A Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is a post-baccalaureate 3-4 year degree which may be conferred upon successful completion of a professional doctoral program. A Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree is also offered for those who already hold a professional Bachelor or Master of Physical Therapy (PT or MPT) degree. As of 2015, all accredited and developing physical therapist programs are DPT programs.[1] The DPT degree currently prepares students to be eligible for the PT license examination in all 50 states. After completing a DPT program the doctor of physical therapy may continue training in a residency and then fellowship. As of December 2013, there are 178 credentialed physical therapy residencies and 34 fellowships in the US [2] with 63 additional developing residencies and fellowships.[3] Credentialed residencies are between 9 and 36 months while credentialed fellowships are between 6 and 36 months.fs

In 2000 the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) passed its Vision 2020 statement, which states (in part):

“By 2020, physical therapy will be provided by physical therapists who are doctors of physical therapy, recognized by consumers and other health care professionals as the practitioners of choice to whom consumers have direct access for the diagnosis of, interventions for, and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities related to movement, function, and health.”[4]

As this statement highlights, the DPT program is an integral part of the APTA’s continued advocacy for legislation granting consumers (i.e. patients and clients) direct access to physical therapists, rather than requiring physician referral. Direct access is said to decrease wait times for access to care and even help reduce both cost to consumer and overall healthcare costs.[5] As of January 1, 2015, all 50 states and the District of Columbia currently allow some form of direct access to physical therapists

The postgraduate Bachelor’s degree With Honours, or the Baccalaureatus Cum Honore degree, is a consecutive academic degree, a continuation of a completed (Honours) Bachelor’s degree. It requires a minimum of one year of additional study but may take longer. A student holding a Baccalaureatus Cum Honore degree may, in some countries, choose to complete a Ph.D. programme without the requirement to first complete a master’s degree, where such a requirement exists. In Canada, Baccalaureatus Cum Honore programmes have recently been changed to corresponding master’s degree programmes.