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PLEASE NOTE: No new students are being admitted.

All currently enrolled students must complete the program by August 2018.

STAIRS Program Overview

STAIRS (Specialized Training of Occupational and Physical Therapists in Early Intervention and Related Services) is a training program supported by the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education 2008-2012. It is designed to increase the number and quality of occupational and physical therapists providing services to infants, toddlers, and school-aged children with disabilities and their families. STAIRS provides academic training to better prepare occupational and physical therapists for employment in pediatric environments. It also aims to increase the number of therapists who are culturally and linguistically diverse and/or have disabilities to serve children with special needs.

Under federal law, states are required to provide multidisciplinary early intervention (EI) services to infants with disabilities (birth to three) and their families (Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004- Public Law 108-446). Further, Part B of the IDEA provides for physical and occupational therapy services for school-aged children with special needs. Consequently, there is an increasing demand for occupational and physical therapists trained to work with children 0-21 and their families. The STAIRS program offers that specialized training, focusing on the various needs of children with disabilities during their lifespan. Further, foundational courses are provided to enhance the professional education of licensed occupational and physical therapists, bridging the gap in their entry-level educational program and the current professional preparation for a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. We are unable to admit Occupational Therapists into program at this time.

Online Post-Professional (transitional) DPT Program

The Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch–Galveston (UTMB) provides an online post-professional DPT program for physical therapists with experience in pediatric settings, including early intervention settings, NICUs and school-based programs.

Courses that contribute to the post-professional DPT degree:

  • Therapy Intervention in the NICU (3 credits)
  • Therapy Intervention in Early Intervention Settings (3 credits)
  • Therapy Services in Educational Environments (3 credits)
  • Assistive and Adaptive Technology (3 credits)
  • Family-Centered and Community-Based Intervention (3 credits)
  • Evidence-Based Practice (3 credits)
  • Imaging (1 credit)
  • Pharmacology (1 credit)
  • Medical Spanish for Rehabilitation Specialists (2 credits)
  • Differential Diagnosis in Physical Therapy (2 credits)
  • Special Topics in Management (2 credits)

Students may take the Evidence-Based Practice course at any time it is offered if they are working in a pediatric setting. Otherwise that course should follow the successful completion of the other pediatric-content courses.

Cost per 3 credit course (without medical insurance fee): Approximately $1,300 for in-state students; approximately $2,400 for out-of-state students. Costs are less for 1 and 2 credit courses.

Awarding of the DPT degree has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Each course is taken for graduate credit. The official transcript and course syllabus may be submitted by the student to their professional licensing agency for CC (continuing competence) consideration. Please see your state licensing agency's website for details.

Methods of instruction include:

  • Independent study and review of relevant literature and web sites
  • Discussion board postings and interactions
  • Videos of early intervention and school-based service provisions
  • Observations of children, families, and therapists providing intervention services


  • Diverse training program faculty include physical and occupational therapists experienced in providing services to children
  • Supportive STAIRS Advisory Board comprised of area therapists, early intervention program directors, state early intervention and public education leaders, and parents/caregivers of children with disabilities
  • Solid educational program with reputation for producing outstanding clinicians and professional leaders
For more information, contact:
Christine P. Baker, PT, EdD
P: 409-772-3068 (Central Time)