Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

Physical therapists help patients recover from injury, restore function and promote long-term health. Physical therapists are movement experts and rehabilitation specialists who help their patients across the entire range of human function. Physical Therapists help resolve impairments, address activity limitations,  and restore participation in society using a model of care that respects biological, psychological, and sociological factors. If you have a passion for helping others, a strong aptitude for science, and a desire to be a healthcare provider, consider pursuing a career as a physical therapist (PT)!

Faculty expertise and student opportunities.

Our faculty include board-certified specialists in clinical practice, nationally recognized educators, and experts in basic and applied rehabilitation sciences. This affords students many opportunities to be involved with hands-on clinical care and research. Physical therapy students gain practical experience volunteering in our ComMUnity Clinic as well as shadowing and working in our full-service Physical Therapy Clinic or Neuro Recovery Clinic.

Our research labs investigate many rehabilitation topics ranging from basic science using animal models to community-engaged research. Research faculty are investigating recovery from stroke and spinal cord injury, patient-centered outcomes, health technology assessment, neuromotor control, muscle physiology, chronic pain, sports science and biomechanics, aging and sex differences in response to exercise and rehabilitation, and long-term health in athletes. Students may immerse themselves in research through undergraduate internships, paid research technician positions, summer intensive research programs, and our Exercise and Rehabilitation Science Graduate Program. Students may even pursue a dual-degree DPT-Ph.D. to become a clinician-scientist. Please visit faculty pages for links to research labs.

Get out of the classroom.

As a physical therapy major, you will  enjoy 32 weeks of clinical experience in Milwaukee and throughout the country during the final two years of your professional phase. As a student, you can participate in adaptive sports, activities at senior centers, and/or Parkinson’s Disease exercise classes.

Competence and compassion.

Marquette's Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program provides more than advanced technical training. The values-centered Marquette Core Curriculum helps equip you to make a difference in your patients’ lives, focusing on “Cura Personalis”: care for the whole person.

Enhanced marketability.

Marquette gives you a wide variety of majors from which to choose. Exercise physiology is the most popular undergraduate major for physical therapy students, providing training in fitness, wellness, disease prevention and the care of sports injuries. This major, combined with physical therapy, provides secondary expertise in human performance training or sport medicine that complements a physical therapy education. Students also commonly major in biomedical sciences, psychology, or Spanish.

Other students with a focused interest in starting their own PT-based organizations have majored in business and can pursue a specialization track in business leadership. The diversity of the undergraduate experience has supported exciting student-led innovations such as the Backpack Program, Global Brigades, and the Marquette Challenge. Marquette students are nationally known for the innovative Marquette Challenge, which has raised over $4 million dollars to support the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research.

Options for entering the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

Marquette's Physical Therapy program consists of a three-year preprofessional phase and a three-year professional phase. Students graduate with a bachelor's degree in an academic area of choice and a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Students may enter Marquette's Physical Therapy program in one of two ways: 1) directly as freshman, providing students with early assurance admission to the dual degree six-year program or 2) as a separate admission later for just the three-year professional phase.

Direct freshman admission (high school seniors only)

Strong candidates typically rank in the top quarter of their high school classes and have done well in science and math courses. Completion of the following high school courses is required for admission to the physical therapy program:

  • 1 year of biology
  • 1 year of chemistry
  • 3 years of college-preparatory math (algebra, geometry, advanced algebra and/or trigonometry)
  • 1 year of physics is recommended

Join the three-year professional DPT program

Those not starting via the early assurance pathway may still enroll at Marquette and follow the program's academic requirements. These students can complete physical therapy prerequisite courses at Marquette and apply to the professional phase of the program as a junior if they meet requirements, and still earn 2 degrees in the six-year time frame. Students can also enroll in the graduate phase of the program after completing an undergraduate degree. More information can be found at this link.


Marquette's physical therapy program gives you the latitude to develop your interest in a variety of areas. In the final semester of coursework, students can specialize in niche clinical areas such as sports performance, youth sports, orthopedics, neurological, pelvic floor, acute care, and pediatrics. Many times, specialty course offerings are taken in tandem with advanced-practice electives, specialty clinicals, or opportunities to work or volunteer in our PT clinics and research laboratories. Our students are mentored by top experts and educators in their respective areas of physical therapy practice.

Some of the classes you'll take:

  • Contemporary Issues in Physical Therapy
  • Human Anatomy
  • Patient Management
  • Clinical Pathology and Pathophysiology
  • Geriatric Rehabilitation 
  • Evidence-Based Decision Making
  • Differential Diagnosis 
  • Orthopedics 
  • Neurological Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy elective

For a complete listing of required courses for the program in physical therapy, please visit the Marquette University Online Bulletin at this link.