Our Program

Program Outcomes

Graduation rate (2015-2017): 94%
Employment rate: 99%**

Puget Sound graduates have a strong performance record on the National Licensing Exam: 
First-time pass rate: 96%; Ultimate pass rate: 100%*


* 2014-2016 average as published by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.
** Based on six-month post-graduate survey results for DPT Classes of 2014, 2015, and 2016. Survey response rates were as follows:

2014: 35 responses from 35 surveys
2015: 25 responses from 29 surveys
2016: 26 responses from 35 surveys


The mission of the School of Physical Therapy at the University of Puget Sound is to prepare students at the clinical doctoral level for entry into the physical therapy profession. Our presence on a liberal arts campus underscores our belief that the development of clinician scholars is a natural extension of the values of critical analysis, sound judgment, active inquiry, communication and apt expression. Through a careful blending of rigorous academic work and mentored clinical practice, our program seeks to prepare clinician scholars who are leaders in informed, ethical and professional practice and community engagement.

Program Overview

The curriculum is designed to teach the evaluation and intervention skills that are unique to the practice of physical therapy. Students also learn to identify professional boundaries, gain an appreciation of coalition-building with other health care providers in order to optimize patient care, and become discerning consumers of the professional literature. Similarly, students develop the capacity for autonomous decision-making in preparation for a professional environment in which information is continually evolving. All courses provide opportunities to develop articulate written and oral communication skills. Graduates will be prepared to function as independent practitioners collaborating within the health care environment. 

Year One

Students concentrate on foundational courses, begin to plan research projects, and begin to study elements of clinical management.

Year Two

Students' main focus is to learn all aspects of patient examination, assessment, and treatment design, progressively dealing with more complex situations through integrated experiences under close supervision in the on-site clinic. In the summer following the second year, students have their first full-time, off-campus internship experience.

Year Three

Students apply what they have learned in the program in capstone experiences, take on greater responsibility in the on-site clinic, and study areas of special interest in advanced elective courses. The program completes with two additional off-campus internships. In total students have 36 weeks of off-campus internship practice and the equivalent of six weeks of on-site clinic practice.

Strengths of the Program

Hit the Ground Running

In structured interviews, clinical instructors throughout the western U.S. consistently state that Puget Sound students adapt to the clinic more quickly than other students. The clinical instructors use phrases such as "able to hit the ground running," and describe Puget Sound students as extremely comfortable with patients and clinical skills. At Puget Sound, your experience in the on-site clinic gives you an invaluable transitional experience that helps you make the most of your off-site internship experiences.

Valuable Writing Skills

In the same structured interviews, clinical instructors praise Puget Sound physical therapy students for their extraordinary writing ability. At Puget Sound, you will have ample opportunity to hone your writing skills, since you will take part in a writing program that is coordinated across the curriculum to give you experience in every form of writing that is relevant to physical therapy.

Readiness for Licensing Exam

Since the program’s founding in 1975, Puget Sound physical therapy graduates have had exceptionally high first-attempt passing rates on the professional licensing exam and a consistent ultimate pass rate of 100%. You will have opportunities in the program to practice skills that will enhance your ability to be successful on this exam.

Graduates of the Physical Therapy program at Puget Sound are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Licensing Exam which is required to practice physical therapy in all 50 states. Candidates seeking licensure in the state of Washington must be of good moral character and have completed a degree program in physical therapy from an accredited institution. Specific physical therapy licensing requirements for the state of Washington can be found online at www.doh.wa.gov/hsqa/professions/Physical_Therapy/default.htm.

High Employment Rate

When you graduate from Puget Sound, you are very likely to find work as a physical therapist. According to annual surveys of our graduates, Puget Sound graduates have a high employment rate within six months of graduation.

Innovative Programs

At Puget Sound, you will have the opportunity to participate in innovative and special programs, such as our enhanced curriculum and specialty clinical experience in oncology physical therapy, health promotion programs within the campus such as the musician injury prevention program, and community outreach education programs. In the final semester of the program, you will be able to pursue an area of special clinical interest in our advanced clinical elective courses.

Your Education is First Priority

At Puget Sound, you will work with professors who are hired, retained and promoted based on teaching excellence rather than on their ability to generate outside funding for the program or on the number of publications they can generate over a given period of time. Your professors will hold you and your education as their first priority.

Research Opportunities

Your professors will also be actively involved in research and scholarship, and they will be generous in giving you opportunities to collaborate with them in that research. Opportunity for students to participate in a physical therapy research project in collaboration with a faculty member is offered as an elective. Typically, half or more of the research projects are presented by students at a national or international professional conference.

Recent research projects presented nationally have dealt with physical therapy intervention for end-stage renal disease, complex regional pain syndrome, women's health, cancer, musician performance-related injuries, general orthopedics, wheelchair seating, and other areas.