Academic Experience

The full-time, three-year, hybrid pathway of the DPT program comprises six semesters and three summer terms. The curriculum follows a system-based format. Each semester focuses on a different system of the body.

Throughout the first two years, students learn to incorporate evidence-based practice, clinical reasoning skills and the differential diagnostic process to function as an autonomous practitioner within the health care system. The third and final year is designed to promote integration of the information and skills learned in the first two years.

At USC, we take pride in offering you varied and rich full-time clinical experiences starting in the first year of the program. The third year of the curriculum is an integrative experience that challenges students to combine and refine skills from the previous two years to provide effective patient care in complex circumstances.

The systems-based focuses and corresponding clinical components are as follows for each year:

Year One

– Semester 1a (Summer) and 1b (Fall): Foundational sciences and introduction to patient management
– Semester 2: Clinical management of musculoskeletal dysfunction with an integrated clinical experience
– Summer 1: Clinical management of musculoskeletal dysfunction and 6-week clinical experience

Year Two

– Semester 3: Clinical management of cardiovascular and pulmonary and medical conditions, particularly in the acute hospital setting with an integrated clinical experience
– Semester 4: Clinical management of neurologic dysfunction
– Summer 2: Differential diagnosis and 8-week clinical experience

Year Three

– Semester 5: Full-time clinical rotations with integrated patient management skills and seminar coursework
– Semester 6: Full-time clinical rotations with integrated patient management skills and seminar coursework

As a student, you will approach patient care from the three important perspectives that form the basis of evidence-based practice:

The Patient

You will learn how to connect with and collaborate with patients to provide the best possible patient-centered care. We emphasize skills for providing culturally sensitive, compassionate care using evidence-based methods including motivational interviewing and shared decision-making.

Current Research

You will learn how to stay current throughout your career by using the best available evidence to guide your practice. We emphasize the skills clinicians need to be savvy consumers of clinical research while also providing opportunities to participate in conducting research.

Professional Expertise

You will develop your own insights and confidence to provide direct access to physical therapy in the complex health care environment. We emphasize effective interprofessional collaboration and team-based health care.

Offered on a full-time basis, USC’s DPT Program – hybrid pathway is three years in duration and delivered through three integrated components: online courses, on-campus immersions and clinical experiences.

Online Courses

As a student in the hybrid pathway, you will complete a total of 35 courses, totaling 115 credits, using our interactive online campus. Designed and taught by esteemed USC faculty, our live, online DPT courses provide a challenging, comprehensive educational experience that develops your ability to think critically about physical therapy management across all major body systems and across the life span.

The curriculum covers a broad spectrum of physical therapist practice and prepares you for on-campus immersions and clinical experiences across the three years. Our transformative online classroom leverages the best available technology for learning through two integrated components:

Live Sessions

Engage: Participate in highly interactive live classes that have an approximate 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Learn: Gain knowledge and guidance through deep discussions about the relevance and application of course material with a faculty composed of scientists and clinicians.

Connect: Collaborate in small groups of students to problem-solve and discuss topics and case studies.

Asynchronous Learning

Study: Complete self-guided, immersive coursework accessible 24/7 to learn and reflect on key concepts for physical therapy practice.

Practice: Develop and refine physical therapy skills in preparation for immersions and clinical experiences.

Experience: Watch high-quality, studio-produced short lectures; patient demonstrations; and case studies using special effects to support learning.

View the full list of USC’s DPT Program courses.

View the Hybrid Pathway Course Schedule

On-Campus Immersions

Regular visits to USC’s campus in Los Angeles are an integral step in connecting online class material to the hands-on skills essential to physical therapy practice. You will visit USC’s world-class physical therapy learning laboratories approximately 12 times for in-person immersions. This translates to about 90 days on campus over the course of the three-year program. Immersion experiences provide you with intensive laboratory instruction with professors to build and refine skills needed to optimize human movement, such as physical evaluation, manual therapy and facilitation techniques, gait training, and exercise instruction.

During the immersions, you will:

Build your manual and physical skills for reducing pain and improving human movement.

Network with faculty, peers and the entire USC DPT community.

Access state-of-the-art anatomy and learning laboratories.

Focus on skills of particular interest to you during extended on-campus office hours.

Clinical Experiences

You will complete a total of 44 full-time weeks of clinical experiences at USC-approved sites in your community and nationwide. The clinical education component of our academic experience is exceptional in that experiences begin in the spring of your first year and the number of weeks vastly exceeds the minimum requirements for PT programs. You will be exposed to up to six distinct placement sites in a broad spectrum of physical therapy settings.

To make sure you have the most beneficial clinical experiences, you will work with:

USC faculty, who work closely with you to discuss your progress or answer any questions you have before and during your clinical experiences

Clinical instructors, who will personally guide your learning with real patients in a real-world setting

Peers, as you share your clinical knowledge and skills and learn from each other’s unique experiences

Learning Outcomes

After graduation, you will be able to:

Sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam for licensure to practice as a physical therapist.

Effectively care for individuals with an array of needs, from wellness and prevention to persons with complex or debilitating medical conditions.

Provide evidence-based and patient-centered care that integrates research, clinical expertise and the patient’s perspective.

Diagnose and treat movement dysfunction for persons of all ages and backgrounds.

Read more about the Program Learning Objectives.

To learn more about the DPT Program – hybrid pathway, request information and an admissions counselor will contact you.

Request Information — Hybrid Program