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Technical Standards

Because a Doctor of Physical Therapy signifies that the holder is eligible to sit for the American Physical Therapy National Examination and signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the profession of physical therapy, it follows that graduates must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical, private, community, or school-based situations and to render a wide spectrum of physical therapy services. Therefore, the following abilities and expectations must be met by all students admitted to the program.

  1. Observation: The candidate must be able to learn from experiences in the basic sciences and in the clinical physical therapy laboratory that involve performing visual and tactile examination and interventions and accurately assessing substitution, compensation patterns, abnormal responses to exercise or activity.
  2. Communication: Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. The candidate must be able to assimilate information from written sources (texts, journals, medical/school records, etc.). The candidate must be able to attain, comprehend, retain, and utilize new information presented in written formats as well as produce appropriate written documentation. The student must be able to communicate accurately and effectively with patients, caregivers, physicians, other health professionals, clinical facility staff, faculty and staff, peers, and the community in general. Communication includes timely response to emergency/crises situations, as well as more routine communication as situationally appropriate. Communication includes the ability to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture and perceive non-verbal communications.
  3. Sensorimotor: Candidates must have gross motor, fine motor and equilibrium functions reasonably required to carry out assessments (palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers) and to provide physical therapy intervention. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements required to provide therapeutic intervention (patient transfers, exercise and application of electrotherapy) and emergency treatment to patients. Quick reactions are necessary not only for safety, but for one to respond therapeutically. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the senses of touch and vision.
  4. Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative, Quantitative and Problem Solving Skills: Candidates should have cognitive abilities including measurements, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem solving, the critical skill demanded of physical therapists requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the applicant should be able to comprehend three dimensional relationships to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
  5. Judgment: The candidate will be expected to demonstrate judgment in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings which shows an ability to make mature, sensitive and effective decisions in the following areas: 1) relationships with supervisors, peers and patients/clients, 2) professional behavior, 3) the effectiveness of intervention and research strategies. He/she must demonstrate an understanding of the rationale and justification for his/her performance.
  6. Behavioral and Social Attributes: Candidates must possess the emotional health required to utilize their intellectual abilities fully, exercise good judgment, complete all responsibilities attendant to the physical therapy diagnosis and care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and their families. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients/clients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal communication skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the education process.

It is the student’s responsibility to notify the DPT program if there is any reason he/she cannot meet the expectations for the DPT program described above, with or without accommodations. Reasonable accommodation will be considered and may be made to qualified students who disclose a disability, so long as such accommodation does not significantly alter the essential requirements of the curriculum and the training program, or significantly affect the safety of patient care or others.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. Applicants whose response indicates that they cannot meet one or more of the expectations will be reviewed further by the University’s Office for Academic Accommodations, with applicant and faculty input, to determine if any reasonable accommodations are possible to facilitate successful completion of the DPT curriculum and preparation for the national registry examination. The contact person is Cyn Ukoko and she can be reached at 913-945-7035 (711 TTY) or

Learning assistance, academic performance enhancement, and psychological services at KU Medical Center are free, confidential, and available at Student Counseling & Educational Support Services by calling 913-588-6580 or visiting G116 Student Center.

Last modified: Sep 07, 2018

Explore the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program:

Program overview
Eligibility and requirements
Tuition and fees
How to apply
Clinical Education

We're here to answer questions and help students prepare for an exciting career in physical therapy. Please contact us at

KU undergraduate students seeking advising on the KU Lawrence campus, and high school students, should contact Robin Merritt in the Undergraduate Advising Center, 785-864-2834 (711 TTY).

Important Dates

July 1
PTCAS opens for online applications

Mid-August 15
PTCAS Early Decision applications due

November 1
Deadline to submit PTCAS application

June 1
Classes begin