Mar 04, 2024  
Mercy College 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
Mercy College 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Physical Therapy, D.P.T.

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Nannette Hyland, P.T., Ph.D., Program Director

Note: This program is part of a multiple degree program, B.S. Health Science / DPT.  The graduate portion of this program is included in the graduate catalog. For details on the full B.S. Health Science / DPT program, follow this link to the Undergraduate program description:


Physical therapy is a dynamic profession with an established theoretical and scientific base and widespread clinical applications in the restoration, maintenance, and promotion of optimal physical function. Physical therapists are health care professionals who help individuals maintain, restore, and improve movement, activity, and functioning, thereby enabling optimal performance and enhancing health, well-being, and quality of life. Their services prevent, minimize, or eliminate impairments of body functions and structures, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Physical therapy is provided for individuals of all ages who have or may develop impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions related to (1) conditions of the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and/or integumentary systems or (2) the negative effects attributable to unique personal and environmental factors as they relate to human performance.

Physical therapists play vital roles in today’s health care environment and are recognized as essential providers of rehabilitation and habilitation, performance enhancement, and prevention and risk-reduction services. Physical therapists also play important roles both in developing standards for physical therapist practice and in developing health care policy to ensure availability, accessibility, and optimal provision of physical therapy.

As clinicians, physical therapists engage in an examination process that includes taking the history including a review of systems, conducting a systems review, and performing tests and measures to identify potential and existing problems. To establish diagnoses, prognoses, and plans of care, physical therapists perform evaluations, synthesizing the examination data and determining whether the problems to be addressed are within the scope of physical therapist practice or whether a referral to another health care provider is indicated. Based on their judgments about diagnoses and prognoses and based on individual goals, physical therapists provide interventions (the interactions and procedures used in managing and instructing patients or clients), conduct reexaminations, modify interventions as necessary to achieve goals and outcomes, and develop and implement plans for conclusion of care. Introduction to the Guide to Physical Therapist Practice. Guide to Physical Therapist Practice 3.0. Alexandria, VA: American Physical Therapy Association; 2014. Available at:


The Physical Therapy Program at Mercy College is an accredited 3 +3.5  full-time weekend program designed to prepare graduates to practice with entry-level proficiency and to obtain licensure in Physical Therapy; graduates of the program are granted a dual B.S. in Health Science / Doctor of Physical Therpay  (DPT) degree. Students must hold a bachelor’s degree and have completed the prerequisite courses to begin the Physical Therapy curriculum if accepted.

The curriculum is based on a developmental, life span model that considers the unique needs of each individual. The program is dedicated to the promotion of high standards of physical therapy practice, education, collaboration and research in accordance with guidelines established by the American Physical Therapy Association.

The Physical Therapy Program encourages the motivated, self-directed student to use critical thinking and problem solving skills to integrate theoretical knowledge with clinical and research applications. Collaboratively, the faculty and students strive to develop and implement progressive learning methods to respond to the changing needs of the health care profession as it strives to better serve the community.

The Physical Therapy Program is committed to developing skills and competencies needed by future professionals. Its dedicated faculty has both academic and clinical experience to instill in students a spirit of inquiry, and to provide them with high quality clinical educational experiences.

Program Mission

Transform our students into professionals through unique learning experiences that will enable:

  • Optimal movement for health;
  • Appreciation of diverse backgrounds;
  • Skill to collaborate in promoting health across the lifespan;
  • Application of evidence in patient centered care;
  • Humanism in teaching, learning, and care giving.

Program Goals

  1. Students are expected to master entry-level proficiencies in physical therapy knowledge and practice skills with individuals of all ages.
  2. Students are expected to display professional behaviors, cultural competence, ethical values and a commitment to remain current with professional knowledge and practice.
  3. Students are expected to demonstrate competency in applying methods of scientific inquiry and/or evidence-based learning to guide clinical/professional/scientific decision making within the physical therapy profession.
  4. Students are expected to analyze the implications of social, political, demographic and economic trends on physical therapy practice.

Course Load

The Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree is a full-time weekend program that takes approximately three years and four months to complete. The student is required to take eight to twelve credits per trimester. Course work may be completed in 10 trimesters.

Program Requirements

Students are required to complete a bachelor’s degree along with all of the required prerequisite science courses to be considered for acceptance.  

Students who have successfully completed at least eight prerequisite courses listed below with a minimum prerequisite GPA of 3.0 are eligible to apply to the program. All prerequisite courses must be successfully completed prior to entry into the Physical Therapy Program. No more than one prerequisite science courses can be taken during the summer before entering the program. 

Volunteer or work-related experience in physical therapy is required. A maximum of thirty students will be accepted into each class. 

Students with foreign credentials and whose first language is not English are required to complete six credits of college-level English composition or complete the TOEFL (as per College policy).  

