courses.

Do prerequisite courses have an expiration date?

Human anatomy and physiology must be completed within 5 years of the application deadline.  All other prerequisite courses must be completed within 10 years of the application deadline.

Do all prerequisite courses need to be completed before applying?

All prerequisite coursework must be completed, and the awarding of a baccalaureate degree, must occur before matriculation into the DPT program.  Students must satisfactorily complete all remaining prerequisite course requirements in accordance with the admission requirements. 

Can a pass/no pass class fulfill prerequisite requirements?

Pass/Credit grades for prerequisite courses will be converted to a C if letter grading options are not available.

Can I take prerequisite courses at a community college?

Yes, prerequisite courses can be taken at a community college.

Can AP credits fulfill prerequisite requirements?

Courses which received advanced placement credit (AP or CLEP) may fulfill prerequisite requirements. The credit hours and grade points will not be computed in the pGPA calculation.

How many observation hours do I need?

You need a minimum of 40 hours of observation in any type of setting.  The hours must be supervised under a licensed physical therapist.

Does Chapman give priority to in-state applicants?

No, Chapman does not give priority to in-state applicants. 

Can I transfer into Chapman’s DPT program from another DPT program?

No, Chapman does not accept DPT transfer students.

Can the program be taken online?

No, Chapman does not offer an online entry level DPT program.

How long is the DPT program?

The program is 36 months long, on a trimester system (15 weeks each trimester).

When does the DPT program begin?

The summer cohorts will begin in May and the fall cohorts will begin in August 

Where are the physical therapy classes located?

All PT classes are located at the Rinker Health Science Campus in Irvine, CA.

Can I work while enrolled in the program?

It is recommended that students do not work while in the program.

What is the curriculum for the program?

Please see our website for the Chapman DPT curriculum grid. 

What is the tuition rate for the DPT program?

For the 2015-2016 school year, tuition is $12,616 per semester.

Does the physical therapy program or Chapman University provide scholarships for students?

Yes, the physical therapy department offers minimal fellowships as a one-time award based upon academic merit.  Other scholarships can be researched online.

Can I take a campus tour?

Appointments are required to visit the Rinker Campus; please email to schedule an appointment during business hours. Also, please visit our website for information about upcoming events and info sessions. 

Is there someone I can talk to concerning the DPT program?

You can email Serena Healey, Admissions and Events coordinator, at

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