Our History

For over 70 years, the University of Colorado’s Physical Therapy Program has educated physical therapists to serve in the world of health care. The Program was the first civilian professional program situated in the Rocky Mountain region, awarding a certificate in Physical Therapy to its first class of six students in 1948.

The graduating classes of the Program have supplied over 2,000 new therapists, many of whom have contributed to, or continue to support the growth of physical therapy services in the Rocky Mountain region.

A Brief History of the CU Physical Therapy Program
A Tradition of Excellence in PT Education

1947 – University of Colorado Physical Therapy Program received initial accreditation from the Council of Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association and the American Physical Therapy Association
1948 – The first class graduated with a Certificate in Physical Therapy
1968 – 37 students earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Therapy
1990 – 48 students earned a Master of Science Degree in Physical Therapy in 24 months
2007 – 36 students earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree (DPT)
2010 – Reviewed for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in March 2010, receiving full and unconditional ten-year accreditation
2011 – The first students were accepted into the new Rehabilitation Sciences PhD Program 
2012 – The first students were accepted into the new Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program, overseen by JFK Partners
2016 – First year of graduation of a revised curriculum that includes a pre- and post-graduation yearlong internship of the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree
1998 – The first scholarship, the Physical Therapy Rural Scholarship Fund, was established by a grateful patient
2012 – Physical Therapy Scholarship and Endowment Advisory Board was established to expand our ability to provide scholarships to current and incoming students
2016 – Reached $1 million in scholarships and endowments to support student scholarships
2019 – The Joanne Posner-Mayer Endowed Chair in Physical Therapy is established, created specifically to recognize and support the CU PT Program’s continued growth and development
1999 – Program opens the region's first research laboratory, the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis, in conjunction with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at CU and The Children’s Hospital Colorado's Departments of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation
2000 – Human Performance Laboratory (HPL) opens, the first research laboratory for the PT Program
2003 – First large National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant awarded to a PT faculty member
2009 – The Interdisciplinary Movement Science Laboratory (IMSL) was established with funding from the School of Medicine Academic Enrichment Funds
2011 – Geriatric Education and Research Offices (GERO) were established for PhD students and research assistants
2016 – Reached $16 million in extramural research dollars through 2016
2018 – GERO is renamed to the CU Rehabilitation Science Consortium. The GERO, HPL, and IMSL are all grouped under the Consortium, providing a space for research assistants, post-doctoral fellows, and PhD students participating in faculty research

1998 – Program begins involvement with Stout Street Clinic
2001 – A sister school agreement is established with the Department of Physical Therapy, Yamagata Prefectural University of Health Sciences, Yamagata Japan
2009 – Night Owls involvement begins
2015 – DAWN, an interdisciplinary student-run free clinic that serves uninsured patients from the Aurora community, opens

2004 – Consolidation of the University of Colorado Downtown Denver Campus and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center into one entity
2004 – Program is moved into the School of Medicine 
2007 – Program moved to the new Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado
2016 – Collaborative Agreement was established between CU Physical Therapy and University of Colorado Hospital to enhance educational, clinical and research opportunities
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