The Department of Physical Therapy was established in 1945 to provide basic preparation for the practice of physical therapy. Between 1945 and 1954, the program consisted of a 12-month professional course designed to train students for entry into the profession. This program was based upon at least three years of college work or the possession of a registered nurse certificate. A two-year professional program after two years of preparatory college work was initiated in 1954. This program led to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy. In 1968, the Department of Physical Therapy became part of the School of Allied Health Professions. The two-year professional program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree continued through the 1988-89 academic year.
In August 1989, the Department of Physical Therapy, School of Allied Health Professions, began a three-year professional program based on three years of previous college work that leads to a Master of Science degree. On Feb. 8, 2001 the VCU Board of Visitors approved a proposal to offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy as the entry-level professional degree. The State Council of Higher Education in Virginia gave its final approval for the proposal on June 20, 2001. The first class to study the professional program began in July 2002.
In addition to the professional program, the department participates in four collaborative and interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs.