What Are the Core Courses of a PH.D. in Physical Therapy?

A physical therapy Ph.D. program may provide students with the education necessary to help them treat patients who are recovering from illnesses or injuries. This article explores core courses of such terminal degree programs. Read on for further details. Schools offering Physical Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About the Ph.D. in Physical Therapy

Graduates of physical therapy doctoral programs may go on to serve as practitioners, professors or researchers. Depending upon the schools in question, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and the completion of certain undergraduate science coursework may be required for admittance into such programs. Although the curriculum for a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy program may also vary by school, many of the core courses cover similar ground.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Entry-level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Environment Private offices and clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes
Median Salary (2018) $87,930 (for physical therapists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 28% (for physical therapists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

This course provides students with an in-depth examination of musculoskeletal anatomy, including blood supply, innervation and function. The upper and lower extremities are explored in detail, as are the head, trunk and neck. Students investigate the many anatomical and biomechanical components of human motion.


Neuropathology introduces students to the clinical disorders of the central nervous system. Emphasis is placed on the disorders that are most frequently encountered in the practice of physical therapy, and students learn to effectively recognize and diagnose these disorders.

Clinical Pharmacology

Using documented case studies, this course explores the effects of commonly-used prescription medicines. Students also study over-the-counter and homeopathic drugs and their effects. The course examines the possible side effects of these medications and analyzes their overall impact on physical therapy patients.

Contemporary Issues in Physical Therapy Practice

In this course, students are exposed to the many ways in which business and political issues impact the practice of physical therapy. Government regulations and professional ethics are among the subjects discussed.

Other Core Courses That May Be Found in a Ph.D. Program in Physical Therapy

  • Clinical Biomechanics
  • Neuropathology
  • Therapeutic Exercise
  • Life Span Motor Control

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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