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The Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center’s (NUPOC) Master of Prosthetics and Orthotics (MPO) is a competitive, 21-month postgraduate degree offering clinically focused education in a research-rich environment within the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Our curriculum prepares students to become proficient, compassionate P&O clinicians, serve persons with physical impairments, apply state-of-the-art research to clinical practice and contribute significantly to the P&O profession.

Blended Learning Format

The MPO is built on a blended learning format where students complete their first two quarters (six months) online. After demonstrating proficiency in fundamental concepts, students attend class at NUPOC’s Chicago campus for four focused quarters (12 months) of hands-on, supervised clinical education. Benefiting from a 1:8 instructor-student ratio during the on campus practicum, students learn hands-on clinical skills with people who actually use prostheses or orthoses. MPO students apply their knowledge and develop skills in assessment, design, fitting and evaluation of prostheses and orthoses for educational models who have physical impairments, including amputations. 

The final quarter (three months) is conducted remotely and offers students the opportunity to focus on an area of special interest while honing their clinical skills prior to beginning their NCOPE-accredited residency (National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education). Students do not need to live in Chicago during this final quarter of the NUPOC MPO program.


 Clinical Sciences

This online course provides an introduction to health and medical conditions commonly encountered in P&O practice, including information about pathologies, impairments, medical and therapeutic interventions, diagnostics and collegial collaboration. It includes basic concepts in epidemiology, etiology, clinical pathology, neuropathology, pharmacology, diagnostic imaging and other technologies and interdisciplinary practice that support P&O practice. Learning activities assist students in integrating this knowledge to form the basis for clinical decisionmaking, building interdisciplinary relationships and P&O practice skills in various clinical settings.

 Materials Science

This course provides an introduction to relevant chemical, physical and structural properties of materials used to design, engineer and apply P&O devices as interventions that facilitate human function. Materials covered include metal alloys, thermoplastics, thermosets, synthetic reinforcement materials, fabrics and soft foam materials. Manufacturing methods and guidelines are discussed from the perspectives of clinical practice, research and development. Occupational safety and human tissue interface concepts are introduced and later integrated into the onsite practicum and laboratory experiences.

 Human Movement Science

This course integrates clinically relevant aspects of human anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, kinesiology and biomechanics. Included are an introduction to motor learning and control principles that support human functioning, as well as clinical concepts in biomedical engineering  and electrophysiology. Onsite coursework will include cadaver prosection, surface anatomy palpation and task analysis to support assessment skills. Each section of this course will relate the didactic concepts to clinical P&O practice. Please note that this course is taught as three separate classes: Human Systems, Anatomy of Movement and Human Movement Science Practicum.

 Principles of Prosthetics-Orthotics Practice

This course highlights the fundamental principles of P&O practice and the relationship of the foundational sciences to the theoretical constructs that guide P&O practice, including human function and impairment, interface mechanics, shape acquisition, suspension, modification and rectification principles, alignment guidelines, component selection, force and power analysis, device creation and functional integration. Practice Analysis of Certified Practitioners in the Disciplines of Orthotics and Prosthetics, is used as a framework for clinical analysis that includes evidence-based practice, problem-solving, inter-professional collaboration and research investigations. These fundamental concepts will be integrated with synchronous, online activities to promote mastery of the practical application of this knowledge during onsite clinical practicum coursework and laboratory experiences. 

 Professional Issues

This course has online and onsite segments covering the exploration and evaluation of sociocultural perspectives of health and disability; rehabilitation science and P&O practice perspectives; professional behavior; relationships with other healthcare professionals, peers, industry and government entities; legal, healthcare and payment systems; and the implications of professional issues on P&O practice and clinical decision-making, both locally and globally. This course is designed to help students explore ethics and values that define their professional and personal roles and responsibilities. By the conclusion of this course, the student will demonstrate professional conduct and develop a plan for lifelong professional development.

 Behavioral Sciences

The online and onsite segments of this course include fundamentals of personality development, self-awareness as a clinical caregiver, personal values and ethics, concepts of self-care and self-health, psychosocial aspects of health and disability and its meaning in the lives of people with disability, the impact of rehabilitation and P&O care on quality of life and principles of effective interpersonal communication. Related activities will be integrated throughout the onsite clinical practicum coursework and laboratory experiences. Please note that this course is taught as two separate classes: Behavioral Sciences 1 and Behavioral Sciences 2.

