Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the DPT program accredited?

    The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at USC is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website: The physical therapy program has been continuously accredited since 1946. The program’s accreditation was most recently re-affirmed in 2008, with a commendation from the Commission. The program is scheduled to be re-evaluated in 2018.

    What is the employment rate?

    In the past five years, 100% of graduates have been employed as physical therapists within six months of passing the licensure exam.

    What is the graduation rate?

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

                                Graduate on Time     Graduate Late     Total 

    Class of 2012                 94%                          5%               99%

    Class of 2013                 95%                          5%               99%

    Class of 2014                 95%                          5%               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: 

                                 First Time Pass Rate       Ultimate Pass Rate   

    Class of 2012                 96%                                   100%

    Class of 2013                 98%                                   100%

    Class of 2014                 99%                                   100%

    Class of 2015                 98%                                     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.) 

    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. 

    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. 

    PTCAS Application

    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 and designate USC as one of the recipients of official scores in the appropriate section (USC’s code is 7601).  In the event that the GRE is taken after submission of the PTCAS application, be sure to submit the scores to PTCAS as soon as they become available.

    Are interviews a required part of the application process?

    No. Formal interviews are not a required part of the admissions process, but the Admissions Committee may contact an applicant to clarify questions arising from the application review process. 

    In addition, all applicants are encouraged to attend an Information Session to tour the campus and meet with a faculty member to discuss the USC DPT Program.  These visits and meetings 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. 

    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 2016 Semester is December 1, 2016. 

    When are decisions made on applications?

    Application decisions are typically made beginning in November and continue until all applications are reviewed and a full class has been offered admission. 

    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 calendar years (8 semesters). 

    What are the tuition rates for the DPT Program?

    The Fall 2016 tuition structure for entering students is:
    o Year 1:  $62,667
    o Year 2:  $62,667
    o Year 3:  $37,862

    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 2015, 11 incoming students were awarded scholarships ranging from $8,000 to $10,000 for the first year. Competitive, merit-based scholarships are awarded to 2nd and 3rd year students for excellence in  academic and clinical performance. 

    Is Financial Aid available for International Students?

    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 applicants.  

    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.   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 minimum combined score of  300, it is highly recommended that the applicant retake the exam in December to improve their admissions credentials.  

    Is volunteer or work experience in physical therapy required in order to be admitted to the program?

    Substantial clinical experience of at least 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 that included 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?

    Yes. Some exceptions are made dependent upon unique circumstances. 

    Do you accept Advanced Placement (AP) credits in lieu of 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. 

    Are online courses acceptable to fulfill science prerequisites?


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

    Student Perspectives

    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 biology 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

    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.