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Author Notes:

Please address all correspondence to Zoher Kapasi, Division of Physical Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, 1462 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322 (zkapasi@emory.edu).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

This study was deemed exempt from review by the Institutional Review Board of Emory University.



  • Dual degree programs in physical therapist education
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Public Health

The Role of Dual Degrees in the Physical Therapist Education Program at Emory University


Journal Title:

Journal of Physical Therapy Education


Volume 29, Number 4


, Pages 31-39

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Background and Purpose: The increasing complexity of medical care in the United States calls for providers to become leaders in various aspects of health care. Combining clinical skills with knowledge of public health and the business/administrative side of health care allows health care providers, including physical therapists, to effectively manage and navigate the changing health care environment and become leaders in their field. The purpose of this paper is to describe the method and process of successfully establishing dual degree programs in business and public health and in the physical therapist education program at Emory University. Method/Model Description and Evaluation: The process for institutional level agreements, curricular structure, admissions process, and graduation requirements for dual degree program students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Health (MPH) at Emory University is described in this paper. Additionally, 2 surveys were conducted: 1 survey of all students in 3 DPT classes (n = 201) and the other survey of dual degree program graduates as of 2013 (n = 8). The surveys evaluated student awareness of the dual degree programs during the DPT program application process and characteristics and perceptions related to the dual degree programs. Outcomes: Eighty-three percent of all students indicted that they were aware of the dual degree programs while applying to our DPT program and 6% indicated it was a key deciding factor in their decision to apply to our program. The graduating grade-point average (GPA) and first time pass rate on the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE) licensure of the dual degree students in the DPT program is at least equal to that of the overall DPT class graduating the same year. Moreover, 86% of dual degree program graduates indicated that it made them a more competitive job candidate. Discussion and Conclusion: In addition to fostering interprofessional education, the dual degree programs at Emory show positive outcomes, as all graduates indicated that their dual degree positively impacted their careers, and the majority reported specifically using their dual degree in their career. Also, the graduating GPA and first time pass rate on the NPTE of the dual degree students in the DPT program is at least equal to that of the overall DPT class graduating the same year, suggesting that the burden of an additional course of study was not adversely impacting their performance in the DPT program. At Emory University, the dual DPT/MBA and DPT/MPH programs have been designed to provide students with the necessary clinical, business, administrative, policy analysis, and public health perspectives required to excel as leaders in the future health care system.

Copyright information:

© Education Section, American Physical Therapy Association.

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