Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree
Mount St. Mary's College provides doctoral education to a diverse student body culminating in physical therapists with sound clinical reasoning in a variety of settings who are committed to professional and personal development, social citizenship and ethical, compassionate care.
This graduate degree program offers professional education based on a foundation of liberal arts and sciences. It is a three-year (9 semester) program of academic rigor requiring full time study throughout the curriculum. Concentration on the basic and clinical sciences is integrated with physical therapy patient/client management principles and procedures. The total educational experience of the student involves life-long learning, and the physical therapy curriculum facilitates this value throughout the student's acquisition of knowledge and development of intellectual skills, professional behaviors, cognitive abilities, and practice competencies. The program design provides early and continual integration of clinical experiences that foster maximum development of the student's clinical thought processes, and provides opportunities for mastery of the personal and skill-based competencies requisite for entry-level practice. The Physical Therapy Department is committed to providing an education that enables graduates to be generalist practitioners of the highest quality. The learning environment nurtures students to become skilled professional practitioners, possessing the skills of clinical reasoning and effective communication. Students experience and discover the person and service-oriented aspects of health care including:
As integral members of the health care team, graduates impart their knowledge and skill through competent and compassionate patient care, enlightened education, scholarly activity and research, quality consultation and a commitment to life-long learning and professional development.
The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, the official accrediting body for Physical Therapy Education Programs. Upon successful completion of all clinical and academic requirements, the degree of Doctor of Physical Therapy is awarded. Graduates are eligible for licensure in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The DPT program utilizes the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) for all program applicants.
DPT Required Documents Include:
DPT Admission Requirements:
DPT Prerequisite Coursework
To be acceptable, letter grades of C or higher are required. All prerequisite courses must be taken on a graded basis. All science courses must be for science majors and have laboratories. The requirements presented are on the semester system. If the applicant has attended an institution which is on the quarter system, it must be recognized that three quarter units are equivalent to two semester units. Prerequisite science courses must have been taken within the last ten years at an accredited college or university in the United States. Introductory courses are not accepted for credit toward prerequisite course work. All applicants must show evidence of satisfactory completion of the following courses:
Biology (General) 2 semesters with lab (8 units)
Upper division science (3 units)
Chemistry: 2 semesters with lab (8 units)
Communication: 1 semester written (3 units), 1 semester speech (3 units)
Human Anatomy: 1 semester with lab (4 units)
Human Physiology: 1 semester with lab (4 units)
Physics: 2 semesters with lab (8 units)
Psychology: 3 semesters (9 units): general, two elective
Statistics: 1 semester (3 units)
Recommended (not required):
All courses must be completed by the summer prior to enrollment in the program.
Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis.
The Physical Therapy Admission Committee retains discretionary authority in the application of all the criteria for admission and their decision is final. Applicants for admission are considered on the basis of the qualifications of each student without regard for race, religion, sex, age, national or state origin. Individuals who have received their Baccalaureate degree outside of the United States must have their credentials and transcripts evaluated by a recognized credential evaluation agency before the application for admission to the DPT degree program will be considered.
Clinical facilities in the clinical portion of the curriculum are utilized throughout California and the United States.
DPT Financial Arrangements
Students are responsible for the financing of their education. Information and assistance is available and should be directly requested from the Office of Student Financing. For the tuition expenses for the DPT program, see the tuition expense section at the beginning of this catalog, or on the College website at www.msmc.la.edu.
