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Physical Therapy (PhD)

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Ph.D. in Physical Therapy

Admissions Contact:
Rebecca L. Johnson
(855) 736-5506

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Upcoming online open house: June 20, 2024 at 7 pm EST.

To sign up to attend the June open house or for more information about the PhD PT at NSU, please contact admissions counselor Ms. Rebecca Johnson at or (954) 262-1111.

Curriculum Requirements

Courses will be conducted in a distance-hybrid format and as independent study under faculty supervision.  The distance hybrid education format enables students to continue their career while earning the degree.

Graduates will be awarded the Ph.D. degree in Physical Therapy upon satisfactory completion of all degree requirements.

Please note: This is a three-semester program.

Course of Study Admitted Prior to Fall of 2022 Admitted after Fall of 2022
Required HPD Core Courses 12 credits N/A
Required PT Core Courses 23 credits 35 credits
Elective Courses 9 credits 9 credits
Comprehensive Exam 0 credits 0 credits
Dissertation 16 credits 16 credits
Total Credits 60 credits 60 credits
Course Credits
PHT 7010: Professional Issues in Physical Therapy and Health Care *
This course deals with current issues facing the physical therapy profession. Students participate in group discussions and complete a written project on a selected topic
PHT 7020: Legal Issues in Health Care *
The practice of physical therapy has been and is becoming increasingly regulated by laws, rules, and regulations. With the ever increasing need for physical therapists to function in today's health care arena and plan for tomorrow's, it is essential that therapists gain a basic understanding of the legal constraints that direct and often challenge quality patient care management. This course is designed to increase the awareness and working knowledge of physical therapists to identify, understand, and apply relevant laws, rules and regulations, for the delivery of physical therapy services in various health care settings. With the growing interest toward the establishment of a centralized, nationalized health care program in the U.S., governmental regulations will likely expand restrictions and further impact all health care providers, including physical therapists. This course will explore legal rights and issues related to education, practice, ethics and standards of practice, role, business, and profession of physical therapy. Students deal with a diversity of legal issues by applying relevant laws, regulations, and theories to problem-solve and promote risk management. Students should emerge with greater confidence and understanding of the influence of laws and the legal process, as well as the intertwined relationship of law and ethics, on the practice of physical therapy to enable better service for patients, clients and society.
PHT 7030: Health Care Policy and Health Care Reform *
Students explore the global issues of health care reform examining the theories, methodologies of reform, the impact of each upon Physical Therapy, and how practitioners can effect change.

PHT 7040: Bioethics and Ethical Issues in Health Care *

Health care professionals are required to act morally and ethically. This course is designed to expand the student's basic understanding of ethics to promote ethical awareness and enable students to derive better health care decisions that reduce risk of potential ethical consequence. By exposing students to bioethics and controversial ethical issues typically encountered in current health care practice, students practice making difficult decisions. Students will synthesize and implement strategies for applying morals, values and ethics systematically in the various settings in which health care is delivered. Considering the perspectives of all stakeholders and the role of the health care provider, patient advocate, professional and consumer of medical care, students will gain workable knowledge of contemporary ethical issues and appreciate that ethics permeate the majority of decisions made in health care.

PHT 7112: Measurement Issues in Physical Therapy Research *
This course is designed for the health professionals to gain an overview of measurement theory and methods. It will focus on problems and challenges of validity and reliability of measurement, and emphasize development, testing, and refinement of norms and criteria referenced data collection instruments. It will help the student in the development of an analytical view of measurement issues.
PHT 7113: Advanced Methods and Design
This course presents statistical methods commonly used in the collection and analysis of health research data. Topics include descriptive statistics, basic concepts of probability, statistical inference, analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation, regression, and non-parametric statistical techniques. Statistical software will be used. Emphasis is on understanding and applying statistical concepts and techniques to research data.
PHT 7120: Critical Inquiry
Students are required to evaluate research literature in a scientific and systematic way. Knowledge gained in this course will help in developing research proposal using different designs. Note: Required for students entering with a BS degree (HPH 7300 Biostat 1 and HPH 7400 Research Design are prerequisites)
PHT 7130: Dissertation Research Seminar *
The purpose of this course is to prepare students for writing the dissertation as the final requirement for completion of the PhD. Students will be guided in the development of a research question, related research design, data collection and the appropriate statistical methods as steps toward developing an idea paper and a dissertation proposal. Attention will also be paid to how results of research might be presented and the discussion portion of a dissertation should be approached. Various referencing methods will be discussed and the advantages and disadvantages presented. A variety of writing styles that are appropriate for scientific writing will be examined and various ways to improve dissertation writing will be examined. Students will be required to investigate the application of research designs to research problems in physical therapy by analyzing classmates research questions, proposed research designs, data collection methods and proposed statistic.
PHT 7200: Teaching and Learning in Physical Therapy *
This course will examine the complexity of learning and behavioral change. Students will have the opportunity to explore their own learning styles as well as a variety of learning theories, including computer based learning.
PHT 7220 Research Ethics

This course introduces students to ethics concepts as they apply to questions and challenges in conducting research with human subjects. The aim is to increase students' awareness of and ability to reason through ethical issues that arise in human subjects research. The course will draw upon historical examples, codes, declarations, and other sources of ethical guidance including discussions of contemporary controversies in human subjects research.

