Impact of Faculty and Programmatic Resources on the Proportion of Academic Doctoral Degrees in Professional Physical Therapist Education Programs

Tara Dickson, Beth Deschenes, Peggy Gleeson, Jason Zafereo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education has introduced a requirement that 50% of core faculty members in a physical therapist education program should have an academic doctoral degree, which many programs are not currently meeting. Competition between programs for prestige and resources may explain the discrepancy of academic achievement among faculty despite accreditation standards. The purpose of this study was to identify faculty and program characteristics that are predictive of programs having a higher percentage of faculty with academic doctoral degrees. Methods: Yearly accreditation data from 231 programs for a 10-year period were used in a fixed-effects panel analysis. Results: For a 1 percentage point increase in the number of core faculty members, a program could expect a decline in academic doctoral degrees by 14% with all other variables held constant. For a 1% increase in either reported total cost or expenses per student, a program could expect a 7% decline in academic doctoral degrees with all other variables held constant. Programs that have been accredited for a longer period of time could expect to have proportionately more faculty members with academic doctoral degrees. Conclusions: Programs may be increasing their core faculty size to allow faculty with academic doctoral degrees to focus on scholarly productivity. The percentage of faculty with academic doctoral degrees declines as programs increase tuition and expenditures, but this may be due to programs' tendency to stratify individuals (including part-time core faculty) into teaching- A nd research-focused efforts to maximize their research prowess and status. Impact: This study illuminates existing relationships between physical therapist faculty staffing, time spent in research versus teaching, and program finances. The results of this study should be used to inform higher education policy initiatives aimed to lower competitive pressures and the costs of professional education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberpzab030
JournalPhysical Therapy
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

Keywords

  • Academic Capitalism
  • Academic Doctoral Degrees
  • Accreditation
  • Faculty Credentials
  • Fixed-Effects Model
  • Higher Education Finance
  • Professional Physical Therapy Programs
  • Resource Dependence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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