Monday, August 7, 2023

By Amanda A. Taylor-Uchoa

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – AUG. 7, 2023 – UTRGV will offer a new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program starting summer 2025, to increase the number of trained therapists in the Rio Grande Valley and access to therapy services. 

The program, organized under the UTRGV Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Health Professions, will have an anticipated cohort of 40 students per year. 

The 113-hour program, approved by both THECB (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) and SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges), requires more credit hours than most programs in Texas due to additional courses on diabetes, medical Spanish terminology, interprofessional education, wound care management and preventative care. 

Those specific courses provide additional education pertaining to healthcare challenges in the region that are expected to become increasingly major challenges to healthcare systems in Texas and the country.

As a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) strategically located on the border with Mexico, UTRGV has placed a primary focus on being a bilingual, bicultural and biliterate university with programs in both Spanish and English.

Dr. Michael Lehker, dean of the UTRGV College of Health Professions, said the approved Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a two-decade dream finally realized. With the onboarding of Dr. Mark Lester as founding chair and program director, he said, they are on track to admit the first class in summer 2025.

“The DPT program is a tremendous win for our students, communities and healthcare workforce,” Lehker said. “Very soon, our talented students wanting to pursue a physical therapy school will no longer have to leave the Valley and be burdened with the high tuition and fees many other PT schools charge.”

The DPT program will draw upon collaborations with existing programs at UTRGV, such as occupational therapy, communications disorders, medicine, physician assistant, nursing and others.

Classes will be held in person on the UTRGV Edinburg Campus, complete with upgraded classrooms to incorporate digital projectors and anatomical models.

Development and approval for the DPT program followed the established faculty and administrative processes, and the program already has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). 

Curriculum is designed to meet the professional standards mandated by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

UTRGV plans to pursue accreditation by CAPTE so that graduates will be eligible to sit for the licensing exam and obtain certification to practice.

For more information on the program, visit the program page here or visit the College of Health Professions website here.  


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.