BS in Health Studies/Doctor of Physical Therapy

The program in physical therapy leading to the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies and Doctor of Physical Therapy is designed to educate graduates as clinicians dedicated to the promotion of health and rehabilitation of people disabled by injury or disease. Physical therapists are moving beyond traditional settings and are assuming more responsibility for examination, evaluation, and treatment, as well as for administration, supervision of a variety of healthcare workers, teaching, consultation, and clinical research. The program reflects these professional needs. The essential components of physical therapy education include the development of a strong foundation in the basic sciences, synthesis of a body of applied scientific knowledge, the adoption of a professional code of ethics, the demonstration of a commitment to professional values, and the ability to communicate effectively, solve problems creatively, and to administer and evaluate treatment effectively and efficiently.

All students complete supervised clinical experiences at selected facilities that give the students exposure to a range of physical therapy practices and settings. Affiliated institutions are located in the greater Boston area and in many areas across the United States. Availability of clinical sites for any one clinical experience is determined by the PT program’s directors of clinical education and the individual clinical site. Students are advised that there will be additional costs associated with housing and transportation needs during each clinical experience. The BS/DPT program at Boston University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and prepares graduates to apply for physical therapy licensure in any state in the United States. [Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia, 22305-3085; 703-706-3245;;]

All professional physical therapy education programs in the United States only offer the doctor of physical therapy degree. The combined BS/DPT program leads to the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies after the fourth year and the Doctor of Physical Therapy after six years of coursework and supervised clinical practice.

Learning Outcomes

BS in Health Studies

Students will:

  • Describe the complexities of: US health policy and healthcare delivery, human development across the lifespan, rehabilitation, and disability.
  • Demonstrate foundational knowledge in the biological, behavioral, and exercise sciences.
  • Identify key behavioral attributes of the physical therapy profession, including insight into communication and interpersonal skills needed by physical therapists.
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills (both written and oral).
  • Demonstrate course content mastery required for continued matriculation into the professional DPT program.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

At the time of graduation, students are expected to:

  • Be prepared as entry level clinicians to practice physical therapy in a variety of practice setting.
  • Utilize critical thinking and reasoning skills in all patient/client management decisions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to acquire, interpret, and apply evidence to clinical practice.
  • Practice in a manner consistent with the core values of the profession as described by the document: Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values (APTA).
  • Adhere to the ethical and legal physical therapy practice standards.

Degree Requirements

All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Health Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements.

The following are prerequisite courses in which a minimum grade of C– must be achieved: CAS BI 105; CAS BI 210; CAS BI 211; CAS CH 171; CAS CH 172; CAS MA 121; CAS PY 105 and CAS PY 106 or CAS PY 104; CAS MA 113, 115, 213 or PS 211; SAR HS 342; and SAR HP 412. Up to 8 credits of preapproved prerequisite courses may be taken outside of Boston University.

A minimum grade of C is required in SAR HS 369.

A minimum of 128 semester credits is required for the awarding of the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies. The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) requires the completion of 96 credits in the professional curriculum. Approximately 40 weeks of supervised clinical experience are required prior to program completion. The Health Studies program requires a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 by the end of the spring semester of the sophomore year and by the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Students who do not meet the GPA requirements at the stipulated times will not be allowed to continue in the BS/DPT program.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 and grades of C or better to include all courses taken in the professional portion of the program. It is assumed that students receiving a BS in health studies will continue on to complete requirements for the DPT. BS recipients who do not complete all DPT requirements are not eligible to apply for physical therapy licensure. For more details, please refer to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Academic Policy & Procedures Manual posted on our website.

Matriculation into the Professional Portion of the Physical Therapy Program

Continuation in the Physical Therapy program after the first three years of pre-professional study requires completion of the following:

  1. Biological science laboratory courses—human anatomy (4 cr); basic physiology (4 cr); exercise physiology (4 cr); biology (4 cr)
  2. Physical science laboratory courses—chemistry (8 cr); physics (8 cr)*
  3. Psychology—includes general or abnormal (4 cr)
  4. Writing—includes Composition (CAS WR 120) as well as a Writing, Research, and Inquiry course (CAS WR 151, 152, or 153)
  5. BU Hub electives (20 cr)
  6. Math and statistics (8 cr)
  7. Specialty elective (4 cr)—Complete at least 4 credits from the following list of professional electives:
    • CAS BI 114 Human Infectious Diseases: AIDS to Tuberculosis
    • CAS PH 100 Introduction to Philosophy
    • CAS PH 150 Introduction to Ethics
    • CAS PH 251 Medical Ethics
    • CAS PS 231 Physiological Psychology
    • CAS PS 339 Intro to Cognitive Neuroscience
    • CAS RN 106 Death and Immortality
    • COM CM 311 Professional Presentation
    • SAR HP 500 Helping Skills
    • SAR HS 201 Nutrition
    • SAR HS 300 Epidemiology
    • SAR HS 375 Cardiopulmonary Pathophysiology
    • SED CE 500 Introduction to Counseling
    • SED SE 250 Disability, Education, and Public Policy
    • SPH PH 510 Introduction to Public Health
  8. PDP activities (or evidence of participation in two semesters of a varsity-level sport) (1.5 cr)
  9. SAR HP 565 Biomechanics (4 cr)
  10. SAR HP 151 Introduction to the Health and Rehabilitation Professions (2 cr), SAR HP 252 Health and Disability Across the Lifespan (4 cr), and SAR HP 353 Organization and Delivery of Health Care in the US (4 cr)
  11. By the end of the junior year, students are expected to register and complete the requirements for SAR PT 341 (0 credit, Pass/Fail).