PHT 7300: Consulting Skills
Students will discuss concepts of the roles and skills of consultants. Students complete a paper on selected topics in consultation.
PHT 7320: Biostatistics I*
The application of quantitative techniques has expanded rapidly in medical decision-making. The emphasis on evidence based health care means that health care workers must be able to evaluate the results from published health care research studies. This course is the first of two courses designed to provide students with the knowledge of quantitative techniques. The course will cover descriptive statistics, parametric group comparison statistics, basic non-parametric statistics, and provide an introduction to linear modeling.
PHT 7330: Biostatistics II*
The aim of this course is to enable students to appreciate the richness of statistical science and to invite them to the concepts of probabilistic thinking. Statistics is the science of the future. Any technique that they are going to learn will help them to understand the unknown better, and in turn it will increase their success in other courses and in future professional careers. Principles of statistical inference build upon the course of Fundamentals of Biostatistics. As such, a prerequisite for enrolling in this course of Fundamentals of Biostatistics. The goals of this course are threefold: (1) introduce the basic concepts of probability as well as methods for calculating the probability of an event, (2) assist students in developing and understanding of probability theory and sampling distributions, and (3) familiarize students about inferences involving one or two populations, ANOVA, regression analysis, and chi-square tests.
PHT 7340: Qualitative Research
The Doctor of Philosophy degree programs are designed to prepare students to conduct research in their discipline. In PHT 7340 we will focus primarily on the knowledge and skill competencies you will need to design and conduct qualitative research successfully. In this pursuit we will immerse ourselves in the epistemological, theoretical, ethical, methodological, and procedural understanding of qualitative research, apply this knowledge to the conceptualization and conduct of qualitative research, report the findings of the research in the form of a research article, and appraise the quality of such qualitative research products. Upon completion of the course you will have demonstrated that you have mastered the basic competencies needed to create, plan, and complete a qualitative research dissertation.
PHT 7350: Quantitative Research Design*

This course will provide students with a fundamental understanding of the basic methods and approaches used in health-related research. A major emphasis of the course will be on the conceptualization and design of research studies. The course will cover ethics, formulation of research questions, study design, reliability, validity, sampling, measurement, and interpretation of research findings. It will prepare students to critically evaluate published literature, and to design sound research studies. The course will be both theoretical and applied. Students will be challenged to apply the theoretical concepts presented in the classroom and in the readings to design a study to address a health-related issue of their choice.

PHT 7400: Independent Study
Individualized study under the supervision of assigned instructor. Requires permission of graduate coordinator.
PHT 7401: Independent Study
Individualized study under the supervision of assigned instructor. Requires permission of graduate coordinator.
PHT 7520 Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Science will address classical issues in the philosophy of science, including demarcation, the distinction between what science is and is not, hypothesis development, confirmation and falsification, causation and explanation.  The course will also explore the ontological, epistemological, methodological, and axiological foundations of the major paradigms within which inquiry in the human services professions are located. Issues of congruence between research question selection and paradigm selection will also be addressed.
PHT 7530: Grant Writing and Publication
This course is designed to provide writing experiences which prepare the learner for manuscript and grant proposal submissions. This introductory experience into the grant process from proposal to funding to management will include project management, funding sources, and funding challenges. Other course requirements include a research proposal (manuscript) that is ready for submission for publication and development of a dissertation proposal.
PHT 7800: Dissertation *
Supervised, original research on a physical therapy related topic would be completed under the supervision of a dissertation committee.
16 total
PHT 7801: Research Seminar *
This sequence of four 1 credit courses is intended to prepare the student for the processes of analysis and understanding of the research literature which is crucial to the dissertation process. These courses designed as 1 credit per semester are required during the first 4 semesters that students are taking courses in the Physical Therapy PhD program. Other students in the program are encouraged to participate. These courses are designed to reinforce the material being presented in the research courses and to promote intellectual discussion on physical therapy science and scholarly works. Students will be required to read and discuss the research literature related to physical therapy illustrating the relationship of research design to statistical analysis and how researchers approach research questions and problems.

1 each/

4 total

* These courses are required.

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