The DPT@USC curriculum is systems-based, which means learning starts with clinically important foundational sciences followed by the knowledge needed to care for patients with conditions that affect each major body system: musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary and neurologic.
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.
As a student, you will approach each complex system from the three important perspectives that form the basis of evidence-based practice:
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.
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.
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, the hybrid DPT program is three years in duration and delivered through three integrated components: online courses, on-campus immersions and clinical experiences.
As a DPT@USC student, 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:
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.
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.
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 10 times for in-person immersions. This translates to about 60 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.
Access state-of-the-art anatomy and learning laboratories.
Network with faculty, peers and the entire USC DPT community.
Focus on skills of particular interest to you during extended on-campus office hours.
You will complete a total of 50 weeks of clinical experiences at USC-approved sites in your community or 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 at least six distinct placement sites in a broad spectrum of physical therapy settings. Each experience is personalized to your interests and needs as a student.
To make sure you have the most beneficial clinical experiences, you will work with:
A clinical placement specialist, who will partner with you to find and secure clinical sites in or near your community
A clinical instructor, who will personally guide your learning with real patients in a real-world setting
USC faculty, who are available for one-on-one office hours to discuss your progress or answer any questions you have during your clinical experiences
Peers, as you share your clinical knowledge and skills and learn from each other’s unique experiences