 Technologies in P&O

This course focuses on the theories and hypotheses of contemporary and emerging technologies used in P&O practice, including technologies employed in assessment/measurement and shape acquisition, structural assessment of materials and components and fabrication machinery and related safety. Discussion will explore psychosocial issues surrounding human/technology integration, the role of P&O professionals and student perspectives. The clinical application of concepts presented didactically online will be integrated into the onsite practicum coursework and laboratory experiences. 

 Supervised Clinical Experience

Guided and reflective professional clinical experiences illustrate the relevance of foundational educational concepts and demonstrate how they are integrated and applied in actual practice. Observations will be offered in multiple settings, including P&O clinical sites, interdisciplinary clinics, acute care hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, manufacturing and central fabrication settings and governmental entities. Structured objectives are established for each placement; review and reflection will be conducted with faculty, clinical supervisors and classmates. Please note that this course is taught as four separate classes: Supervised Clinical Experience 2, 3, 4 and 5.


The online and onsite segments of this course provide the entry-level clinician with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct critical evaluation of published research and to identify the clinical implications for patient care. Topics covered include principles of structured literature reviews, research methodology, ethical considerations in research and human subject trials, clinical impact of research results, evidence-based clinical decisionmaking and utilization of research to expand professional competencies. Please note that this course is taught as three separate classes: Research 1, Research 2 and Research 3. Students will also complete a capstone project that may be suitable for the directed study project required during their residency.


This onsite laboratory course integrates concepts of human movement, physiology, pathology and function with principles of measurement to begin identification of abnormal findings and formulation of potential P&O solutions for a wide range of biomechanical deficits. Content includes provider/client engagement, evidence-driven assessment, tests and measures, assessment techniques, communication skills and impact of assessment on prescription formulation, resource utilization and clinical documentation. 

 Prosthetics/Orthotics Practice

These hands-on, core courses provide a series of supervised clinical experiences and learning exercises that integrate concepts from earlier coursework into clinical practice. Students apply this knowledge by creating and fitting trial prostheses and orthoses for educational models who have neuromuscular impairments, including limb deficiencies. Each module focuses on one specific body segment: head/trunk, upper limb and lower limb. Initial projects introduce basic skills; subsequent experiences involve progressive, more complex challenges and technologies. Students will demonstrate mastery by discussing and applying relevant foundational knowledge to formulate and implement an intervention that enhances an individual’s independence and quality of life. Essential skills include clinical reasoning and judgment, assessment techniques, shape acquisition, basic fabrication skills, patient/client education, follow-up assessment and practice management skills. Affective and psychomotor skills will be rigorously assessed during these onsite laboratory courses to confirm that the graduate will be ready to begin the mandatory structured residency prior to national board examinations. Please note that this course is taught as seven separate classes: Orthotics Practice: Head Spine & Trunk, Orthotics Practice: Upper Limb, Prosthetics Practice: Upper Limb, Orthotics Practice: Distal to Knee, Prosthetics Practice: Distal to Knee, Orthotics Practice: Proximal to Knee and Prosthetics Practice: Proximal to Knee.

 Special Topics

The Special Topics course provides an opportunity for concentrated learning about an area of special interest within the practice domain of P&O. Structured didactic and interactive sessions empower students to investigate areas of personal interest and to collaborate with other students interested in the chosen area of focus. Mentors will be identified to facilitate understanding of more advanced concepts. Potential topics include all domains of the profession’s Practice Analysis, such as emerging knowledge or technologies, specialty areas (e.g., pediatrics) or or business and public policy issues.

 Practice Management

This course provides the second-year master’s student with an overview of business issues, such as reimbursement, financial and legal documentation, cost accounting, personnel, management, quality assurance and facility accreditation. Concepts of professional practice within the context of multiple stakeholders are explored. Participants will develop a basic understanding of the contemporary government/legal, industry and business environment and best practices that support the effective application of clinical skills in different P&O settings. 

Goals & Learning Domains

The goal of the program is "to prepare competent entry-level prosthetists-orthotists in the cognitive, psychomotor and affective learning domains," as outlined by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and NCOPE

The NUPOC MPO program objective is to prepare NUPOC graduates to enter their residency and profession with appropriate skills that effectively demonstrate competence in the following content areas, as defined in CAAHEP's Appendix B, Core Curriculum, Section A, Entry-Level Competencies.

It is also NUPOC’s objective to ensure our graduates are competent in the following three learning domains, as established by NCOPE.

 Cognitive Domain

  • Apply knowledge of anatomy, pathophysiology, injury process and impairments in relationship to P&O treatment plans.
  • Formulate comprehensive treatment plans that integrate knowledge of biomechanics, kinesiology, normal and pathological gait, and material and component selection to improve function and meet patient/client needs in Lower Limb Prosthetics Design.
  • Formulate comprehensive treatment plans that integrate knowledge of biomechanics, kinesiology, normal and pathological gait, and material and component selection to improve function and meet patient/client needs in Lower Limb Prosthetic Suspension Systems.
  • Formulate comprehensive treatment plans that integrate knowledge of biomechanics, kinesiology, normal and pathological gait, and material and component selection to improve function and meet patient/client needs in Lower Limb Orthotics Design.
  • Formulate comprehensive treatment plans that integrate knowledge of biomechanics, kinesiology and material and component selection to improve function and meet patient/client needs in Spinal Orthotics and Scoliosis. 
  • Effectively interpret literature and research methods.

 Psychomotor Domain

  • Perform comprehensive assessments of the patient using standardized assessment tools and skills.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in impression and measurement acquisition.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use appropriate procedures and fabrication processes in the provision of P&O services.
  • Use established recordkeeping techniques to document and record patient assessment, treatment plans, billing and reimbursement. 
  • Demonstrate the skills to conduct and write a literature review.

 Affective Domain

  • Demonstrate sound ethical and professional judgment in clinical patient/client management.
  • Communicate effectively and in a professional manner, both verbally and in writing, with patients, caregivers and other healthcare personnel.

Technical Standards

The following list specifies the technical standards that the faculty deems necessary for a student to matriculate, remain in good standing and ultimately to achieve all the competencies necessary for graduation with the MPO degree. The Feinberg School of Medicine requires applicants to confirm their ability to comply with these standards, with or without accommodation, as a condition of admission to the MPO program.

Feinberg encourages application by qualified students with disabilities who meet these technical standards either with or without accommodations. Information regarding disability accommodations may be obtained through ACCESSIBLENU. Use of an intermediary may be permissible in performing some physical maneuvers or data gathering, but must not substitute for the student’s interpretation and judgment.


Students must be able to observe and interpret custom fabrication demonstrations in the manufacturing laboratory. They must have sufficient visual and auditory acuity to accurately determine and interpret physical findings in patients; and to evaluate the quality of the fitting of a P&O device to the affected portion of the body. The student must also have adequate touch perception to be able to palpate during physical examinations.


Students must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently with patients, families and colleagues to elicit information in both verbal and non-verbal forms. The student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing in English.

 Motor Skills

A student must be able to demonstrate the required motor movements to safely perform basic P&O fabrication tasks and conduct physical examinations, including but not limited to palpation and obtaining accurate measurements and impressions of the affected portions of the body that are to be treated. This requires both gross and fine muscular movements, as well as coordination. The student must be able to adhere to universal precautions while performing these activities.

 Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative & Quantitative Abilities

Students must be able to calculate, measure, reason, analyze and synthesize. Problem solving, which is the most critical skill required of prosthetist-orthotists, demands all of these abilities. Students must be able to participate and learn through a variety of modalities, including, but not limited to, classroom instruction, small groups, team and collaborative activities.

 Behavioral & Social Attributes

Students must possess the stable emotional health required for the exercise of good judgment, the timely completion of responsibilities related to the evaluation and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and colleagues. Students must be able to work collaboratively in a healthcare team and function in stressful work environments such as hospitals and clinics. They must be able to demonstrate reasonable flexibility in adapting to changing work situations.