Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 




What is the DPT?

The Doctor of Physical Therapy is a clinical, post-graduate doctoral degree that is 3 years in length and deemed to be the preferred credential for optimally preparing graduates to make significant contributions to the profession.  The first DPT educational program was accredited by CAPTE in 1995-96.  There are currently 229 accredited and developing DPT Programs in the country.  By January 1, 2016 all physical therapy educational programs must offer the DPT degree.

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Is Physical Therapy the career for me?
Individuals who typically migrate toward a career in physical therapy are those who are passionate about helping others.  They enjoy human interaction and are effective at collaborating and engaging others.  Physical Therapists are also effective problem-solvers and enjoy the rewards and challenges of having an impact on the lives of others.  A strong academic background in the biological and physical sciences is valuable in supporting the Physical Therapist’s efforts to change lives.

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How difficult is it to find a job after I graduate?
The profession of Physical Therapy was considered the 8th best job in America in 2012 with an expected 40% increase in job opportunities by the year 2020 with an anticipated 77,000 new job opportunities. (US News and World Report, 2/27/12)  A 30% increase in job opportunities is expected between 2008 and 2018. (US Department of Labor, 2010-2011).  Physical Therapy is considered one of the best jobs for “fast growth” ranked #2 in 2011 and ranked #4 on the “Best Jobs in America” list in 2010. (CNNMoney.com)

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After graduation, will I be able to work anywhere?
Alvernia’s DPT Program is dedicated to providing professional physical therapy education designed to prepare graduates to work in any physical therapy practice setting.  As generalists, graduates will be sufficiently trained to provide expert care in any setting in which physical therapy may be offered.  The curriculum is built on an instructional philosophy that progresses from foundational to complex.  The emphasis is placed on the clinical Practice Pattern core which is designed to prepare students for clinical practice within the 4 primary areas of clinical practice: musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiopulmonary, and integumentary.  Students will also be expected to complete 39 weeks of clinical internships that span each of the common practice settings.  Based on personal preference, students will be given some ability to pursue specific areas of clinical specialization.  With a DPT degree from Alvernia, graduates will be sufficiently prepared to pass the licensure examination and practice in the setting of their choice after graduation.    

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How difficult is it to gain admission into Alvernia’s DPT Program?
Programs in the health sciences continue to be appealing and marketable because of the sustained need for graduates within the myriad of allied health professions.  This need is due, in part, to the current population of aging Americans who are increasingly requiring healthcare resources.  Although a reduction in Physical Therapy school enrollment was experienced in 2003-2005, in response to the Balanced Budget Act, interest and enrollment in Physical Therapy Education Programs has been consistently strong since the 1980’s.  In 2011, twenty-three new programs were given candidacy by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). As the first Physical Therapy education program in Berks County PA, we anticipate that enrollment into the program will be extremely competitive.  Prospective students should make choices designed to increase the strength of their application.   

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Can I work while I am enrolled in the Program?
The rigorous nature of the DPT curriculum in addition to the possibility of clinical placements that are not local will make it challenging for students to work while they are enrolled in the program.  To increase their chances of success, students are strongly discouraged from working while enrolled in the program.

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Is on-campus housing available?
Yes, Alvernia is pleased to offer on-campus housing for DPT students.  In addition to several choices on campus, a wide variety of housing is also available in close proximity to campus.  For more details on student housing, prospective students are encouraged to contact the Residence Life Office at (610) 796-8320.

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How much is tuition?
Students will pay tuition on a per semester basis in the fall and spring semesters. Semesters of 12-18 credits will be $12,550. Summer semesters will be between 0-11 credits and be $950/credit. Please note that these numbers will change for the 2014-2015 year. Learn more

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Are there any additional costs or fees?
There will be a comprehensive program fee, excluding textbooks, 0f $1,500/year. Additionally, students will have a graduation fee of $100.

