UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy MS Scholarship

Improving the Quality of Care

Recognizing an urgent need for physical therapists with expertise in treating Multiple Sclerosis, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society teamed with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy to develop a ground-breaking scholarship and education track that benefits four Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students each year. The UNC Physical Therapy MS curriculum is the only one of its kind in the country and seeks not only to produce clinicians with a thorough understanding of MS, but also to educate the physical therapy community at large and develop teaching strategies that can be emulated by other PT programs.

Our goal is to improve the quality of care for individuals with MS by increasing the number of physical therapists who have specialized MS knowledge, clinical expertise, and experience. To reach this goal, the MS Scholarship Committee seeks to create a permanent MS Scholarship endowment at the Medical Foundation of NC, Inc. that will generate the annual investment income necessary to provide scholarship support and the resources needed for faculty curriculum development.

National Need


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.5 mil worldwide. Physical therapy is often the only treatment that can positively impact those MS patients who, to date, have not responded to pharmacological advances.

Physical therapists provide a full spectrum of care for individuals with MS by instructing them in new movement strategies to relieve pain and improve balance and mobility. PTs can help reduce fatigue and enable patients with MS to feel and function their best at home and at work.

North Carolina Need

About 11,000 North Carolinians are living with MS. The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society realized the paucity of physical therapists trained in the treatment of multiple sclerosis a few years ago when they were asked to provide a list of physical therapists with expertise in treating MS patients. The chapter could not identify any PTs who met that criterion.

Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society’s Commitment

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Realizing that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has one of the premier programs in Physical Therapy education in the nation, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society has partnered with the Division of Physical Therapy to fund a MS physical therapy scholarship and education track, which has benefited four DPT students annually since 2007.

In 2013, the Chapter renewed a three-year commitment to provide the funding for UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy student scholarships for the 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16 academic years. In addition, the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society committed resources for our faculty's curriculum development activities, including follow-ups with on-site clinical preceptors, student evaluations, curriculum evaluation, faculty student mentorship, and academic advising.

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Building the Endowment

We now seek tax-deductible contributions from alumni, colleagues, friends, and others to build a permanent endowment at the Medical Foundation of NC Inc. that will generate annual investment income to support four UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy scholarships and provide the resources needed for curriculum development. Our long-term goals for the UNC Chapel Hill MS Physical Therapy endowment are to:

  • Attract exceptional students from North Carolina and around the world to become physical therapists with MS expertise,
  • Create an innovative and cutting edge curriculum,
  • Improve the quality of care for individuals with MS, and
  • Build the national reputation of the UNC Chapel Hill Division of Physical Therapy as a center of MS excellence

Leading the Nation

It is our wish to make the UNC PT/MS scholarship become self sustaining so that it is a permanent addition to the physical therapy curriculum. We hope you will consider helping us to identify individuals who might be interested in making a lasting investment in improving the care for individuals with MS.

UNC PT Points of Pride

High national rankings—US News and World Report ranked UNC Physical Therapy:

  • 11th out of over 200 programs in 2008 and
  • 4th ranked public university

Exceptional students—95-100% of our UNC Chapel Hill Physical Therapy DPT graduates pass the boards on the first try.

Areas of interest—Orthopedics, MS, neuromuscular, pediatrics, sports-related physical therapy

Quality education programs—We offer three challenging graduate level-degree programs to educate the nation’s best physical therapists and human movement science researchers:

  • Entry to Profession Doctor of Physical Therapy (eDPT)
  • Transitional Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy (tDPT)
  • Interdisciplinary Human Movement Science (PhD)

Faculty and research excellence—Our Center for Human Movement Science now features the Interdisciplinary Human Movement Research Laboratory with the capacity to offer virtual reality research experience.

