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Arnold School of Public Health

Frequently Asked Questions

How is your program different from other Physical Therapy programs?
Our most unique features would be our small class size (~30 per year) and the way we structure our Clinical Experiences throughout the curriculum rather than at the end of the program. Most students can obtain in-state residency and tuition after their first year.  We offer full cadaver dissection anatomy in partnership with the Medical School at USC.

Can I visit the program or talk to someone?
Our most-current visiting information can be found on our Visit DPT You may also contact us directly at for more specific inquiries.

How many students do you enroll each year?
Our class size is small; we typically enroll up to 30 students a year.

What are classes like?
You can view our most-current programs of study by cohort on our Current PT Students Our classes are professional, but relaxed. Students often have a collegial relationship with faculty.

What type of anatomy is taken?
Our students take full cadaver anatomy with dissection. Special emphasis is provided on the extremities.

The research project worries me, I don’t have an idea for a topic?
You don't have to! Your ideas will come as you proceed and interact with faculty members. We believe that completing the research project is an important part of a clinical doctorate degree.

Do your students get jobs after graduation?
100% of our students across the past five years have secured employment.

How are you clinical education experiences structured?
We have 40 weeks of clinical education, which is 4 weeks more than the national average, throughout the curriculum. Clinical education experiences are scheduled based on the course work you have just completed, which we have termed “just in time.” This means you learn basic foundational and musculoskeletal skills and information and then you and your classmates all move to a clinical education experience focused on orthopedic conditions. For more information about clinical education in the curriculum please see our curriculum plan.

Is there an application deadline?
Completed applications must be received by PTCAS and the supplemental application fee paid by October 1 of the year preceding the fall you wish to enroll. When October 1 falls on a weekend, the deadline is the Monday immediately following October 1.

What are your minimum requirements for applying?
Our minimum requirements are a: 1) 3.0 GPA (prerequisite), 2) 3.0 GPA (undergraduate or approved masters), 3) combined GRE no less than a 146 for each section with a 3.5 or greater on the writing score. If you apply with scores below this, your file will not be reviewed for admission. Note that these are our minimal requirements, please see the program summary for our average admission scores.

Where do I send my GRE scores/transcripts?
All materials must be submitted through PTCAS to be properly verified. Please submit GRE scores through ETS to code 1670. Any scores or transcripts sent to the Graduate School will not be received by the Program.

Do you require observation hours? How are these considered in my application?
We do not require a set amount of observation or volunteer hours; however, we strongly suggest that you show evidence of PT-related experience. Our program wants to encourage applicants to understand what physical therapy entails and ensure a commitment to entering the profession. 50 hours of observation are recommended; we encourage you to get hours in diverse settings if possible. There is no set format for recording or tracking these experiences, so refer to the application if necessary.

Observation hours are considered in the holistic application review process. We accept volunteer and paid experiences, and do not consider any one particular setting better than another. If you think another experience you have had has value, you may share that as well, such as caregiving or personal experience receiving PT.

How many letters of recommendation do you require?
We require two letters of recommendation on your application. If there are additional letters of recommendation included, they will be reviewed equally with your original two. These letters should be professional in nature.  We recommend that you have one from a physical therapist and one from a professor who is familiar with your academic performance.

I noticed that you do not require admission interviews, why?
Our program faculty have made the choice to exclude interviews as part of the application decision because interviewing (often at multiple places around the US) comes at a substantial added cost to the student and to the program. However, if you would like to set up a meeting please feel free to contact us regarding our information session schedule.

What prerequisite courses do I need?
In addition to a baccalaureate degree, students must have completed the following courses:
Physics w/labs – 8 credits
Chemistry w/labs – 8 credits
Biology w/labs – 8 credits
Human Anatomy and Physiology w/labs – 8 credits
Statistics – 3 credits
Psychology – 3 credits

For a more detailed list of accepted prerequisites, please view our PTCAS directory page.

*We also encourage you to take a Medical Terminology class, but it is not an officially required prerequisite.  If you do not have one prior to enrollment, the program will offer a web-based course the summer before you start the program.

Do all my prerequisites need to be completed prior to submitting my application to the DPT program?
No. You may submit your application prior to completing all your prerequisites for the program, though we recommend needing no more than four prerequisite courses remaining at time of application submission.  Any applications with outstanding fall semester prerequisite courses must complete a scoring update in the PTCAS system once grades are available in order to be considered for admission. See PTCAS academic update instructions for more information.

Prerequisite courses must be completed prior to enrolling in the program and proof of such is required.

How can I tell if a course will be counted toward my prerequisites?
When in doubt, contact us and we will provide you guidance. Please forward to us the catalog description of the course(s) in question. Please see our profile on PTCAS for a more detailed list of prerequisites.

Can I use AP courses to fulfill a prerequisite course?
We do accept AP coursework to fulfill prerequisite course requirements, but we always caveat that AP courses do not carry GPA points, so they are excluded from prerequisite GPA calculations which reduces the number of courses included in that average.

How much does your program cost?
This value changes, please refer the Arnold School web site for the link to tuition and fees. Please be sure to look under the Doctor of Physical Therapy sub-heading.

What other expenses may I have as a PT student?
In addition to tuition and fees, students are responsible for costs associated with clinical education, including travel and housing in another city. Most students will perform 3 out of 4 clinical education experiences outside the Columbia metropolitan area.

Do I have to find my own housing?
Yes, but once the incoming class is established, we help connect you with your classmates via Facebook to help you find roommates and/or housing.

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