Requirements for the Professional Program
The Doctor of Physical Therapy program offers the student an entry-level professional degree. In order to progress in the curriculum, students must achieve letter grades of "C" or better in each didactic course and letter grades of "A" or "B" in all clinical affiliations. A letter grade of "C-" or "D" in one course or "NC" in a long-term clinical affiliation results in suspension from the program until the course is repeated and a letter grade of "C" or higher, or "A" or "B" , in a clinical course is achieved. Two letter grades of "C-", "D" or "NC", or one "F" results in dismissal /disqualification from the program. If student performance in a clinical setting is deemed unsatisfactory or unsafe according to the standards of the facility, the College, the accrediting agency, or the state, the student may be suspended or disqualified from the program. In addition to passing each didactic course with a "C" or better, and clinical course with an "A" or "B", students must maintain a cumulative average GPA of 3.0 or better in order to remain in the program. A cumulative GPA of less than 3.0 in any given semester will result in being placed on academic probation. In order to remain in the program and be reinstated to regular academic standing, the student must achieve a 3.0 semester GPA in each of the next two semesters. Students will receive notice of academic probation from the Graduate Dean and/or the Department Chair. Additional information regarding Department Policies and Procedures are available on the Mount St. Mary’s website. Before enrollment and prior to each clinical practicum/affiliation/internship, evidence of acceptable health status must be on record with Student Health Services. This includes but is not limited to tuberculosis screening, current immunization and a physical examination. Students must also fulfill any additional clinical site specific requirements including, but not limited to, background checks and drug screening. Students are responsible for their own housing and transportation. During all clinical aspects of the program, students are required to carry health insurance and malpractice insurance.
DPT Curriculum: Design
The curriculum is a sequential 3-year, 9-semester design based on a foundation of hierarchical and adult learning theory. The curriculum design incorporates values, content, and process components. In the domain of values, six values serve as a core for the program and are based on the mission and philosophy of the College and department. These values are compassion, communication, collaboration, community, critical thinking and competence (including professionalism).
Seven themes serve as the conceptual framework around which the curriculum is organized. They are Foundational and Basic Sciences, Medical Sciences, Critical Thinking/Research, Patient/Client Management, Practice Management, Integration Seminar, and Clinical Experiences. The program design incorporates the presentation of foundational sciences prior to clinical application; the appreciation of "normal" prior to learning "pathological;" a hierarchical organization that progresses content and process presentation from simple material to more complex content and skill application, and from the cognitive processing domains of knowledge and comprehension to application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. There is also an interweaving of progressively more complex clinical experiences with didactic learning within and outside of the classroom environment; and a consistent integration of learning (current and prior) through intentional learning activities and experiences. The program includes a total of 38 weeks of clinical experiences, culminating with a 10- and 12- week clinical internship.
Physical Therapy Courses
Foundational and Basic Sciences Courses
PT 401 Gross Anatomy (6)
This course is the integrated study of the gross, surface, and microscopic anatomy of the human body including the integumentary, nervous, musculoskeletal, circulatory, digestive, metabolic, respiratory, endocrine, and urogenital systems.
PT 402 Biomechanics (3)
This course provides a survey of various topics in the biomechanics of the human musculoskeletal system, with particular emphasis on understanding mechanics as applied to human movement and musculoskeletal tissue function, and the application of biomechanical principles to patient problems. The course covers three broad content areas: (1) basic biomechanical principles, (2) tissue mechanics, and (3) kinesiology and specific biomechanics of the spine and joints of the upper extremity.
PT 403 Applied Kinesiology (3)
This course in applied kinesiology utilizes the principles of biomechanics and movement science to study clinically relevant examples of common human movements. The clinically oriented approach taken in this course includes consideration of both functional and dysfunctional movements using a lifespan perspective. Topics include the applied kinesiology of human posture, gait, and specific movements such as lifting, jumping, throwing, kicking.
PT 404 Applied Exercise Science (2)
This course includes the study of muscle, nerve, and cardio-respiratory physiology as they relate to exercise performance, conditioning, deconditioning, nutrition, and the rehabilitation of disorders involving the neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, and endocrine systems.
PT 406 Lifespan Development (2)
This course examines normal growth and development across the human lifespan. The best evidence from multiple scientific disciplines will be used to explore many aspects of human development.
PT 407 Neuroscience (3)
This course is designed to give an in-depth introduction and overview to neuroanatomy, neurodevelopment, neurological function, neuropharmacology, and neurophysiology. This course provides a basis for understanding clinical manifestations seen in neurological disorders.
Medical Sciences Courses
PT 410 Pathology/Medical Science: General Systems (2)
This course introduces concepts of tissue- and system-specific pathology and disease commonly encountered in patients/clients who receive physical therapy. Course content focuses on the mechanisms, types and processes of tissue injury and repair in major physiologic systems excluding musculoskeletal, cardiopulmonary, and neurological systems which will be addressed in later semesters.
