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The College of St. Scholastica

The physical therapy field maintains high standards to protect patients and ensure they receive the best possible care from well-rounded experts who incorporate the most up-to-date best practices. This is why a transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy was created. It is designed to bridge the gap between the knowledge and skills that PTs gained through their original training, and clinical work enhanced with current and relevant information.

The program is designed to provide a degree that is commensurate with current entry level graduates based on recommendations from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for transitional programs. Our graduates report that their CSS education improves their confidence, expands their current practice and skills, and enhances leadership qualities.

If you want to expand your therapy practice, close the growing tech gap, or just want to ensure that you’re giving your patients the best care possible, then a Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy is the degree for you.

What does the APTA say?

St. Scholastica’s tDPT is built around the APTA’s recommendations and current practice ensuring that graduates are current with both educational and clinical doctoral degree standards.

The APTA identifies six key elements for PT professionals:

  • Autonomous practice: PTs are able to work independently
  • Direct Access: the right of all consumers to be able to attain care with a PT
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and lifelong education: the educational standard for all PTs and the constant pursuit of knowledge and current best practices
  • Evidence-based practice: the use of the best and most current research to back up treatment plans and decision making for clients
  • Practitioner of choice: PTs are recognized as the preferred providers of care for patient issues related to movement, function and health
  • Professionalism: PTs are expected to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards to ensure the best patient outcomes

Transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy at St. Scholastica

If you’ve decided to pursue a Transitional Doctorate in Physical Therapy, then St. Scholastica’s fully online degree program designed for working professionals might be the right fit for you.

Our asynchronous model allows each learner to tailor the program to fit their needs, clinical interests and schedule. Optional online review sessions are offered (and recorded) and virtual faculty office hours are available.

St. Scholastica has a long history of providing healthcare education, from nurses to athletic trainers. We are a teaching institution, which means the focus is on the student and the development of our educators. The College began their first Physical Therapy program in 1974 and conferred our first tDPT degrees obtained through the transitional program in 2010. Since then, over 1000 therapists have completed the online program.

What is the tDPT program like?

The curriculum is based on recommendations from APTA that combine the rich, well-established knowledge and expertise of the PT community with requirements that meet the expectations of current practice. It consists of six semester-long courses where each is offered in fall, spring and summer. Most students complete the program in two years following a tailored program that meets individual student’s needs.

Content areas include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Differential Screening
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Evidence-based Practice
  • Health Policy and Promotion
  • Professional Integration

Our programs closely follow APTA requirements, as graduates learn how to integrate evidence, learn about differential diagnosis and skills and gain knowledge in clinically meaningful ways.

How much does it cost?

The tDPT program at St. Scholastica is competitively priced without hidden costs and includes free textbooks. Additionally, the program includes an array of free resources to provide the most thorough education possible. These materials include:

  • Computer support
  • Personal Academic Advisor
  • Access to thousands of scholarly articles
  • Video based learning
  • Vast online library system
  • Personalized online librarian
  • NPTE review resources

How long does it take?

Most full-time working students will complete the program in two years by taking one class a semester. Each class is either 2-3 credits (16 credits total), which requires around 9-12 hours of course work per week.

What if I do not live in the United States?

The tDPT program is among St. Scholastica’s most internationally enrolled! We welcome students from around the world and work hard to create an inclusive program where international learners feel connected and united despite frequently being a world away.

Many of St. Scholastica’s tDPT classes have been adjusted to meet FCCPT requirements and are laser-focused on ensuring all of our learners in every stage of their career are considered and cared for. Our educators are mentors and are available to assist and guide.

The courses were offered at a frequency that afforded me the opportunity to select what best matched my life.

Mike Studer, PT, DPT, MHS

St. Scholastica’s tDPT program outcomes

Program graduates report that St. Scholastica’s tDPT broadened their perspectives, opened new career opportunities, deepened their knowledge and re-invigorated their sense of excitement for their work and the profession.

Program assessment reveals that APTA recommendations and supporting program outcomes are being met. Over 95% of program graduates report that they have successfully met all the following program outcomes:

  • Apply current health legislative policies and be an advocate within professional practice
  • Demonstrate critical thinking, problem-solving and leadership skills required of autonomous practitioners
  • Demonstrate a commitment to the physical therapy profession including but not limited to life-long learning and advocacy for the profession and health care consumer
  • Evaluate published studies related to physical therapy practice, research and policy integrating the findings into clinical practice
  • Integrate concepts of diagnostic imaging and pharmacology in the differential screening and comprehensive management of patients and clients
  • Synthesize communication and leadership methods to improve interprofessional collaboration

Additional Sources

American Physical Therapy Association. Vision Sentence for Physical Therapy 2020. Accessed April 22, 2020.

American Physical Therapy Association. The Preferred Curricular Model for the Transition Clinical Doctoral (t-DPT Program and Learner).