University of South Carolina - Columbia

Information about Physical Therapist program at University of South Carolina - Columbia




University of South Carolina - Columbia (D6, F1, PU)

Last Updated by Program: 08/09/2004
Address:   Department of Exercise Science
University of South Carolina
School of Public Health
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone:   (803)777-5521
Fax:   (803)777-8422
Admissions/Student Inquiry Phone:   (803)777-5521
Financial Aid Phone:   (803)777-8134
Web Address:
Program E-mail:
Bruce A McClenaghan, PT, PED
Program Director
  Accreditor:   Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges
  Carnegie Classification:   Research Universities (very high research activity)
  Date of Initial Accreditation:   April 2004
  Current Accreditation Status:   Accreditation
  Next Visit   2009
  Five Year History:   Accreditation
DEGREE CONFERRED: Doctor of Physical Therapy
The University of South Carolina (USC) was founded in 1801 in Columbia, South Carolina, and has grown to an eight-campus university system that spans the State. Columbia is the University’s main campus. The Southern Region Educational Board classifies USC Columbia as the State's only Four-Year I institution. Committed to becoming one of the finest physical therapy programs in the country, the University of South Carolina Physical Therapy Program is dedicated to preparing students who possess the necessary skills to advance physical therapy as an evidence-based profession. Faculty of the physical therapy program view the profession of physical therapy as an art and science that has a unique application of a body of knowledge. The physical therapy faculty recognizes that this knowledge base is shared by a number of disciplines each with a distinct perspective that can add insight and evidence into the practice of physical therapy. As one of the smallest professional preparation programs in the country, the Physical Therapy Program focuses on providing students with a philosophy that the practice of physical therapy requires the application of existing knowledge, continual evaluation and adaptation of existing knowledge and the generation of new knowledge. The curriculum of the Physical Therapy Program is a hybrid model and consists of 11 semesters (summers counted as one semester) of didactic instruction, clinical experience and research completed over approximately four years. The curriculum consists of 127 credit hours of coursework consisting of a combination of didactic, laboratory, clinical, and research experiences. Content of the curriculum is divided into four major divisions: Foundational Core, Clinical Core, Research, and Clinical Experiences. The program of study represents a total of 2,876contact hours of instruction, including 1,516 contact hours of instruction and 1,360 contact hours of clinical experience (four clinical experiences).
Clinical experiences are sequenced to complement didactic instruction. Students complete a total of 1360 hours of clinical experience during one part-time and three full-time clinical experiences completed over the program of study. An initial part-time 80 contact-hour (four weeks, half time) orthopedic clinical experience occurs at the conclusion of the first academic year. Full-time clinical experiences are completed at the end of the second year, during the spring of the third year, and at the conclusion of the program of study. The first full-time clinical experience is a total of 320 contact hours (eight weeks, full-time) in an acute care setting. The remaining two clinical experiences are 480 contact hours (12 weeks, full time) each and are completed in a rehabilitation and an elective setting. Expectations of students gradually increase as the length of the experience, number of patients seen, and patient complexity increase. Supervision of clinical experiences generally progresses from a high level of supervision early in the experience to a more consultative supervision later in the experiences as the student’s frequency of errors and need for direct supervision decrease. The level of supervision is always adjusted to the demonstrated proficiency of the student and the complexity of the experience.
The program faculty consists of six members, which have a total of 108 years of academic experience, and 67 years of clinical experience. All but one faculty member have terminal degrees from major graduate institutions. An excellent supplemental and adjunct faculty supplements the program faculty. Members of the faculty contribute a wealth of academic and administrative experiences to the program. This experience includes a past Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the Arnold School of Public Health, a past Chairperson of the Department of Exercise Science, and a past Chairperson of the Department of Physical Therapy, Medical College of Georgia. Several faculty have post-doctoral experiences at facilities that include: Rehabilitation Engineering Department, Hugh McMillan Medical Centre (Toronto); University of Texas; the University of Oregon Motor Control Laboratory and Neuroscience Institute. The professional faculty are recognized as skilled instructors and scholars in their respective disciplines. Adjunct faculty members hold clinical specialist certifications in orthopedics, pediatrics, neurology, and geriatrics.
The professional program in physical therapy enrolls 10-12 students per class. The academic program of study begins each fall.
The Program’s admissions process insures that students admitted have the perquisite coursework to succeed. Admission to the Physical Therapy Program requires that students have obtained a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education. Admissions priority is given to students who have successfully completed a previous graduate work or degree. All students enrolled in the Program are required to have successfully completed selected prerequisite course work including: Calculus, Physics, Statistics, Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology and Biology. Overall GPA and GPA for prerequisite courses are both considered in the admissions decision. In addition, the program requires GRE scores (verbal and quantitative), three letters of reference from individuals familiar with the applicant’s clinical and/or academic skills, and a writing sample. Although admissions interviews are not required, the core faculty may request an applicant interview if questions arise that the faculty believe could be answered best by an interview. Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis and it is recommended that students apply to the program early in the fall preceding their anticipated enrollment. Students may apply to the program on-line at the Program’s web site:
Students enrolled in the program taking 12 or more semester hours pay the full-time tuition rate ($4,399 resident, $7039 non-resident) per semester (summer counted as one semester). Fees and textbooks are estimated at $250 - $300 per semester. Prospective students may find financial aid information at the University’s Office of Financial Aid and from the University’s financial aid web site ( or by calling 803-777-8134.
Chartered in 1801 as South Carolina College, the University still remains on its original site in Columbia, the state capital. The campus has grown from its origins of one building on the historic Horseshoe to 155 facilities on 358 acres. USC Columbia offers more than 350 undergraduate and graduate courses of study. Programs range from liberal arts and sciences to business, law, medicine, and other professional studies, many of which have been widely recognized for their academic excellence. The Physical Therapy Program is located on the Columbia campus in the state capital and assessable by all major means of transportation. Campus Recreation, a unit within the Department of Student Life, offers services to meet the recreational needs of students, faculty, and staff. The Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center is a state-of-the-art recreational facility combining the best features of a student union and a traditional recreation center. With more than 192,000 square feet, this facility greatly enhances the recreational opportunities afforded to the USC community. Amenities include: an eight-lane indoor pool, outdoor pool complex, whirlpool, sauna, wet classroom, locker rooms, six racquetball courts, 52-foot climbing wall, auxiliary gym, 1/7-mile indoor track, 3 aerobic/multipurpose rooms, 19,000-square-foot strength and conditioning area, 4 volleyball/basketball courts, outdoor adventure center, equipment checkout, wellness center, pro shop, food service outlet, conference rooms, campus recreation offices, and wireless Internet access. The University sponsors an extensive program in intercollegiate sports for men and women -- football, basketball, soccer, track, cross country, baseball, equestrian, golf, tennis, swimming, volleyball, and softball. The University of South Carolina is a member of the Division I Southeastern Conference and its athletic teams regularly play teams of that conference as well as those of other institutions across the nation.