Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Physical Therapist student working with fellow student

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Within six months of graduation, 100% of our students who pass their licensure exam are employed.

Let leadership skills and our networked faculty open new doors for you.

Gain the education and experience to become a master clinician.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at St. Catherine University enables you to be a highly competent, ethical, evidence-based clinician prepared to lead and influence within the profession of physical therapy, the healthcare environment, and the broader global community.

Designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in any field, our holistic PT program approach offers contextual learning from a liberal arts foundation and 40 weeks of full-time clinical experience. Choose between local, national, and international service learning opportunities working with underserved populations. Our students engage with peers and faculty in other health programs to develop the necessary interprofessional skills for contemporary practice, including:

  • Information management and knowledge retrieval for sound judgment and ethical action
  • Agility to meet the ever-changing complex healthcare environment
  • Patient education on prevention and management techniques to achieve long-term health benefits
  • Positively lead, influence, and shape physical therapy practice

Students of all genders are welcome in this program.

Program at a Glance

Format: On campus

Start: Fall

Time to completion: 33 months (8 semesters)

Credits required: 118

Tuition per semester: $13,880 (2024-25 rate)

Total tuition: $111,040


Rates are subject to change each June 1. Tuition and fee information

All applicants will be reviewed for DPT scholarships

Apply for financial aid

Degree questions, answered.

Why choose
St. Kate's?

Hear what some of our students, faculty, and alumni think!

DPT student responses on what led them to attend St. Catherine University for their physical therapy education include the following the top 5 factors:

The St. Catherine University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program has an innovative curriculum that prepares students to think and reason in a clinical environment. Unique features of this innovative curriculum include:

  • Students take one course at a time and courses are focused on a specific physical therapy practice setting (i.e. outpatient orthopaedics, neurological rehabilitation, geriatrics, acute care).
  • Multiple courses for each practice setting across the three years of the curriculum allows content to be revisited, with cases and depth of knowledge becoming increasingly complex.
  • Course content is organized to integrate the basic medical and behavioral sciences with clinical application and practice issues.
  • Classroom activities include case studies, lectures, hands-on skills labs, and problem-based tutorials, self-reflection and experiential learning.
  • A collaborative partnership with our Physical Therapist Assistant Program provides students valuable insight and skills for teaming with physical therapist assistants.

This student-centered, holistic approach to physical therapist practice allows students to learn in context, building on knowledge from a strong educational foundation and concurrent clinical education experiences. Our graduates report that our innovative curriculum model effectively facilitates their transition from student to clinician.

Starting in the second week of the DPT curriculum, students have hands-on patient care experience. On a weekly basis they attend various clinical sites in the Twin Cities, working with patients under the supervision of a clinical faculty member that is hired by the DPT Program. Our DPT Program is in the top 5% of the programs nationally in the number of clinical education hours for 1st yr students. In addition, four full-time clinical education experiences totaling 40 weeks, which is above the national average, are embedded across each of the three years of the DPT Program.

The DPT Program has maintained a class size of 34 students per cohort, which provides students an intimate educational experience. This smaller class size allows a very favorable student to faculty ratio of 9:1. In keeping with the traditions of St. Catherine University, all DPT core faculty are fully engaged with students in the classroom, and the Program has very few adjunct faculty and teaching assistants.

St. Kate’s DPT graduates are regarded as being highly competent, ethical, and culturally fluent clinicians, well-prepared to lead and influence within the physical therapy profession. DPT faculty are role models for leadership and service in the profession and several maintain active clinical practice. Given these attributes, the DPT Program has achieved an excellent reputation in the physical therapy community for producing clinicals ready to face the complexity and challenges of clinical practice.

Located in the heart of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, St. Catherine University’s DPT Program offers opportunities to take advantage of numerous clinical and community resources, as well as the development of ongoing professional contacts. Some examples include clinic sites for both ICE and full-time clinical experiences, attending medical grand rounds lectures, and participating in field trips to product manufacturers, health fairs, etc. In addition, the Twin Cities metropolitan area offers an wide array of co-curricular opportunities.

What else sets us apart?

In addition to above, our mission is to create an inclusive and transformative learning environment. We empower our graduates to be highly competent, ethical, culturally fluent, and evidence-based clinicians prepared to lead, influence and serve within the profession of physical therapy, the healthcare environment, and the broader global community.

St. Kate’s DPT Program has an extensive faculty with teaching and clinical experience,
professional service, and scholarly pursuits in all areas of physical therapy practice. Their
primary role is to be in the classroom directly teaching students, which contributes to an
excellent student to faculty ratio. Faculty members also serve as academic advisors, guiding
students through professional behavior development. The majority of faculty members have their
PhD, DSc, of EdD degrees, and many are Board Certified Clinical Specialists through the APTA.
In addition, numerous clinical faculty, guest physicians, and physical therapy specialists from the
local community provide further classroom educational experiences.

There are a number of strategies used to help students become acquainted with their classmates and new learning environment. In the spring before the start of fall classes, every incoming student is assigned a current 2nd year student as their “buddy”. This allows new students an opportunity to get tips on what classes are like, how to prepare for PT school, and answer any further questions that they may have. Students get to know their “buddy” and each other at a meet and greet picnic the first week of classes and stay connected with learning tasks all year. A class social media page is created to allow incoming students to exchange information on anything from housing opportunities, extracurricular activities, and other information.

Each day, students sit with a different classmate as their “learning partner” for lab practice skills and discussions. Students will have partnered with every classmate before the rotation begins over again. In addition, students are placed in different groups for anatomy lab, self-directed tutorial learning experiences, class presentations, and research projects.