Accomplished alumni—We are very proud of our over 1,300 alumni with accomplishments ranging from becoming president of the American Physical Therapy Association to being in the state legislature or being prolific contributors to the physical therapy literature

Meet the 2013-14 UNC PT MS Scholarship Recipients

“I would like to offer a sincere thank you to the National MS Society, Greater Carolinas Chapter, for the opportunity to learn as a MS Scholarship recipient.  I am excited to continue to learn with and from others through the MS STEP UP program.  I was drawn to physical therapy because of the opportunity to combine academic knowledge and interpersonal skills in creative ways to enrich people’s lives.  I have enjoyed getting to do so throughout the last year as I have worked with individuals diagnosed with MS.  This scholarship allows me many opportunities to develop a more in-depth understanding of the disease and the ways we as therapists can provide effective neurological rehabilitation.  I hope to continue to enhance my education on the MS population as I go into my last year of this track.  With this knowledge and experience, I hope to educate patients and collaborate with other medical professions to help with the unique challenges faced by people with MS.  Thank you again to all who support this scholarship.  I look forward to giving back to the NC and MS communities as I continue to expand my knowledge and experience."
Catherine Leigh Jacobs, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2014


“I want to thank the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society and the UNC Division of Physical Therapy for the amazing opportunity to be part of the MS STEP UP program.  This program allows me to enhance my learning outside of our standard curriculum in order to better serve those with MS.  I am excited to work with the neurological patient population, with a special focus in treating patients with MS by utilizing the skills and knowledge attained through this learning track.  Not only will I work with patients in the clinic, but I will also devote my efforts towards educating people with MS and professionals in the community to help others understand the importance of physical therapy so we may provide the best possible care for the MS patient population.  I look forward to gaining more knowledge and skills in this final year of the MS track!  Again, thank you to the Chapter and Division for this exceptional opportunity and for their support, which helps me towards achieving the education necessary to accomplish these aspirations.”
Audrey Celeste Osinski, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-DPT Class of 2014


"I am deeply thankful to have been awarded the UNC MS Curriculum Scholarship so that I may pursue an academic track with a focus on Multiple Sclerosis. I have always been interested in neurology and knew that I would travel down a career path in neurological rehabilitation. However, for over a year I have been drawn to the MS patient population through wonderful opportunities working closely with them while observing physical therapists that specialize in the this area. I discovered a passion and calling to work with these patients. Additionally, I not only hope to work in the clinic with this population but I would like to explore options in research. In this way, I hope to increase our growing knowledge of this complex disease such as sustainability of quality of life through rehabilitation. I am honored to be a MS Scholar and look forward to contributing to this unique and wonderful Scholarship opportunity.”
Heather Lynn Eustis, MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2015


“Coming to UNC for Physical Therapy was always my dream, though I have realized that becoming a MS Scholar may be the best thing that has professionally happened to me. The opportunities and the challenges associated with the MS STEP UP program are exciting, humbling, and even intimidating because of the magnitude of what previous scholars have accomplished. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society for giving me the privilege to be mentored by some of these previous scholars, neurologists, and other experts in neurological practice. My goals for the program include learning about the medical and psychosocial factors that patients with MS encounter, exploring the latest research and technologies in this field, becoming an advocate for patients with neurological conditions, and empowering patients to effectively manage their conditions. I intend to make my own contributions to this field, spread awareness to my peers and other clinicians as to how to best serve those who live with MS, and continue the tradition of mentoring future MS Scholars.”
Joe William Miller , MS Scholarship Recipient, UNC-EDPT Class of 2015

Make a Gift

Online Credit Card Gifts to the UNC-Chapel Hill Physical Therapy
MS Curriculum & Scholarship Fund

It's easy and secure! Follow the three-step instructions below to make an online credit card gift.

Step 1: Visit the UNC-Chapel Hill PT Online Giving Page

Click here to visit the UNC-Chapel Hill Physical Therapy online credit card gift page.

Step 2: Designate Your Gift

In the designation drop down menu, select Physical Therapy MS Curriculum and Scholarship.

Step 3: Make Your Gift

Please provide the personal and credit card information requested and make your gift. Thank you for your support!


For more information, contact Kyle Gray, Director of Development for the Division of Physical Therapy, at 919.966.3352 or kyle_gray@med.unc.edu.