Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between the Health Science Campus and the University Park Campus?

    The Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy is housed in the Center for Health Professions (CHP) building on the Health Science campus. The building’s address is 1540 E. Alcazar St. CHP 155, Los Angeles, CA 90033-9006. Other programs housed on the HSC campus are Keck School of Medicine, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Regulatory Science, Nurse Anesthesia, Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and many more. For a map of the HSC campus, please visit:

    The University Park Campus is located in downtown LA and is about a 20 min tram ride away. Our students don’t often have to visit this campus. However, many students will attend football games, speaker series or other events. For a map of the UPC campus, please visit:

    Is the HSC campus open 24/7/365?

    The HSC campus is an open campus, however each building on has its own scheduled hours. Frequently used building hours of operation:

    Monday – Friday 6:00am – 6:00pm

    Norris Cancer Library:
    Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 12:00 midnight
    *holiday hours may vary Friday 7:00am – 8:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am – 5:00pm
    Sunday 9:00am – 10:00pm

    Einstein Bros. Bagels:
    Monday – Friday 7:00am – 3:30pm
    Saturday – Sunday CLOSED

    Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 7:00pm
    Friday 7:00am – 6:00pm
    Saturday – Sunday CLOSED

    Seeds Marketplace:
    Monday – Thursday 7:30am – 3:00pm
    Friday 7:30am – 2:00pm
    Saturday – Sunday CLOSED

    HSC Fitness Center:
    Monday – Friday 6:00am – 9:00pm
    Saturday 9:00am – 1:00pm
    Sunday CLOSED

    Is there a gym on campus that students can use?
    Yes. Located in the 2001 Soto Street Building, the 10,000-square-foot HSC Fitness Center houses a variety of cardiovascular and strength training equipment, two group exercise rooms, locker rooms, FREE towel service, and day-use lockers. Jump ropes, yoga mats, weight belts, basketballs, and hair dryers are available for check out. Adjacent to the fitness center, a lighted basketball court and multi-purpose area (with amphitheater) is available for drop-in use, Intramural Sports programs, and special reservations. For more information, please visit:

    What is the absence policy?
    The philosophy of the Division is that a professional curriculum requires certain standards that may differ from non-professional graduate school programs. Attendance is one of these differences. Specifically, attendance is required at all class sessions unless it has been explicitly stated otherwise in the course syllabus. Students are required to attend both lecture and laboratory classes regularly and to arrive on time. The student should contact the Division regarding any absence by sending an email notification to . If an email notification is not sent by the student to the Division, the absence will be considered a non-excused absence. Students are responsible for all class material. In the event of an absence from class, it is the student's responsibility to make up all class work and demonstrate adequate mastery of concepts or skills covered during the absence. Upon return to class students should check with the Course Director (s) to make sure that they received timely notification of the student’s absence. Two or more excused absences per semester or one or more unexcused absence in consecutive semesters is considered excessive, and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

    Absences from clinical assignments must be reported directly to the Division by sending an email notification to . A phone contact to the clinic where the student is assigned is also required. If an absence is unavoidable during a clinical assignment, the clinical facility must be notified first, and the Division second.
    Excused absences due to health condition or personal/family events beyond the student’s control may be grounds for an administrative leave by the Division and afford the opportunity to receive an incomplete for unfinished course work; however, the Division must be officially notified with proper documentation to comply with University standards. Two or more excused absences from clinical assignments per semester, and one or more unexcused absence in consecutive semesters is considered evidence of non-professional performance. This may result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. Unexcused absences are not grounds for receiving an incomplete in didactic or clinical courses.
    For more details on our absence policy, please see the DPT Student Handbook, Section 1.

    What will my schedule look like each semester?
    Students should expect to be in class Monday – Friday from 8am – 5pm with a one hour lunch break each semester. The summer will look similar; however it will be broken up into two sessions. One session will be a 5 week clinical rotation and one session will be 5 weeks of didactic work. Please contact Janet Burney, Student Affairs for an example of the current semester schedule.
    How are students placed for the clinical affiliations? Specific placements are dependent on numerous variables and constraints, including geographical location and available student housing, transportation issues, student choice/area of interest, facility availability, faculty recommendations, etc…. While specific student requests for sites and rotation schedules are strongly considered, they cannot always be accommodated. Special facility needs are always considered, but not guaranteed.

    Is there an opportunity for scholarships?
    Yes. There are several opportunities for scholarships with-in our Division as well as with the University. In addition to this, you will find APTA and USC resources to help with cost. Please visit: for more information.

    Are there opportunities to participate in research?
    There are several opportunities to participate in research while you are a DPT student. Please visit for more information on each research laboratory.

    How do I enroll in USC student health insurance?
    You are automatically enrolled in the USC Student Health Insurance if you are (a) taking 6 or more units; (b) enrolled in a class connected to the Health Science Campus; (c) an international student. You don't have to wait until you're automatically enrolled in the plan. If you want to get your I.D. card before the school year begins, you may enroll online directly with Aetna Student Health to receive a printable confirmation sheet of enrollment as well as a rushed delivery of your insurance card from Aetna (usually within a week). See the Enrollment Information page for more information. Please visit: for more information.

