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OSU-Cascades to launch first doctoral degree, doctor of physical therapy

Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend will launch its first doctoral program, a doctor of physical therapy, in fall 2021.

Students practicing wrist physical therapy

By Staff

Oregon State University-Cascades in Bend will launch its first doctoral program, a doctor of physical therapy, in fall 2021.

The program will leverage research in physical therapy occurring throughout the university, undergraduate kinesiology programs at OSU’s Bend and Corvallis campuses, and the expertise of practitioners in Central Oregon, an area known to attract top athletes and health experts.

The doctoral program aims to address a shortage of physical therapists around the U.S. and Oregon. An estimated 28% more therapists are needed in Oregon by 2027, particularly in rural areas of the state, where populations are at risk for increased disability and disease, and decreased quality of life.

The doctoral program, known as a DPT, was recently approved by the OSU Board of Trustees and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. The program will now be reviewed by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, a national accrediting body.

Christine Pollard, a licensed physical therapist with a PhD in biomechanics, and an associate professor of kinesiology at OSU-Cascades, will serve as the inaugural director of the program.

“The establishment of a doctoral program is a significant achievement in OSU-Cascades’ academic and research evolution,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades. “Christine Pollard is a demonstrated leader, an accomplished researcher, and well-suited to lead the DPT program as its founding director.”

Christine led the development of the doctoral program. She is director of the FORCE Lab, a biomechanical research lab, and developed OSU-Cascades’ popular undergraduate program in kinesiology. She came to OSU-Cascades in 2011 from University of Southern California where she taught and conducted research in USC’s top-ranked DPT program. 

The program will be housed in a state-of-the-art academic building under design and construction on the expanding OSU-Cascades campus. Facilities dedicated to the program include two clinical-skills classrooms with enhanced video capture and presentation capability, biomechanics and exercise physiology laboratories, and a cadaver laboratory.

“Up until now, students have had to leave the state or attend a private institution to earn a DPT, which are expensive and unviable options for a large number of students,” says Christine. “The new DPT program at OSU-Cascades will be an exciting opportunity for students, for researchers, for our community, and for the advancement of health throughout Oregon.”

The program will accept 30 to 50 students annually and graduates will fulfill the requirements to embark on a career in physical therapy.

The three-year program will be delivered fully face-to-face. Students will complete clinical internships hosted at physical therapy clinics in Central Oregon, throughout the state and in neighboring states.

Over time, it is anticipated the doctoral program will employ 10 full-time faculty, as well as adjunct instructors.

More information about the program is available at