Columbia University

Information about Physical Therapist program at Columbia University

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Columbia University (A4, D6, F1, PR)

Last Updated by Program: 09/08/2006
Address:   Program in Physical Therapy
Columbia University
710 West 168th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10032
Phone:   (212)305-0470
Fax:   (212)305-4569
Admissions/Student Inquiry Phone:   (212)305-0470
Financial Aid Phone:   (212)305-5266
Web Address:
Program E-mail:
Risa Granick, PT, EdD, MPA
  Accreditor:   Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  Carnegie Classification:   Research Universities (very high research activity)
  Date of Initial Accreditation:   Certificate, May 1944 (no longer offered); Bachelors degree, 1946 (no longer offered); Masters degree, 1980 (no longer offered); DPT degree, April 2003
  Current Accreditation Status:   Accreditation
  Next Visit   2014
  Five Year History:   Accreditation
DEGREE CONFERRED: Doctor of Physical Therapy
The goal of the program is to prepare graduates who are self-directed generalists with clinical problem solving skills. Students graduate with a comprehensive foundation of basic principles in the art and science of physical therapy. With 10 full-time faculty and a roster of distinguished adjunct instructors and laboratory assistants from Columbia Medical Center, the New York City area and nation-wide, students are ensured a comprehensive and cutting-edge curriculum. In recognition of the varied abilities and interests of graduate students, the professional curriculum is designed to be flexible and innovative, using a wide variety of learning styles. Emphasis is on an adult methodology that incorporates clinical decision-making, evidence-based practice and self-directed learning activities. Students design and complete a capstone project, collaborating with scientists and clinicians from many parts of the University. The curriculum provides for some specialized skill development through advanced seminars and electives offered during the second and third year of study. The concept that learning is a lifelong process pervades the educational program. Physical therapists with generalist capabilities are prepared to develop specialty skills, contribute to the leadership and growth of physical therapy, and advance the quality of health care through clinical research. All students participate in a White Coat Ceremony to welcome the beginning of their transition in becoming empathetic practitioners, which occurs prior to the start of the mentorship program. This program unique to Columbia University pairs students with physical therapists from the Medical Center and other affiliation sites in New York City. Occurring during the first half of Fall II, and immediately preceding Clinical Education I, students participate in direct patient care activities, attend various rounds, clinics and inservice programs. The therapists serve as the students’ clinical mentors and act as professional role models. The students meet with their mentors one-day-a week and during this structured time, students practice skills and procedures presented in concurrent lecture and laboratory courses as well as observe more advanced clinical practice techniques. Additionally, students begin to model professional behaviors through observation of patient/client/practitioner and multidisciplinary health care team interactions.
Students participate in 2 full time clinical experiences that are integrated during the first 2 years of study. Clinical Education I runs 8 weeks and immediately follows the mentorship program in Fall IIB. Clinical Education II runs 10 weeks and is sequenced during Summer II. An 18-week clinical internship is the culminating experience of the curriculum. Clinical education sites are located throughout the United States and mirror today’s practice environments.
There are 10 full-time faculty who are assisted by numerous clinicians from Columbia Medical Center, clinical specialists from the New York City area and nation-wide. The adjunct faculty serve as laboratory instructors, guest lectures and teach elective courses. This mix of full-time and adjunct faculty sustain a small student-to-faculty ratio necessary to ensure students’ mastery of the clinical skills component of the curriculum. The full-time faculty is comprised of highly experienced individuals whose primary professional commitment is to the program and whose collective expertise is wide-ranging and impressive in its scope. Nine faculty hold doctorates. Four have received research awards. One faculty member was awarded the Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence as well as APTA recognition with the Leadership in Education Award. One faculty member is an APTA recognized clinical specialist in orthopedics and holds certification in manual therapy. Seven adjunct faculty are recognized APTA clinical specialists in orthopedics (3), cardiopulmonary (3) and pediatrics (1). Two are certified in manual therapy; one is a recognized specialist in orthotics and prosthetics, one in pain and cranofacial/cervicle therapeutics, one in spinal cord injures; another is an advanced clinician in integrative therapies; one a certified hand therapist; and one holds dual degrees in podiatric medicine and physical therapy.
