Doctor of Physical Therapy

About The Program

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Old Dominion University is a full-time three-year course of study that includes classroom instruction, laboratory instruction and practice, online interactions, readings and homework assignments, discussions, peer teaching, seminars, and clinical internships. Our faculty is dedicated to excellence in professional teaching, research, and service to the profession, to the university, and to the community. We push students to develop their ability to think critically in evaluating ideas, new discoveries, and techniques, thereby providing a basis for a lifetime of learning and a vibrant career in patient-centered care.

Information Session

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Program Handbook

The DPT program is a full-time three-year experience. 

Technical Standards

Essential functions needed to complete the educational program. 

View Program Outcomes

View the outcomes and admissions statistics for the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program (DPT). 

Program Information

The DPT program accepts about 40 students annually. The program starts in mid-May with an intense anatomy class. View the curriculum schedule in the catalog.

Admission Requirements:

  1. Complete the Graduate Records Exam with a recommended score of at least 148 each on the verbal and quantitative sections and 3.5 on the writing section.
  2. Provide three letters of recommendation including one from a physical therapist.

  3. ODU's DPT program requires a total of 40 volunteer hours. The hours can be paid or volunteer. These hours MUST be completed in at least TWO (2) distinctly different PT clinics or settings (treating different patient populations). Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

  4. Submit a written essay on the question included in the PTCAS Application and answer the ODU-specific questions.

  5. Complete the ODU graduate admissions application that will be sent via an email link once the PTCAS application has been submitted. Please do NOT complete the regular graduate admissions application.

    If you are accepted to ODU and decide to attend, we will ask for an official transcript showing you have completed your undergraduate degree prior to enrollment in the DPT Program.

  6. Completion of the following pre-requisites at Old Dominion University or another regionally accredited institution:

    Course Work Semester Credit Hours Completed Within the Past
    Statistics 3 10 years
    General Biology (not botany) with Lab 8 10 years
    General Chemistry With Lab 8 10 years
    Human Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 8 5 years
    General Physics with Lab 8 10 years
    Psychology 3 10 years

 

Applications:

Applications to the ODU Doctor of Physical Therapy Program take place through the Physical Therapy Centralized Application System (PTCAS). The PTCAS Application can be accessed through the link below. In addition, once the PTCAS application is submitted, applicants will be emailed a link to complete the information required for the ODU Graduate Application and submit the $50 fee to Old Dominion University.

Clinical Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Clinical Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Clinical Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Assistant Professor Rehabilitation Sciences
Administrative Assistant College of Health Sciences

General Questions

Physical Therapy is the treatment of physical dysfunction or injury by use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities, intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development. Visit the American Physical Therapy Association (www.apta.org) for more information about Physical Therapy.

The job outlook for physical therapists is good and is projected to remain strong in the foreseeable future. Graduates of Old Dominion University's DPT program are highly sought-after by local health care employers.

Applying

This depends on the quality of your application and the number of applications that are received. Over 600 individuals applied for the 40 spots in the class.

A minimum 3.0 GPA is needed to apply, although successful applicants have a higher GPA. The average GPA for overall course work for the last class admitted was 3.6.

The minimum scores required on the GRE are 148 on both Verbal and Quantitative sections and 3.5 on the writing. However, the average GRE scores for our admitted students are on average 155 for both Verbal and Quantitative sections. We would like to see a 4 on the writing section of the test. Please contact your own university's testing center or Educational Testing Services (www.ets.org/gre) for more information about dates and fees for taking the GRE.

The DI specifically for the DPT program at ODU is 7800.

You will need 3 references. One must be from a physical therapist. Other references can be health care professionals who have observed you in a patient care environment or college instructors or employers.

Applications are due November 1st. We will begin notifying students of their acceptance status in early March with hopes of notifying everyone by mid, April. Some students may be given an option to be on an alternate list for notification if a seat becomes available.

We have monthly information sessions for prospective students in room 1118 Health Sciences Bldg. (Physical Therapy Lab) from 3:30pm-5:00pm. You are welcome to attend any of these sessions to find out more about our program, tour the facilities, meet a faculty member and ask questions. We also hold a larger Saturday information session in August of each year. To see the dates and times for the information sessions or to sign up for any information session, please click here.

Please call our main office at (757) 683-4519 and Administrative Assistant Nadine White, or email her at nswhite@odu.edu. If she is unable to answer your question she will forward your call or e-mail to someone who can.

Yes. Re-applicants are welcome and are often stronger candidates the second year. We recommend you set-up an advising session with a faculty member for advice on how to strengthen your application. Call (757) 683-4519 to set up an appointment. You will need to reapply both through PTCAS and ODU.

Preparation

You will need to complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in order to be eligible for our DPT program. You will also need to complete all prerequisite courses as listed below:

Course Work Semester Credit Hours Completed Within the Past
Statistics 3 10 years
General Biology 8 10 years
General Chemistry With Lab 8 10 years
Human Anatomy and Physiology 8 5 years
General Physics with Lab 8 10 years
Psyschology 3 10 years

No, but it must be possible for you to complete your bachelor's degree and all course work before the start date of the program (last week in June). Students lacking more than 12 semester hours of prerequisite courses by the end of the fall semester of the year prior to intended entry are not considered eligible to apply.

This course is recommended, but not required as a prerequisite for the DPT degree. This course is offered at most four-year colleges that offer degrees in Health and Physical Education and/or Sports Medicine. Old Dominion University offers this course through the Human Movement Sciences department (EXSC 417). The course may also be titled "Biomechanics" or "Applied Anatomy and Kinesiology." Norfolk State University also offers biomechanics/kinesiology.