Physical Therapy Undergraduate Prerequisites

Anatomy and Physiology I and II 4 credits each
Biology I and II 4 credits each
Chemistry I and II 4 credits each
Physics I and II 4 credits each
Psychology- Developmental Psychology is preferred 6 credits 
Statistics 3 credits

All science coursework needs to have a lab component. Online science labs are not accepted.

NOTE: No student will be admitted into a prerequisite science course at Mercy College if that student does not qualify to take ENGL 111 at the same time. Courses taken elsewhere will be evaluated for equivalency and transfer credit by the Admissions Department.

The grades of any repeated prerequisite courses taken within the last five years will be averaged together when computing the prerequisite GPA. Students currently repeating a prerequisite course will have the standing grade for that course included in their admission GPA until the new grade is averaged with the existing grade. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better prior to entry into the program. A prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or higher is required (consisting of the eight most recent prerequisite science courses.

Program Admission Requirements

General information regarding eligibility for the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy may be obtained from the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) at Information may also be obtained by contacting the Physical Therapy Program Office at 914-674-7828.

The following is required of all applicants (all documentation must be received by PTCAS no later than January 15th):

  1. Completion of an application packet on PTCAS ( Candidates with a science prerequisite GPA of 3.6 or higher can submit applications by October 15 for consideration for early decision.
  2. Have a minimum science prerequisite GPA of 3.0, which includes the eight most recent science prerequisite courses.
  3. Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0. * Applicant’s whose cumulative GPA is < 3.0 will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
  4. Official Transcripts of all colleges attended sent to PTCAS (baccalaureate degree transcript if achieved). Students who have studied at institutions of higher education in other countries must submit official translations as part of the admissions submission to PTCAS. Only WES evaluations are accepted by PTCAS.
  5. GRE scores sent to PTCAS. The Mercy College GRE Physical Therapy Code is 0656. This is different than Mercy College’s general GRE code. Mercy’s required minimum for the GRE analytical writing section is a 3.0.
  6. Volunteer/work experience forms demonstrating at least forty hours of volunteer or work-related experience. The volunteer hours must be in a minimum of two different settings.
  7. Two references on PTCAS ( One letter should be from a registered physical therapist or a work supervisor and one letter should be from an instructor of a prerequisite course. The recommendations should give evidence of academic and professional qualifications for graduate study, and should be no more than one year old.
  8. Students with foreign credentials and whose first language is not English are required to complete six credits of college-level English composition or complete the TOEFL (as per college policy).
  9. On site Interview

Admission Procedure

  • All candidates for the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy must file an application with PTCAS at Completed applications have to be submitted to PTCAS no later than January 15th. The program begins in September. A complete PTCAS application includes: graduate application form, application fee, official transcripts of all colleges attended, GRE official score, essay, letters of recommendation and work experience forms.
  • Please refer to the graduate admissions requirements for additional information regarding immunization and international students.
  • Selected applicants will be invited to interview with representatives of the Graduate Program Admissions Committee.
  • Candidates will be notified about Admission decisions by the end of March for entry to the Physical Therapy Program for the following fall.
  • Offers of admission are extended only for the academic year stated. Students accepted into the program will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $500.00 at the time of acceptance, which will be applied to the fall tuition payment.
  • Applicants can only apply to the program three times.

Program Design

The professional program in Physical Therapy is a full-time weekend program that takes approximately three years, four months to complete. The program is divided into ten trimesters of academic work. Classes are generally held on 10 to 12 weekends within the fall, spring and summer semesters, between the hours of 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Students are required to take a minimum of six credits each semester. Since the program involves a full-time graduate course load, it is recommended that students work for no more than thirty hours per week.

Practical skills are developed through four full-time eight-week clinical education assignments. Basic Clinical Education is completed between the second and third years, and Advanced Clinical Education I, II and III are taken at the completion of the third year. All clinical education requirements must be successfully completed within 24 months of the didactic coursework. The professional program contains a total of 96 credits.

NOTE: While attempts are made to address students’ needs, optimal Clinical Education assignments may be a distance from students’ homes, thus requiring significant travel or the need for housing accommodations. Students are responsible for the cost of travel and accommodations.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for the Doctor of Physical Therapy include:

Professional Courses 84 credits
Clinical Education 12 credits
Total 96 credits

Physical Therapy Curriculum

The physical therapy curriculum builds upon itself therefore students most complete the coursework in sequence. (Each term is a prerequisite for the consecutive term.)

Note: All physical therapy classes may require an online component and students are expected to have internet access and participate in online discussions. 

Year One

1st Semester

2nd Semester

Year Two

Year Three

Year Four

Total Credits: 96

* These are undergraduate courses- please refer to the undergraduate catalog for course descriptions.

