Doctor of Physical Therapy

Direct your compassion, determination, and problem-solving abilities toward a rewarding career in physical therapy.

As a student in the St. Ambrose University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program, you will learn how to be movement specialists and diagnose and treat individuals of all ages.

Our graduates work in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, nursing homes, and sports and fitness facilities.

Advising Meetings and Campus Visits

Physical Therapy faculty continue to hold advising meetings in-person, by phone, or other virtual options. Contact the department today to learn more about our admissions process to join the DPT Program at 563-333-6403 or

Ambrose Advantages

  • Accelerated DPT Degree in 2.5 Years
  • Class Size of 40 Students
  • 6 Clinical Education Experiences
  • Interprofessional Opportunities

DPT lab

health sciences center exterior

DPT students in group

The DPT Program provides students with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver high-quality physical therapy services. Faculty train students in clinical decision-making and evidence-based practice that equips them with the skills to care for medically complex patients.

See our fact sheet on the DPT program (pdf)

Scholarships Available

DPT students

Endowed Scholarship

Supported by SAU Physical Therapy Faculty

This annual, merit-based scholarship is awarded to students based on leadership, service, and clinical performance.

Read this article

More Information About the Doctor of Physical Therapy

Advantages of the SAU DPT Program

Accelerated Curriculum
The DPT Program is a full time graduate program that culminates in a clinical doctoral degree in 2.5 years. Students are admitted to the program through 3 admission tracks. Two of the admission tracks have a plan of study with 3 years of undergraduate study and 2.5 years in the DPT Program reducing time and costs. Read more about our Admission and Application Process.

Student-Centered Learning
A class size of 40 students allows our faculty to give you more personal attention and guidance throughout each step of your education experience. The open door policy helps faculty and staff to genuinely get to know each student and journey with them throughout their time at SAU and beyond to achieve personal and professional goals. Students get to help shape the learning environment and instructional methods through providing written and oral feedback to faculty and staff at various times throughout the program. Faculty advisors regularly meet with students to be sure they are progressing as expected and provide resources as needed to be proactive in ensuring students' success. At SAU we aim to foster a community atmosphere that supports students, alumni, faculty, and staff beyond a student's time on campus.

Clinical Education
Students participate in a total of 35 weeks of patient care through seven different clinical education experiences. This includes four 2-3 week clinical experiences integrated into the academic semesters that allow students to practice what they are learning at the time. Following completion of academic coursework, students achieve entry-level practice in acute care, orthopedic, and neurologic settings through three 8-10 week clinical education experiences. SAU has established relationships with clinical sites across the U.S., including general and specialized practice settings.

Interprofessional Education
Healthcare must be person-centered and approached in an interprofessional manner. The College of Health and Human Services is noted for educating health care professionals who can work as a team, in partnership with the patient, to achieve the best outcome. The following are examples of SAU interprofessional opportunities:

TeamSTEPPS training: Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) is a program designed to build strong healthcare teams, improve quality of care, and decrease medical errors. It is built around four teaching skills: communication, leadership, mutual support, and situation monitoring. We bring our physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology students together to complete interactive learning experiences and to learn from faculty across different departments.
Interprofessional Day: Each semester students in the physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, physician assistant, speech-language pathology, and early childhood education programs spend an afternoon working through a patient scenario and addressing every aspect of patient care. Students work in interprofessional teams to tackle the case with a faculty facilitator.
Interprofessional Health Clinic: The in-house pro bono clinic provides student-led interprofessional healthcare services to underserved populations with a focus on compassionate care, empowerment of the individual, management of health conditions, and overall wellness.
St. Ambrose University's Institute for Person-Centered Care (IPCC) is leading the conversation on transforming people, organizations and systems approach to the delivery of care.

Student Service
Get involved with our Student Physical Therapy Organization (SPTO) which helps PT students to meet and enrich their relationships with classmates and professors through professional, social, fundraising and philanthropic activities. The primary fundraising event is the annual volleyball tournament "Spike for the Health of It." Our students are also part of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSSA) and serve as representatives or as members take part in other campus wide activities.

Human Movement Studies Laboratory
The Human Movement Studies Laboratory is a research and education facility focused on the study of human biomechanics and motor control in health, aging, and disease. The lab is managed by faculty from the Physical Therapy Department and Kinesiology Department. It is the goal of those conducting research in the laboratory to collaborate with interested faculty from departments across the University, as well as individuals in the community who may wish to participate. In addition, the laboratory provides a facility for DPT students and undergraduates to be exposed to advanced measurement systems and to interact with faculty researchers. Equipment available in the lab includes: 8 infrared cameras; 20-meter walkway; 2 three-dimensional force platforms; 10 EMG amplifiers; Woodway medical grade treadmill; Cortex and Visual 3-D motion capture and analysis software.

Mission and Vision

PT Department Vision
The St. Ambrose University Physical Therapy Department will be a premier department creating leaders who optimize healthcare.