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Is financial aid available?
Yes, a multitude of financial aid solutions may be available to support your academic endeavors.  For details of financial aid opportunities available to Alvernia DPT students, please contact:

The Office of Student Financial Planning   
400 Saint Bernardine Street
2nd Floor – Bernadine Hall
Room 1103
Reading, PA 19607
Phone: 610-796-8356
Fax: 610-796-8336
financialaid@alvernia.edu

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When is my application due?
Due to the competitive nature of the program, prospective students are encouraged to apply as early as possible up to a year prior to beginning the program (applications will be accepted after July 1, 2014).  Applications are due no later than February 15 for the following fall semester.  Any applications submitted after February 15 will be considered for admission the following year.  Students may be informed of their application status sooner but will be informed no later than April 1.   

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When will I know if I have been accepted?
Applicants are encouraged to apply to the program as early as possible up to a year prior to beginning the program (applications will be accepted after July 1, 2014).  Strong applicants may be notified soon after submission regarding their status.  All applicants will receive written notice of their status no later than April 1 of the year in which they are planning to begin the program of study.    

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When do classes start?
The DPT Program has a Fall semester start.  For the charter class beginning in the Fall of 2015, classes will begin the last week in August 2015.  

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Will I have a summer break?
The DPT Program is comprised of 121 credits spanning 9 semesters.  In order to facilitate focused clinical internship experiences, students will be required to engage in two unopposed 6-week internships in the summer between year 1 and year 2 and again in the summer between year 2 and year 3 of the program.  DPT 524 will occur from May to June and DPT 624 will occur from June to July.  Students are encouraged to use these alternate times to replenish and renew before re-engaging.  

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Will I be placed in a clinic that is far away?
The majority of clinical sites used throughout the program are within a 10 mile radius of Alvernia’s main campus and nearly all are within a 50 mile radius.  Particularly during the part-time clinical internships, clinical sites that are in close proximity to campus will be utilized.  In some cases, the student may be responsible for additional costs related to travel and accommodations.

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What type of clinical settings will I be experiencing?
In order to prepare students for generalized physical therapy practice, students will be placed in a variety of practice settings during their 8 internships over 39 weeks.  During the part-time clinical internships, students will be placed in a setting that matches the content being taught in class.  In Clinical Practice I and II, students will be placed within an inpatient setting and in Clinical Practice IV and V they will be placed in an outpatient setting.  For the first two full-time clinical internships (Clinical Practice III and VI) students will alternate within either an inpatient or outpatient non-specialized setting.  For the remaining two 12-week internships (Clinical Practice VII and VIII), students will be given the option to choose a specialized setting of their choice for one of the internships and a specialized outpatient or rehab setting for the other.  The type of practice settings include acute care hospitals, subacute rehabilitation hospitals, transitional care units, skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, pediatric care facilities, hospital-based outpatient facilities, free-standing outpatient facilities, among others. 

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What is academic probation?

Students enrolled in the DPT Program must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale throughout the curriculum and a grade of “P” in all clinical education courses.  A student may be placed on academic probation for the following reasons:  1.) A student whose cumulative GPA falls below a 3.0, 2.) A student who earns a semester GPA below 3.0, 3.) A student who earns a final grade of “C” in more than one course in the same semester, 4.) A student who earns a final course grade that is below a “C” or “P” thus indicating failure of the course.  Students who receive a final course grade below a “C” or “P” will be required to re-take the course when it is next offered and will be unable to continue in the Program until they have successfully completed the course after which they will proceed through the Program a year later than anticipated.  The student’s initial grade will remain on the student’s permanent transcript but the most recent course grade will be used to calculate the student’s cumulative GPA.  Upon being placed on academic probation, the student will receive written notification from the Program Director that they are on probation and no longer in good academic standing and will be required to meet with the DPT Academic Review Committee (ARC), at which time a learning contract will be developed. 