    What does the student health insurance cover?
    Please see: for an overview of what the student health insurance will cover and how to take advantage of health services on campus.

    How do I get tutoring if I’m struggling in a class?
    The Division of BKN & PT is vested in providing support for students who are experiencing academic difficulty only in the first year of their education. The primary avenue for this support is through active participation in office hours with course instructors. For those students who need additional assistance, the Division provides free, small group tutoring lead by students in their second year, all of whom have been approved by the Course Directors. Attendance in these groups is by approval only, and requires that the students continue to attend the relevant office hours. Students are free to arrange private tutoring with DPT II students, however, the student is responsible for the costs associated with private tutoring. Please see the DPT Student handbook, Section 2 for a copy of the Tutoring Application. Applications may also be obtained at the front desk in CHP 155.

    Criteria for Division Sponsored Tutoring
    1. Student has received a grade of < B- on a mid-term examination.
    2. Approval is granted by the Course Director.
    3. Tutoring Application has been submitted. A box will be available at the front desk in CHP 155 for the forms. 

    Student Perspectives

    Is the program worth the money?

    Yes, although I haven't had the pleasure of having to pay the tuition (loans) back yet. I believe obtaining the highest education possible is an honor and an invaluable asset, and the price will pay itself off eventually. It's all about how much you are willing to invest in your future, and with our profession blossoming so much over the past decade; I'd say that it's a pretty safe investment. As far as if it's been worth it so far: absolutely! The faculty and staff are more than accommodating to our rigorous schedules, and it's very apparent that they all care about our individual success in the program. Having that kind of support is awesome, especially in trying to juggle the workload and our personal lives. The greatest thing so far about the program is the wide range of resources and support that we have all around us to ensure that we are able to do our very best. –Stacey Kim, DPT Class of 2014


    It depends on what you want to do in your career. I'm obviously biased, but for me, it is worth it. USC is such a powerhouse in clinical care and research and to learn from the people who are spearheading the PT profession was not an opportunity I could easily pass up. Plus, if you wish to be a professional and want to pave the way for the future of PT, this is the place. –Pamela Mikklesen, DPT Class of 2014

    Is a class of 95 too big?

    No because it's great to be able to practice with and learn from such a large, diverse group! – Bailey Ward, DPT Class of 2014

    What books should I read and how should I prepare?

    If you have some extra time then you could review your anatomy - namely the insertions and origins. Otherwise, enjoy the rest of your (last?) summer! –Fei Jiang, DPT Class of 2014

    What areas would you recommend to rent that are safe, affordable, and a short drive to campus?

    Many students live in parts of Alhambra, Pasadena, San Gabriel, and South Pasadena. Once you are admitted to the program, you'll get more specific guidance from your "buddies" about where they live and how to choose your new home in Los Angeles. –Shannon Gorman, DPT Class of 2014

    Do you recommend living with a roommate from class?

    Yes, but this is of course dependent on your individual lifestyle preference. Having a roommate has definitely helped me in having a support system outside of the classroom, i.e., who understands exactly what I'm going through and can more easily sympathize with the personal life struggles that I've had to deal with. It's a comfort to have someone at home to relax, study, and vent (when needed, which might be often lol), and it's also helped to keep me on track with school. From my personal experience, I've been definitely grateful for having a roommate, but again this is totally personal preference and can feel like an understandable risk assuming you've never known your future roommate before this program. If you want a roommate, but think you'd rather not live with someone in the program (which is understandable since you'll be around the same people all day), I'd still recommend looking within the USC health programs, just because it's easier to not have to explain your study habits, schedule, etc. and it'll definitely be a LOT easier to get along with someone at home who is experiencing similar stresses (especially during finals week, you'll definitely appreciate having a roommate who will respect your studying time.) -Stacey Kim, DPT Class of 2014

    I've noticed that most students have a background in bio or kinesiology. I don't (but I've satisfied all the prereq courses). Will that put me at a big disadvantage or does everything start from the ABCs and builds up?

    I do not have a background in bio or kinesiology and did not feel that this put me at a disadvantage. The program will teach you what you need to know to be a great PT - do well in your prereq courses and study hard once you're at USC. As long as you have good study habits and communication skills (both verbal and written) from your undergraduate degree, you'll be well-positioned to do well here! -Megan Gowda, DPT Class of 2014

    Is there a forced curve? I've heard that some graduate programs do that and cut some percentage of students from the bottom at the end of each year. Did anything like that happen in your first year?

    No. All of the professors want you to do well and go on and represent USC as being the most qualified PT possible. There are also office hours and making friends within the first few weeks and forming a study group will definitely help you excel in the program. PT is all about communicating with your patients so you might as well start practicing your communication skills with your peers since you will be spending a ridiculous amount of time together. –Chase Bauer, DPT Class of 2014

    What was a typical weekday for you in the first year? When did your classes begin and by what time did you go home? Were you able to find ANY time where you can do things unrelated to school?