PT Department Mission
The St. Ambrose University Physical Therapy Department enables students, staff, and faculty to enrich their own lives and the lives of others to positively impact the Physical Therapy Profession and society.

DPT Program Mission
The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program prepares highly competent physical therapists who have the broad knowledge and skills required for contemporary physical therapist practice. Graduates of the program will be known for their compassionate care, professionalism, and commitment to lifelong learning.

Orthopaedic Residency Mission
The Orthopaedic Residency Program prepares licensed physical therapists with advanced knowledge and clinical practice skills in the specialty area of orthopaedic physical therapy. Further, the program will enhance clinical reasoning skills, provide experience in teaching and presenting, reinforce use of best evidence in practice, and facilitate life-long learning.

PT Department Core Values

Clinical Practice
We value clinical experience and practice to enhance the learning and fulfillment of our mission. Our curricula stress clinical reasoning and problem solving skills. Graduates will be known for compassionate care that balances the best evidence, experience of the therapist, and the goals of the patient. We collaborate with other healthcare professions to maximize learning, patient care and outcomes.

Interpersonal skills
Students, staff and faculty will interact appropriately and effectively with all individuals. We exhibit altruism and an empathetic approach during all interactions and respect individual differences. We promote cultural competence and address difficult issues with sensitivity and objectivity. We strive to motivate and empower people to achieve their goals.

Students, staff and faculty will lead lives of professional duty, which emphasize integrity and excellence, and demonstrate accountability, altruism, compassion and social responsibility.

The creation, translation, and application of new knowledge is foundational to optimizing healthcare. Faculty serve as role models by linking theory to practice and fulfilling a scholarly agenda that serves to advance the profession of physical therapy. Students utilize the principles of evidence based practice in the classroom and clinical education experiences.

We build upon our University's Catholic identity to serve others, our profession, the University, and society in the pursuit of social justice and peace. Our service ranges from working with the underserved, membership on committees and task forces, mentoring others, and participation in professional organizations.

Further, we promote service by supporting and fostering service-learning experiences and opportunities. Through our focus and commitment to service we advance the profession of physical therapy and enhance the health of ourselves and our community.

Cost and Financial Resources

The St. Ambrose University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program sets a One-Price Tuition Plan for all tuition and fees for the full 2.5 years of the DPT Program. The total cost of the program is then divided across seven payments, and the cost will not change over the course of the program. This format ensures that the student knows the total tuition costs and can plan accordingly.

This set price includes all tuition, course fees, liability insurance, technology fees, graduation application fees and a physical therapist tool kit that is used throughout the curriculum.

Additional Costs

Additional costs are not included in the One-Price Tuition Plan because they may vary based on the student's prior training, clinical site placement, and decisions on what course supplies to purchase.

These additional costs include:

  • All housing and living related expenses
  • Books and optional course supplies
  • Parking fees
  • CPR Certification
  • Background checks required for clinical education
  • Immunizations for clinical education
  • Travel and housing during clinical education
  • Graduation regalia (cap and gown)
  • Students will need to purchase a laptop or a tablet (iPad or Windows Surface Pro) that runs on a Mac, Windows, or iPad operating system. Tablets that run on Chromebook, Android, or Linux will NOT work with required software in the program. More details on the minimum system requirements for devices can be found here. We are a paperless program and students will receive all handouts and assignments electronically and testing will be conducted through a software called ExamSoft.

Cost for Class of 2026
For the cohort of students entering the DPT Program in August 2024 and graduating in December 2026, the total program cost will be $103,800 divided across seven payments coinciding with each semester of the program. Fall and Spring semester payments will be $17,300 and Summer semester payments will be $8,650.

2023-2024 DPT Student Financial Fact Sheet
The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education requires all Doctor of Physical Therapy Programs to provide the public with current, accurate, reliable, and easily available information about the cost of attendance. All DPT programs must post the below fact sheet about the cost of attendance for the cohort who graduates during the 2023-24 academic year.

Because our program does not mandate students to complete clinical education experiences that require alternative housing or travel accommodations, travel and housing costs are not included under other program related costs. However most students do travel for at least one experience and those costs can greatly vary based on where they go. The faculty provide contacts and strategies to find affordable housing options during clinical education experiences.

Annual DPT Student Financial Fact Sheet (pdf)

SAU Financial Aid

APTA Financial Solution Center

Undergraduate Scholarships and Institutional Aid for Track I and II Students
Track I and II students cannot use undergraduate scholarships and institutional aid awarded from St. Ambrose University toward tuition and fees associated with the first year in the DPT Program.

That includes athletic scholarships and funding through the faculty/staff tuition remission and exchange programs.

Other state/federal grants and private scholarships could still be used during the first year in the DPT Program. Students accepted into Track I can use scholarships during their first three years at St. Ambrose University.

Physical Therapy Endowed Scholarship

The Physical Therapy Endowed Scholarship was established in recognition of several founding faculty members of the Physical Therapy Department at St. Ambrose University.