PT 411A Pathology/Medical Science: Musculoskeletal (2)
This course is focused on the study of regional, tissue specific and system-specific pathology and disease commonly encountered in patients/clients who receive physical therapy in an orthopedic setting.
PT 411B Pharmacology/Diagnostic Techniques: Musculoskeletal (1.5)
The first component of this course focuses on pharmacology as it impacts the practice of orthopedic physical therapy. The second component of this course will serve as an introduction to a variety of diagnostic technologies commonly used in the diagnosis and medical management of patients with neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction.
PT 412 Pathology/Pharmacology/Diagnostic Techniques: Neuromuscular (3)
This course integrates the following components in the study of patients with neurologic injury and impairment: the pathological processes that result in neurological injury and impairment; the use of pharmacological agents in the medical management of neurologic patient problems as it impacts the practice of neurologic physical therapy; and the diagnostic technologies commonly used in the diagnosis and medical management of patients with nervous system pathology and dysfunction.
PT 413 Pathology/Pharmacology/Diagnostic Technique: Cardiopulmonary (3)
This course integrates the study of pathologies affecting the cardiac and pulmonary systems, their diagnosis, pathophysiological effects, and clinical manifestations with the study of the various diagnostic tests, and the significance of their results in the diagnosis and prognosis of cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. It also includes the pharmacological treatment of these disorders, as well as the indications, contraindications, and potential drug interactions which the physical therapist should be aware of in the treatment of these patients.
PT 415 Specialty Practices in Physical Therapy (2)
This course consists of lecture and laboratory components and is designed to prepare students to safely, legally, ethically, and appropriately evaluate and treat patients in niche practices in physical therapy. This may include treatment of the integumentary system/wound care, women’s health and the management of patients with chronic pain. Note: this course is spread over two semesters – Spring II and Fall III
Practice Management Courses
PT 431 Health Systems I: Introduction to Physical Therapy (2)
This course is an introduction to physical therapy including history, professional issues and development, the Guide to Physical Therapy practice, enablement/disablement models and written documentation.
PT 432 Health Systems II: Organizational Management (2)
This course is a review of organizational socialization, organizational learning and organizational behavior with an emphasis on the management of change in physical therapist practice.
PT 433 Health Systems III: Payment Policy (1)
An overview of the various methods of health care reimbursement in the United States. Also includes methods for determining an appropriate fee schedule, developing a fiscally sound budget, effective documentation techniques for optimum reimbursement, and a discussion of current legislation affecting health care reimbursement.
PT 434 Health Systems IV: Law and Policy (2)
An overview of health care policy in the United States, health policy legislation and the role of the physical therapist and a thorough exploration of physical therapist practice and the California rules and regulations.
PT 435 Health Systems V: Medical Ethics (2)
This course will explore ethical issues in health care with the focus on the development of skills for ethical decision making in physical therapist practice.
PT 436 Health Systems VI: Entrepreneuralism (1)
This final course in the Health Systems Series considers professional development as a life-long activity and addresses the entrepreneurial, marketing and service aspects of physical therapist practice.
Integrative Seminar Courses
PT 441 Integrative Seminar I (1)
PT 442 Integrative Seminar II (1)
PT 444 Integrative Seminar III (1)
The Integrative Seminars are a series of three courses, designed to provide for students’ situated or contextual learning experience within the academic curriculum, in which to develop clinical reasoning skills and prepare students for practice in the clinical environment before they get there. The Integrative Seminars promote application and integration of newly acquired knowledge (propositional and non-propositional) with previously learned knowledge/experience, within a clinical reasoning framework. Examples of the types of knowledge/skills that will be integrated are basic sciences, research and evidence-based practice principles, biomedical knowledge, clinical skills, kinesthetic/motor skills, and observation skills, communication skills, collaboration skills, and self-evaluative skills.
Patient/Client Management Courses
PT 461 Physical Therapist as Educator (1)
Introduction to learning theory and its application to physical therapist practice, including patient/client management, health behavior change, education and consultation.
