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Department of Physical Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

The physical therapy program at the University of Utah has a long-standing tradition of excellence dating back to the admission of its first class in 1969. This makes the University of Utah program in physical therapy one of the oldest in the region. The current DPT program at the University of Utah reflects the breadth, depth, and necessary rigor of the professional physical therapist education curriculum in response to the current and expected future health care environment. This health care environment includes an enhanced role and higher expectations of the physical therapist, including a commitment to evidence-based physical therapy services and patient care. These skills must be achieved by the completion of an entry-level professional program, which is the outcome expected of our students upon completion of the DPT.

Over 130 students are currently enrolled in our DPT degree program. For the class entering in summer 2011 we received almost 400 applications, and matriculated 45 students. Over the past three years, over 99% of those students who matriculated have graduated, 100% of our graduates have passed the Physical Therapy licensure exam and all those seeking employment are working as Physical Therapists.

  1. Why change to a DPT program?
  2. When was the first DPT class admitted?
  3. What is the "best" undergraduate major for a student?
  4. What prerequisite courses are required for the DPT program?
  5. What GPA is required to apply to the DPT program?
  6. What is a competitive GPA for students applying to the DPT program?
  7. What additional materials are required in the DPT application?
  8. How can I find out more about PTCAS?
  9. Is the GRE required to apply to the DPT program?
  10. Is a dissertation required for the DPT degree?
  11. How many students are accepted into the DPT program?
  12. What semester does the DPT program begin and how long will it take to complete?
  13. Can the DPT program be completed on a part-time basis?
  14. If I'm in high school, how can I prepare for a career in physical therapy?
  15. How can the public or clinicians register concerns or complaints about the educational program?
  16. What is the American Physical Therapy Association?
  17. Why does APTA advocate a doctoral degree?
  18. Is there a ranking of Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant programs?
  19. What factors can one use in deciding on a school?
  20. Where can I find financial aid?
  21. Are the University of Utah and the Department of Physical Therapy accredited?

1. Why change to a DPT program?

The nationwide transition from the baccalaureate degree to the post-baccalaureate professional degree, which has been ongoing in Physical Therapy for over a decade, has been driven by the numerous changes within the healthcare system in the US and the dramatic impact upon the roles and responsibilities of physical therapists. Physical Therapists now assume leadership roles in rehabilitation services, prevention and health care maintenance programs, and community organizations. The scope of practice for physical therapists has also continued to expand over the past decade. As of this date over 80 physical therapist professional education programs, including the University of Utah, have transitioned to awarding the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree consistent with the American Physical Therapy Association's Vision 2020 Statement. Further information may be found on the APTA's website - http://www.apta.org.

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2. When was the first DPT class admitted?

The first class for the University of Utah's DPT Program enrolled in the of Summer of 2005 and graduated in May of 2008.

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3. What is the "best" undergraduate major for a student?

The "best" major is in any area in which the student would enjoy working after receiving their undergraduate degree and should be selected based on the student's interests. The DPT Program does not have a preference as to the major for the baccalaureate degree as long as prerequisite courses are completed. However, a potential major that does include most of the prerequisite courses is either an exercise science or exercise physiology major.

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4. What prerequisite courses are required for the DPT program?

Prior to enrollment in the DPT Program, students must have completed requirements for their baccalaureate degree.
The following are the required prerequisite courses for program admission, which may be taken within the plan for the student's undergraduate degree or as electives:

DPT Course Prerequisites

Must have completed within last 7 years:
Human Physiology – 1 course with lab
Human Anatomy – 1 course with lab
Chemistry (with associated laboratory sections) – 1 year
Physics (with associated laboratory sections) – 1 year

Must have completed within last 10 years:
Upper Division Psychology – 1 course
Trigonometry or Calculus--1 course (college level; AP score of 4 or higher will satisfy this requirement)
Statistics (with ANOVA, correlation & regression testing) – 1 course
First Aid & CPR(must be current)


Note: CPR includes choking, one- and two-man CPR, and adult, child & infant CPR
Additionally, applicants are required to gain experience in a PT environment by working or volunteering with a licensed physical therapist (PT).  We do not require a specific number of hours in any one setting, but do suggest being in the facility with the licensed PT long enough for the PT to become well acquainted with the applicant in order to write one of the required letters of recommendation.  Gaining experience in different settings is not a requirement, but provide the applicant a better appreciation for the differences in physical therapists' responsibilities in different settings.

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5. What GPA is required to apply to the DPT program?

The minimum required cumulative and math/science prerequisite courses grade point average is 3.00 on a 4.00 scale. The minimum grade point must be met at the time of application and maintained until admission.

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6. What is a competitive GPA be for students applying to the DPT program?

Admission to the DPT educational program remains competitive. Over the past 3 years, the GPA for the incoming class has averaged 3.55 on a 4.0 scale

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7. What additional materials are required in the DPT application?

1) Application to the University of Utah graduate school.

2) Application to the Department of Physical Therapy through PTCAS

3) GRE scores (see #9 below)

A Completed PTCAS application includes the following:
a) the standard PTCAS essay (also known as a personal statement)
b) additional essay, specific to the UofU, Dept of PT, as indicated on PTCAS
c) verification of PT observation hours
d) three letters of recommendation (forms included with the application)
e) official transcripts from all colleges attended

 

 


Further, if English is not the first language, an applicant must submit the results of the TOEFL examination. (If the internet-based test is taken the score must be at least 90.)

