Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy (DScPT)

Our programs are committed to developing stewards of the physical therapy profession, evidence-based practitioners and clinician scientists. Graduates will be critical thinkers, reflective, empathetic, and lifelong learners.

**Please note the Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy degree at Bellin College is not an entry-level degree.  It is designed for currently licensed physical therapists who wish to excel in areas of clinical care, research and teaching. Further information on the entry-level Bellin College Doctor of Physical Therapy program may be found here.

Bellin College’s DScPT program is committed to developing evidence-based physical therapist practitioners and clinician scientists. Graduates will be critical thinkers, reflective, empathetic, and lifelong learners. Lastly, graduates will become highly skilled autonomous practitioners who are prepared to become leaders in the areas of teaching as well as participants and contributors to clinical research.

The Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy (DSc) track is a 66-credit program, consisting of three foundational cores: clinical excellence, teaching and learning excellence, and research excellence. Students may choose to fulfill their clinical excellence core by completing the Bellin College Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT) Fellowship. Students may also transfer credits into the Bellin College DSc program from any physical therapy fellowship program (including non-OMPT programs). Once the clinical core is completed, students progress to specialty courses focusing on research, biostatistics, curriculum development, assessment, and leadership.


Academic Plan and Calendar

The Doctor of Science in Physical Therapy (DSc) is a 66-credit program. Students fulfill the clinical core by completing an ABPTRFE or ACOMPTE-accredited fellowship program, which is then followed by specialty courses focusing on research, biostatistics, curriculum development and assessment, and leadership.

Academic Plan   

Curriculum Calendar Examples

summer start

fall start

Course Descriptions

The DSc program at Bellin College consists of three core areas:

  • Clinical
  • Teaching/Leadership
  • Research

The clinical core requirement is met through completion of an American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) or Accreditation Council of Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapy Education (ACOMPTE) approved fellowship program. This Fellowship may be completed at Bellin College, or students who have already graduated may request a credit evaluation. The following classes comprise the Teaching/Leadership and Research core of our curriculum.  Please refer to the OMPT Fellowship section for more information regarding the Bellin College clinical core classes.

DSC 680 Leadership in Higher Education – 2 credits
This course provides graduates with the skills necessary to be a visionary leader by improving the performance of colleges and universities by using active research to drive continuous improvement, collaborative decision making, and strategic planning. Graduates will address contemporary and future educational issues impacting higher education through the application of effective change theory.

DSC 751 Biostatistics I – 3 credits
This course will provide a foundation for understanding biostatistics and basic proficiency with running basic biostatistical models. The course will cover such topics as simple descriptive statistics, basic probability concepts, probability distributions, sampling distributions, t-tests, and confidence intervals.

DSC 752 Biostatistics II  – 3 credits
The purpose of this course is to build upon the topics of Biostatistics 1. This course will cover such topics as correlation, analysis of covariance, post-hoc testing, factorial designs, simple linear regression, and reliability analyses. Students will present doctoral research questions, hypotheses, methods, and data analysis plans for critique and discussion. (Pre-requisite: DSC 751)

DSC 800 Curriculum Development – 3 credits
A deep understanding of the development and implementation of curriculum will be explored by examining the philosophical and theoretical perspectives of the science of teaching and learning. This is the 2nd course in a 2-part series that will utilize an in-depth analysis of curricular design models and application congruent with identified curricular objectives, goals and learner outcomes. Development of curriculum will systematically address technology integration, evidenced-based practices, and innovative and collaborative learning experiences.

DSC 810 Science and Design of Educational Assessment – 3 credits
Through the study of the basic principles of curriculum development and assessment this course is designed to provide the learner with knowledge, skills, and experiences to be actively involved in multiple facets of the curricular process. This is the first course in a 2-part series that will focus on developing the knowledge and skills to identify, develop, and design assessment instruments and strategies for effective evaluation of student learning through both formative and summative assessment methodologies. 

DSC 990 Educational Comprehensive Capstone – 1 credit
This course provides a comprehensive learning assessment by integrating the learning experiences of DSc 680, DSc 800 and DSc 810.  Students will complete a final teaching project with oral defense.

DSC 900 Research Methodology and Doctoral Project Continued – 1 credit
This course will assist students in facilitating completion of their systematic or scoping review. Students will be required to complete all screening of included studies in their systematic or scoping review and complete 50% of their data extraction by the end of the course.

DSC 901 Research Methodologies and Doctoral Project I – 2 credits
This course will provide a foundation for the principles of evidence-based practice and research design so that the student may immediately integrate scientific knowledge with practice and complete a clinically relevant research proposal. This course is the first phase of the doctoral project and is designed to prepare doctoral students to develop and defend a research project.

DSC 902 Research and Methodologies and Doctoral Project II – 2 credits
This course will familiarize students with the steps required to successfully complete a systematic or scoping review, which are considered the gold standards for appraising and evaluating the scientific literature. Students will also continue to work on their group research project.

DSC 903 Research Methodologies and Doctoral Project III – 2 credits
This course will require students to submit a fully completed draft manuscript of a systematic or scoping review. Students will also continue to participate in ongoing work on their group research project. 

DSC 904 Research Methodologies and Doctoral Project IV – 2 credits
The goal of this course is to focus on the completion of the systematic review and continue with the group research project. This will be largely project-dependent, but will include data preparation and cleaning, data analysis, and creation of a manuscript draft. This is a hybrid course including 15 weeks of online coursework and bi-weekly virtual meetings.

