Department of Physical Therapy

The Department of Physical Therapy continues to pursue a path toward excellence in achieving our mission “educating physical therapists who provide the highest levels of professional care to diverse communities while maintaining a commitment to life-long learning”.

Physical Therapy: A Hands-On Profession

A Physical Therapist (PT) is a health care professional who provides direct patient care to persons who have disorders of movement, mechanical, physiological and developmental impairments and functional limitations, whether caused by injury or disease, to help them achieve maximum physical function and mobility.

Physical Therapists use their minds and hands to:

  • Diagnose and manage movement dysfunction and enhance physical and functional abilities.
  • Restore, maintain, and promote optimal physical function and optimal wellness and fitness and optimal quality of life as it relates to movement and health.
  • Prevent the onset, symptoms, and progression of impairments, functional limitations, and disabilities that may result from diseases, disorders, or injuries.

Physical Therapists have the necessary training to meet the total range of patient care responsibilities involved in preventing disabilities and promoting restoration  of function to the physically impaired, including musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular/pulmonary and integumentary disorders that interfere with physical function. Physical Therapists practice in hospitals and medical centers, rehabilitation centers, private practice clinics, home health settings, sports medicine facilities, colleges, universities and in various other settings. The broad options in Physical Therapy allow PTs to develop and pursue a focus of care in any specific population from children and athletes to senior citizens. Physical Therapists also work as educators, researchers, consultants and administrators.

Physical Therapy is a sought-after career with virtually unlimited opportunities. It is a profession that offers a lifetime of satisfaction while directly helping people move more efficiently and function more effectively.

USA's Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree

The Department of Physical Therapy has provided quality physical therapy education for nearly 30-years with continuous accreditation. A friendly faculty that is clinically and academically strong teaches the curriculum leading to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. As its Mission, The Department of Physical Therapy is 1)dedicated to the education of physical therapists who provide the highest levels of professional care to diverse communities while maintaining a commitment to life-long learning, and 2)committed to service and the advancement of knowledge in the profession through research and scholarly activity.

The exciting and challenging DPT program is offered in an 8-semester (32 continuous months) format, a new class entering each Fall semester. The curriculum includes a variety of professional training/educational experiences to prepare students to enter PT practice. Students benefit from significant hands-on clinical practical labs and formal lectures/discussions led by faculty with experience in each clinical practice area, clinical problem solving activities, clinical research plus 33 weeks of full-time clinical internship supervised by licensed physical therapists. The clinical internships are available in over 200 affiliated general hospitals, rehabilitation centers and various specialty practices representing a wide variety of educational opportunities for the student. While clinical sites are spread across the United States, the majority are within the Southeastern region.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of South Alabama prepares graduates for professional practice and is designed as an entry-level, first PT degree. Throughout the program, students develop necessary communication skills in addition to professional and manual skills and techniques. Strong emphasis is placed on gaining clinical reasoning/problem solving skills and the ability to practice as an independent primary care provider in any employment setting. Graduates will also have the capability of assuming responsibilities in areas of administration, consultation and research in physical therapy.

Accreditation and Licensure


The entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy program at the University of South Alabama is accredited by: 
Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE)
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Telephone:  703-706-3245

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) to gain licensure. Applicants are hereby informed that a history of felony conviction or moral crime, use of drugs or intoxicating liquors which affects professional competence, or narcotic law conviction will prevent physical therapy licensure. See Alabama Board of Physical Therapy website.

DPT Early Acceptance Program

The DPT Early Acceptance Program (DPTEAP) allows for some highly qualified high school seniors who meet the qualifications to gain early provisional acceptance to the graduate program prior to starting college. Details are described on the Early Acceptance Program of the Office of Admissions website. In addition, a link to the application for this program is also found on this webpage and the "Special Programs" section of the Office of Admissions Website. The application deadline for this program is December 15th of the senior year in high school.

Two Categories of Applicants are Considered for Admission:

It is highly recommended, and in most cases required, that  applicants complete a bachelor's degree prior to starting the PT program.

