Samuel Merritt College

Information about Physical Therapist program at Samuel Merritt College



SamuelMerrittCollege (A4, D6, F1, PR)


Last Updated by Program: 01/12/2006


Address:   Department of Physical Therapy


450 30th Street

Oakland, CA94609


Phone:   (510)869-6241 Fax:   (510)869-6282

Admissions/Student Inquiry Phone:   (510)869-6576 

Financial Aid Phone:   (510)869-6131 


Web Address:  

Program E-mail: 



Terrence M Nordstrom, PT, MAPT

Interim Chair



  Accreditor:   Western Association of Schools and Colleges/Accrediting Commission for SeniorColleges and Universities

  Carnegie Classification:   Special Focus Institutions--Other health professions schools



  Date of Initial Accreditation:   Master's degree, October 1992 (no longer offered); DPT degree, April, 2002

  Current Accreditation Status:   Accreditation

  Next Visit   2007

  Five Year History:   Accreditation



Doctor of Physical Therapy



The entry-level, doctor of physical therapy program is designed around several important approaches to learning so that the graduates excel in serving patients and clients as autonomous practitioners in the health care system. Courses are designed to progressively build critical thinking, clinical decision-making and clinical reasoning skills with increasingly complex patient problems. Courses that focus on learning physical therapy clinical skills and knowledge are closely integrated with the basic sciences such as anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Pharmacology, imaging and the medical management of the patients are simultaneously covered in concert with the clinical courses. Physical therapy services through the lifespan, from pediatrics through geriatrics, are interwoven in the clinical courses and there are additional, specific courses that address the needs of these special populations served by physical therapists. There are clinical case study courses in small-group seminar format that also synchronize with the other courses each semester. Students have part-time clinical experiences under the mentorship of physical therapists during which they are able to see patients who have problems similar to those being covered in the classroom. Students see patients who have neuromuscular problems under faculty supervision in an outpatient free-clinic during two semesters. Two full-time clinical experiences are interspersed after key semesters so that classroom learning is reinforced with clinical experience. The importance of communication and relationship between the PT and patients in a culturally diverse environment and the multiple roles of physical therapists in the health care system are addressed throughout the program. Students begin the 33 month, full-time program each fall. The final six months of the program are spent on a full-time clinical experience.



There are a total of 42 weeks of full time clinical experiences in the program. Students spend 1/2 day per week in clinical experiences in local clinical facilities during three didactic semesters, starting in the second semester. There are two full-time eight-week experiences interspersed in the curriculum, one following the majority of the musculoskeletal content in the fall and the other following the majority of the neuromuscular and pediatric content in the summer. Students begin a 6-month, full-time internship in January after the last academic semester. Nearly two-thirds of students on these internships receive a stipend. There is no tuition charged during the internship, and students’ progress from student to a mentored staff clinician role. Clinical experiences and internships are available throughout the United States, with the highest concentration in northern California.



There are seven full-time and 23 part-time faculty. There are two other full-time College faculty teach in the DPT program. Of these full-time faculty five hold post-professional doctoral degrees, three are enrolled in post-professional doctoral programs, three are board certified clinical specialists and one is a graduate of a post-professional residency program. All part-time faculty members are practicing clinicians, four are board certified clinical specialists and two are graduates of post-professional residency programs. Over the past 3 years, the faculty has averaged five publications in peer-reviewed journals. The full-time faculty to student ratio is 1:11. The faculty student ratio in clinical lab courses is 1:12 and in anatomy lab it is 1:16.



The college enrolls over 1,000 students. The Department of Physical Therapy enrolls 32 students each fall into the DPT program.



The application deadline for the physical therapy program is December 1 of each year. Applicants must have completed their bachelor's degree and all prerequisites prior to enrollment in the program. Prerequisites include: 3 semester hours each of English composition, general psychology, statistics, exercise physiology, and a psychology or social science elective; 8 semester hours each of chemistry, physics and general biology (w/labs); 3 semester hours each of human anatomy and human physiology. Experience in a physical therapy in-patient setting is also required. Minimum verbal GRE is 450, minimum quantitative GRE is 500, minimum cumulative GPA is 2.8 in last 60 semester units and minimum science GPA is 2.6 Selected, qualified applicants are invited to interview. There were 155 applicants for fall 2005 and 109 met pre-requisite requirements. The class admitted in the fall of 2005 had an average verbal GRE score of 511 and an average quantitative GRE score of 625, with a cumulative GPA of 3.24 and science GPA of 2.93. 51% of applicants are admitted to the program (3-year average).



88% of admitted students graduate from the program (3-year average). 100% of graduates pass the PT licensure exam and first time pass rates were 95% in 2002 and 90% in 2003, and 86% in 2004 (national averages were 85%, 77% and 72% respectively). 100% of graduates find employment within six months of graduation.



The 2005-6 tuition is $28,414 per year, $821 in one-time fees during the program and a $1,400 matriculation fee during the 6 months internship. For specific information, contact the Office of Financial Aid, SamuelMerrittCollege, 450 30th Street, Oakland, CA, 94609. The phone number for inquiries is 510/869-6131. SamuelMerrittCollege’s loan default rate is <1%, far below the national average.



SamuelMerrittCollege offers entry-level programs at the doctoral level in podiatry and physical therapy, masters programs in occupational therapy, physician assistant and nursing and an undergraduate nursing program. The student body is representative of the diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. The college is located on the Alta-BatesSummitMedicalCenter complex near downtown Oakland. The college's metropolitan setting in the center of the diverse, temperate San Francisco Bay Area offers students a broad range of recreational and cultural activities from sports to the ballet and symphony with easy access to skiing, hiking, and a multitude of activities in between. The college is easily accessible via Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).