Doctor of Physical Therapy – FAQ
South College offers a full-time, entry-level or first professional Doctor of Physical Therapy degree (DPT). The curriculum consists of 135 credits across eight academic quarters, which includes 31 weeks of clinical practice. The program curriculum is completed in 2 years.
The best way to get your questions answered promptly is to contact Gwen Huff at the Knoxville campus, Admissions Coordinator, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Monique Flemings at the Atlanta campus, Dir of Admissions, by email at email@example.com.
Knoxville campus: The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at South College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Avenue, Suite 100, Alexandria, VA 22305-3085, phone: 703-706-3245; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Atlanta campus: South College is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage, on December 01, 2022. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.
South College seeks to make available all online programs/courses to residents of Tennessee and other states, and to allow completion of required clinical or practical experiences in those states. We work through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) process and with states directly to ensure that when authorization or licensure is necessary, required approvals are secured (such as California where South College is approved as an Out-Of-State Registered Institution). Tennessee is a member of SARA and South College is an approved SARA institution. As such, we adhere to a set of national standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. SARA also covers all interstate placements in clinical or practical situations among SARA member states, no matter the nature of the main program. All states are SARA members except for California. While we do monitor the laws in each state, authorization of distance education is a dynamic environment and prospective students should check this site often for updates. It is the student’s responsibility to understand current circumstances or special requirements in their state of residence. Please review the document available here for current information for authorization information.
Completion of the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) Application and the South College DPT Supplemental Application are both required when applying to the program. Your application materials are not complete until both have been received.PTCAS
No. Applicants must fill out both the PTCAS Application and the South College DPT Supplemental Application in order to apply to the program.
The South College Doctor of Physical Therapy Program application opens in June each year.It is strongly encouraged that all applicants thoroughly review the instructions for submitting an application through PTCAS as available for download through the PTCAS website before attempting to apply to the South College Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. It is important to note that students can apply to both Knoxville cohort start dates in one application cycle (more detail about this can be found in the PTCAS directory).
Completion and fee submission for the South College DPT Supplemental Application can be completed concurrently with your PTCAS Application through a link provided within PTCAS. The DPT Supplemental Application is available through the following link:DPT Supplemental Application
Please refer to our PTCAS program profile pages for the most up to date deadlines. Both applications and all supporting materials must be submitted by the deadline in order for your application to be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. The South College DPT program will make offers of admission on a rolling basis so applicants are encouraged to apply early within the application cycle.
The fee for the PTCAS Application depends on the number of schools you apply to as well as your application submission date. Please see the PTCAS website (www.ptcas.org) for information specific to the PTCAS fee schedule. The fee for the South College DPT Supplemental Application is $60. This fee can be submitted online when completing the supplemental application.PTCAS
All original transcripts should be sent to PTCAS.
The DPT program requires two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a licensed physical therapist. The second letter may be from someone of the applicant's choice (e.g., professor, physical therapist, employer/supervisor, advisor, mentor, etc.). Letters from family members, friends, clergy, or politicians will not be accepted. Applicants will list their references' contact information and follow the detailed instructions on the PTCAS online application (www.ptcas.org). This will allow all references to submit recommendations electronically.
Yes. You will be asked to provide a standard essay on your PTCAS Application. You may also provide a personal statement on your academic record within the PTCAS Application.
Yes. The Admissions Committee will select and invite the most qualified applicants for an interview. Web-based interviews will be conducted so travel to campus is not required. Applicants must have access to a computer with internet, webcam, and microphone capabilities for the interview process.
Applicants will be notified about the status of their applications on an ongoing basis.
PTCAS will no longer offer the Early Decision option effective the 2020-2021 application cycle.
Yes. A $1500 non-refundable tuition deposit is required to guarantee your spot in the program. * The entirety of this deposit will be applied to your tuition in the first quarter of the program.
All applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field of study from a regionally accredited institution in the United States or from foreign institutions pending submission of a foreign transcript from World Education Services. Students may apply to the program prior to completing their bachelor’s degree; however, enrollment in the program will not be allowed until the bachelor’s degree is awarded.
