Physical Therapy and Engineering Degree Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

The curriculum is designed to allow a student to successfully complete the DPT, sit for the PT license exam, gain valuable clinical experience, and complete the PhD degree within a seven year timeframe. 

DPT/PhD(Eng) Joint Program Sequence

  • First Year: Core Engineering Coursework (see relevant degree program for specifics);  Pre-requisite coursework for DPT; selection of primary research lab
  • Second Year: development of dissertation proposal; preparation for qualifying examination and/or proposal defense; advancement to PhD candidacy at the end of the second year (see requirements for specific PhD program)
  • Third Year: 1st Year DPT Training; execution of preliminary study (typically one of the dissertation aims); 1st clinical experience
  • Fourth Year: 2nd Year DPT Training; defense of preliminary study; 2nd Clinical experience
  • Fifth Year: Completion of DPT Training; Final long term clinical experiences; PT Licensure; Clinical Practice placement; Continuation of PhD work
  • Sixth-Seventh Years: Part time clinical practice; progress towards completion of PhD

Part-time Clinical Practice Requirement

It is critical that students develop expertise within the clinical environment in addition to their academic development so that they have a well-rounded appreciation to clinical problems that require engineering solutions. Upon completion of the DPT program, students will be required to sit for the PT license exam within the state of Illinois. They are required to pass the exam within three attempts. Students will be placed within a supervised clinical practice environment 8-12 hours per week. Students will be paid a supplemental salary by the clinical institution. Potential clinical practice sites are established between Northwestern Medicine, RIC, and private practice clinics throughout the Chicagoland region.

Required and Elective Coursework

Required Courses for PhD Component of Dual Degree Program Units
Required Courses 5
BMD_ENG 401 (Neural Systems Physiology) 1
2 courses in Mathematics and Statistics, e.g. 2
EPI_BIO 302 (Introduction to Biostatistics)
ES_APPM 311-1 (Methods of Applied Mathematics)  
1 course in Signals or Controls, e.g. 1
EECS 359 (Digital Signal Processing)  
MECH_ENG 391 (Fundamentals of Control Systems)  
BMD_ENG 463 (Systems Neuropathophysiology) 1
Restricted Electives (3 courses related to rehabilitation or neural engineering; total of 4 elective courses including required courses. The courses below are only a sampling of courses available). 4
BMD_ENG 343 (Biomaterials and Medical Devices) 1
BMD_ENG 346 (Tissue Engineering) 1
BMD_ENG 349 (Bioregenerative Engineering) 1
BMD_ENG 350 (Transport Fundamentals) 1
BMD_ENG 371 (Mechanics of Biological Tissue) 1
BMD_ENG 365 (Human Limbs and their Artificial Replacements) 1
BMD_ENG 366 (Biomechanics of Movement) 1
BMD_ENG 465 (Biomechanical Modeling and Computer Simulation of Human Movement) * 1
BMD_ENG 467 (Biomedical Robotics) * 1
BMD_ENG 469 (Neural Control and the Mechanics of Movement) * 1
EECS 374 (Introduction to Digital Control) 1
EECS 390 (Introduction to Robotics) 1
EECS 435 (Neural Networks) 1
ME 314 (Theory of Machine Dynamics) * 1
MECH_ENG 333/433 (Introduction to Mechatronics) * 1
MECH_ENG 390 (Introduction to Dynamic Systems) 1
MECH_ENG 391 (Fundamentals of Control Systems) 1
MECH_ENG 434 (Random Data and Spectral Analysis) 1
EECS 330 (Human Computer Interaction) 1
EECS 370 (Computer Game Design) 1
EECS 495 (Sparse and low-rank recovery problems in signal processing and machine learning) 1
NUIN 442 (Issues in Movement and Rehabilitation Science) * 1
NUIN 480 (Neural Control of Movement) * 1
Total required units for the PhD component of the combined DPT/PhD Degree 9

* Courses that satisfy the rehabilitation and neural engineering requirement

Other DPT/PhD Degree Requirements

  • Examinations: Graduate qualifying examinations for admission to candidacy
  • Research/Projects: Thesis research
  • PhD Dissertation: Original, independent research presented in a defensible thesis of high quality
  • Final Evaluations: Defense of dissertation