Physical Therapy Program Policies

Academic Advisement

Upon acceptance into the Physical Therapy Program, each student will be assigned a faculty member who will serve as his or her advisor. The advisor will offer counsel on issues related to requirements for program completion, the development of long-term plans of study and future professional direction, and academic standing in the program. Students are required to meet with their advisor once per academic year (at a minimum). If students are experiencing difficulties during the Program, they are strongly encouraged to contact their advisor, who can develop a plan of action to assist in resolving the problems.


Attendance and punctuality in all classes and clinical education assignments is required, unless the student is excused for extenuating and extraordinary life circumstances. If absence is due to illness, a note signed by an M.D. should be submitted. Missing one weekend day per semester is equivalent to missing three to four classes in a traditional program and may jeopardize a student’s standing in the program. Course instructors or clinical instructors must be notified in advance regarding absences. Failure to contact your course instructor and/or missing one full weekend of coursework (18 hours) will result in a review of the situation by the Faculty Review Committee. Possible results of absenteeism may include points taken off for absenteeism, documentation on the professional development form, a written warning and/or additional assignments. If a student misses a test or exam without previously contacting the instructor, the situation will be reviewed by the faculty and may result in a grade of F for that test or exam.

Absence from any clinical education assignment must be made up or may result in a failing grade in the course.

Academic Integrity

Cheating and plagiarism are contrary to the purpose of any educational institution and must be dealt with severely if students’ work is to have any validity. The Physical Therapy Program following the College’s Academic Integrity Policy (located in the Academic Regulation and Procedures section in the Graduate Catalog). This policy covers cheating, plagiarism, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents.

Background Checks

In order to participate in clinical education, a criminal background check may be required. The majority of clinical sites now require students to pass a background check prior to starting their affiliation. It is the student’s responsibility to perform this and supply the necessary documentation to the clinical facility well in advance of the start date of their affiliation. Policies regarding criminal background checks vary from facility to facility. Some facilities require students to have the background check performed on site or be a specific company. Some facilities require finger-printing and/or drug screening in addition. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Clinical Coordinator of Clinical Education (CCCE) to find out the specific procedure at that facility and to have it completed and submitted within the specific time frame for the facility. If a facility has no preference, the ACCE will provide the student with an acceptable company. Cost of the background check is the student’s responsibility. A student may be required to have more than one background check performed during the course of the program.

Clinical Education Grades

All clinical education courses are graded on a pass/fail basis. If a student fails any Clinical Education course, the decision to allow the course to be repeated will be determined by a Faculty Review Committee. If the student is allowed to repeat the affiliation and fails again, they will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not allowed to repeat the affiliation, matriculated status will be withdrawn.

A student can only withdraw from a clinical education assignment for extenuation circumstances approved by a Faculty Review Committee. A student cannot withdraw from a clinical education assignment more than once. A student will not be allowed to enter into Advanced Clinical Education if they are on probation.

Essential Functions

The program has an Essential Function Form that outlines the necessary behavioral/communicative, psychomotor, cognitive and self-care skill deemed essential for completion of the program and performance as a competent physical therapist. This form is signed by the student prior to starting the program stating they are or are not capable of performing the skills and abilities that are listed.

Graduation Requirements

To be eligible for graduation students must complete all required course work with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. The coursework includes the completion of research and clinical education requirements.

Requirements of the B.S./DPT in Physical Therapy must be completed within five years from the date of the matriculation into the professional program. All clinical education must be completed within 24 months of completion of didactic course work. Exceptions may be made by the director of the program if the candidate demonstrates circumstances beyond the student’s control that temporarily interfere with the ability to complete the program on time.

Incomplete Grades

To request an incomplete grade, students must develop a written contract with the course instructor regarding the completion of coursework within a specified time not to exceed the start of the next semester. Incomplete grades will be granted only under extraordinary circumstances such a severe illness, death of a family member, etc. Students may not register for any further Physical Therapy courses without permission of a Faculty Review Committee. Failure to complete the work in accord with the contract-specified time will automatically result in failure for the course.

Leave of Absence

A leave of absence will only be granted for extraordinary life circumstances after a full review by the Faculty Review Committee. The student must submit a written request including supporting documentation that will be reviewed by the Faculty Review Committee. If the leave of absence is granted, the student must maintain matriculation in the program by registering for Maintenance of Matriculation. The student must pass a yearly competency exam for clinically related coursework before attending a clinical affiliation. If the student fails the competency exam, they must remediate the previous coursework through independent study and/or auditing courses until they are able to pass the competency test. The maximum time a student can be on a leave of absence is one year. If the student requires more than one year, their matriculation status will be dropped and in order to return they need to apply for readmission.

