Physical Therapy Degrees in Los Angeles with School Overviews

Jan 02, 2019

There are eight not-for-profit schools near Los Angeles that have physical therapy degree programs. Read an overview of the programs, requirements and admission info at three schools less than 30 miles from downtown and find out which school is the right one for you.

Los Angeles Schools with Physical Therapy Programs

Prospective students in the Los Angeles area have several school options for training in physical therapy - including programs that prepare them to become physical therapists or physical therapy assistants. This article looks at three schools, all within 35 minutes of the city center. Two offer Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree programs, while the other trains students for certification as physical therapy assistants. There is a table of information about the schools, such as enrollment, tuition, graduation rate and school type. This is followed by a list of some other Los Angeles-area schools offering relevant programs.

  • University of Southern California (USC), about three miles from downtown Los Angeles, offers a DPT program.
  • A physical therapy assistant associate's degree program is available through Cerritos College, approximately 17 miles from downtown.
  • California State University (CSU) - Long Beach also has a DPT program. This school is about 26 miles from downtown.

Comparison of Schools

There are many factors that individuals should consider when looking for a school, and this table presents them in a way that makes comparison simple.

University of Southern California Cerritos College California State University - Long Beach
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 2-year; public 4-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 45,687* 17,218* 37,622*
Campus Setting Large city Large suburb Large city
Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $44,013 (graduate) $1,346 in-state, $8,710 out-of-state* $8,164 in-state, $17,668 out-of-state (graduate)
% of First-Year Undergraduate Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 64%* 84%* 80%*
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017) 16% Open admissions* 28%
Undergraduate Retention Rate for Full-Time Students (2016-2017) 96%* 76%* 88%*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate 92% (2011)* 24% (2014)* 69% (2014)

Sources: *National Center Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California's physical therapy program is offered through the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. In addition to the physical therapy degree program, the school also offers physical therapy residencies and continuing education opportunities. The physical therapy program was ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report in 2016.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

The physical therapy degree program is offered on campus or online and includes progressively advancing coursework and expanding clinical training during all three years (including summer study). The clinical experiences offer students the opportunity to apply what they learn in the classroom in a real-world environment.

First-year students complete coursework in musculoskeletal anatomy, patient management, motor control, therapeutic exercise, musculoskeletal dysfunction and the musculoskeletal system. During the second year, students take classes in neuroanatomy, clinical pharmacology, neurologic dysfunction, neuroscience and clinical imaging. The final year requires students to complete two 16-week internships. Students learn how to assess and treat patients from diverse populations, as well as those with compounding medical conditions such as cardiopulmonary problems, in acute and long-term care and treatment settings.

Cerritos College

The physical therapist assistant program at Cerritos College is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association. The 4-semester program requires that students complete courses on campus and clinical experiences at local hospitals. Each year, the program accepts 32 applicants. The school reported that its students' pass rate for the national board exam was 100% in 2016 and 96% in 2017.

Associate in Arts - Physical Therapy Assistant

Admission requirements include a health assessment, CPR certification, background check and acceptable scores on college placement tests; students with demonstrable relevant work experience for a physical therapist or extra coursework in relevant topics may be given preference.

Students in this associate's degree program complete general education requirements and core courses in the field. Courses cover kinesiology, neurology, physical therapy interventions for soft tissue areas, prosthetics and orthotics, pathology, neurology, therapeutic exercise and physical therapy growth and development. Two clinical practicums are required, and a licensing preparation course is also part of the curriculum.

California State University - Long Beach

The College of Health and Human Services at California State University - Long Beach offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program, and was the first CSU school to offer a physical therapy degree program. The school reported that its DPT students' pass rate for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE) in 2018 was 100%, and that the employment rate of graduates who passed the NPTE was also 100%.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Applicants must apply separately to the university and the DPT program. Prerequisites include GRE test scores, proof of CPR certification, proof of a health assessment and demonstrated computer proficiency. A bachelor's degree in any field is required; also required is a minimum of relevant work or volunteer experience. Admission is competitive.

Students learn to apply science and critical thinking skills to the provision of physical therapy services. Clinical communication and professional ethics are covered, as are relevant legal considerations. In addition to classroom learning, clinical training is required. Students complete a series of internships and a doctoral research project. Graduates are prepared to sit for the state licensing exam required for employment.

Other School Options

There are several other school options for physical therapy training in the Los Angeles area. Mount St. Mary's College is located in Los Angeles and located about 18 miles from downtown. It's a 4-year not-for-profit school that offers a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program. Students in the Los Angeles area can also earn Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees at California State University - Northridge, a 4-year public school about 25 miles from Los Angeles, and Azusa Pacific University, a private not-for-profit school located about 20 miles away.

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