Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Students planning to become a physical therapist apply to the Entry Level DPT Program. This is a three year program (36 months) including 34 weeks of full time clinical affiliations. The DPT Program is accredited by the APTA Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. It has also been approved by the University of California, California State University, California Post-Secondary Education Committee (CPEC) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

This program is designed to prepare scholarly clinicians, educators, collaborative clinical researchers, administrative managers and community leaders. The program accepts 42 - 50 students and requires 36 months of study (including summers). The curriculum is built on a strong theoretical foundation in basic, medical and applied sciences. Critical thinking and clinical reasoning are woven into all aspects of the program and creative problem solving skills are developed to work with patients to mitigate disability, optimize function and maintain positive health.

Courses are held at San Francisco State University and the University of California, San Francisco campuses. Clinical clerkships occur at affiliated agencies throughout California and other states. Graduates are well prepared to pass the State Licensing Examination and are considered top applicants for positions in a variety of physical therapy venues.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for physical therapists is very good with graduates employed in acute and rehabilitation hospitals, private practice, outpatient clinics, schools, community agencies, and academic programs.

Entry Level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)

Admission Requirements to Program

Fifty students are admitted to the DPT program each June. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and meet all general admissions requirements for graduate study at both San Francisco State University and the University of California, San Francisco. Although any undergraduate major is acceptable, for students in the initial stages of undergraduate preparation, a major in kinesiology or the biological sciences tends to be the most direct route into a physical therapy program. All applicants must have completed the program prerequisites before entry. Students taking combined anatomy/physiology courses must complete two semesters or three quarters of work. Applicants without a strong science background should take additional science courses to demonstrate an ability to succeed in science-based course work.

Required Basic Prerequisite Courses

Title Units
General Chemistry with laboratory (1 Year) No survey courses 10
General Physics with laboratory (1 Year) No survey courses 8
Human or Comparative Anatomy with laboratory 3
Human Physiology with laboratory 4
General Microbiology or Related Upper Division Biology course 3

Social/Psychological Sciences

Title Units
Abnormal Psychology 3

Applied Sciences

Title Units
Introduction to Statistics 3

Highly Recommended Courses

Title Units
Biomedical Ethics 3
Organic Chemistry 3
Motor Learning or Motor Control 3
Developmental Psychology or Motor Development 3
Neurosciences/Neuroanatomy 3
Exercise Physiology 3
Structural or Anatomical Kinesiology 3

To be eligible for admission consideration, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Meet the Graduate School requirements of the University of California and the California State University. More specifically, students must have an overall baccalaureate GPA of 3.0 or above.
  • A 3.0 GPA or above in college course work in the basic sciences including the prerequisites specified above.
  • Submit Graduate Record Examination scores. Scores must be no more than five years old. As of August 2011, scores must be at 50th percentile or higher; and a score of 4.5 in the writing (analytical) section are highly recommended. Scores are due by October 1 of the year the application is submitted.
  • Be able to demonstrate understanding of the work and profession of physical therapy, gained through paid or volunteer experience (minimum of 150 hours) in a variety of settings under the supervision of a physical therapist.
  • Supply three strong letters of recommendation regarding potential to complete the program and personal compatibility with physical therapy as a profession. At least one letter must be from a physical therapist.

Application Process

Students must submit two applications, which are submitted separately, but in parallel. Application materials consist of:

  1. The Centralized Physical Therapy Application (PTCAS), and
  2.  The UCSF Supplemental Physical Therapy Application.

Both applications are accessible at UCSF P.T. Website at for application instructions. The deadline for both applications is OCTOBER 1 (midnight, PST) of the year prior to desired entry.

Following preliminary evaluation, a selection of applicants will be invited to interview. Following an interview and an assessment of writing skills, 50 students will be accepted for admission to the physical therapy program. Once accepted into the program, students will then complete an online application for admission to SF State.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One

Students must meet the first level of proficiency in written English as a condition of admission to the physical therapy program. Students must complete the GRE analytical writing section prior to enrollment. Evaluation of writing skills are also based upon an essay written at the time of the applicant's scheduled interview.

