The Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy prepares physical therapists for leadership positions in academic and research settings. To accomplish this, students are required to complete coursework and structured experiences in “Teaching and Faculty Leadership” and “Research.”  Students develop expertise in a specific area of concentration under the guidance of their faculty mentor by developing an individual plan of study that may include both coursework and independent study and by completing their dissertation research.

Prior to admission to the PhD in Physical Therapy program, prospective students are required to identify a faculty member with research interests compatible with those of the applicant.  This faculty member must agree to mentor the potential student before the PhD Committee will make a decision to admit the applicant.  For applicants accepted to the program, the faculty member who agreed to mentor the student will serve as the Chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee.  The Supervisory Committee Chair and the student are responsible for creating an individualized plan of study for each student.  The plan of study includes mandatory coursework in: 

Preparation for Teaching and Faculty Leadership

  • PTS774 Role of Academic Faculty in PT (3 credits)
  • PTS777 Instructional Methods in Physical Therapy Education (3 credits)
  • PTS778 Teaching Practicum (3 credits)
  • PTS790 Theoretical Models in Physical Therapy (3 credits)

Preparation for Research

  • PTS795 Clinical Research Methods I (3 credits)
  • PTS796 Applied Statistics in Physical Therapy (3 credits)
  • PTS798 Research Practicum (3 credits)
  • PTS843 Measuring Health Outcomes (3 credits)
  • Two graduate level courses in statistics (6 credits)

Preparation in Individual Area of Concentration:

  • Students typically take 18 credits of coursework in this area. This may include coursework offered by the Department of Physical Therapy, coursework offered outside the Department, and Independent Study.

Qualifying Examination

Every PhD student must take a written qualifying examination at the time that the student and the Chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee deem appropriate. Students can sit for the qualifying examination when they have completed their research practicum and all courses with the exception of an elective. The student must have a 3.0 GPA for all courses taken in the PhD program. The qualifying examination includes questions in four content areas: 1) Area of Concentration, 2) Teaching and Leadership, 3) Research, 4) Dissertation Specific Content.


After passing the qualifying examination, students form a dissertation committee and enter candidacy.  The program requires PhD students to submit a written dissertation proposal and orally defend the proposal within 4 months of admission to candidacy.  Students are required to take a minimum of 15 Dissertation credits. The program requires students to submit at least one article from their dissertation research for publication in a peer reviewed journal prior to the final public oral defense of the dissertation.  Immediately following the public defense of the dissertation, the members of the dissertation committee excuse all non-committee members and further interrogate the candidate.  The committee then deliberates in private to determine whether the candidate has successfully defended the dissertation.  The typical time to complete a PhD in Physical Therapy is 5 years.

For more information on the PhD degree contact:
Kathryn E. Roach, PhD, PT, Graduate Program Director
Department of Physical Therapy
5915 Ponce de Leon Blvd., 5th Floor
Coral Gables, FL 33146
Phone: 305-284-4535
Email: keroach@miami.edu

Application Requirements

Applicants to the Physical Therapy PhD Studies Program must have a clinical degree in physical therapy from an accredited physical therapy program and be eligible for licensure to practice physical therapy in the United States. Students enrolled in the PhD in Physical Therapy program at the University of Miami work closely with a faculty mentor from their first days in the program. As a first step in the application process, the applicant must identify an area of interest and contact a faculty mentor involved in that area. Students are admitted to the program upon endorsement of a faculty mentor and completion of all admission requirements, with final selection made by the PhD Studies Committee. Stipend and tuition support is potentially available for qualified applicants.

The applicant must meet all the general admissions requirements of the University of Miami Graduate School. Additionally, stipulations include:

  • Direct entry into the PhD program is dependent upon having any of the degrees below:
    • An entry-level Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy
    • An advanced Master’s Degree with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy
    • A Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy.
  • An applicant with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy, though able to commence course work in the PhD Program, will be required to complete additional credit hours before final admission to the PhD Program.
  • Official Transcripts of all college work.
  • Three completed recommendation forms with at least one form completed by a physical therapist.
  • A letter indicating career goals and objectives.
  • Licensure or eligibility for licensure, as a physical therapist in the State of Florida (must be licensed within 1 year of admission).
  • GRE scores current within the past 5 years (see minimum requirements below)

Applicants who took the GRE before July 31, 2011 must score a minimum of 1000 on the verbal and quantitative sections combined. As of August 2011 the GRE exam and its scoring scale have changed significantly. Please visit the ETS website for the official ETS Concordance Table. Graduate Admissions will be using this concordance table when reviewing exam scores. Applicants must score a minimum of 147 on the quantitative section and 149 on the verbal section. A minimum score of 4.0 on the analytical section is also required. International applicants must submit a complete application and have all transcripts evaluated by the University of Miami’s Office of International Admissions before they can be considered for graduate study. Any transcript not in English must be submitted with an official translation.

The research areas of the faculty are diverse, reflecting the clinical and scientific emphasizes areas of the faculty. Please refer to the Faculty Section for specifics.

Curriculum Requirements

Preparation for Teaching and Faculty Leadership12
Instructional Methods in Physical Therapy Education
Teaching Practicum
Models of Physical Therapy Practice
Role of Academic Faculty in Physical Therapy
Preparation for Research18
Clinical Research Methods I
Measuring Health Outcomes
Applied Statistics in Physical Therapy
Research Practicum
Medical Biostatistics I
Biostatistics II
Applied Multivariate Statistics
Physical Therapy Courses Available for Individual Area of Concentration15
Biomechanical Basis of Human Movement
Measurement of Impairment and Function in Human Movement
Pathobiology of Human Function I
Theories of Movement Science
Motor Learning
Rehabilitation of the Amputee
Prosthetic Technology and Amputee Rehabilitation
Seminars in Orthotics and Prosthetic Rehabilitation
Independent Study in Physical Therapy
Seminars in Neuroscience
Outside Courses Available for Individual Area of Concentration
Fundamentals of Epidemiology
Health Economics for Evaluation and Policy
Health Education and Behavior
Health Policy
Qualitative Methods I
Advanced Systemic Exercise Physiology
Dissertation (Minimum of 15 credit hours required)
PTS 830Pre-candidacy Dissertation.1-6
PTS 840Post-candidacy Dissertation.1-12
Total Credit Hours60


The University of Miami, Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy is designed to prepare physical therapists for leadership positions in academic and research settings.


We believe that this preparation should include:

  • Proficiency in instructional design, teaching methods, and evaluation;
  • Advanced knowledge and skill in research methods, design, implementation of analysis and communication of results; and
  • Expertise in a specified content area. 

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students from the Physical Therapy PhD Program will demonstrate their proficiency in instructional design, teaching methods and evaluation.
  • Students from the Physical Therapy PhD Program will demonstrate advanced knowledge and skill in research methods, design, data analysis and communication of results.
  • Students from the Physical Therapy PhD Program will demonstrate expertise in a specified content area.