Whether to repeat courses depends on your overall record. In general, repeating coursework will not have a significant impact on your overall GPA. If your grades are strong overall but you had a bad semester and earned a C in a key class such as Anatomy, Physiology or Physics, then re-taking that class could be beneficial to strengthen your application. If you are unsure, contact us for advisement.

There are many good reasons students graduating from a four-year institution take some courses at a community college. However, an academic record with science course work completed at a four-year institution will be perceived as being more rigorous, especially if the student's university offers the science courses but the student chose to go to a community college.

Yes. If you feel that there were extenuating circumstances, it might be worthwhile for you to attach a brief letter to your application explaining your situation which resulted in low grades during part of your academic career.

The two grades are averaged together.

Your undergraduate degree may have been completed at any time. Anatomy and physiology course work must have been completed within the last five years, while the rest of the prerequisite courses must have been completed within the last 10 years. If this affects you, we recommend that you contact the Program to set up an advising appointment to determine your specific situation.

Applicants need a total of 45 hours of work in a Physical Therapy setting. The hours can be paid or volunteer. These hours MUST be completed in TWO (2) or more different PT settings. At lease twenty (20) of them must be in one or more of the following settings; acute care (hospital), rehab (transitional or day rehab), short or long term (nursing homes or assisted living), pediatrics, wound care specialty care centers, or home health. Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many applicants are having difficulty completing 45 volunteer/observation hours, especially in inpatient settings. Please understand that we intended these hours to be completed by the time the program starts next June 2021, not by the application deadline this November 1. We hope that applicants will be able to complete hours sometime next spring, but if the pandemic restrictions continue into next year, we reserve the option of waiving observation hours. For now, please submit the hours that you have completed. We all hope for the best.

No. The program at Old Dominion University is designed for a full-time student to be continuously enrolled for 3 years.

Clinical Education

Students are introduced to clinical environments and populations early in the Program. The first year includes structured "clinics" with standardized patients at Eastern Virginia Medical School. A standardized patient is a healthy individual who is trained to portray signs and symptoms of a patient. The "clinics" are recorded, and students receive both written and verbal feedback on their clinical performance. The first full-time clinical experience occurs in the summer of the first year and is for eight weeks. This first-time experience is in an outpatient environment and to maximize the student's application and integration of learning from the first year in the classroom. During the second academic year, students evaluate and treat community volunteers with neurological disorders as well as standardized patients from Eastern Virginia Medical School. At the conclusion of the second year (the third summer of the Program), students spend twelve weeks in full-time clinical practice. The final third year spring semester affords the student fourteen more weeks of full-time clinical education prior to graduation.

We place students in many facilities throughout the Hampton Roads region as well as all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. We also have many clinical partners with sites in the southeastern region and a few more distant sites in Utah, Oregon, Arizona, and even Alaska and Hawaii. Students should budget and plan for at least one full-time clinical education experience to be out of the area or out of state.

The Program strongly suggests students have a vehicle for traveling to clinical sites during full-time clinical education experiences and other community-based learning opportunities.

The Director of Clinical Education (DCE) is responsible for placing all students in full-time clinical experiences. Each spring, the DCE recruits slots from our clinical partners for students to have experiences in the following calendar year. In the summer or early fall, the DCE assigns students to the offered slots based on student goals and interests, faculty input, and clinical faculty or clinical site considerations. All ODU DPT students are required to successfully complete 3 full-time experiences with at least 1 outpatient experience and 1 inpatient experience (acute care or post-acute rehab). Students can also have learning opportunities in specialty practice areas during their intermediate or final experiences.

Curriculum

Special features of the DPT program at ODU include:

  • Emphasis on active learning and clinical problem-solving
  • Class sizes of 40 with multiple instructors (core faculty, adjunct faculty, PhD students) for each lab
  • Use of Standardized Patients to fine-tune clinical skills and patient-therapist relationships before engaging in clinical practice
  • Integrated full-time clinical experiences to guide your professional development throughout the program
  • Lab sessions with community volunteers for students to have direct interaction with patients/clients
  • Local community service-learning activities with older adults, migrant farm workers, or other underserved members of the local area
  • International service-learning opportunity through a spring break study abroad trip (limited enrollment)
  • ODU Monarch Therapy, our on-campus outpatient clinic, provides learning opportunities through full-time clinical experiences for our students as well as volunteer/observation hours for individuals applying to DPT programs
  • Our School of Rehabilitation Sciences offers a Ph.D. program in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation, and Ph.D. students who are already licensed physical therapists assist in teaching PT classes

In the final fall semester, students complete a topics course to explore specialty practice areas. The course coordinator curates a diverse list of learning opportunities and assigns students to an area of interest. Previous topics have included pediatrics, vestibular rehab, sports rehab, advanced manual therapy, advanced neuro rehab, pelvic health, and PT education. Students can also have learning opportunities in specialty practice areas during their intermediate or final clinical education experiences.

P.T. License

Yes. All states require that physical therapists be licensed in order to practice. Students must graduate from an accredited physical therapy school in order to be eligible to sit for the licensure examination.

Yes, there is. There is a national examination used by all states and is administered on computer, much like the GREs. The passing score varies from state to state and each state may have additional requirements as determined by the individual state's practice act.

The mean score for ODU graduates is above the state and national averages. The first-time pass rate is generally 95 to 97%, with an overall pass rate of 100%.

University Information

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Accredited by CAPTE

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Old Dominion University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). See verification of accreditation.