Applicants must achieve a minimum cumulative and prerequisite GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale in order to be considered for admission. If cumulative GPA is less than 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, an applicant may still be eligible for admission if a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or greater has been achieved over the last 60 semester or 90 quarter hour credits of coursework prior to applying for admission to the program.
We do recommend at least 50 hours of paid work or volunteer experience in physical therapy under the direct supervision of a licensed physical therapist to adequately expose the applicant to the profession of physical therapy and affirm their desire to pursue a career in the field.We recognize that obtaining 50 observation hours will be difficult with the current clinical environment. Thus, South College will address each applicant’s situation on a case-by-case basis. We recommend that you pursue multiple clinical settings in order for you to have a more well-rounded knowledge of the physical therapy profession. Examples of different settings can include hospital-based settings, out-patient clinics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, industrial rehab, pelvic health, aquatic therapy, hippotherapy, wound care or telehealth.
In general, the program requires: Biology with laboratory recommended (8 quarter hours/6 semester hours); General Chemistry with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours); General Physics with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours); Human Anatomy and Physiology with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours)**; Statistics (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours); General Psychology (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours) Upper Level Psychology (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours) English Composition or Writing (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours) Grades below “C-” in prerequisite courses will not be accepted. Pass/Fail courses are not accepted.
A list of courses accepted for program prerequisites can be downloaded here.The DPT Admissions Committee may also consider requests for course substitutions on a case- by-case basis. The applicant must compile and submit as much information about the course as possible (e.g., course description, syllabus, detailed outline of topics covered, etc.). This information can be emailed to Gwen Huff at email@example.com. The Admissions Committee makes the final decision as to whether the course substitution is accepted.Prerequisites
Yes. Applicants may submit an application that includes in-progress courses and still be considered by the Admissions Committee for the current admission cycle. However, it is recommended that you have no more than 3 prerequisite courses to complete when submitting your application. Additionally, if offered admission, all prerequisites must be completed prior to entering the program.
Yes, these courses do require a laboratory component to fulfill prerequisite requirements. A laboratory component is also recommended for the Biology courses, but not required.
If a prerequisite course is repeated, the credit hours assigned to the course may be counted only once in fulfilling the required number of hours. The prerequisite GPA will be determined using the highest course grade achieved; however, both grades will be calculated into the cumulative GPA.
Yes. The DPT program accepts all AP courses that were counted toward a student’s undergraduate degree as fulfilling prerequisite requirements.
Applicants must complete Anatomy and Physiology courses within the last 5 years prior to application or demonstrate ongoing work experiences that have kept this knowledge current (e.g., physical therapist assistant, athletic trainer, etc.). All remaining letter-graded prerequisite coursework is acceptable no matter when the coursework was completed. However, we strongly recommend that applicants take refresher courses as needed to fully prepare themselves for our accelerated DPT program.Contact Gwen Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions in submitting a waiver request related to Anatomy and Physiology course expiration date.
Yes. Coursework can be completed through any regionally accredited institution.
Yes. As long as they are completed through a regionally accredited institution and satisfy content, credit hour, and lab requirements, online coursework can be acceptable in fulfilling prerequisite requirements.
No. The South College DPT program does not grant advanced placement, credit for experiential learning, or transfer credits from other physical therapy programs or institutions. All courses within the professional didactic and clinical curriculum are required and must be completed in sequence to successfully complete the program.
South College is a private institution and does not have a residency requirement. Geographic location has no influence on acceptance. In fact, the program’s blended leaning format allows students to reside in states across the country while completing the DPT program. Tuition is the same for all students regardless of residency.Due to the way that our program is classified according to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, our students are not eligible for educational visas. Accordingly, we are only able to admit applicants who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
No. We welcome all applicants who meet our admission requirements regardless of how long they’ve been out of school. The only exception is that Anatomy and Physiology courses must be taken within five years of when an applicant would begin in the program if offered admission.
