January 18-19, 2001

Approval of Proposal to Add an Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree to the Present Entry-Level Master of Science Degree in Physical Therapy; The University of Montana-Missoula


THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes The University of Montana-Missoula to add an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. Newly adopted accreditation criteria and expansion of the science and practice of physical therapy call for an expansion of the current physical therapy curriculum. The Master of Science Degree in Physical Therapy is already 83 credits which exceeds the usual degree requirements for a master's degree. The DPT degree would allow students to choose to continue their education for an additional year. These students would complete 110 credits, appropriate for a professional doctorate degree.


EXPLANATION: The University of Montana presently is the only institution of higher education offering professional preparation for physical therapy in the State of Montana. Expanded accreditation criteria and physical therapy practice make an increase of the current program desirable. The proposed DPT program of 110 credits is appropriate for a professional doctorate degree. The Vision Statement of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) states that physical therapists should be educated at the doctoral level. The DPT degree is becoming the expected degree for entry-level physical therapists within the United States and particularly the Western U.S. Approximately 60 percent of the physical therapy programs within the Western U.S. have converted or are converting to the DPT degree. Montana is losing many highly qualified students who are attending other out-of-state programs to receive this degree. Montana residents should be able to obtain this degree within the State. However, there are many pre-physical therapy students currently enrolled within the Montana University System. Adding a year to the professional program may be a cost and time burden to some of these students. Therefore, the Physical Therapy faculty is proposing a choice for the next four years in which students could complete the entry-level program in two plus years if they wish (current program), or they could continue for an additional year to receive the DPT degree.


The completed signature page resides on file at the President's Office, The University of Montana-Missoula.