PT 462A Health Care Procedures I (2)
Introduction to basic physical therapy examination procedures utilized in patient care. This course focuses on development of foundational psychomotor skills needed to gather the necessary and appropriate information for physical therapy examination including tests and measures.
PT 462B Health Care Procedures II (2)
Introduction to basic healthcare procedures utilized in physical therapy patient care. This course focuses on development of foundational clinical skills required for physical therapy examination and interventions.
PT 463A Therapeutic Interactions I (2)
This first of a series of three lecture/laboratory courses is an experiential opportunity for the student to develop, practice and apply techniques and principles of all phases of effective communication. The course is oriented toward learning about one’s self and will provide opportunities for developing self-reflective skills and awareness of one’s presentation, and communication strengths and areas for improvement, in the context of developing effective patient and peer relationships as a practicing physical therapist.
PT 463B Therapeutic Interactions II (1)
The second of the communications series concentrates on the relationship of self to and with others as revealed and experienced in everyday professional and personal encounters. It explores the role of team member and the interrelated responsibilities of team leadership and team participation.
PT 463C Therapeutic Interactions III (2)
This final course in the communications series explores the various roles of the physical therapist in the context of communication skills in the domains of both health (prevention and wellness) and illness (including chronic illnesses and disability).
PT 465 Therapeutic Modalities (3)
This course consists of lecture and laboratory components and is designed to prepare students to safely, legally, ethically, and appropriately apply physical agents and modalities such as heat, cold, light, sound, water, wrapping/taping, mechanical compression, and mechanical traction as components of physical therapy intervention. Also included are principles of electrophysiologic evaluation and electrotherapy, and soft-tissue assessment, massage, and soft-tissue mobilization.
PT 466A Therapeutic Exercise (2)
This is the first of two courses devoted to developing skills in therapeutic exercise in physical therapy. In this course, emphasis is placed on developing clinical reasoning skills for the implementation of therapeutic exercise in the management of patients/clients with a variety of underlying neuromuscular and musculoskeletal pathological presentations. The course utilizes lecture, laboratory, case study, and small group components to assist with identifying deficits at the Body Structure & Function as well as at the Activity Levels in order to prescribe appropriate therapeutic exercise interventions. Students will learn to use interventions to assist patients/clients in regaining optimal function.
PT 466B Therapeutic Exercise (1.5)
This is the second of two courses devoted to developing skills in therapeutic exercise in physical therapy. In this course emphasis is place on developing clinical reasoning skills for the implementation of therapeutic exercise in the management of patients/clients with neurological conditions. Course content includes strength and endurance training in neurological populations, neuromuscular electrical stimulation for neurologically involved patients, and functional strengthening using Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation and bands, balls and other equipment for those with neurological impairment.
PT 467 Prosthetics/Orthotics (3)
Part I - Introduction to Normal and Pathologic Gait including biomechanical analysis of Normal vs. Pathologic Gait. Part II - Introduction to spinal, lower extremity, and upper extremity orthotics. discussion of various orthotic components, devices, and their applications, and their effects on gait. Assessment for orthotic candidacy. Part III - Introduction to the principles and use of upper and lower extremity prosthetic devices, their components and application; the biomechanical analysis of normal vs. pathologic prosthetic gait; and therapeutic requirements for rehabilitation and reintegration of this unique patient population.
PT 468 Complementary Health Practices (1)
This course is designed to introduce the participants to adjunct therapies in how they enhance and compliment conventional rehabilitation. Students will learn how to differentiate which techniques may be beneficial for the given population. This coursework may include an introduction to the theories of: CranioSacral Release Techniques, Acupuncture, Qi Gong, Visceral Therapy, and IMT (integrated manual therapy), Pilates and Yoga.
