BY JOHN HOBBS MA '14
The USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy will partner with education technology company 2U, Inc. to launch its top-ranked doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program into cyberspace.
The groundbreaking program, called DPT@USC, is scheduled to accept its first students in Fall 2018, pending approval by USC and the appropriate accrediting boards.
The on-campus DPT program will continue in parallel with the new online program.
DPT@USC will give students across the United States access to an education from the program that has long been at the vanguard of physical therapy education. USC launched the nation’s first PhD in physical therapy program in 1978 and the first accredited DPT program in 1995, both of which pushed the profession further toward the evidence-based science it is today.
“USC has a long history of pioneering and shaping the profession through ground-breaking leadership in research, education and clinical practice,” said Associate Dean James Gordon. “We are excited to partner with 2U to launch an online doctor of physical therapy program that will be both innovative — by leveraging the best elements of online and experiential learning — and accessible, by reaching more students nationwide to meet the growing demand for highly qualified physical therapists.”
It has been Gordon’s longtime vision to advance physical therapy education by quantum leaps through the use of technology and innovative educational practices.
“We are the architects of our profession’s future. Through our efforts today, we design and build the foundations and frameworks that will make it possible for a strong and vibrant and creative profession to emerge in the next decade, in the next 40 years, in the next century,” Gordon said during his 2014 Mary McMillan Lecture, which is the highest honor bestowed by the American Physical Therapy Association.
DPT@USC students will receive the same high-quality and academically vigorous training, with the same access to expert faculty members, as their on-campus counterparts. To graduate, online students must complete 33 courses, 50 weeks in full-time clinical internships and will be required to travel to USC for more than 65 days of hands-on clinical skills laboratories.
The online program will include collaborative, live classes as well as high-quality engaging coursework developed by USC faculty, utilizing 2U’s innovative learning platform.
“Here at USC, there is no more important task than educating the next generation of physical therapists,” Gordon said. “Online education is not merely about convenience. The online environment provides opportunities for learning that go beyond what is available in a traditional classroom.”
He adds, “With DPT@USC, we hope to combine the best that USC physical therapy has to offer with the best online platform to develop a program that will serve as a model for other academic institutions looking to launch their own online programs.”
2U partners with great colleges and universities to build what it believes is the world’s premier online education. It has cross-campus partnerships with the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work as well as the USC Rossier School of Education, both of which utilize the 2U platform for their online programs.
The USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy has been ranked the No. 1 physical therapy program by U.S. News and World Report since 2004. It has been a center of excellence for clinical practice, education and research in physical therapy since its founding in 1945. The division is administratively housed within the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC.