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Program Description


The Physical Therapy program at Winston-Salem State University was established in 1993 as a Bachelors of Physical Therapy degree granting program. Since that time, the program has continued to fulfill its mission to increase the numbers of minority physical therapists in the state and the nation. The Bachelors program transitioned to a Master’s degree program in 1999 after obtaining approval from the North Carolina Board of Governors. The first Master’s degree students entered the program in May 2000 and became one of only six accredited post-baccalaureate physical therapy education programs in the country based on a campus of a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and the only one in North Carolina. In April, 2010, the North Carolina Board of Governors approved the transition of the Master’s degree program to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, thereby establishing the first doctoral degree at Winston-Salem State University. The program previous had the distinction of being the first graduate degree program on campus. The program remains fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education.

Description of Department

Housed within the F.L. Atkins Building in the School of Health Sciences, the Department of Physical Therapy consists of 12 full-time faculty positions, several associated/adjunct faculty members, full-time administrative staff, a full-time laboratory coordinator, and approximately 80 graduate students. State-of-the-art facilities include: approximately 8700 sq ft of dedicated classroom, office and laboratory space; including a 2000 sq ft Human Performance and Biodynamics Laboratory shared with Wake Forest University (WFU), Department of Orthopaedics. This laboratory contains a full complement of motion analysis, EMG, force platforms, pressure mapping, neuromuscular and postural assessment equipment along with virtual reality rehabilitation technology. The program also has access to space at the Walkertown Community Care Center which is the largest and most comprehensive free clinic in North Carolina. The program has access throughout the week to patient care rooms, a diagnostic clinical laboratory, imaging equipment, and a full range of practicing professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, medical translators, etc) who provide volunteer service for over 17,000 uninsured individuals whose income is 200% below the federally defined poverty level. Students also participate in a mobile clinic that provides services throughout eastern Winston-Salem Community as well as a pre-operative clinic for spasticity management. Recent expansion includes access to a 4,000 square foot virtual hospital with adult, pediatric and infant human patient simulators.

Students have access to the on-campus O'Kelly Library as well as to the Wake Forest University Medical Library and its Gross Anatomy and Pathology classrooms and labs. The rigorous 3 year program challenges and develops students year round. A new class is admitted each January with completion of program requirements occurring in the 9th semester of the third year. Clinical experiences at over 200 affiliated sites are interspersed throughout the curriculum. Students spend a total of 36 weeks at four different clinical sites under the direct supervision of highly experienced and dynamic clinical instructors.

Departmental Philosophy

In keeping with the mission of WSSU, the Physical Therapy Department will develop practitioners who engender the values of social and professional responsibility, integrity, scholarship, cultural competency and leadership, as well as personal and professional development. Graduates will discover, create, transmit, and apply knowledge to address the needs of individuals and society in order to fulfill the published objectives of the University of North Carolina Tomorrow document. The program will continue to increase the number of minority physical therapists in the state and the nation. This overall statement of program principles and values is also reflected in the curricular themes, which are selected based on relevance to the changing scope of practice and responsibilities of today’s physical therapist. Graduates must now function as both independent and interdisciplinary health care providers, patient care managers, educators, researchers, and administrators. WSSU graduates will be prepared for this challenging practice environment through the emphasis of the following themes.

Principles and Values

  • Social and professional responsibility
  • Integrity
  • Cultural competency
  • Leadership
  • Personal and professional development
  • Scholarship and evidence-based practice


  • Average GPA of 2020 cohort: 3.5
  • Average GRE of 2020 cohort: 305
  • Average Graduation Rate (2019-2020): 100%
  • NPTE First Time Pass Rate (2019-2020): 98.1%
  • Ultimate NPTE Pass Rate over last 2 years: 100%
  • Employment Data (2019-2020): 100% of graduates who successfully pass the licensure exam are employed post-graduation.