Physical Therapy

What is a Physical Therapist?

Physical therapists provide services that help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities of patients suffering from injuries or disease. They restore, maintain, and promote overall fitness and health.

Physical therapists examine patients’ medical histories and test and measure their strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, posture, muscle performance, respiration, and motor function. They determine their patients’ ability to be independent and reintegrate into the community or workplace after injury or illness. They develop treatment plans that describe the treatment strategy, its purpose, and the anticipated outcome.

Treatment often includes exercise for patients who have been immobilized and lack flexibility, strength, or endurance. Therapists encourage patients to use their own muscles to further increase flexibility and range of motion before finally advancing to other exercises improving strength, balance, coordination, and endurance. Their goal is to improve how an individual functions at work and home.

Physical therapists use electrical stimulation, hot packs or cold compresses, and ultrasound to relieve pain and reduce swelling. They may use traction or deep-tissue massage to relieve pain. Physical therapists also teach patients to use assistive and adaptive devices such as crutches, prostheses, and wheelchairs. They may show patients exercises to do at home to expedite their recovery

Through the partnership between Saint Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Health Professions, students can earn both the Bachelor's of Science (BS) degree and the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree in six years.

Students in this program will spend their first three years at Saint Joseph’s University completing the majority of courses needed for a BS degree in either Biology or Interdisciplinary Health Services. They will also complete specific prerequisite courses necessary for transfer into the Physical Therapy program.

Students will transfer to Thomas Jefferson University for the next three years to complete degree requirements for the Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Credits from the first year at Jefferson will transfer back to SJU to complete the remaining credits needed for the Bachelor’s degree. Students will receive their BS degree from SJU after their first year at Jefferson and will earn their Doctorate in Physical Therapy after the third year at Jefferson.

To be considered for this special program, students should:

  • Apply to Saint Joseph's University by November 1 of their senior year of high school and specify interest in the 3+3 DPT program,
  • Earn a cumulative high school GPA of 3.3 or higher,
  • Have a combined critical reading and math score on the old SAT of at least 1300 (test prior to March 2016), or combined evidence-based reading and writing and math score on the new SAT of at least 1360, or a composite ACT score of at least 29
  • Have exposure to the physical therapy profession either from direct volunteer or shadowing experiences

Eligible candidates will be reviewed and interviewed by a joint admissions committee comprised of representatives from Saint Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University.  Students will be notified of their eligibility for the program in January, and qualified students will be invited to interview by Thomas Jefferson University’s Office of Admissions. Interviews will typically take place in February.

The top candidates from these interviews will be offered one of the limited spaces for admission to the to the 3+3 DPT program through Saint Joseph’s University.

Please visit the Thomas Jefferson University website for the Physical Therapy program for more information.