Level Two

The second level of written English proficiency is demonstrated through course projects involving written manuscripts during years one and two of the program, and the culminating experience project during the student's final year in the program.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy based on a Qualifying Assessment that consists of:

  1. overall 3.0 GPA in academic coursework;
  2. satisfactory performance on all practical exams in clinical coursework;
  3. satisfactory performance in all clinical clerkships as judged by meeting all required milestones on the Clinical Performance Index; and,
  4. score of 80% or better on each of three clinically based, board style examinations that evaluate critical thinking and problem solving.

Culminating Experience

Students research and write an in-depth evidence based review of a clinical problem following the criteria established in PT 209 and PT 910 courses. The manuscripts must be prepared in a publication-ready journal format as well as presented orally to an audience of faculty and peers.

Courses shown with quarter-unit values are taken at the UCSF. Courses shown with semester-unit values are assigned to SF State. At SF State, courses numbering 700 or higher are graduate courses. At the UCSF, courses with numbers between 100 and 199 are at the upper division level; courses with numbers between 200 and 399 are graduate courses.

Doctor of Physical Therapy


Basic and Applied Sciences

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
ANAT 207 Neuroscience 5
KIN 746 Clinical Exercise Physiology 3
PHYS 121 Mammalian Physiology I 5
PHYS 122 Mammalian Physiology II 3
PT 200A Neuromusculoskeletal Anatomy 6
PT 200B/C Neuromusculoskeletal Anatomy 1
PT 205 Functional Anatomy Review (elective) 1.5
PT 706 Structure, Function and Motion in Physical Therapy 2

Medical Sciences

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 110 Orthopedics & Rehabilitation: Diagnosis & Treatment 2
PT 111 Neurology & Rehabilitation: Diagnosis & Treatment 3
PT 112 Human Growth and Development Across the Life Span 3
PATH 135.01 Pathology 3
PT 210 Radiology for Physical Therapy 2
PT 211 Pharmacology for Physical Therapy 2
PT 212A Muscle Biology and Therapeutic Exercise 1.5
PT 212B Advanced Therapeutic Exercise Prescription 1.5

Applied Social Sciences

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 704 Education, Health Promotion, Wellness and Prevention in Physical Therapy 2
PT 705 Administration and Organization in Physical Therapy 2
PT 735 Psychosocial Aspects in Rehabilitation Sciences, Part I 2
PT 736 Ecological and Organizational Issues in Rehabilitation 3
PT 737 Psychosocial Issues in Rehabilitation Science, Part II 1


Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 215 Compassion, Accountability, Responsibility & Excellence (CARE) 1
PT 251A Research Design 3
PT 215B Research Design 1.5
PT 419A Research Seminar 1
PT 419B Research Seminar 1
PT 419C Research Seminar 1
PT 419D Research Seminar 1
PT 899 Independent Study 2
or PT 206 Application of Principles of Study 3

Physical Therapy Sciences

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 201A Physical Therapy Assessment 3
PT 202 Therapeutic Modalities 2
PT 213 Neurological Pathokinesiology III 2
PT 700 Multisystem Pathokinesiology 4
PT 710 Neurological Pathokinesiology I 4
PT 711 Neurological Pathokinesiology II 3
PT 720 Cardiopulmonary Pathokinesiology I 2
PT 741 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology I 4
PT 742 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology II 4
PT 743 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology III 3

Evidence Based Practice

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 209 Evidence Based Practice 3
PT 908 Professional Colloquium 1
PT 910 Evidence Based Practice 4

Clinical Care

Course Title S F State Semester Units UCSF Quarter Units
PT 207 Medical Screening for Physical Therapists 4.5
PT 400A Grand Rounds 3
PT 400B Grand Rounds 1
PT 400C Grand Rounds 1
PT 410 Integrated Clinical Experience 0.5
PT 418 Mentored Clinical Internship 9
PT 420A Mentored Research Concentration 2.5
PT 420B Mentored Research Concentration 2.5
PT 420C Mentored Research Concentration 2.5
PT 420D Mentored Research Concentration 2.5
PT 801 Clinical Clerkship I 6
PT 802 Clinical Clerkship II 6
PT 920 Case Reports I 1
PT 921 Case Reports II 4

Total semester units: 122