The following is a typical program for the six years of the Bachelor of Science in Health Studies and Doctor of Physical Therapy. The most current curricular information can be found on our website. All courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted.

First-Year Students

First Semester

  • CAS BI 105 Introductory Biology for Health Sciences
  • CAS CH 171 Principles of General Chemistry
  • CAS WR 120 First-Year Writing Seminar
  • CAS MA 121 Calculus for the Life and Social Sciences
  • SAR HP 150 First-Year Experience (0 cr)
  • PDP activity (0.5–1 cr)

Second Semester

  • CAS BI 210 Human Anatomy
  • CAS CH 172 Principles of Organic and Biochemistry
  • CAS PS 101 General Psychology
  • CAS WR 151/152/153 Writing and Research Seminar
  • SAR HP 151 Introduction to the Health and Rehabilitation Professions (2 cr)

Sophomore Year

First Semester

  • CAS BI 211 Human Physiology
  • CAS PY 105 Elementary Physics* or CAS PY 104
  • BU Hub elective
  • Specialty elective

Second Semester

  • CAS PY 106 Elementary Physics* or CAS PY 104
  • SAR HP 252 Health and Disability Across the Life Span
  • Specialty elective
  • BU Hub electives

Junior Year

First Semester

  • CAS MA 113, MA 115, MA 213 Statistics or
    CAS PS 211 Introduction to Experimental Design in Psychology
  • SAR HP 412 Abnormal Behavior in Rehabilitation
  • SAR HS 342 Exercise Physiology
  • BU Hub elective
  • PDP activity (0.5–1 cr)

Second Semester

  • SAR HS 369 Gross Human Anatomy
  • SAR HP 353 Organization and Delivery of Health Care in the US
  • SAR PT 341 Preclinical Experience (0 cr)
  • SAR HP 565 Biomechanics of Human Movement
  • BU Hub elective

Professional Curriculum: DPT

Summer Term II

  • SAR PT 515 Physical Therapy Examination
  • SAR PT 520 Functional Anatomy

First Professional Year (Senior Year)

First Semester

  • SAR HP 531 Clinical Medicine I
  • SAR PT 511 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary System (6 cr)
  • SAR PT 521 Musculoskeletal System I (6 cr)
  • SAR PT 555 Integrated Clinical Experience I (1 cr)
  • SAR PT 566 Evidence-Based Practice I (2 cr)

Second Semester

  • SAR PT 512 Cardiovascular and Pulmonary System II (2 cr)
  • SAR PT 522 Musculoskeletal System II (6 cr)
  • SAR HP 532 Clinical Medicine II
  • SAR PT 551 Neuroscience for the Physical Therapy Student
  • SAR PT 565 Integrated Clinical Experience II (1 cr)
  • SAR PT 720 Educational Theory & Practice (2 cr)


  • SAR PT 791 Clinical Experience I (0 cr) Fee

Second Professional Year

First Semester

  • SAR PT 550 Scientific Basis of Human Movement (2 cr)
  • SAR PT 662 Evidence-Based Practice II (2 cr)
  • SAR PT 634 Diagnostic Procedures for Rehabilitation Professionals
  • SAR PT 652 Neurological System I (6 cr)
  • SAR PT 691 Clinical Education Seminar I (1 cr)
  • SAR PT 610 Health Promotion & Wellness (2 cr)

Second Semester

  • SAR PT 623 Musculoskeletal System III (6 cr)
  • SAR PT 653 Neurological System II (6 cr)
  • SAR PT 692 Clinical Education Seminar II (1 cr)
  • SAR PT 682 Academic Practicum I (2 cr)


  • SAR PT 792 Clinical Education Experience II (0 cr) Fee

Third Professional Year

First Semester

  • SAR HP 770 Health Care Management
  • SAR PT 756 Pediatrics (2 cr)
  • SAR PT 773 Comprehensive Clinical Reasoning
  • SAR PT 782 Academic Practicum II (2 cr)
  • SAR PT 794 Clinical Education Seminar III (1 cr)
  • SAR PT 760 Special Topics Seminar (1 cr)

Second Semester

  • SAR PT 793 Clinical Education Experience III (0 cr)

*Students qualified for the BU BS/DPT program have the option of taking CAS PY 104 Physics of Health Science instead of PY 105/106.