The Medical Center campus of Columbia University has a total enrollment of 1,753 students. Class size in the DPT program averages 47 students. The faculty/student ratio is 1:47 in lecture, 1:8 in laboratory. Class size varies in the advanced seminar and elective courses based on students’ interests.
A baccalaureate degree is required at the time of admission. Prerequisites include a minimum of 5 courses in biology consisting of general biology, anatomy and physiology and at least 1 advanced level course (300-400 level for college juniors and seniors), 2 courses in general chemistry, 2 courses in physics, 2 psychology courses, a course in statistics, English composition and 5 courses in the humanities and social sciences. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude scores. The TOEFL Examination is required for international students who have been graduated from a college in which English was not the language of instruction. Evidence of work or volunteer experience in the profession is required. The application deadline is December 11 for the class to be admitted in September 2007. Interviews begin in January 2007 and are compulsory for acceptance. The program uses a rolling admissions format and applicants are notified of acceptance within one week post-interview.
On a yearly basis, 94% – 100% of admitted students graduate from the program. The charter DPT class (Class of 2006) that graduated in May 06, based on licensing scores presently available, has a 100% pass rate on the first attempt, with an average score of 699.13 (600 is the minimal passing score). This is above national and NY state averages. Columbia graduates are highly sought after in the workplace and take positions in both traditional and non-traditional clinical settings. The Class of 2006 has a 100% employment rate within 2-months post-graduation. Based on outcome assessment from the former MS program, many graduates move into positions of program coordinators or unit supervisors, serve as clinical instructors to entry-level PT and PTA students and return to teach in the program as laboratory instructors.
Tuition for the DPT program is based on a flat rate of $79,500 for the class admitted fall 2006 (Class of 2009). Tuition is set yearly by the Board of Trustees and has been averaging a 3% increase for each incoming class. The tuition is broken down as follows: $28,000 per year for the first and second years of study (fall, spring, summer for both years) and $23,500 for the third year (fall, spring). Fees include a per semester student activity fee of $300.00 and annual fees of $2,150 for health insurance (hospitalization) and $870 for use of student health services. There is a one-time transcript fee of $45, a yearly computer access fee of $90, and an APTA student membership fee of $80. Monthly housing, food and personal expenses are estimated at $1,470 for campus living and $1,773 for those residing off-campus in New York City. Approximately 99% of the physical therapy students receive financial aid. Program scholarships are available and are merit-based for high undergraduate academic achievement. Forty-eight percent, 43% and 55% respectively of the Classes of 2007, 08 and 09 are receiving these merit scholarships. Limited grant funds to assist students financially with housing are available. Entering students have been successful in receiving full-tuition (2nd and 3rd year) NY City Board of Education scholarships. From time to time, individuals and foundations endow scholarship money to the program. When such funding becomes available, students depending on the stipulations of the donor (1st, 2nd or 3rd year student) are invited to apply. These awards are competitive and selection is determined by the program’s Scholarship Committee. The program hires work-study students and offers some teaching assistant stipends (averaging $500 per course) to 2nd and 3rd year students to assist in Year I courses.
The physical therapy educational experience goes well beyond classroom learning and clinical training. Part of the transformation from physical therapy student to a well-rounded entry-level clinician involves pursuing interests outside of the profession. As a student you are a member of the extensive and dynamic Columbia University community in a city that offers a multitude of cultural and recreational activities. Campus housing is available to all students in university-owned apartments. The program is housed on the Medical Center campus in the nation's first medical school (College of Physicians and Surgeons), founded in 1767. The Health Sciences Division includes the following: the Program in Physical Therapy; the Programs in Occupational Therapy; the Schools of Medicine Dental and Oral Surgery, Nursing and Public Health; the Centers for Arteriosclerosis Research, Geriatrics and Gerontology; Medical Information, Neurobiology and Behavior, Psychoanalytic Training and Research; and the Center for the Study of Society and Medicine. In addition, the Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is housed within the Health Science campus environs. Students have full access to the academic, athletic, and social resources of both the Medical Center and main campus (Morningside campus) of Columbia University. The student body is multicultural with a wide age span and varied undergraduate preparation.