PROGRAM SPECIFIC INFORMATION
One hundred (100) students will be accepted and enrolled into each class.
In Knoxville: Classes for each cohort typically begin in early January and late June each year. New student orientation is scheduled prior to the beginning of classes and is held in Knoxville, Tennessee. In Atlanta: Classes for each cohort will begin in late June each year. New student orientation is scheduled prior to the beginning of classes and is held in Atlanta, Georgia.
Our program design consists of an accelerated two-year DPT curriculum that is delivered in a hybrid or blended learning format. The curriculum is delivered in 8 academic quarters.
By definition, an academic year for programs offered in semester or quarter credit hours must include at least 30 weeks of instructional time. Our program includes 66 weeks of didactic instruction and 31 weeks of clinical education for a total of 97 weeks of instruction. Accordingly, the instructional time provided by this program is the equivalent of three (3) academic year. Our curriculum contains all of the required elements, but uses a blended learning model and an academic quarter system to improve the efficiency of its delivery.
Blended learning refers to an educational model in which the student learns through a combination of online and onsite delivery platforms. Using this format, our curriculum will combine the best aspects of online learning activities and interactions, hands-on laboratory sessions, and collaborative clinical education into an innovative and dynamic professional learning experience.
Based on our 135 quarter credit program, 52% (71 credits) are completed using various online learning platforms, 19% (25 credits) are conducted as onsite lab immersions, and 29% (39 credits) are completed as clinical education experiences. Essentially, 52% of the overall curriculum is delivered online and 48% is completed as traditional face-to-face lab and clinical education instruction.
Blended learning courses consist of both online, distance learning activities and onsite, hands- on lab instruction. Generally speaking, students will begin each academic quarter with at least 7 weeks of online learning to establish a knowledge base within each content area. Psychomotor skill development and refinement is accomplished during onsite lab immersions conducted at your “home campus” in Knoxville, TN or Atlanta, GA. These lab immersions are held between weeks 8-11 of each quarter and range in duration from 11 to 17 days, depending on the content. Students complete the 12-week academic quarter with additional online learning activities and required student assessments (e.g., final examinations).
Online didactic education is provided using the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Course faculty use the Canvas platform to create and deliver a wide variety of online teaching and learning activities. The majority of course work is conducted asynchronously, providing students with flexibility in creating their weekly schedule. Asynchronous learning activities include recorded lectures, required and optional readings, online forum discussions, and individual and group assignments. Classes are held each week using Zoom as an online virtual classroom. Faculty will use a variety of synchronous learning activities during these class periods such as live discussions, faculty demonstrations, case studies, and group projects, to deepen student understanding and develop critical clinical reasoning skills.
Absolutely not! Our online and blended courses should not be confused with passive online learning (i.e., self-paced, self-study) that is devoid of direct faculty involvement. In fact, all of our online courses are faculty-directed and include daily interactions between the faculty and students. Our faculty develop courses using contemporary standards of practice, best evidence, and innovative instructional methods to enhance student engagement, comprehension, and outcomes.
Physical therapy is a hands-on profession that requires extensive training and practice to develop critical patient management skills. Psychomotor skills for the patient examination, intervention, and effective human interaction are taught and practiced during these onsite lab immersion sessions. In total, students spend approximately 80 days or 640 hours in dedicated laboratory instruction with program faculty and practicing clinicians. Each onsite lab immersion session is scheduled at a strategic time in the academic quarter to facilitate learning and skill development. In Knoxville, Tennessee, for example, these lab sessions are conducted at the South College Parkside Campus, in a new, state-of-the-art 23,000 square foot facility completed in May 2020.
Travel to Campus is required for orientation prior to initiating the program, onsite lab immersions during the first six academic quarters, and for a final program debriefing and graduation following completion of the program. You will only be required to travel to the Campus you are enrolled in: Knoxville, TN or Atlanta, GA.
Students are required to maintain an overall 3.00 GPA to successfully complete the program.