PT 471A Patient/Client Management: Musculoskeletal I (3)
This course is the first in a series of three courses on management by the physical therapist for patients with orthopedic dysfunction for all body regions. Each element of patient/client management will be considered throughout the course, including examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and outcomes. Clinical reasoning and decision making within orthopedics will also be highlighted. This first course consists of lecture and laboratory components and focuses on introduction to foundational concepts with application to lower quarter body regions
PT 471B Patient/Client Management: Musculoskeletal II (3)
This course is the second in a series of three courses on management by the physical therapist for patients with orthopedic dysfunction for all body regions. This second course consists of lecture and laboratory components and focuses on solidifying the knowledge of foundational concepts introduced during the first course (PT 471A), with application to upper quarter body regions. As the course progresses, student performance expectations will demonstrate higher levels of application, analysis, and synthesis of course content.
PT 471C Patient/Client Management: Musculoskeletal (Advanced) (3)
A lecture and laboratory course designed to facilitate the student in the application and expansion of concepts and skills acquired previously within the orthopedic curriculum and within the other patient/client management components of the curriculum. Within a strong clinical reasoning and decision making framework, students will evaluate and plan intervention strategies for more complex orthopedic patient problems, as well as for patients with primary orthopedic problems complicated by involvement of multiple other factors/systems.
PT 472A Patient/Client Management: Neuromuscular I (3)
This course is the first in a series of two courses on management by the physical therapist for patients with neurologic dysfunctions for the central and peripheral nervous systems. Each neurologic dysfunction presented will be considered in terms of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and outcomes. The first course will focus on neurologic dysfunction resulting from lesions or pathology of the peripheral nervous system, spinal cord and brainstem.
PT 472B Patient/Client Management: Neuromuscular II (3)
This course is the second in a series of two courses on management by the physical therapist for patients with neurologic dysfunctions for the central and peripheral nervous systems. Each neurologic dysfunction presented will be considered in terms of examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and outcomes. This course will focus on neurologic dysfunction resulting from lesions or pathology of the central nervous system and cranial nerves.
PT 472C Patient/Client Management: Neuromuscular (Advanced) (3)
A lecture and laboratory course designed to facilitate the student in the application and expansion of concepts and skills acquired previously within the neuro curriculum and within the other Patient/Client Management components of the curriculum. Within a strong clinical reasoning framework, students will evaluate and plan intervention strategies for more complex neurologic patient problems, as well as for patients with primary neurologic problems complicated by involvement of multiple other factors/systems.
PT 473 Patient/Client Management: Cardiopulmonary (3)
A detailed class on the evaluation, treatment, and implementation of therapeutic procedures for cardiac and pulmonary patients and other critically ill patients. Includes primary and secondary preventative measures and rehabilitation concepts.
PT 475 Patient/Client Management: Pediatric (2)
A lecture/laboratory course designed to provide the knowledge base and analytical skills necessary for physical therapy management of the pediatric population in diverse practice settings. Each element of patient/client management is considered including examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention, and outcome. The course is taught within a strong clinical reasoning and decision making framework which encourages integration of concepts and skills acquired previously within the curriculum.
PT 476 Patient/Client Management: Geriatric (2)
This course focuses on complex assessment and management of aging older adults. The student is exposed to advanced applied science of normal and pathological aging, clinical problems, implications for therapeutic interventions, and intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors impacting older adults’ lifespan in order to promote optimal care, functional outcomes, and wellness prevention for older adults.
PT 477 Patient/Client Management: Medical Screening (2)
This course focuses on the roles and responsibilities of the physical therapist in screening for medical disease and employing strategies to communicate with other health professions. Students will explore in greater depth the medical screening process associated with pathology of multisystem involvement (i.e., abdominal, cardiopulmonary, integumentary, neurologic, orthopedic, and general systems).
Clinical Experience Courses
PT 481 Clinical Practicum I (0.5)
This course introduces the students to the responsibilities of clinical practice. Students may find themselves in a variety of settings with the aim of initiating practice of basic patient handling skills, as well as developing professional behaviors and socialization under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
PT 482 Clinical Practicum II (0.5)
This course continues the student’s participation in clinical practice. The primary focus will be the development of professional behaviors. The student will begin developing examination, evaluation and intervention skills while under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. This requirement might be fulfilled through a service-learning opportunity.