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What is academic dismissal?
A student will be dismissed from the DPT Program for the following academic reasons: 1.) One additional semester after being placed on probation, a student is unable to attain a cumulative GPA at or above a 3.0, 2.) One additional semester after being placed on probation, a student earns a semester GPA below 3.0, 3.) One additional semester after being placed on probation, a student earns a final grade of “C” in more than one course in the same semester, 4.) A student who earns a final course grade that is below a “C” or “P” fails to earn a final course grade of “C”/“P”, or better, upon re-taking the course, 5.) A student who is on academic probation more than once throughout the Program will be dismissed.  As per University policy, a student who has been academically dismissed may write an appeal letter to the Program Department Chair if extenuating circumstances warrant a review of the academic record. A student who has been dismissed for academic reasons may petition for re-admittance into the Program.  The decision to develop a learning contract that includes the potential for re-admittance to the Program is made by the DPT Academic Review Committee after careful consideration of the student’s overall performance in the Program. 

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How does DPT education differ from my undergraduate education?
Depending on the undergraduate school that you attended and your undergraduate major, the DPT curriculum may be unlike what you have previously experienced.  Unlike most undergraduate degrees, physical therapy education includes a vast amount of practical lab and clinical practice experiences.  Although theoretical knowledge is foundational, the effectiveness of any therapist rests in their ability to provide hands-on care.  To facilitate entry-level skill, application of knowledge must be taught and assessed through psychomotor training.  For some students, these experiences may be new and may require a different approach to preparation.  It is not enough to simply read and study theories and concepts.  To succeed within the program and thereafter, repetitive practice of lab skills is expected that goes beyond formal classroom instruction. 

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How long is the Program?
The program spans a total of 111 weeks over 9 semesters with a Fall semester start and 2 summer semesters of focused clinical education.  There are 75 weeks of didactic classroom instruction and 39 weeks of full-and part-time clinical education experiences, comprising 121 total credits including 89 credits of classroom learning experiences and 32 credits of clinical education experiences.

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Can I complete my DPT education on a part-time basis?
No, the “lock-step” nature of the DPT curriculum disallows students from completing the coursework on a part-time basis.  Although a request for leave may be granted on an individual basis, continuous enrollment in the program is required.  

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What happens if the Program does not achieve accreditation?
The program is dedicated and prepared to pursue the requirements and meet all of the timelines established by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) which is the sole accrediting body for physical therapy educational program in the U.S. Such requirements include the following:

  • Application for Candidacy - December 1, 2014
  • Candidacy Site Visit - January/February 2015
  • Self-Study Report - 2017
  • Accreditation Site Visit - 2018
  • Accreditation Fee submission – by December 1 annually 
  • Report of substantive program changes or institutional factors which may affect the program’s progress toward accreditation
  • Implementation of CAPTE recommendations to avoid non-compliance
  • Annual public reporting of data related to admission, graduation rate, national examination outcomes, and employment rates

 

Despite taking these steps, if the program should fail to achieve accreditation, students will be given the option of completing their physical therapy education and receiving their degree elsewhere.  These options will be confirmed and made available to students. The teach-out plan for students currently enrolled in the program if accreditation is withdrawn/not achieved is as follows: 1.)  Students who are enrolled in the program at the time that accreditation is withdrawn will be immediately notified of this change in accreditation status, classes will be suspended, and no new students will be enrolled in the program, 2.) Students who are enrolled at the time that accreditation is withdrawn will be offered the option of completing the current semester’s coursework or until the time in which the accreditation withdrawal goes into effect.  Assistance in the identification and transfer of the student to another DPT program will be offered, 3.) Students who are in their first year of the DPT program and have entered the program through the 3+3 year format, will be given the opportunity to complete their Bachelor’s degree at Alvernia University but will be required to complete the standard curriculum for the undergraduate major that they chose prior to admission into the graduate program.  Credits earned in the DPT program prior to accreditation withdrawal will be attributed to the students bachelor’s degree. 

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Effective November 12, 2014, the Physical Therapy Program at Alvernia University has been granted Candidate for Accreditation status by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; phone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org). Candidate for Accreditation is a pre-accreditation status of affiliation with the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education that indicates that the program is progressing toward accreditation and may matriculate students in technical/professional courses. Candidate for Accreditation is not an accreditation status nor does it assure eventual accreditation.




doctor of physical therapy (dpt) program

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