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Left: Class of 1949; Right: Class of 1954

A Brief History of the CU Physical Therapy Program

A Tradition of Excellence in PT Education


For over 70 years, the University of Colorado’s Program in Physical Therapy 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.

1948-1951   Certificate
1952-1989   Baccalaureate degree
1990-2006   Master of Science degree
2007-present   Doctor of Physical Therapy degree

Other Historic Markers:


The Program received initial accreditation in 1947 from the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association and has maintained an uninterrupted record of approval since that date.  Our Program was most recently reviewed for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) in March 2010.  The report was highly positive, and we received  full and unconditional ten-year accreditation (until 2020). CAPTE has a mechanism to consider formal complaints about physical therapy education programs that allege a program is not in compliance with one or more of CAPTE's Evaluative Criteria or has violated any of CAPTE's expectations related to academic integrity. To obtain the materials necessary for submitting a complaint, contact APTA Accreditation Department at 703-706-3245 or at

Research and Scholarship

To fulfill its mission of research and scholarship, the Program opened the region's first research laboratory, the Center for Gait and Movement Analysis, in 1999 in conjunction with the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at CU and The Children’s Hospital Colorado's Departments of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. In 2000, the second research laboratory, the Human Performance Laboratory, opened a joint venture between the Program and the CU Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.


 In 2001, the Program partnered with the Foothills Park and Recreation District to provide physical therapy services (education, clinical outcomes and service) in a community-based setting as part of a prevention, health and wellness program. This same year, the Program signed an agreement with the Department of Physical Therapy, Yamagata Prefectural University of Health Sciences, in Yamagata, Japan, to share faculty, students and research.

Anschutz Medical Campus

In late 2007 we entered one of the most exciting periods in the history of the University of Colorado  Physical Therapy Program, with our move to the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. Designed as a square-mile center for health-care delivery, research and education, our new home at AMC includes three teaching hospitals, five health professions schools, a health sciences library and a bioscience research enterprise.