Northwestern University

Information about Physical Therapist program at Northwestern University



Northwestern University (A4, D6, F1, PR)

Last Updated by Program: 02/07/2007
Address:   Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences
Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine
645 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100
Chicago, IL 60611-2814
Phone:   (312)908-8160
Fax:   (312)908-0741
Admissions/Student Inquiry Phone:   (312)908-6786
Web Address:
Julius P A Dewald, PT, PhD
Chair and Program Administrator
  Accreditor:   Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  Carnegie Classification:   Research Universities (very high research activity)
  Date of Initial Accreditation:   Bachelor’s degree, February 1928 (no longer offered) Master’s degree, May 1991 (no longer offered) DPT degree, May 2001
  Current Accreditation Status:   Accreditation
  Next Visit   2014
  Five Year History:   Accreditation
DEGREE CONFERRED: Doctor of Physical Therapy
At Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, the entry-level physical therapy curriculum is designed as a 2.3-year program that culminates in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree and eligibility to take examinations for state licensure. Beginning in late August of each year, the program requires seven trimesters of full-time study. The curriculum includes academic preparation and clinical experiences in selected health care facilities nationwide. Classes are held on Northwestern’s Chicago campus, which provides ample physical therapy lecture and laboratory space, a health sciences library, a learning resources center, and a personal computer center. Laboratories for gross anatomy are shared with the medical students. The objective of the educational program is to produce physical therapists who can respond to complex patient/client needs quickly, scientifically, and independently following graduation and licensure. The keystones of the curriculum are the analysis of movement function and dysfunction using movement science as a basis and the use of scientific principles and clinical evidence in making clinical decisions. Physical therapists must be able to understand the interaction of the physiologic, biomedical, and behavioral factors that contribute to normal and abnormal movement and articulate the evidence for their evaluation and intervention decisions. To that end, both basic science and clinical courses are offered within a movement science framework. Graduates will be able to meet the needs of clients in all areas of physical therapy service and be capable of functioning competently in the health-care environment. Graduates are prepared to be capable of serving as primary contact providers; functioning in the areas of health promotion, disease and injury prevention, acute care and rehabilitation; supervising support personnel; and collaborating and consulting with colleagues and other health professionals. We strive to prepare a diverse group of graduates who contribute to the growth of a dynamic profession and who serve society by providing effective physical therapy services to a diverse group of patients/clients. The Department prepares graduates for physical therapy practice, research, education, consultation and administration. This preparation involves the development of critical thinking, integration of new information with existing knowledge and development of the ability to investigate and communicate about professional matters. To meet these objectives, students have opportunities to interact with faculty and patients in a variety of patient care environments during course work. They also have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and other students in the conduct of scientific inquiry through a Synthesis Project that is required of all students for graduation. The purpose of the Synthesis Project is for the student to learn how to develop and implement inquiry into a narrowly defined topic of relevance to the physical therapy profession. Projects may be laboratory-based or clinic-based research or educational or advocacy interventions. The projects are intended to serve as vehicles to integrate new information with information that exists in the narrow field and also with information acquired over the course of the program at Northwestern. Students also develop their abilities to communicate verbally and in writing about professional matters. Learning is viewed as a dynamic and interactive process, and the Department offers opportunities for active student participation. Academic and clinical faculties cooperatively plan and implement creative and progressive learning experiences. Because professional education values the development of appropriate professional behaviors, faculty members expect students to internalize and demonstrate professional values and ethical behavior and to meet explicit technical and behavioral standards. To ensure the most effective means of achieving its goals, the curriculum, based on feedback from a variety of interested parties, undergoes constant evaluation and revision.
Clinical Education experiences are an extremely important and substantial part of the program. Students interact with patients in a variety of clinical activities conducted during classes. Clinical education experiences are incorporated throughout the curriculum and include half-day field trips, faculty/student patient management and pro bono clinics. Full-time experiences are included each year and total 32 weeks, with 23 weeks of terminal full-time experiences. Clinical facilities are located throughout the United States and represent physical therapy practice across the continuum of health care.
There are 19 full-time and 6 part-time faculty members. More than half of the faculty hold post-professional doctoral degrees, and 8 of the faculty are engaged in clinical practice. Faculty members hold clinical specialization in pediatrics, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, and cardio-pulmonary physical therapy. Over the past 3 years, the faculty has averaged 30 publications in peer-reviewed journals. The faculty to student ratio differs depending on the nature of the class activity. For lecture-based activities, there is generally 1 faculty member teaching the class of 65-75 students. Lab ratios are 1:15 or less.
Northwestern is a private research university and an internationally recognized institute of higher education. Approximately 18,000 full-time and part-time students annually enroll on the University’s two lakefront campuses in Evanston and Chicago. The Chicago campus includes 2,200 medical, physical therapy, and law students, plus those registered in the School of Continuing Studies. The target enrollment for the class beginning in fall of 2007 is 75 students.
Admission requirements include: a baccalaureate degree; minimum cumulative and prerequisite course grade point average of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale; the Graduate Record Examination (GRE); 12 semester hours (sh) of behavioral sciences to include psychology and human or child development; 12 sh of biological sciences to include an introductory course in human, mammalian, or vertebrate anatomy and physiology; 8 sh each of chemistry and physics; and 3 sh each of calculus, statistics, and composition/writing. Applications are available in early August and must be received by early November. Applications may be completed online, downloaded from our web site, or requested from the Office of Admissions. Applicants will be notified of their status by mid-December. Applicants who have been either accepted for admission or selected as alternates are invited to attend an open house in mid-January. Accepted applicants who intend to enroll must sign a letter of intent and submit a tuition deposit by early February. The open house provides an opportunity to visit the school and meet with students and faculty. Applicants wishing to visit the school at other times during the year are encouraged to schedule appointments by calling the Office of Admissions at 312/908-6786. 33% of qualified applicants enroll in the program (3-year average).
95% of admitted students graduate from the program (3-year average). In 2005, 93.4% of the graduates who sit for the licensure examination passed it on the first attempt. 99% pass it on subsequent attempts (3-year average). Over the last 3 years, all graduates who sought employment in physical therapy were employed within 6 months of graduation.
The 2006-07 tuition is $10,070 per trimester/$30,279 per year. Annual tuition increases of 3-4% are typical. The program is seven trimesters long. Room and board for 12 months is budgeted at $16,104. Books and supplies are budgeted at $1,923. Travel and personal expenses vary. The primary objective of Northwestern University in providing financial assistance to students is to assure those with financial need that they will not be denied enrollment due to a lack of adequate financial resources. Approximately 80% of physical therapy students receive financial aid from a variety of resources. Several merit scholarships are available. In addition, a few endowed scholarships are available to enrolled students with special qualifications.
The Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences is located on the scenic Chicago campus between Lake Michigan and North Michigan Avenue. The Chicago campus includes the School of Law, the Medical School, and several hospitals of the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University. The Department’s teaching, research and administrative facilities are spacious and state-of-the art. Physical therapy students can share the rich musical, dramatic, and library resources offered on the Evanston campus located 12 miles north. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of athletic, cultural, and recreational activities on both campuses of the university. Our location in a major city provides students with access to multiple cultural, entertainment and sporting events. Off-campus housing is readily available in a wide price range. Public transportation throughout the city and suburbs is excellent. Physical therapy students represent a diverse group of individuals with a variety of experiences contributing to the learning environment of the class. Students come from throughout the United States.