    Drive to school, on campus from 8ish-5ish, gym, come home, shower, eat, study. As bland as this sounds, the curriculum and schoolwork definitely keeps you on your toes all the time, and it helps to establish a sort of stable routine early in the semester. Another thing I'd recommend is definitely try to incorporate exercise into your daily/weekly routine. I cannot stress this enough--exercise has definitely helped me build up my stamina for school, keep me relaxed, and most importantly, keep me healthy throughout my first year. It's a great way to relieve stress, too, but it can seem taxing at first to try to fit it in with a suddenly overwhelming school schedule; but, the earlier you establish it into your routine, the more you will appreciate it when you really need some stress relief (and you will). –Stacey Kim, DPT Class of 2014


    The first few weeks of school were a little daunting. It takes some time to get used to graduate level classes and setting aside enough time to really understand the material. With that being said, I think if you want to do things unrelated to school you can find the time. My roommate, who is a genius, was always going out but when it came to midterms or finals he was able to buckle down and do really well. –Chase Bauer, DPT Class of 2014


    I commute, so I got up to leave around 6:30, sat in classes, often used my lunch breaks to either study or go to meetings. I hung around late after school to let traffic die down and left around 7 or 8. –Pamela Mikklesen, DPT Class of 2014

    I’m especially interested in pediatrics. Will I take courses on this, and what other opportunities will I have to learn about this special area of interest?

    So far, we have not covered any courses specifically on pediatrics alone. However, studying the development and movement strategies of children have been incorporated throughout our various classes. In the first year, you will be learning about pediatrics in a movement analysis, developmental, exercise, and injury analysis standpoint within various classes. In your therapeutic exercise course in the spring, you will take many trips down to the nearby elementary schools, in which you will lead exercise programs with the children of various school grades. There are always opportunities in and out of school to develop your various interests, whether it be pediatrics or some other specialty. The clinical rotations that you will be going off on in spring and summer are probably the most tangible exposure you will have to any specialty, and you will have the opportunity to request specific sites (i.e., pediatric settings) in which you can work with kids and determine whether you'd like to pursue your interests. –Stacey Kim, DPT Class of 2014


    This is up to you. All the professors are more than willing to include you in whatever area you're interested in. For pediatrics, we get information sprinkled throughout nearly every class and there are professors that specialize in peds, so you can seek them out. We spend time with elementary school children, providing a sort of after-school physical education program. There are service learning opportunities to help out with "Fit Families" teaching local families about healthy habits and trips to Ensenada to help out at an orphanage for severely handicapped children. –Pamela Mikklesen, DPT Class of 2014  

    Are students involved in research at USC, and how do I go about becoming involved?

    I personally know of several students in my year as well as several third year students who are involved in research. Let's be honest, USC isn't the cheapest school around but the extra money goes toward paying for world-renown faculty that do research. The benefit to us is that we have a lot of opportunities to get involved with research. Whether it be by participating in a few studies, helping a professor compile data or actually take on a research project on your own, there are definitely opportunities to do research. If you ever have any questions just ask a second or third year. –Chase Bauer, DPT Class of 2014


    There are numerous research opportunities available from all the faculty whether it be as a subject, research assistant, or researcher. Basically, the opportunities are there for you to find and if you don't find one, just ask and one can be made for you –Pamela Mikklesen, DPT Class of 2014


    Without research, how could we know how best to treat our patients? Get to know your faculty as you move through the first year. Figure out who you really click with, and who has research interests that speak to your interests. A good time to approach professors about being a research assistant or researcher yourself is in the second semester of your first year, after you've had a chance to get the basics down. If you want to be a research subject, then various opportunities will arise throughout all of your semesters at USC. Whatever level you're interested in being involved at, there's a way to make it happen! –Shannon Gorman, DPT Class of 2014

    How does the buddy program work?

    Incoming students are matched to a second year student and to a faculty member. This is one of the ways that you'll be eased into your new life as a graduate student. Your second year buddy can help you with everything from figuring out where you'll live to helping you practice skills before your exams. They are a resource for you throughout your time at USC - whether it's your first semester, your first clinical experience, or during any time if you are just feeling overwhelmed with some aspect of your life and need a friendly pair of ears who, more likely than not, has had similar experiences as yours. Your faculty member will similarly be a sounding board for you - whether you are seeking advice about a particular specialty you're interested in, struggling in school and need some help, or are getting ready to select a service-learning project and want some input. You'll meet at least once a semester with your faculty mentor and as often as you like with your second year buddy. We want you to do well here, and once you get here you'll quickly find that you'll have more than one second-year student you get along with, and more than one faculty member from whom you seek advice. But these two folks will be ready and waiting to get you off on the right foot, and help whenever you need it! –Shannon Gorman, DPT Class of 2014