Vol. 3 No. 2    ISSN 1540-580X 

On the Cutting Edge – A Successful Distance PhD Degree Program: A Case Study

Leah Nof, PT, PhD1
Cheryl Hill, PT, PhD1
  1. Professor, Physical Therapy, College of Allied Health and Nursing, Nova Southeastern University

Citation: Nof, L., Hill, C. On the cutting edge - A successful distance PhD degree program: A case study. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. April 2005. Volume 3 Number 2.

Background and Purpose:
Distance education has witnessed steady growth in higher education since its beginnings. During the 1990s, growth in the number of educational programs that were time and place independent was rapid. This article is about a unique program - a Ph.D. PT degree program-- the first and only Ph.D. in Physical Therapy offered in distance education format in the United States. This report discusses the design, implementation, and experiences gained in setting a PhD program in distance format. Model Description and Evaluation: This program is an on-line/residency hybrid model where the majority of work is carried out on-line using WebCT. Midway through each 5-month semester, students come to campus for the residency component of the course. The program includes both required and elective courses, as well as a research dissertation. Students provide individual evaluations of each course. Formal outcome studies will be conducted when a sufficient number of students have graduated. Outcomes: Individual course feedback from students has been very positive, and the graduates’ work placements signal recognition from the professional community of the quality of the program. Discussion and Conclusion: As the profession moves toward the entry-level doctoral degree, this model will enhance opportunities for physical therapists to pursue a PhD degree, and one specific to the profession of physical therapy.

Keywords and terms: Distance-education, PhD, Physical Therapy, Program Development

Acknowledgement: A special thanks to Drs. Stanley Wilson and Debra Stern for their review of the content and assistance in the recollection of events as they occurred, and to Dr. Neil Starr for his editorial assistance.

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