Defining Core Faculty for Physical Therapist Education


Background and Purpose: With the rapid transition in professional (entrylevel) educational preparation from the master's degree to the doctoral degree in physical therapist education, the need for doctorally trained faculty is likely to increase substantially. Several different doctoral degrees that may meet the academic qualifications expected of core faculty members currently are offered; however, these doctoral degrees vary widely in their educational focus, rigor, and philosophy. Such differences in doctoral preparation, combined with faculty shortages, have increased the debate over the necessary academic qualifications for people who serve as core faculty members in physical therapist education programs. The purpose of this article is to suggest that the ideal faculty team in professional physical therapist education should include a balance of people possessing terminal academic degrees in physical therapy or a closely related field, people possessing terminal professional clinical degrees with documented clinical specialization, and people possessing terminal academic degrees in foundational sciences with or without physical therapy degrees.

Position and Rationale: A diverse core faculty with a balance of academic training in complementary fields will benefit an education program in many ways, such as providing breadth of expertise, serving to maintain academic standards in doctoral education, and meeting requirements established by accrediting agencies and home institutions.

Discussion and Conclusion: For programs providing professional physical therapist education, a variety of doctorally prepared people should be actively recruited for core faculty positions. Once hired, these faculty members should be vigorously supported and mentored so as to ensure their success in meeting the faculty expectations established by their academic institutions and pertinent accrediting bodies.


Physical Therapy

Document Type





core faculty, academic qualifications, accreditation, terminal degree, doctor of physical therapy degree

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Physical Therapy Education