Physical Therapy School Category: Physical Therapy Programs
General Program Description
Western Carolina University offers an entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Each new class is enrolled in August and continues for eight consecutive semesters in a full-time, primarily residential curriculum. Two summer sessions are included in the curriculum. Graduation is in May, two and a half calendar years after enrollment. The final spring semester consists of a January mini-mester focused on health promotion with an on-line didactic component and an individualized service experience that can be international and concludes with a 12-week clinical education experience. The program moved to a beautiful new Health and Human Sciences Building in August 2012 with spacious, custom-designed laboratories, a human movement science laboratory, balance and fall prevention center and inter-professional clinic. The university is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a community-engaged institution and the physical therapy program provides a variety of opportunities for students to become involved in meaningful community-based projects. Other strengths of the program include strong administrative and financial support; a highly-qualified, stable faculty who are committed teachers and productive scholars; an environment conducive to inter-professional collaboration in teaching, research and service; new state of the art facilities and equipment; an anatomy suite with cadaver lab; a human movement science laboratory; a balance and fall prevention clinic; and a fully-staffed physical therapy clinic in the building.
The DPT program has a total of 34 weeks of full-time clinical education experiences. Placements are made to four different clinical sites in accordance with an individualized clinical education plan. The first and second experiences are each six weeks, the third is 10 weeks and the final experience is 12 weeks. Numerous clinical sites throughout western North Carolina and the United States are available. Beginning the first fall semester and continuing throughout the curriculum there are clinical laboratory and service-learning experiences that provide short-term clinical involvement.
Nine full-time faculty members provide the core content supplemented with many associated faculty members who share their expertise in specialized areas. Each faculty member holds exceptional credentials for his/her teaching responsibilities and, collectively, the faculty cover the broad scope of content required in entry-level physical therapy education. All nine full-time core faculty are actively involved in scholarly activity.
Western Carolina University enrolls approximately 9,700 students, with approximately 1,500 graduate students. The Department of Physical Therapy accepts a maximum of 32 students each year.
The physical therapy program is a full-time program and a cohort is admitted in August each year. Application must be made through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) – http://www.ptcas.org/home.aspx. Minimum requirements for admission include an undergraduate degree (major not specified), prerequisite courses, GRE scores, recommendations from 3 persons (at least one physical therapist and one college/university instructor), record of volunteer and/or paid work in physical therapy. Prerequisite courses include: human anatomy (3-4 sh), human physiology (3-4 sh), chemistry (8 sh), general physics (8 sh), and statistics (3 sh). All prerequisite courses must be completed with a minimum grade of C. Science courses must include a laboratory component. Science courses that are more than seven years will be examined for relevance by the faculty. Application deadline is October 1. For the last three classes admitted to the program, the average overall grade point average (GPA) was 3.6; average pre-requisite GPA was 3.7. A summary of data for the past 16 years is available on our webpage.
Graduates of Western Carolina University consistently achieve first-take pass rates on the national licensing examination that exceed state and national averages. The first-time pass rate for WCU graduates taking the exam in 2010 was 92.00%,in 2011 was 95.65% and in 2012 was 88.46%. WCU graduates taking the exam had all completed the two-year master’s program and their performance on the exam was compared to a majority of test-takers who had completed longer, doctoral level programs. The total percentage of WCU graduates who took the National Physical Therapy Examination and passed (ultimate pass rate) for the past 3 years is 99%. Of the admitted students, 91.37% graduate from the program (3-year average) and 99% of those program graduates responding to surveys are employed (3-year average).
Tuition, fees and financial aid
Estimated graduate tuition and fees for 2013-14 are $4445/semester for North Carolina-residents and $10,196/semester for out-of-state residents (http://www.wcu.edu/11177.asp). Summer tuition is estimated at $337 per credit for in-state and $554 per credit for out-of-state residents. On-campus housing in graduate student dormitories is available for approximately $2,800 per semester. Off-campus housing is available in the surrounding area including a variety of apartment complexes within walking distance of the new building. Graduate assistantships are available. A limited number of tuition waivers and other sources of financial assistance are available to well-qualified graduate students. Other financial aid services and loans are available through the university’s Office of Financial Aid.
Western Carolina University provides excellent fitness, individual and team sports facilities, and a University Center with student lounges and galleries, a movie theater, recreation facilities, and food services. Multiple cultural events occur on campus throughout the year such as guest lecturers, concerts and art exhibits. A $28 million Fine Arts Center provides a wide variety of cultural programs. Outdoor sports such as whitewater rafting, fishing, mountain biking, and hiking are available in nearby mountain recreational areas. The campus is approximately 50 miles west of Asheville, the nearest metropolitan area.
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