Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)



First Advisor

Wenfan Yan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Robert Millward D.Ed.

Third Advisor

George Bieger, Ph.D.


Education for physical therapists has evolved to the doctorate of physical therapy degree and it is the vision of the American Physical Therapy Association that all physical therapists will be doctoral prepared by the year 2020. Most physical therapists do not have the DPT and prior studies have revealed that interest in the DPT is low for practicing physical therapists. This study examined the motivation of physical therapists to attain the DPT, by examining three areas of interest. What effect do extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors have on physical therapists decision to return to school for the doctorate in physical therapy? What factors and demographic trends influence physical therapists’ decision to return to school for the transitional doctorate of physical therapy? And how does motivation differ for therapists who return for the DPT compared with the therapists who do not return for the DPT? A survey was constructed using the achievement goal theory as a paradigm to examine motivation. The surveys were mailed to a random sample of physical therapists in Pennsylvania and to a targeted group of transitional DPT students and graduates to augment this small population. A total of 528 surveys were analyzed utilizing analysis of variance, chi square and discriminate analysis. Three distinct groups were identified through data analysis. Those that have already completed the DPT, those not interested in the DPT and those that are interested, but have not yet made the commitment to go back to school. The means for intrinsic and extrinsic motivation were significantly different for the three DPT interest groups. Several demographic variables were also factors for interest in the DPT degree. Age, years experience, APTA membership status, administrative status, clinical instructor status, primary practice setting, entry-level degree, gender and employment status were all significantly different for the three DPT interest groups. This study also concluded that therapists that are interested in the DPT and those that have already completed the DPT scored higher for both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on the achievement goal questionnaire than therapists who report no interest in the DPT.