Maintenance of Matriculation

It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering for all successive sessions. For cohort programs, registration is required during summer session(s). For non-cohort programs, summer registration is not required. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintenance of Matriculation fee is $100 per session and is processed as a registration.

Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.

Capstone Advisement

It is expected that Capstone students shall make satisfactory progress with their program’s culminating activity, which is the Research Externship and Professional Preparation Capstone course requirement in the Physical Therapy Program. Students are required to achieve a minimal score of a 73 on a Comprehensive Cumulative Exam in PHTR 730   to complete the program. A Comprehensive Cumulative Examination is utilized to ensure students have the ability to retain and integrate foundational and clinical science information. The examination will also test the students’ ability to apply this information to clinical practice.

The National Physical Therapy Licensure Examination (NPTE) is the external standard that all students need to meet to become a practicing therapist. Students who do not complete their Research project by the end of the 10the term must register for PHTR 711 - Research Externship Continuation  . Research Externship Continuation has a Capstone Continuation fee (equal to the cost of one graduate credit) which will be charged for each additional term required to complete the project. Students can only register for Capstone Continuation for two terms. A student’s degree will not be released until all Maintenance of Matriculation and Capstone Continuation registration and fees are recorded appropriately on a student’s record.

Maintenance of Good Academic Standing

The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is a 3.0. Grades are reviewed by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each term. If the term or cumulative program GPA falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation. A GPA will not be rounded for purposes of determining academic standing.

If a student receives a grade of C in any undergraduate or graduate required course in the DPT curriculum, the course must be repeated before permission to continue the curriculum sequence is granted. A student can only repeat a course one time if he/she has received a grade of C. A student must achieve a grade of a B or higher on the repeated course or the student will be dismissed from the program. A student is only allowed to repeat one course in the DPT curriculum. A grade less than a C in any undergraduate or graduate course required in the DPT curriculum will result in dismissal from the Physical Therapy Program. Students may appeal the dismissal; however if the dismissal is upheld by the School of Health and Natural Sciences Program Dismissal Review Committee, a student may not reapply to the DPT program. Students will be rated by faculty on their professional development (generic abilities) each semester during the program. If a student does not achieve the expected level of development, a plan of action will be developed by the student and faculty advisor. If a student has not achieved the stated expected level of development prior to beginning clinical education, a plan of action will be developed by the faculty review committee and reviewed with the student. The clinical education assignment will not begin until the student demonstrates an ability to achieve the expected level of development. See the Program Student Manual for additional details.

A rating of “unacceptable” in any area of professional development/generic ability will be reviewed by the program Faculty Review Committee. If improvement is not made following a plan of action, the student may be dismissed from the program.

The Physical Therapy Program is responsible for insuring that all students are competent and safe to enter the clinical education portion of the Program. To do so, students must demonstrate competencies by passing designated lab practical or examinations. Students must receive a grade of 73 or above on all specified examinations and a grade of 80 or above on all specified lab practical of a class. The designated lab practical examinations and/or examination will be on the course syllabus.

Academic Probation

Any student whose cumulative program or term GPA falls below 3.0 (without rounding) after any given trimester will be placed on academic probation. While on academic probation the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or higher in the next term of enrollment. If the student is not able to achieve a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 within two terms, the student will be dismissed from the program. A student must have a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of term 5 to be able to register for Basic Clinical Education. A student must have a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 or higher by the end of term 8 to be able to register for Advanced Clinical Education. If a student receives a grade of C in any undergraduate or graduate required course in the DPT curriculum, the course must be repeated before permission to continue the curriculum sequence is granted. A student can only repeat a course one time if he/she has received a grade of C. A student must achieve a grade of a B or higher on the repeated course, or the student will be dismissed from the program. A student is only allowed to repeat one course in the DPT curriculum. The student must also pass a competency exam for clinically related coursework previously taken before attending a clinical affiliation. Any student who fails the competency exam must remediate the previous coursework through independent study and/or auditing courses until he is able to pass the competency test. A grade lower than a C in any undergraduate or graduate course required in the DPT curriculum will result in dismissal from the Physical Therapy Program and may result in dismissal from the College. Once a student is dismissed from the Program he/she may not re-apply to the DPT Program.

Program Dismissal Review

In cases which a student has been dismissed from the Physical Therapy Program, the student may request a dismissal review when he/she believes that extenuating circumstances effected his/her academic performance in the program. The student must follow the SHNS Program Dismissal Review Policy detailed at the beginning of the School of Health and Natural Sciences section of this catalog.

Program Accreditation

The Physical Therapy Program at Mercy College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.  Telephone: 703-706-3245  Email:
Website: Students are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination, administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.  If you need to contact the Physical Therapy Program/Mercy College directly, please call (914) 674-7828 or email

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