The study of physical therapy began in Chapel Hill in April 1952 when the North Carolina Memorial Hospital opened its doors. Dr. Margaret Moore developed the first physical therapy clinical program at the hospital, where she was chief of the department until 1954. In July 1957, Moore became the director of the Division of Physical Therapy—a viable combination of education and service commitments in the hospital and School of Medicine. Moore was director of the program until 1974. In 1959, Shirley Cloninger Fisher was the first graduate to receive a physical therapy degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.
UNC-CH was one of the first institutions to offer post-professional training to physical therapists. Our master’s program in physical therapy, established in 1975, offered a Master’s of Clinical Teaching (MACT) degree that focused on college teaching. As we developed a greater focus on research, we shifted to a master’s program in physical therapy and, in the early 1990s, the degree changed again from a master’s in physical therapy to a master’s in human movement science. This change and the need for more well-trained physical therapist researchers was the basis of our efforts to establish the PhD program in Human Movement Science in 1999. We now have more than 1,600 graduates from our programs across the U.S., Canada, Asia, India, and Europe. We are very fortunate that many maintain close ties with Carolina.