The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Duke builds on a rich history and continues to pioneer approaches to training physical therapists.
Certificate program: A foundation of excellence
During World War Two there was an urgent need to help soldiers recover from wounds suffered in combat. In 1943, Helen Kaiser, then a physical therapist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, came to Duke to establish a post-baccalaureate Physical Therapy certificate program in the Duke University School of Medicine.
From certificate to doctorate
In 1970, the curriculum underwent a major revision when the Graduate School of Duke University elevated the program to the Master of Science degree.
In 1998, at the urging of the Chancellor of Health Affairs, the School of Medicine, and the administration of The Graduate School, the Board of Trustees replaced the Master of Science degree with the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), further elevating Duke’s standing in the field—not to mention raising national and international standards for physical therapist education.
Never resting on our laurels
Today, the DPT program continues to evolve as it prepares students to become leaders in both clinical and research settings. In 2020, the Duke Physical Therapy Program welcomed W. Todd Cade, PT, PhD as its director. Dr. Cade is a long-time NIH funded researcher and currently holds or has held several positions of academic leadership including currently serving as a member of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for the Barth Syndrome Foundation, previously serving as the Chair of the Scientific Review Board for the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research and for nine years serving as an Editorial Board member of Physical Therapy Journal. Our program's strong commitment to teaching, along with our broadening research capabilities, expanding clinical opportunities, and solid funding, create an ongoing opportunity to write new chapters in its distinguished history.
Our chairs: Leaders in physical therapy
Emblematic of the program’s stability and prestige, Duke Physical Therapy has had only five chairs, four of whom have been presidents of the American Physical Therapy Association:
Helen Kaiser, PT, President (1938-1940)
Robert Bartlett, PT, FAPTA, President (1976-1979)
Jane Matthews, PT, President (1985-1991)
Jan K. Richardson, PT, PhD, OCS, FAPTA, President (1997-2000)
The program has determined that its curriculum meets the state educational requirements for licensure or certification in all states, the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands secondary to its accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, based on the following: CAPTE accreditation of a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant program satisfies state educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Thus, students graduating from CAPTE-accredited physical therapist and physical therapist assistant education programs are eligible to take the National Physical Therapy Examination and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, refer to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy website at www.fsbpt.org. The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Duke University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone 703-706-3245; email: email@example.com; website: http://www.capteonline.org. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 919-681-4380 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.