Frequently Asked Questions
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What is Physical Therapy?
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 for more information about Physical Therapy.
What are the prerequisite courses?
You must have a Bachelor's degree. Any major qualifies you to apply provided you have completed the listed prerequisite courses. The following courses are required and may be taken as part of your Bachelor's degree:
4 semester hours of General Biology (with a laboratory)
8 semester hours of Chemistry (with a laboratory)
8 semester hours of Physics (with a laboratory)
8 semester hours of Human Anatomy/Physiology (May be 4 of each)
3 semester hours of Statistics
3 semester hours of Psychology
3 semester hours of an additional Psychology or Sociology course
How many people apply each year?
This changes from year to year. Our applicant pool recently held 450 to 500 applicants.
What GPA do I need?
You need a 3.0 minimum GPA to apply, although successful applicants have a higher GPA than that.
What was the average GPA of the students admitted last year?
The average GPAs for overall course work for the last class admitted was 3.6.
What additional tests do I need to take?
You will need to take the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Call or go by the testing office at your university to obtain information on testing dates and fees.
What is the GRE?
It is a test to predict your success in graduate studies, much like the ACT or SAT you took in high school was used to predict your success in college.
What score do I need?
We would like to see at least 450 each on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE, and at least 4 on the analytical (writing) section.
When and where is the GRE test given?
Check with your own University's testing center for test dates and fees. The GRE is offered on computer at specified centers throughout the country.
What is ODU's Designated Institution (DI) Code?
The DI specifically for the DPT program at ODU is 7800.
What are my chances of getting in?
This depends on the number of applications each year. We have a maximum class of 40 students each year to encourage a lower student to faculty ratio.
Who should write my references?
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.
When will I know if I'm accepted?
Applications are due the first Monday in November. 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.
When can I speak to a faculty member?
You can meet the faculty members, other prospective students and tour our facilities at a School of Physical Therapy Information Session scheduled for the Saturday before the start of school each August. During the school year faculty members have some time for advising appointments. You will need to call our office at (757) 683-4519 to schedule an appointment. Telephone advising appointments are available for individuals who live out of town. If you are an accepted or an alternate student, an on-campus Orientation session is held in March.
What do I do if I have questions regarding filling out the application?
Please call our main office at (757) 683-4519 and speak to one of our secretaries. If they are unable to answer your question, they will set an advising appointment with a faculty member for you.
Can I re-apply if I'm not accepted this year?
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.
How do I re-apply?
You will need to reapply both through PTCAS and ODU. Follow the on-line instructions.
What courses do I still need to take?
You need to complete a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. You will also need to complete any of the prerequisites that you have not yet completed.
Do I have to have all the prerequisite courses completed before I can apply?
No, but it must be possible for you to complete all course work before the start date of the program. 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 eligible to apply. Students lacking this many credits of prerequisite course work are not considered competitive applicants. Applicants will also need to make sure that all course work can be completed prior to the start of the program (late June).
Do I need to take an introductory course of Kinesiology?
This course is recommended, but not required as a pre-requisite 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.
Should I repeat courses that I made a C in?
Whether to repeat courses depends on your overall record. It generally won’t work to repeat a lot of classes to try to inch your GPA up. If you have pretty good overall grades 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 make sense. If you are unsure, contact the Program for advisement.
Can I take all the required courses at a Community College?
If you graduated from college with a major in which you took little or no science course work it is possible to complete much of the prerequisite course work at a Community College. It may, in some instances, be desirable to take at least some of the science course work at a four-year institution.
I didn't do well early in my scholastic career, will that count against me?
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.
If I repeat a course, do I get the higher grade or are the grades averaged?
The two grades are averaged together.
I graduated a long time ago; will I have to retake any course work?
Your undergraduate degree may have been completed at any time. However, prerequisite courses are to have been completed within the last 10 years. Prerequisite coursework that is greater than 10 years old, may need to be repeated, especially the science courses. It is recommended that you contact the Program to set up an advising appointment to determine your specific situation.
How many hours of volunteer work in physical therapy are required?
You need a minimum of 80 contact hours as a volunteer or employee in a physical therapy setting. At least 40 hours (of the 80 required hours) of volunteer work must be in the acute care hospital setting. A rehabilitation hospital is not considered acute care. We recommend that you have experience in more than one physical therapy environment. The better your career exploration for this professional field, the more you will be certain that you have made the correct choice.
When does the academic program start?
The Program begins in the summer (end of June) each year. Students are not admitted into the curriculum at any other time. The Program is made up of highly structured curriculum, which consist of a summer semester, fall semester and spring semester in the first year, a summer semester, fall semester and spring semester followed by a summer session in the second year. The third year consists of a fall semester of academic coursework on campus followed by the culminating spring semester of full time clinical education internships. Graduation is in May of the third year.
When would I graduate?
Graduation is generally the second Saturday in May, at the completion of the spring semester. Refer to the program brochure that describes in detail the academic program. Please look at the information regarding the DPT Program in the application as well.
How much is tuition?
We are a state-supported institution, and tuition rates may change yearly, depending on the state budget, inflation, and other factors. Up to date tuition rates and a tuition calculator can be found at http://admissions.odu.edu/graduate.php?page=money#tuition. The program consists of 117 credit hours spread over seven semesters. There are also university and program fees. Physical Therapy students pay a $150 lab fee for the fall and spring semesters of the first two years of the program.