PT 483 Clinical Affiliation I (3)
This course is the first of four long-term clinical affiliations designed to develop student clinical competencies in a variety of clinical settings with diverse patients The student will examine, evaluate, diagnose, prognose and design/implement physical therapy interventions for patients with primarily straightforward and/or single system involvement while under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. PT 483 will provide students the opportunity to develop skills directly impacting patient outcomes and professional behaviors.
PT 485 Clinical Affiliation II (3)
This is the second of four long-term clinical affiliations designed to develop the clinical competence of students in a variety of clinical settings with diverse patients. The student will examine, evaluate, diagnose, prognose, and design/implement physical therapy interventions for patients with increasingly complex presentations while under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. In addition, students will expand their experience with multi-disciplinary interactions, administrative responsibilities and professional duties that are unique to this patient population.
PT 487 Final Internship I (6)
This 12-week internship is the third of four affiliations and is designed to develop the clinical competence of the student for generalist physical therapist practice. The setting selected is coordinated with the setting of the Final Internship II and the two prior full-time affiliations (PT 483 and 485) to ensure the student has the appropriate complement of clinical settings and patient diagnoses. The student will examine, evaluate, diagnose, prognose and design/implement physical therapy interventions for patients with complex and/or multiple system involvement while under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The student will also develop skills in professional and practice management.
PT 488 Final Internship II (6)
This 12-week internship is the final of four clinical affiliations designed to develop the clinical competence of the student for generalist physical therapist practice. The setting this semester will be chosen with input from the student to complement the previous assignments within the scope of physical therapy practice. The student will examine, evaluate, diagnose, prognose, and design/implement physical therapy interventions for patients with complex and/or multiple system involvement while under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist. The students will also develop skills in professional and practice management.
PT 489 Repeat Affiliation
This course is utilized for repeating any long term affiliation or internship where the student withdrew or received a grade of "NC." This course may be utilized only once during the course of the program. The number of units is determined by the number of weeks of clinical affiliation a student needs to repeat. Determined by department.
Critical Thinking/Research Courses
PT 490 Research I: Foundational Concepts of Research (1)
The first course in this series of seven research courses focuses on defining evidence for physical therapy practice, including the development of skills necessary to incorporate research evidence into clinical practice. Included in this process is asking specific questions which can be answered with evidence acquired via searching scholarly databases. Also included in this course is an introduction to research designs.
PT 491 Research II: Research Design and Statistics (1)
The second course in this series of seven research courses focuses on the development of skills necessary to understand quantitative research design and analysis. Students will learn to recognize the application of quantitative research to studying issues related to physical therapy and gain perspective on the limitations and appropriate use of quantitative research methods.
PT 492 Research III: Evidence Based Practice (1)
The third course in this series of seven research courses focuses on the development of skills necessary to incorporate evidence (clinical judgment, research literature and patient values) into clinical practice. Students will learn to recognize the strengths and limitations of clinical research, professional opinion and patient preferences in the practice of physical therapy.
PT 493 Research IV: Survey and Outcomes Research (1)
The fourth course in this series of seven research courses will introduce the students to the use of survey and outcomes research in physical therapy and rehabilitation. Students will learn the importance of these research methodologies in decision making/planning in a clinical and research setting.
PT 494 Scientific Writing (1)
Scientific Writing focuses on the skills required to produce a well-written scientific paper. Emphasis is on critical analysis and clear communication of information relevant to physical therapy practice utilizing AMA format.
PT 495A Research V: Research Development A (1)
These two courses provide students the opportunity to design, implement and analyze research protocols to assess tests, measures, and interventions utilized in physical therapy practice while students are in the classroom setting.
PT 495B Research VI: Research Development B (1)
These two courses provide students the opportunity to design, implement and analyze research protocols to assess tests, measures, and interventions utilized in physical therapy practice while students are in the classroom setting.
PT 495C Research VII: Capstone Project (1)
This course focuses on the synthesis and application of research to patient cases during the final clinical internships.
PT 498 Advanced Clinical Experience (0)
This course provides the opportunity for students currently enrolled in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program whose academic performance meets certain requirements to:
1. pursue advanced training in specific areas of clinical practice or
2. participate in additional opportunities for clinical practice
PT 499 Independent Study (1)