Virginia Commonwealth University

History of physical therapy at VCU

A tradition of leadership in physical therapy education

History Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Physical Therapy was established in 1931. It was the first accredited physical therapy program in Virginia and one of the first programs in the country. Initially, the program led to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. In 1989, the department initiated a three-year professional program that, based on three years of previous college study, led to a Master of Science degree.

In 2001, the VCU Board of Visitors and the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia approved the Doctor of Physical Therapy as the entry-level professional degree. The first class matriculated into this entry-level doctoral program in July of 2002.

VCU's physical therapy program ranks in the top 15 percent of the 200 plus U.S. programs according to U.S. News & World Report.

Our department has led the way in advanced physical therapy education. In 1946, a post-professional graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree was established to provide an opportunity for practicing physical therapists to expand their knowledge and skills in the basic and clinical sciences as well as research.

In the early 1980s, the department partnered with the VCU departments of Anatomy and Physiology to begin offering interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs for the purpose of developing physical therapy faculty. In the late 1990s, the department started providing a physical therapy tract for the distance-learning Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences in the School of Allied Health Professions.

Finally, in 2004, the department initiated the Rehabilitation and Movement Science PhD program in collaboration with the VCU schools of Medicine and Education.