What are the other expenses?
Other expenses are for books each semester. The cost of books for the first year is slightly higher than the second year. These costs can be as high as $1000.00 per semester. Also, there are related costs for lab coats, dissection materials, and a Physical Therapy tools (stethoscope, goniometer). Students are also expected to bear the cost to travel to clinical sites and their living expenses for the time they are at Old Dominion University attending the Program.
Are there scholarships available?ODU’s School of Physical Therapy offers the Maihafer scholarship for assistance to exceptional second-year students. A one-year fellowship is also available to a second-year student. The Financial Aid Office can provide information about Old Dominion University sponsored or Virginia State sponsored scholarships. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA at www.apta.org), Department of Education, can provide students with general information about scholarship sources available for physical therapy students. The Web is another good resource to use to investigate scholarship sources.
What about graduate assistantships or work study?
There are several tutoring and teaching assistantship positions for second and third year students. Students often work part time assisting people with their exercise programs at the recreation center. The Office of Financial Aid can provide information about on-campus work study programs.
What about sponsorships?
Some health care providers are willing to support students while they are in school, on the condition that the students, then work for the provider upon graduation. Students are required to sign a contract in this type of circumstance. Contracts vary, so be sure that you understand what will be expected of you upon graduation. A sponsorship can be a big help financing your education if you are certain that the facility in question has the desired characteristics for initial employment as a professional. Be certain that there will be other therapists available to you for consultation when you need it and that the patient population treated has a variety of health problems. There will be plenty of time for you to specialize later in your career.
Can I work while I'm in P.T. School?
We recommend that first year students do not work so that they can focus on the demands of an intensive graduate program. Once a student has successfully completed two semesters, he or she will be in a better position to judge whether a job will fit around the school schedule.
Can I go to P.T. School part-time?
No. The program at Old Dominion University is designed for the full-time student and is currently designed to be completed in 3 years as a full time student.
When do I go to clinic?
Students are introduced to the clinic 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 videotaped 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 often in an acute care environment and tries to maximize the student's experiences in the classroom from the first year. During the second academic year students evaluate and treat community volunteers with neurological disorders as well as standardized patients from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Students participate in clinical problem solving video/discussion groups led by faculty and local clinicians. In the second summer of the Program students spend sixteen weeks in full-time clinical practice. These sixteen weeks are divided into two eight week segments. The final third year spring semester affords the student sixteen more weeks of full time clinical education prior to graduation.
Where are the clinics located?
We place students in many facilities in the entire Tidewater area as well as all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, we have many clinical sites in the eastern half of the country as well as more distant sites such as New Mexico, California, Oregon, Arizona, and even Alaska, Hawaii and Bermuda.
Do I need a car for clinical affiliations?
While a car is not required, it is strongly recommended to have one available for traveling to part-time clinical sites as well as to full-time sites.
Who decides where I go to clinics?
After consulting with you about your goals and needs, the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) will make full-time clinical assignments. The Director of Clinical Education makes these clinical assignments in consultation with the faculty, the clinical sites, as well as the student. Please remember that the DCE is responsible for placing students in full-time affiliations and these total number of placements during the summer are >120 placements. All students will have an acute care experience, an outpatient clinical experience and a full time rehabilitation/pediatric clinical experience at some point during their academic career.
Where do students live?
Many students live in apartments in the area surrounding the University and a few students live in Old Dominion University graduate student housing. Old Dominion University runs a housing office to assist students in finding suitable housing. Students who are already on campus in the second year of the physical therapy program can sometimes help beginning students with information about housing. More detailed information on housing is given in the March orientation session.
Can you help me find a roommate?
Admitted physical therapy students seeking roommates can ask that their name and address be placed on a list with others who are interested in seeking roommates. The Program in Physical Therapy will then make arrangements for these students to be in contact with one another prior to arriving on campus.
Are room and board provided at the distant clinical sites?
The amount of assistance offered by various clinical sites varies considerably. Some are able to offer no assistance, some are able to offer room and board, and some offer assistance in helping you find adequate room and board in their area. As stated earlier, we expect students to assume responsibility for living expenses associated with their clinical education. We cannot guarantee that clinics will be able to assist you.
What are the prospects for employment upon graduation?
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.
Are there any special features of the ODU DPT 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 and teaching assistants for each lab
- Use of Standardized Patients to fine-tune clinical skills and patient-therapist relationship before engaging in clinical practice
- Clinical internships with experienced clinical instructors to guide your development
- Patient volunteers come to the lab for direct interaction with students
- Local Community service learning activities at the Norfolk Senior Center
- International service learning in the Dominican Republic, in collaboration with Physicians for Peace
Can I take course work in one of the physical therapy specialties as part of the curriculum?
In the fall of the third year, a topics course allows you to explore an area of particular interest to you, such as sports PT, wound care, or pediatric gait assessment. The third year clinical internships may also be targeted to a specialty area.
Do I have to be licensed to practice physical therapy?
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.
Is there a 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.
How do ODU graduates do on the licensure exam?
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%.