Doctorate of Physical Therapy description of clinical education

The clinical component of the physical therapy program at Wayne State University prepares you to become the physical therapist you are aspiring to become. Your clinical experiences will allow you to graduate, “hit the ground running” and practice in the area of your choosing. 

Opportunities for clinical experiences exist in hospitals, outpatient facilities, sub-acute care sites, long-term care facilities, school systems, home health agencies, private practices, and more.

Students play a critical role in the site selection process of their clinical experiences and are able to provide their preferences via a computerized matching system. Participation in the selection process allows flexibility to choose specific experiences based on interest or locations that are convenient to students. Students also have the ability to set up new clinical experiences that are out of town, out of state or out of country. 

Students are able to balance their clinical experiences so that they have opportunities in a variety of clinical settings.  All students have experiences in the following areas of physical therapy:

  • Outpatient orthopedic experience
  • Acute care hospital experience
  • Inpatient rehabilitation and sub-acute care experience
  • Students then have one additional full time experience in the area of their choosing
  • All students have a clinical experience at a minimum of one urban facility

Clinical experiences are offered throughout the entire curriculum, starting in the first year of the DPT program. There are a total of six clinical education courses for a total of 39 weeks of clinical education time. This is well above the average PT program and has been noted as a strength of our program by graduating students.  

Course Number and Name

Professional Year


Weeks in Clinic


PT 5010/Clinical Application 1

Year 1


6 (Wed)   


PT 5070/Clinical Application 2              

Year 2


10 (Tue/Thu)


PT 5800/Clinical Education 1

Year 2




PT 5820/Clinical Education 2

Year 2




PT 8800/Clinical Internship 1

Year 3




PT 8820/Clinical Internship 2

Year 4




The first two clinical education courses, Clinical Application 1 and 2, are integrated with other academic courses and consist of going to a clinic one or two days a week, in addition to participating at the pro bono WSU SAY Detroit Physical Therapy and Diabetes Education and Wellness (DEW) Clinics. These clinical experiences allow students to become socialized in the role of a physical therapist, to practice clinical skills as they are being learned in the classroom, and to transfer classroom knowledge to patient care. 

The Clinical Education 1 and 2 series of courses provides 12 weeks of full-time clinical experiences at the end of the second professional year. This is divided into two six-week clinical experiences and typically consists of an outpatient orthopedic experience and either an acute care or inpatient rehab experience. 

The two remaining courses are full-time clinical internships, which begin after all academic coursework has been completed in the third year. These internships consist of two full-time, 12-week clinical experiences and typically consist of an acute care or inpatient rehab experience and an area of student interest. There are also opportunities for year-long paid internships available for students wishing to pursue this option.

All students participate in the student-run WSU SAY Detroit Physical Therapy pro bono clinic in each year of the professional program. In addition, students participate in interprofessional educational experiences with teams consisting of students in medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, social work, nursing, and physician assistant studies.

Download the DPT description of clinical education