  1. Regular Graduate Applicants:
    These applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in any field from an accredited college or university and complete all prerequisites for regular graduate admission as listed below with a GPA > 3.00 by the time they would start the PT program.
  2. Advanced Undergraduate Applicants:
    (This admission option will no longer be available after the December 2016 application deadline.) This special Advanced early-entry option is reserved for the highly motivated and academically strong student. Students with at least 96 semester or 144 quarter hours of specific college prerequisites listed below and an overall GPA of > 3.50 may apply for entry to the program prior to completion of the bachelor's degree. The student applying with three years of prerequisites is then able to complete the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree with just six years of college. Applicants in this category should carefully review Additional Information for Advanced Undergraduates that follows the list of prerequisites.

Admissions rankings for both groups are determined using the same criteria. Acceptance will be based on the student's academic ability and aptitude for a career as a physical therapist including GPA emphasizing Science prerequisites, GRE score, and interview score.

Admissions Process

Click here for details on the admissions process.

Pt students at the beach

Recommended Courses

A number of courses are determined to be good preparation for certain components of the PT graduate program and therefore are recommended if they fit into the applicants preparation: Microbiology or Infectious Disease (one is required for Advanced Undergraduate applicants), Medical Terminology, Kinesiology, Exercise Physiology, Basic Motor Learning, upper level Anatomy, Neuroscience, Pathophysiology, Abnormal Psychology, Physiological Psychology, Developmental Psychology.

Additional Information for Advanced Undergraduate Applicants

(This admission option will no longer be available after the December 2016 application deadline.)
Students who have completed 96 semester or 144 quarter hours of prescribed and elective course work and who meet all admission criteria and the terms specified below are eligible for application to the program. Thus, these students may be able to complete the DPT degree in 6 years from entry into college. Students planning to pursue this category of admission must be working toward a back-up major in a discipline of their choice by the Junior undergraduate year. This will insure that students who are not admitted to the graduate program or who elect not to apply will be able to complete a degree within a normal time period. Also, students who go on to complete a bachelors degree and who meet all admission criteria (GPA > 3.0) will be eligible to apply later as Regular Graduate applicants.

In addition to the minimum admission requirements listed above, advanced undergraduate applicants also must acknowledge an understanding of the following:

  • That, according to University policy, no more than 64 semester hours of transfer credit from two-year colleges will be accepted.
  • That they will be officially classified as an undergraduate for the first 2 semesters of the program but will be taking graduate courses of the DPT program.
  • That in the first 2 semesters of the program, while classified as undergraduate students, any financial aid is restricted to the types and amounts for which undergraduate students are eligible.
  • That upon satisfactory completion (minimum GPA of 3.0 in all course work) of the first 2 semesters of the program, they will be awarded the Bachelor of Science in Pre-professional Health Science degree. These students must then complete application for reclassification and admission to the Graduate School. Upon satisfactory completion of the next 6 semesters of the DPT program, students will be awarded the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.
  • That tuition will be assessed at the graduate level for the entire eight semesters of the professional program.
  • That the academic program for students in both categories is identical in its entirety.
  • That for the entire eight semesters of the program they will be held to the same standards and policies as students enrolled in the graduate school (see the policies of the Graduate School).


Top Ten Reasons Students Say They Would Choose the USA PT Program Again

#10  Variety of clinical facilities  
#9    Location - close to home
#8    Small class size
#7    Location - close to the beach!
#6    Friendly atmosphere
#5    Comfortable informative interview
#4    Saved money
#3    Early entry option
#2    Program reputation and space
#1    Personable and knowledgeable faculty

We have fun while learning in a quality program!

Filing a Complaint or Comment

The Filing a Complaint or Comment document lists several ways you can submit a complaint or comment regarding the Physical Therapy Program at the University of South Alabama or the faculty, staff or students.

Membership in APTA


The Department of Physical Therapy promotes membership in the APTA, and annually participates in the APTA's Reach100 Challenge, always with 100% faculty membership, and often achieving 100% membership among students.  In 2016, we achieved "Gold" status.