Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Renee Mabey


Physical Therapy Specialty -- education


The purposes of this study are to assess whether University of North Dakota Physical Therapy (UND-PT) graduates desire a transitional Doctorate of Physical Therapy (t-DPT) degree and to determine their preferences regarding this proposed educational program.

The survey was sent to 1136 alumni of the UND-PT program spanning from its first graduating class in 1970 to the class of 2002. It consisted of 8 demographic questions and 12 questions regarding areas such as curriculum content, program implementation, and personal views about the Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. Frequencies for all responses were determined. The respondent data were also analyzed for variation across the demographic groups based on the type of physical therapy degree held, the respondents' American Physical Therapy Association (APT A) membership status, the respondents' primary work position and setting, the number of years of experience, the number of continuing education hours within the past year, and the level of exposure of the DPT degree. Open-ended narrative comments were also analyzed in order to obtain a general idea of alumni's attitudes and feelings toward a t-DPT degree.

There were 635 surveys returned for a response rate of 58%. Of these respondents, 67% were female and 32% were male. Eighty-three percent of the respondents are between the ages of 26 and 50. Forty-nine percent held a Master's degree with 9% of respondents earning degrees beyond the MPT level. Fifty-four percent of alumni are currently APTA members. Respondents are employed in 43 of 50 states with a large number (46%) employed in either North Dakota or Minnesota. The majority of alumni are staff physical therapists (62%) working in outpatient/private practice settings (49%) treating mostly the orthopaedic population.

Forty percent of respondents are interested in obtaining a t-DPT degree from the University of North Dakota. Respondents indicate online instruction is their preferred mode of delivery (69%). Sixty-one percent of respondents ranked weekend-only classes as their first or second choice. The alumni identify Specialty Physical Therapy, Research/Evidence Based Practice, and Business Management/ Administration as the desired areas of curriculum content. Respondents also indicated family obligations, lack of interest, and time away from work as the potential obstacles preventing them from completing the t-DPT degree. In conjunction with the narrative comments, alumni seem to be unclear about the differences between the t-DPT degree, the advanced clinical doctorate degree, and the clinical specialist certification.

The information from this survey will be used by the UND-PT Department to form a t-DPT program which will attempt to correspond with its alumni's needs. Current program content is subject to change and will take into account the results of this scholarly project.