Application Requirements

Applicants to the three-year, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or must hold a valid student visa to study in the United States. They must also satisfy all requirements for USC Graduate School admission, which include:

Bachelor’s Degree

Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university by the date of projected enrollment, which is in August of each year.

Minimum Cumulative and Science GPAs of 3.0

The admissions committee requires that you have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and a minimum science GPA of 3.0. Higher GPAs tend to be more competitive within the applicant pool.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores

GRE scores are not required.

Work Experience

A minimum of 150 hours of clinical experience in a physical therapy setting is recommended, but not required. The Admissions Committee feels that applicants who have engaged in diverse clinical experiences tend to make a more informed decision when considering physical therapy as a professional career. We also recognize that some of these experiences present themselves in the context of having supported others who have received physical therapy services as patients. Through responses to the essay prompts and resume, applicants are encouraged to share these experiences with the Admissions Committee. If deciding to gain direct physical therapy exposure in a clinical setting, the Admissions Committee makes no distinction between volunteer or paid physical therapy aide experiences.

Prerequisite Courses

Grades of “C” or better are required in all prerequisite courses, outlined below. Prerequisite courses taken on a “pass/no pass” basis will not be recognized, and AP credits will not be accepted in lieu of college-level courses. All courses must be for science or pre-health majors. Introductory or “survey-style” courses will not be accepted in fulfillment of prerequisites.

  • Biological Sciences:  A general biology series (Biology I and Biology II) with labs (8 semester hours, 12 quarter units).
  • Chemistry: A general chemistry series (Chemistry I and Chemistry II) with labs (8 semester hours, 12 quarter units). A biochemistry series (Biochemistry I and Biochemistry II) with labs (8 semester hours, 12 quarter units) will also satisfy this requirement.
  • Physics: A general physics series (Physics I and Physics II) with labs (8 semester hours, 12 quarter units).
  • Anatomy1: A human anatomy course with lab (4 semester hours, 6 quarter units).
  • Physiology1: A human physiology course with lab (4 semester hours, 6 quarter units).

1A combined two-course sequence in anatomy and physiology with lab (8 semester hours) will also satisfy this requirement.

  • Psychology: Two courses in psychology (totaling 6 semester hours, 9 quarter units). These courses may include general psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, psychology of disability, etc.
  • Statistics and Mathematics: One college-level statistics course is required (3 semester hours, 5 quarter units). Courses taken within the biology, mathematics and psychology departments are accepted. An additional college-level geometry or trigonometry course is recommended (but not required).

Quick Reference Chart

Quarter Units divided by 1.5 = Semester Units
Semester Units multiplied by 1.5 = Quarter Units

Quarter UnitSemester Unit

Application Requirements

Apply to the USC DPT Program – residential pathway through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS).

Many schools issue transcripts electronically, either through their own web services or through vendors. If this option is available through the institutions you attend(ed), make sure that they are submitted to PTCAS by following the instructions on the application. Please remember that all transcripts must be verified by PTCAS prior to formal program review and this process can take up to four or five weeks after receipt of transcripts.

We recommend using a sense of urgency when requesting transcripts from your university, as the transmission time can vary from school to school.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required as part of your application submission through PTCAS. You should request recommendations from individuals who can speak to your professional or academic readiness to attend a rigorous graduate program. These recommenders must be:

  • A physical therapist (PT) who has directly supervised you
  • A professor or academic reference who has taught you in at least one class
  • A person of your choice who is either another PT supervisor, academic reference, or can otherwise speak to your academic, personal, or professional qualities

Application Deadlines

The final application deadline for our next residential pathway start date is December 2, 2024.