Physical Therapy


Department of Physical Therapy Vision

International leadership in education and research in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science.

Department of Physical Therapy Mission

To educate future and current physical therapists, advance practice, foster leadership, contribute to our communities and improve the health of individuals and populations through the discovery, application and exchange of knowledge.

History of the Department of Physical Therapy

The first program in Physical Therapy in Canada was established in the Department of Extension at the University of Toronto in 1929. It was a two-year program followed by six months of clinical practice, leading to a diploma in Physiotherapy. In 1946, the two-year program was lengthened to three years with three months of clinical practice. It remained in the Department of Extension and a diploma was granted in Physiotherapy.

In 1950, the program was transferred into the Faculty of Medicine and combined with Occupational Therapy. The impetus behind combining the programs was financial; in the period following World War II, hospitals often did not have the financial resources for two separate positions. It was also thought that the two professions had a great deal of similarities and the combination of the two would produce a more diversified professional. This program was three years in length with eight months of clinical practice to be completed before graduates could be recognized by the professional associations. Graduates achieved a diploma of Physical and Occupational Therapy.

The combined program continued until 1971, when a four-year Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy was introduced in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine. At this time, 16 weeks of clinical practice were required in two eight-week Modules. The program underwent continual modification throughout the years.

In 1993, the Division of Physical Therapy became the Department of Physical Therapy, thereby achieving increased autonomy over the curriculum and the direction of the program. The four-year direct-entry program consisted of Basic Science courses, Clinical Science courses, Core Physical Therapy courses, seven and a half electives from Arts and Science, and a total of thirty weeks of clinical practice. This curriculum was referred to as the “Classic Curriculum.”

As of 1995, the program became a second-entry level program, three years in length, leading to a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Therapy (BSc(PT)). The program emphasized evidence-based practice, critical thinking and integration of basic and clinical sciences. The program provided a unique exposure to a variety of educational strategies within the University and the community.

A twenty-six month program of the Master of Science in Physical Therapy (MScPT) replaced the BScPT program in 2001. In 2007, the program was consolidated into twenty-four months including twenty-eight weeks of full-time clinical internships plus 66 hours of clinical structure skill sessions that are integrated into the curriculum. The MScPT is a professional program that requires the completion of a four-year undergraduate degree for admission. It enhances and expands upon the foundations of the Evidenced-Based Curriculum through implementation of the enhanced Best Practices. The purpose of the Master’s of Science in Physical Therapy is to graduate academic physical therapy practitioners who will demonstrate:

  1. Best Practices
    Share their knowledge with students, clients, policy makers, and other professionals in academic health science environments.
    Have enhanced competency in clinical skills.
    Participate in clinical and health care research, contributing to the overall body of scientific knowledge.
    Be cognizant of advanced technological practice.
  2. Professionalism
    Have ability to act as self-regulating professionals who exhibit strong personal, moral, and ethical values.
    Be cognizant of the changing laws, codes, and guidelines that impact on themselves and their clients.
    Be creative entrepreneurs with sound business acumen capable of excelling in professional practice in a wide variety of venues.
  3. Leadership
    Serve as role models for students and other health professionals as expert consultants in the fields of movement and physical capacity.
    Serve as strong players with exemplary interpersonal skills, secure in their evolving role within changing health service delivery.
  4. Citizenship
    Be innovative leaders in physical therapy, rehabilitation, and the health system.
    Be strong negotiators and advocates who proactively address interprofessional politics and health policy with an eye to maintaining and improving not only the health of clients but of the health system as a whole.