Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Therapy Program Description

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Physical Therapy (PT) is offered by the Department of Physical Therapy within the School of Allied Professions, one of the eight schools at Loma Linda University. This program provides national and international physical therapy graduates with the skills necessary to pursue careers as researchers and educators. The PhD in PT is a research-oriented degree with emphases on 1) Pain Science (Domain 1 – Core), 2) Movement Science (Domain 2 – Specialization), and Lifestyle Health & Wellness (Domain 4). This will give the PhD in PT a unique niche.

Program Objective

To prepare leaders in the profession of physical therapy who are capable of conducting research to improve the lives of people through whole person care, to serve as client/patient advocates, and to serve as educators in entry-level and graduate physical therapy programs.

Admission and Entrance Requirements

There are two possible entrance points for students in the PhD in PT program:

  • Track 1: Prior Bachelors of Science (BS) in PT plus a master’s degree or a Masters in Physical Therapy degree  (83 units minimum)
  • Track 2: Prior Doctor of Physical Therapy degree  (69 Units minimum)

Admission Requirements:

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) Minimum 3.3/4.0.
  • GRE or approved substitution (e.g., structured interview)

International Students:

  • TOEFL score of 80 or higher
  • Foreign Transcript Evaluation (ECE or WES)

Learning Objectives

PhD Program Graduates will demonstrate:

  • Skills to design and conduct novel, original research, provide evidence of an understanding of research designs and the ability to formulate, develop methodologies, collect data, excogitate conclusions, and effectively disseminate research findings;
  • Qualities of lifelong learning and commitment to scholarship after graduation;
  • The ability to add to the body of knowledge in physical therapy research literature through publications and presentations;
  • A commitment to conducting research in lifestyle health and wellness and providing whole-person care.
  • The ability to serve as an educator in entry-level, post-professional and graduate level programs; and
  • Personal and group leadership skills at institutional, professional, national, and global levels.

Target Applicant

This program is for physical therapists interested in obtaining skills needed for academic/research careers.


The curriculum is delivered in a face-to-face format on the LLU Southern California campus. Students will be required to be on campus for all four quarters each year for four to seven years of the program.

Program Completion Requirements

The total units required to complete the program will vary depending on your past level of education. Students entering the program with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy (BSPT) and a master’s degree or a Master of Physical Therapy Degree (MPT) will be required to complete a minimum 83 quarter units.  Students matriculating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree or a MPT degree plus another doctorate degree will need to complete a minimum of 69 units.  The curriculum is made up of a total of seven domains: 1) Core, 2) Clinical Specialization, 3) Sciences & Applied Sciences, 4) Lifestyle Health & Wellness, 5) Education & Administration, 6) Religion and 7) Research & Statistics.

How to apply

Complete the online application and refer to the school's admissions information. 

Contact Us

Everett B. Lohman III, DSc, PT, OCS
Associate Dean, Graduate Academic Affairs
Assistant Dean, Research Affairs
Program Director, Post-professional Physical Therapy Programs
Director, Orthoscience Research Laboratory
Director, Motion Capture Research Laboratory
LOMA LINDA UNIVERSITY  |  School of Allied Health Professions & Faculty of Graduate Studies
HARVARD UNIVERSITY |  Harvard Macy Institute Scholar and Alumnus

Physical Therapy Program
Loma Linda University
24951 N. Circle Drive, Room A-620
Loma Linda, CA 92350

909-558-1000, ext. 83171.

Email the Director: