Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapy Programs
General Program Description
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program provides the required educational preparation for a professional career as a physical therapist. Program graduates are knowledgeable, self-assured, adaptable, reflective, and service-oriented practitioners who by virtue of critical thinking and ethical values render informed and independent judgments concerning patient/client needs, promote the health and quality of life of the client, and enhance the professional foundations for practice. These practitioners contribute to society and the profession through practice, teaching, administration, and the discovery and application of new knowledge about physical therapy. The educational philosophy of the program is to maximally challenge each student and facilitate his or her development of skills for life-long learning, professional development, and leadership. The three-year program consists of eight consecutive semesters (fall, spring, summer, fall, spring, summer, fall, and spring) totalling 115 graduate credits. The first two years are focused on academic and clinical course work including a total of 18 weeks of clinical rotations in five settings. The curriculum in the first two years is system-based, with whole semesters focused on musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and neurological physical therapy. The third year is intended to be integrative. It consists of a 16-week full-time clinical rotation in one semester and a three-day per week clinical rotation in the other. During this latter semester, students spend Tuesdays and Thursdays in a unique case-based/team based curriculum which is intended to help students integrate across the different practice specialties. Graduation occurs at the time of the university ceremonies in May. USC’s DPT Program was one of the first DPT programs in the nation and in May of 2013, it graduated its sixteenth class of DPTs. The Division has three faculty practice sites; one hospital-based and two out-patient facilities. The Division also offers the MS and PhD degrees for advanced research training, and four residency programs for specialized training in Orthopedic, Neurologic, Pediatric, and Sports Physical Therapy. The physical therapy program at USC is one of the premier programs in the country. This distinction derives from a mission that includes the advancement of physical therapy education, practice, and research. Because of this, students benefit from a dynamic learning environment where patient care and research are actively integrated.
The clinical education program is designed to provide relevant clinical experiences throughout the curriculum. Students have 2-week clinical clerkships in the middle of the second, third, and fourth semesters and 6-week clerkships during each of the first two summers. The third year is divided into two semesters each comprised of a 16-week clinical clerkships (one 5-days/week and one 3-days/week). The total time spent in clinical clerkships over the three years is approximately equivalent to 50 weeks.
Faculty are national and international leaders engaged in teaching, research, and clinical practices with a focus on increasing the quality and understanding of physical therapy practice and science. There are 25 full-time and 74 adjunct and clinical faculty members in the Division. All of the 22 core DPT faculty have earned doctoral degrees. The core faculty averages two publications per year in peer-reviewed journals. The ratio of core faculty to students is 1 to 13. The average faculty to student ratio during laboratory experiences is 1 to 10.
Total enrollment for the university is 40,000. There are 282 entry-level DPT students (approximately 94 in each year of the program) and 55 advanced students (MS, PhD, clinical residencies).
Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree to be admitted to the DPT program. Although the minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) that is preferred for admission is 3.0 and the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores required are 500 in each of the verbal and quantitative portions (or 150 in each section if taking the “revised” general test), most applicants are well above these requirements. International applicants are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Applicants must also complete the following prerequisites with a C or better: 4 semesters in the biological sciences including human anatomy and human physiology with lab (as separate courses); 2 semesters each of college physics and college chemistry with lab (organic chemistry and/or biochemistry is preferred); 1 course in college statistics, and 2 courses in psychology. Kinesiology, exercise physiology, child development or growth and development, motor learning, neurobiology or physiological psychology, general biology, and a cross-cultural course in sociology are highly recommended. Candidates should be computer literate. Prior clinical experience in a physical therapy setting is highly recommended (in the volunteer or paid capacity). USC participates in the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) and applications are available annually during the beginning of July and the deadline is December 1. Admission decisions are made beginning in January and continue until a full class is seated. The program begins each year in late August. Health insurance coverage is required during the academic and clinical portions of the curriculum (USC health insurance may be waived with proof of other current coverage). In the past year, 1174 persons applied, and from that number 96 students were enrolled.
On average, 94% of admitted students graduate on time from the program; total graduation rate is 97%. All graduates have received offers of employment within six months.
Tuition, fees and financial aid
Tuition for the 2014-15 academic year is $57,940 (three semesters for first and second year students). Tuition for third year students is $35,006 (two semesters only). USC is a private university, therefore, state residency is not required. There is limited student housing available, but most students arrange their own housing accommodations within local communities. Almost all DPT students receive some form of financial aid, usually in the form of loans. However the Division offers a variety of scholarships to students, based on both need and merit. In 2014-15, the Division provided over $250,000 in scholarship support to DPT students across all three years of the program.
The University of Southern California is located in beautiful Los Angeles, which is known as one of the most diverse, multi-cultural centers in the world. Southern California has something to offer everyone. It has a plethora of prominent medical facilities, cultural events, extraordinary natural and historical sites, as well as offering gorgeous beaches and snow covered mountains all within a two-hour drive. Its natural environment is like no other. Los Angeles is a city residing in the middle of a very diverse community. It is the center of the entertainment industry; the place where glamour, Hollywood, film, and mystique live and breathe. There is a multitude of cultural centers in and around Los Angeles ranging from museums to libraries, as well as being a city with an exceptional wealth of hospitals, treatments centers, and outreach programs.
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