Students complete 31 weeks of full-time clinical education during the second year of the curriculum. This includes an 8-week clinical experience during quarter five and a 23-week clinical internship during quarters seven and eight.
Students receive exposure to a variety of practice settings that demonstrate the breadth, depth and continuum of physical therapy practice. To the maximum extent possible, students are exposed to minimum of two clinical practice settings including general outpatient physical therapy practice and a second setting within the continuum of care (i.e., inpatient acute, post- acute, rehabilitation, skilled nursing, home health, etc.). Also, students are generally exposed to a minimum of two specialty practice areas. Types of specialty area exposures include: orthopaedics, neurologic, pediatrics, geriatrics, sports medicine, aquatics, women’s health, cardiovascular and pulmonary, and wound care. Clinical placements for the 8-week experience will typically consist of inpatient facilities that offer acute, post-acute, or long-term rehabilitation services. Clinical placements for terminal internship experiences will typically consist of general outpatient facilities that provide interns with exposures to a variety of patient presentations and caseloads. Follow-on residency options are also considered for those students desiring to transition into a post professional clinical residency upon graduation.
We have vast network of clinical sites available for these experiences across the country. While we strive to keep students close to their geographical location, we factor in many other considerations when placing students into their clinical sites (e.g. professional and personal needs, specialty exposures, site availability, etc.). The optimal location to improve a student’s clinical skills is always paramount when determining their clinical education placement. The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) works with each student to determine optimal clinical placement.
Most students follow our typical clinical education plan that includes an 8-week inpatient or home health experience followed by a 23-week terminal outpatient experience, both of which occur in the final year of the program. Because the majority of our students are participating in similar settings for each clinical experience, we are able to tightly integrate didactic and clinical education into structured and sequenced curricular plan. For example, students entering inpatient settings for the first clinical rotation will all have recently completed the foundational courses in musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, acute care, and cardiopulmonary practice that prepare students for patient exposures in this early clinical experience.For the final clinical rotations, the vast majority of students are placed at clinical sites with residency- or fellowship-trained clinical faculty to improve the quality of the learning experience. These experienced clinicians exemplify professional growth and set the stage for our students to pursue residency opportunities upon graduation.Additionally, students are participating in coursework during clinical rotations that reinforces each student’s clinical education. For example, students are enrolled in Pharmacology and Management of Aging Adult during the first clinical affiliation which helps them to immediately apply this knowledge to inpatient clinical experience and allows the lead faculty to integrate student learning experiences into synchronous class time to enrich discussion and case-based learning. Our model allows us to “bring the classroom into the clinic and the clinic into the classroom.”
Considering that the delivery of the curriculum of the program occurs through a blended- learning format, we recognize that some students may desire to maintain some level of employment while enrolled. However, our students are full-time students in every sense of the term with course loads ranging from 15 to 19 credits per academic quarter. The academic demands of this accelerated curriculum and the travel requirements for onsite lab immersions and clinical education will make employment virtually impossible for the majority of students. In fact, working more than a few hours per week would almost surely negatively affect your academic performance and is strongly discouraged.
Considering the accelerated nature of the curriculum, research opportunities while in the DPT program are limited. However, many of our academic and clinical faculty are among the leading researchers in physical therapy. Accordingly, our program may provide the opportunity for interested students to have the opportunity to participate in research being conducted by academic or clinical faculty within the program particularly through participation in post- professional residency following graduation.
We encourage all graduates to participate in a residency program of their choosing immediately after graduation and professional licensure. Residency training equips the resident with expanded and specialized clinical reasoning and patient management skills in one of profession’s many specialties (e.g., orthopaedics, sports, neurology, geriatrics, etc.). While most students are completing their DPT degree in 3 years, our students will complete their degree requirements in 2 years and have the option to complete residency training and achieve board certification within 3 years (one additional year). Using our vast network of clinical sites, we offer assistance to students seeking an external residency placement. This eliminates the need most of our students to relocate for residency training.