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Whitworth University Launches New Doctoral Programs in Physical and Occupational Therapy

February 14, 2022

Whitworth University will offer doctoral programs for the first time in its 132-year history this fall, welcoming the first cohorts in its new Doctor of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Doctorate programs.

“The launch of Whitworth’s DPT and OTD programs is the result of five years of dreaming, planning, hiring and building,” Whitworth University President Scott McQuilkin says. “These programs are transformative for the university, and they are no less significant for the region. Whitworth-trained therapists, equipped by a superb faculty, in a state-of-the-art facility, and with the hallmarks of a mind-and-heart education, will serve their patients and communities with expertise and personal care. We are thrilled to be on the doorstep of welcoming our first classes of students.”

Doctor of Physical Therapy Program

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physical therapists is projected to grow 21 percent in the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations in the United States.

Whitworth’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, a full-time professional program designed to be completed in just under three years, will fully prepare students to enter that workforce. 

The curriculum is rooted in a liberal arts education and Whitworth’s mission to educate both the mind and the heart. The curricular design is centered on the movement system, social responsibility, faith and worldview, professional formation, and critical inquiry. 

Many programs strive to graduate physical therapists who are scholars, who optimize movement, and who advance the profession and practice with contemporary knowledge, skills and abilities. But, Whitworth’s program also strives to graduate physical therapists who see the world as their mission field; who because of the integration of faith and learning value and exhibit the traits of servant-leaders and global citizens. 

While all courses will support this student development, each semester will include a dedicated professional formation course specifically designed to help students explore leadership, worldviews, spirituality, professionalism, ethics, cultural competency, personal well-being, and teaching and learning. Students will practice interprofessional collaboration while engaging in contemporary clinical practice and community outreach in Spokane.

Students will take courses and complete the DPT program as part of a cohort of about 40 students. Because the cohort will stay together throughout the program, students will have the opportunity to develop a strong sense of community and participate in collaborative learning.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

Occupational therapy is an important health and rehabilitation profession that helps people of all ages to adapt and participate fully in daily life activities. Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 16 percent in the next decade.

Whitworth’s new OT program, designed as a full-time, three-year sequence, will prepare graduates to work in healthcare, community and educational settings. The program will provide hands-on classes integrated with other health and human service graduate courses to facilitate professional development.

Students can expect to complete this program in nine consecutive semesters. Whitworth’s OT graduates will be prepared to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in patient care, health science education, research and service, particularly to the underserved populations of the region. 

“Launching our DPT and OTD programs marks the beginning of a new chapter in Whitworth’s history, as we seek to expand graduate programs in the health sciences,” Whitworth Provost Gregor Thuswaldner says. “Whitworth is now fully living out its mission as a comprehensive Christian liberal arts university.” 

Students in Whitworth’s doctoral programs and Master of Science in Athletic Training program will be the first to benefit from a new, state-of-the art, 38,000-square-foot health sciences building opening this fall. The Dana & David Dornsife Health Sciences Building will include a motion analysis research lab, exercise physiology labs, anatomy labs, simulation labs, dedicated classroom and functional lab spaces to support the unique needs of each of its health programs, and an interprofessional practice clinic. The new facilities reflect Whitworth’s commitments to quality, accessibility, environmental sustainability, and faculty, student and staff support.

For more information about Whitworth’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, including application deadlines and tuition cost, please click here. To learn more about Whitworth’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, click here

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or