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DPT Hybrid students work on their online assignments


Physical Therapy is traditionally taught in a residential format where students come into a program, learn and practice concepts and techniques and then apply them to patient models to put theory and skills into practice. However, the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program wants to educate aspiring physical therapists, no matter where they are. At the University of Pittsburgh, they can, because DPT is now offered in a hybrid format. Through engaging and interactive teachings with Professor Michael Lebec and Assistant Professor Reivian Berrios Barillas and other instructors; students anywhere in the U.S. can take part in the #1 Physical Therapy program without having to relocate.

“We spend less time physically practicing the hands-on skills in person, but the students complete video homework assignments and immersion sessions to off-set this time. The hybrid students receive ready-made videos of the hands-on skills to review repeatedly to discuss via synchronous sessions and discussion board forums.” explains Berrios Barillas. “Past students have been successful with learning the ‘hands-on skills’ and demonstrating those skills well at the immersions. The students are devoted to learning when they are at the immersions since they know they have a limited time to learn the skills in-person. They quickly learn to wisely manage their time to be successful.”

The program shares the same curriculum as the residential option, but the format and how it is delivered to the students is what differs.

“There has been a lot of collaboration to make sure that the content and the level of rigor between the two formats is consistent. Where they diverge a little bit is in the order in which content is delivered just because online it sometimes makes more sense to do things in a different order,” explains Lebec.

Students can be assured that they will get the appropriate time with professors or instructors, even though they are not physically on campus or in a classroom. Berrios Barillas mentions, “our program is different than other hybrid programs because we maintain strict student:instructor ratios to provide students timely and constructive feedback.”

Thinking that the DPT hybrid option might be for you? What exactly makes a successful hybrid DPT student? You can review and assess your skills and see if the hybrid option might be a perfect match.

Or check out what our current students think of the hybrid option:

What to expect during an immersion – Student Blog

Have questions? Check out our FAQs. Or reach out to to learn more about the DPT Hybrid Option.


Written in collaboration with:

Michael Lebec DPT, PhD, Professor, Doctor of Physical Therapy Hybrid Option

Reivian Berrios Barillas DPT, PhD, Assistant Professor, Doctor of Physical Therapy Hybrid Option

Department of Physical Therapy