Frequently Asked Questions

  • What degree do I need to have in order to enroll in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program?

     A Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) or higher in any field except Physical Therapy is needed to enroll. It is permissible to apply before the bachelor’s degree is completed, but enrollment in the program will not be allowed until the bachelor’s degree is awarded.

    Individuals who already hold a degree in Physical Therapy and are currently in practice may wish to consider applying to a 1-year Clinical Residency Program in OrthopedicNeurologic, Pediatric, or Sports Physical Therapy offered by the Division. These clinical residencies are designed for physical therapists pursuing specialized post-professional clinical education, teaching experience and advanced practice.  They are also intended to prepare the resident to successfully pass the Clinical Specialist Examination in the appropriate area of specialty.

    What documentation and forms are required to apply to the DPT Program?

    In order to apply to the DPT Program an online PTCAS application must be submitted.  A link to the PTCAS application is provided below.


    Please Note:  GRE scores are an important component of the application process.  The applicant should enter GRE scores in the appropriate section of the PTCAS application.  In the event that the GRE will be taken after submission of the PTCAS application, the anticipated test date should be indicated in the appropriate PTCAS application field.

    Are interviews a required part of the application process?

    No. Formal interviews are not required and are not part of the admissions review process. However, the Admissions Coordinator may contact an applicant to clarify questions or deficiencies arising from the application review process conducted by the committee.

    In addition, all applicants are encouraged to visit the campus and attend an information session. These visits can be arranged through the Office of the Admissions Coordinator, Virginia Orcasitas at 323-442-2890.

    How many applications do you receive each year?

    Each year the DPT Program receives approximately 1000 applications.

    What is the average size for a DPT class?

    95 students make up a typical entering class.

    What is the graduation rate?

    Graduation rates for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at USC:

                                Graduate on Time     Graduate Late     Total

    Class of 2010                 95%                          3%               98%

    Class of 2011                 96%                          2%               98%

    Class of 2012                 94%                          5%               99%

    Class of 2013                 95%                          5%               99%

    Class of 2014                 95%                          5%               99%

    Average:                        95%                          4%               99%

    Graduate on Time refers to students who graduate in the expected three years. Graduate Late refers to students who graduate within 18 months following the expected date of graduation. Of those students who do not graduate, the majority leave the program for personal reasons.

    What is the pass rate on the national licensing exam?

    Pass rates on the national licensing exam over the past three years:

                                 First Time Pass Rate            National Average            Ultimate Pass Rate  

    Class of 2012                 96%                                   88%                                  100%

    Class of 2013                 98%                                   90%                                  100%

    Class of 2014                 99%                                   91%                                  100%

    Class of 2015                 98%                                   91%                                    99%

    Ultimate Pass Rate refers to the percent of students who pass the licensure exam after one or more attempts. (For further info, visit the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy web site.)

    When is the application deadline?

    Only one annual application cycle with a Fall Semester start date is offered for the DPT Program.  The application deadline for entering the program in the Fall 2018 Semester is December 1, 2017.

    When are decisions made on applications?

    Application decisions are typically made on a rolling basis beginning  in November and continue until all applications are reviewed. All applicants should receive notification of a decision by late March or early April.

    When does the DPT Program begin?

    Classes typically begin in late August of each year.

    How long is the DPT Program?

    Students complete the DPT Program in 3 years (8 semesters).

    What are the tuition rates for the DPT Program?

    The 2016-2017 tuition structure for entering students is:
    o Year 1:  $65,111
    o Year 2:  $65.111
    o Year 3:  $39,339

    There are no additional fees for clinical education or for lab courses.

    Does the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy offer scholarships?

    Yes. There are a limited number of competitive, merit-based scholarships awarded to students throughout the 3-year program.  All incoming students are considered for these awards, and there is no need to submit a formal application. In past years, 10-15 incoming students were awarded scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for the first year. Scholarships are awarded to 2nd and 3rd year students based on their meritorious academic and clinical performance.

    Is Financial Aid available for International Students?

    No.  Governmental financial aid is not available for international students. International students must provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses while enrolled in the program; however, international students are considered for merit scholarships.

    Does the DPT Program give priority or apply different tuition rates to in-state applications?

    No. USC is a private university and does not give priority nor apply reduced tuition rates to in-state applications. 

    What is the minimum grade point average (GPA) for admission?

    The minimum recommended cumulative GPA is 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). Competitive applicants typically have cumulative GPA's of 3.4 or higher.

    What is the minimum GPA for successful completion of the DPT program?

    In order to successfully complete and receive a DPT degree from the University of Southern California, a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 is required.

    What is the minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score for admission?

    The recommended minimum combined Verbal and Quantitative GRE score is 300 for the Revised General GRE Test taken on or after August 1, 2011.  A score of at least 150 in each GRE component is preferred. Competitive applicants typically have combined GRE scores of 312 or higher.  GRE scores older than 5 years are not accepted.

    When should I take the GRE, and can I re-take the exam?

    Applicants should take the GRE any time prior to and including the month of November. If an applicant does not receive a combined minimum score of 300 prior to or during November, it is highly recommended that the applicant retake the exam in December to improve their admissions credentials.  Applicants should keep the Admissions Coordinator updated as to the status of their GRE scores.

    Is volunteer or work experience in physical therapy required in order to apply

    Substantial clinical experience (150 hours) is required. The prior experience can be either voluntary or paid (i.e., physical therapy aide), and is intended to expose the applicant to the profession of physical therapy and affirm their desire to pursue a career in the field.

    Do all the prerequisite courses need to be completed before applying in December?

    No. Applicants can submit an application including in-progress courses and still be considered by the Admissions Committee for the current admission cycle.  However, all prerequisites must be completed prior to entering the program in August.

    Do all prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry and physics need to have a laboratory component?


    Do you accept Advanced Placement (AP) credits and pass/no pass grades in lieu of college-level courses or a letter grade to fulfill science prerequisites?

    No. All science courses must have received a letter grade to fulfill prerequisite requirements.

    Do prerequisite courses have an expiration date?

    No. All letter-graded prerequisite coursework is acceptable, no matter when the coursework was completed.  However, it is highly recommend that students take refresher courses when needed to be prepared to take full advantage of the curriculum.

    Can I take prerequisite courses at a community college?

    Yes. If you are unable to take prerequisite courses at an accredited 4-year college or university for compelling reasons, courses taken at an accredited community college are acceptable.