The Scholarship will benefit St. Ambrose University Physical Therapy graduate students and will serve as the first Scholarship dedicated to the DPT Program.

A committee comprised of the Director and faculty is responsible for recommending potential recipients.

Support the PT Scholarship with a gift today!

DPT Academic Calendar

Spring 2023

January 9- Term Classes Begin (2nd Year students class of 2023)
January 16 - Martin Luther King Day, No Classes
January 23 - Term Classes Begin (1st Year students class of 2024)
March 20-24 - Spring Break (2nd Year students class of 2023)
March 20-24 - Spring Break (1st Year students class of 2024)
April 7-10 - Good Friday and Easter Monday, No Classes
May 12 - Term Ends
May 15-19 - Medically Complex Patient (2nd Year students class of 2023)

Summer 2023

May 29 - Memorial Day, No Classes
May 30 - Start of Long Term Clinical Experiences (3rd Year students class of 2023)
May 30 - Summer Session begins (2nd Year students class of 2024)
July 7 - Summer Session ends (2nd Year students class of 2024)

Fall 2023

July 31 - Start of Long Term Clinical Experiences (3rd Year students class of 2023)
August 14 - Term Begins (2nd Year students class of 2024)
August 18 - New Student Orientation (1st Year students class of 2025)
August 21 - Term Begins (1st Year students class of 2025)
September 4 - Labor Day, No Classes
November 20-24 - Thanksgiving Break, No Classes
December 15 - Term Ends
December 16 - Graduation Class of 2023

Spring 2024

January 2 - Start of Clinical Experiences Begins (2nd Year students class of 2024)
January 8 - Term Classes Begin (1st Year students class of 2025)
January 15 - Martin Luther King Day, No Classes
January 22 - Term Classes Begin (2nd Year students class of 2024)
March 18-22 - Spring Break (2nd Year students class of 2024)
March 18-22 - Spring Break (1st Year students class of 2025)
March 29 - Good Friday, No Classes
April 1 - Easter Monday, No Classes
May 10 - Term Ends (2nd year class of 2024)
May 17 - Term Ends (1st year class of 2025)
May 13-17 - Medically Complex Patient (2nd Year students class of 2024)

Summer 2024

May 27 - Memorial Day, No Classes
May 28 - Start of Long Term Clinical Experiences (3rd Year students class of 2024)
May 28 - Summer Session begins (2nd Year students class of 2025)
July 5 - Summer Session ends (2nd Year students class of 2025)

Fall 2024

July 29 - Start of Long Term Clinical Experiences (3rd Year students class of 2024)
August 16 -  Fall Orientation Class of 2026
August 19 - Term Beings (1st Year students class of 2026)
August 12 - Term Begins (2nd Year students class of 2025)
September 2 - Labor Day, No Classes
November 25-29 - Thanksgiving Break, No Classes
December 13 - Term Ends
December 14 - Graduation Class of 2024

Faculty and Staff

Michael Puthoff, PT, PhD, Professor and Program Director
Bryon Ballantyne, PT, PhD, Professor
Dana Dailey, PT, PhD, Assistant Professor
Lynn Frank, PT, DPT, Assistant Professor, DCE
Jill Hipskind, DPT, Assistant Professor
Amy Kueny, DPT, Instructor
Kari Miller, PT, DPT, EdD, Assistant Professor and Assistant Director
Katie Powers, PT, DPT, Lecturer
Nora Riley, PT, PhD, Professor
Kristin Ryan, PT, DPT, Clinical Associate Professor, DCE
Bob Wiederien, PT, DPT, Instructor

Emeritus Faculty
John Barr, BS-PT, MA, PhD, FAPTA, Professor Emeritus
Kevin Farrell, PT, PhD, Professor Emeritus
Kathie Lampe, PT, DPT, Professor Emeritus

Carrie Meador-Bliss, Program Coordinator
Wendi Antunes, Office Support
Darcy Duncalf, Office Administrator

Begin Your Journey

Ready to Apply?

Begin your application to the St. Ambrose University Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Apply today!

Colleen Persaud '19

Colleen continued her education at SAU after graduating in 2017 with a BS in Exercise Science and BA in Psychology. Our high-quality DPT program and 100% pass rate caught her attention. So did the other aspects of an Ambrosian education. "I believe the values St. Ambrose teaches, such as empathy, community, justice, service, and integrity, are an important part of the education students receive here," Colleen said.

Read Colleen's Story
Katie Powers headshot mobile sized Katie Powers headshot

Katie Powers

BS in Behavioral Neuropsychology '07; Doctor of Physical Therapy,Physical Therapist, Genesis Pediatric Therapy Center, Bettendorf,Class of 2008

At SAU, Katie completed three, 10-week clinical rotations, which put her education to the test and boosted it, too. Through our DPT program, she discovered her fit and passion, and gained the skills and confidence to land her dream job as a physical therapist at Genesis Pediatric Therapy Center, in Bettendorf, Iowa.

See My Story

So, what's next?

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