Application Requirements

Applicants to the three-year, residential 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

The GRE is required of all applicants. A minimum score of 150 is strongly preferred on each component of the aptitude test, but higher scores are more competitive within the applicant pool. Test scores more than five years old will not be accepted.

USC requires only one official copy of GRE test scores from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). These will be sent to USC via your PTCAS application. USC’s PTCAS-specific ETS institution code is 7601.

Work Experience

A minimum of 150 hours of clinical experience in a physical therapy setting is required. More competitive applicants typically exceed these minimum hours and accumulate their experience across a variety of settings. This work requirement can be completed in a volunteer or paid capacity.

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).
  • Chemistry: A general chemistry series (Chemistry I and Chemistry II) with labs (8 semester hours). A biochemistry series (Biochemistry I and Biochemistry II) with labs (8 semester hours) will also satisfy this requirement.
  • Physics: A general physics series (Physics I and Physics II) with labs (8 semester hours).
  • Anatomy1: A human anatomy course with lab (4 semester hours).
  • Physiology1: A human physiology course with lab (4 semester hours).
1A combined two-course sequence in anatomy and physiology with lab (8 semester hours) will also satisfy this requirement. Return to footnote reference
  • Psychology: Two courses in psychology (totaling 6 semester hours). These courses may include general psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, psychology of disability, etc.
  • Statistics and Mathematics: One college-level statistics course with lab is required (3 semester hours). Courses taken within the biology, mathematics and psychology departments are accepted. An additional college-level geometry or trigonometry course is recommended (but not required).

Application Requirements

Apply to USC’s residential DPT program 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 or academic reference (character witnesses are discouraged)