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8. How can I find out more about PTCAS?

PTCAS stands for Physical Therapy Centralized Application System.  This online application is a service of the APTA and it allows applicants to use one online account to apply to multiple PT programs. To find out more about PTCAS, visit their website at:  www.ptcas.org 

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9. Is the GRE required to apply to the DPT program?

Yes.  Beginning with the 2014 application cycle, the GRE is required.  The Department uses a CAS code: 0407.  You do not need a University code.

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10. Is a dissertation required for the DPT degree?

No. The DPT is a clinical doctoral degree.  Dissertations are most commonly associated with the research PhD degree.

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11. How many students are accepted into the DPT program?

The class size is 48 students.

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12. What semester does the DPT program begin and how long will it take to complete?

Students in each entering class will begin their course work in May (summer semester).  Students will complete their course of study in nine continuous semesters (including two summers). For example, students who entered in the summer of 2011 will graduate in May of  2014.

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13. Can the DPT program be completed on a part-time basis?

No. The curriculum is designed for completion on a full-time basis, as each semester builds on the courses of the previous semester. Each course is offered only once per year in sequence.

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14. If I'm in high school, how can I prepare for a career in physical therapy?

 

High school students should know that educational preparation for this degree program is now only at the post baccalaureate level. That means that students interested in a career in physical therapy need to obtain a baccalaureate degree before entering into a professional program, although some universities offer the professional program in conjunction with the baccalaureate degree. While in high school, students interested in PT should be encouraged to take courses in anatomy and physiology, if these courses are offered. Students interested in PT should also be encouraged to take courses in chemistry and physics. Job shadowing while in high school is strongly encouraged.

Once in college, students should select a major based on their academic interests and not necessarily one labeled as pre-PT. For general career information as well as specific college prerequisite requirements and other admissions information students can access the professional organization website for physical therapists at www.apta.org.

Students who might be interested in a career in physical therapy but who don't want to pursue graduate studies may explore opportunities as physical therapist assistants. These people work directly with patients under the supervision of a physical therapist. A two-year degree from an accredited institution is required to be eligible to sit for the licensure examination; several colleges in Utah offer this degree. Interested students may obtain additional information by accessing the American Physical Therapy Association website.

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15. How can the public or clinicians register concerns or complaints about the educational program?

Students, Center Coordinators of Clinical Education, Clinical Instructors, and the public who have complaints regarding the appropriateness of student preparation, clinical instruction, responses of the University to requests by either student or clinical site among others are taken seriously. If complaints are not handled appropriately or in a timely manner by the Director of Clinical Education (DCE), the Department Chair should be notified. If the DCE and Department Chair have not adequately addressed a situation that requires further attention, the Dean of the College of Health and Rehabilitation should be contacted. In the event that the issue remains unresolved, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education can be contacted at 703-706-3245.

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16. What is the American Physical Therapy Association?

APTA represents more than 66,000 Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist assistants, and Physical Therapy students throughout the United States. Among the Association's objectives are enhancement of Physical Therapy education, practice, and research; accreditation of Physical Therapy education programs; communication with members; improvement of minority participation and representation in the profession; quality assurance; professional development and continuing education; interaction with government agencies and legislative bodies; attention to reimbursement issues; and development and implementation of public awareness programs.

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17. Why does APTA advocate a doctoral degree?

A doctoral degree allows the student to obtain a broad background in the liberal arts and provides time for students to integrate the significant amount of material included in a Physical Therapy curriculum. Also, for those who currently possess a bachelor's degree in another area, it is a logical choice to progress to a doctoral degree. Over the years, the volume of scientific technology and literature included in Physical Therapist education programs has grown well beyond what can be reasonably included in a baccalaureate degree program. APTA believes that a doctoral program more adequately prepares the graduate to meet the expectations of the profession and the health care needs of society.

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18. Is there a ranking of Physical Therapist and Physical Therapist Assistant programs?

APTA does not rank programs. Physical Therapy education programs are accredited by CAPTE, which assures quality in Physical Therapy education. Graduation from an accredited program is currently required for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination for Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants in those states in which licensure is required.

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19. What factors can one use in deciding on a school?

The decision to attend a Physical Therapy program is a very personal one that must be made on the basis of a variety of factors, including: geographic location and size of the school, cost, class size, faculty composition and cohesiveness (number of years working together, for example); degree awarded; and design and length of curriculum. In an effort to compare the above factors, you may wish to survey current students and recent graduates of the program and interview employers who hire graduates and ask about program strengths and weaknesses.

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20. Where can I find financial aid?

You can check out the financial aid information on the APTA website by visiting their page on Scholarships, Awards & Grants.

Click here for more information regarding financial aid opportunities at the University of Utah.

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21. Are the Unversity of Utah and the Department of Physical Therapy accredited?

Yes the University of Utah is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and was last accredited in 2006. The Department of Physical Therapy is also accredited by the Commision on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org ; website: http://www.capteonline.org  The Department was last accredited in 2008.

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Other Questions? Call the Department of Physical Therapy, at (801) 581-8681