Educating students to lead and influence is the centerpiece of St. Catherine University’s mission and an important part of the DPT Program. Early in the first semester, students participate in the Marilyn S Woods Leadership Symposium which assists them to identify their leadership strengths and passions. During the symposium, a variety of leaders in physical therapy are invited to share their leadership path and each student develops a personal leadership plan that is supported by their faculty advisor. The leadership journey in the Program is capped off with the Ethics and Leadership Summit at the end of the curriculum. This course includes the 2-week service learning immersion experience and an integrative seminar in which students synthesize prior coursework in physical therapy practice, ethics, clinical education and service learning experiences.

The World Health Organization defines Interprofessional Education (IPE) as occasions when “two or more professions learn with, about, and from each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes”.  These competencies are critical for future health care practitioners. As part of the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health Sciences, DPT students at St. Catherine University have many opportunities to interact with students and faculty in other health professions programs and develop the knowledge and skills necessary for contemporary practice. Several simulation activities in St. Kate’s simulation center allow DPT students to learn in context with other health care students on campus. DPT students also interact with physician assistant students in a suture lab, occupational therapy students in a tutorial on stroke, and future nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physician assistants, dieticians, and others at an annual IPE Workshop focused on healthy aging.    

In addition, physical therapy at St. Catherine University is unique because the University offers both a Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and a Physical Therapist Assistant Program on the Minneapolis campus. This allows our DPT students to have multiple opportunities to learn from and with physical therapist assistants and physical therapist assistant students. This learning prepares our students to engage in optimal PT/PTA working relationships when they enter clinical practice.

Students participate in four full-time clinical experiences spread across all three years of the Program, totaling 40 weeks. These experiences occur in major PT practice settings including an opportunity for students to focus on a specific interest area. Students choose from a variety of clinical settings both regionally and nationally.

Physical Therapy Club
The Physical Therapy Club, founded in 2006, is open to all students in the DPT and PTA Programs at St. Catherine University. The purpose of the club is to promote physical therapy, including the profession’s role in health and wellness, to the University and Twin Cities’ community and to provide social networking opportunities for DPT and PTA students. Examples of PT Club activities include participation in fitness challenges, development and distribution of educational materials, and engagement in service activities.

Volunteer Pro-Bono Clinics
DPT students at St. Catherine University are active members of their communities. In addition to the service opportunities sponsored by the PT Club, students have a number of other opportunities to engage in volunteer activities at various pro bono clinics, including the Indian Health Service’s Diabetic Foot Clinic and People’s Center, both in Minneapolis, as well as the St. Mary’s SMAART Clinic, which is located on the campus of St. Catherine University.

Plan of Study

Below are sample plans of study. For course descriptions and other details, consult the University catalog.


  • September (3 weeks)
    DPT 5000 Intro to Physical Therapist Practice (3cr)
  • Sept. – Nov. (6 weeks)
    DPT 5010 Outpatient Physical Therapy I (6cr)
  • Nov. – Dec. (6 weeks)
    DPT 5025 Acute Care I (6cr)


  • Jan. – Feb. (7 weeks)
    DPT 5035 Outpatient Physical Therapy II (7cr)
  • Feb. – March (6 weeks)
    DPT 5040 Rehabilitation I (6cr)
  • April – May (7 weeks)
    DPT 5055 Transitional Care I (7cr)


  • June – Aug. (8 weeks)
     DPT 5070 Clinical Education I (6cr)


  • Sept. – Oct. (5 weeks)
    DPT 6000 Acute Care II (6cr)
  • Oct. – Nov. (5 weeks)
    DPT 6015 Rehabilitation II (6cr)
  • Nov. – Dec. (5 weeks)
    DPT 6025 Transitional Care II (5cr)


  • January (4 weeks)
    DPT 6030 Rehabilitation III (4cr)


  • Jan. – May
    DPT 7000 Research Project I (2cr)
  • Feb. – March (7 weeks)
    DPT 6040 Outpatient Physical Therapy III (7cr)
  • March - May (10 weeks)
    DPT 6055 Clinical Education II (7cr)


  • June – July (6 weeks)
    DPT 6060 Pediatrics (6cr)
  • July – Aug. (4 weeks)
    DPT 7100 Complex Medical and Trauma Care (6cr)


  • Aug. - Dec.
    DPT 7040 Research Project II (2cr)
  • Sept. - Oct. (5 weeks)
    DPT 7126 Advanced Clinical Practice I (4cr)
  • Oct. – Dec. (11 weeks)
    DPT 7145 Clinical Education III (7cr)


  • January (3 weeks)
    DPT 7136 Advanced Clinical Practice II (4cr)


  • Jan. – May
    DPT 8000 Research Project III (2cr)
  • Feb. – April (11 weeks)
    DPT 7155: Clinical Education IV (7cr)
  • May
    DPT 7165: Ethics and Leadership Summit (3cr)

Career Outcomes


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News Custom Block

News from the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health Sciences

Professor Laura Gilchrist, PT, PhD, named GHR Endowed Chair for Health Education and Research
Professor Laura Gilchrist, PT, PhD, named GHR Endowed Chair for Health Education and Research
St. Catherine University announces faculty tenures and promotions 2022
St. Catherine University announces faculty tenures and promotions 2022
St. Kate's interprofessional partnership with The Plaster House continues to grow
St. Kate's interprofessional partnership with The Plaster House continues to grow