DSC 905 Research  Methodologies and Doctoral Project V – 2 credits
The goal of this course is to finalize the research project, and independently defend a presentation of their research before a scientific panel. This is a hybrid course including 15 weeks of online coursework.

Program Goals and Outcomes

DScPT Program Goals

  • Develop clinical scientists with the ability to complete advanced clinical-based research, advancing the profession of physical therapy.
  • Develop educational leaders who excel at mentoring, instilling professional values, and serving as a role model to their colleagues and students.

DScPT Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, the graduate is able to:

  • Advance the science of physical therapy through the use of translational research to improve patient outcomes and healthcare systems.
  • Serve as a practice leader in the design, direction, and evaluation of systems to advance evidence-based practice.
  • Apply transformative leadership skills to influence health policy designed to advance the profession and improve outcomes through the advancement of cost effective, evidence-based care.
  • Demonstrate competence in teaching through curriculum development, assessment and evaluation, incorporating sound pedagogical and andragological principles.
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills required to present and publish scholarly work.
  • Collaborate intra and interprofessionally to address complex practice, system, and policy issues.
Admission Requirements

View the admission requirements for the DScPT program. 

Admission Requirements         application deadlines

Transfer Credits 

Students who have completed or are in the process of completing an American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) or Accreditation Council of Orthopaedic and Manual Physical Therapy Education (ACOMPTE) approved fellowship program can request an evaluation to indicate accepted courses and credits as transferable to satisfy Bellin College DSc requirements.

Go to Admissions

Tuition and Fees

Tuition charges listed are for planning purposes only and are subject to change. Tuition and Fees Schedules are updated and published annually. 

Go to the tuition and fees page

Course Delivery Method

While the fellowship component of the DScPT program requires onsite lab coursework, weekend intensives and clinical mentorship hours (see the OMPT Fellowship Program description for more details), the DScPT courses are delivered pre-dominantly within an online learning environment.  Delivery of the online learning content may occur through a blend of face-to-face activities, or asynchronous means. 

Rebecca Bliss, Physical Therapy, SHP, School of Health Professions, Memorial Union, NFO, New Faculty Orientation
Eric Chaconas,
Program Chair
Research Chair
Jodi Young,
 Research Director
Rebecca Bliss,
Adjunct Faculty

View Faculty Bios

Frequently Asked Questions

Are transfer credits accepted?

Individuals who have completed the Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy (OMPT) Fellowship Program in 2018 or prior through Evidence in MotionTM may transfer credits to the Bellin College DSc program. Individuals who graduated from other credentialed Fellowship programs may be eligible for transfer credits toward completing the DSc based on a portfolio review. Refer to the “Transfer of Credits” section for further details.

Can I complete the DSc in PT without completing the Fellowship?

No, at this time completion of an accredited Fellowship serves as the clinical core content of our DSc program.

Is financial aid available?

Students who are completing the DSc degree may be eligible for federal financial loans, as well as private educational loans.  Federal student loans require at least half-time enrollment (5 credits per semester).  Please note that the typical DSc curriculum calendar includes 5-6 credits per semester for the first three semesters, and then 2 credits per semester for the four remaining semesters.  In other words, students may not be eligible for federal financial loans during the final four semesters.  Bellin College DSc students are not eligible for Wisconsin Student Aid.

Am I able to utilize my Federal Veteran’s Administration (VA) Benefits?

Yes, contact Bellin College’s school certifying official, Mary Jo Moore at (920) 433-6640, or view the Bellin College veteran’s information page.

Is there a tuition deposit?

Yes, a $500 tuition deposit is due with return of the student acceptance contract and is credited toward tuition.

What sort of payment plans are available?

Individual payment plans may be developed in conjunction with the Bellin College Bursar.  For more information contact Mary Jo Moore, Bursar, or (920) 433-6640.

How long will it take me to complete the DSc degree?

Students who have completed the prerequisite Fellowship program should complete the remaining DSc curriculum within eight semesters or two and a half years. 

How many hours per week should I plan to spend on DSc coursework?

A survey of DSc students indicated that they spend an average of 15 hours per week on DSc coursework, although this can vary considerably for each individual, and by each course.  We advise students to set aside 15-20 hours per week for DSc studies.

What is the difference between a PhD and a DSc?

Generally, the PhD and DSc degree are considered equivalent degrees, with the main difference being the specific field of study.  The PhD may pertain to any chosen field, while the DSc is restricted to the fields of science and engineering.  Typically, research in a PhD program tends to be based in foundational science, while DSc research agendas may have stronger applications to clinical practice.  The Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) considers the DSc a terminal academic degree and helps entry level PT programs meet the requirement of 50% of core faculty needing to hold a terminal academic degree.

Typically, in the PT profession, the DSc is a qualified degree for holding ranked faculty academic positions, and provides strong educational preparation for conducting and disseminating research and for entry into academics.  Additionally, a person with a DSc degree should be competitive for grant funding.  Note that, in the PT profession, it is commonly believed that high-dollar grant funding from large organizations, such as the NIH, are preferentially given to those with PhD degrees over DSc degrees.  However, strong research track records can work to combat this potential bias.

Is the DSc in PT degree accredited?

Yes, the DSc program at Bellin College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission(TM).



Please contact Bellin College Admissions at,
(920) 433-6650, or use our online contact form.

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