Mission and History

Everything about the D.P.T. Program's mission and history at Ithaca College.


The mission of Ithaca College's Physical Therapy Program is to graduate physical therapists prepared for autonomous, interprofessional practice who provide compassionate, evidence-based, ethical, legal, and culturally sensitive care to maximize the function, health and wellness of their patients, clients, and society. Our program promotes APTA Core Values along with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that prepares graduates to become life-long learners.


To be an outstanding physical therapist education program that prepares students to serve society.


Accountability, altruism, compassion/caring, excellence, inclusion, integrity, professional duty, social responsibility.

Philosophy of Education

Through a spiraling curriculum focusing on deeper learning, students have a foundation of knowledge, movement systems, clinical skills, and professional formation. They are engaged in learning through didactic study, simulation experiences, interprofessional collaboration, community engagement, experiential learning, clinical practice, scholarship, and service.

Program History

The Physical Therapy Program at Ithaca College has a long and proud history. As the Division of Physiotherapy located in the School of Health and Physical Education, the program was approved by the New York State Education Department and graduated its first class in 1948. Ours was one of the first programs in the nation to award the bachelor degree in physical therapy (most other programs awarded certificates in physical therapy with bachelor degrees in other disciplines). Beginning in 1959 seniors attended classes at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Bronx Municipal Hospital Center. This year also marked the first year that the program was accredited.

In 1961 the current South Hill campus in Ithaca opened and classes were relocated from a variety of downtown locations to the main campus. In 1971 the Division of Physical Therapy became housed in the new School of Allied Health Professions. Major curricular revisions began with the freshman class of 1978, providing a more balanced educational experience between the Ithaca and Bronx campuses. When the new School of Health Sciences and Human Performance was created in 1989, the program was incorporated into this unit as the Department of Physical Therapy.

In 1991 the senior year of the program (and then what would later be the fifth or graduate year) was moved from the Bronx campus to an Ithaca College facility in Rochester, New York, and a new affiliation began with the University of Rochester and Strong Memorial Hospital. A milestone occurred in 1993: we graduated the last class in the bachelor degree program, appropriately termed “the B.S. stops here.” In the following year, 1994, we graduated our first class with the master of science degree in physical therapy.

The doctor of physical therapy (DPT) degree program was approved by Ithaca College Board of Trustees and the New York State Education Department in May 2004. Students entering as freshmen since 2006 are able to fulfill the requirements for a DPT in six years of study. From 2005-2010, students in the five-year BS/MS degree program -- as well as recent IC graduates -- had the option to obtain a transitional DPT degree by taking additional courses following completion of the MS degree.

In June 2013, Ithaca College president Tom Rochon announced that the physical therapy program would be united on the main campus on South Hill starting in the fall of 2014. As part of this history making program unification, state of the art motion analysis research and anatomy lab dissection facilities were created in Ithaca.

Our physical therapy program continues to provide outstanding educational experiences throughout the liberal arts and professional components of our program. By incorporating innovative teaching techniques in our instruction, actively conducting scholarly and professional activities, and serving the community, institution, and professional organization, we ensure that the program continues to evolve to remain responsive to the needs of the public and to changes within our profession.