California State Universities (CSU) are this year offering a Doctor of Physical Therapy program (DPT) as the Masters of Physical Therapy program (MPT) is fast becoming a thing of the past. This article will outline those universities making the switch and which State Universities in California now offer the DPT.

The DPT is progressively becoming the gold standard in physical therapy (PT) education across the United States. The DPT allows practitioners to become more recognised in the field of PT. This strengthens the case for physical therapists to become first contact practitioners across all states. Currently in the U.S. physical therapists work as first contact practitioners in 46 States and the District of Columbia, however there remain some stringent restrictions on PT practice without the guidance of a doctor. To strengthen the case for physical therapists to become first contact practitioners, the American Physical Therapy Association has pushed for all PT programs to transition to Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs by 2020. This leaves little room for dispute that physical therapists are well qualified to be first contact practitioners.

There are currently 14 public and private universities offering a degree in physical therapy in California. All private universities in California currently offer the DPT program, and it seems that finally the State Universities are following their example.

Commencing in 2012, all California State Universities (Northridge, Long Beach, Sacramento and San Francisco/Fresno) will offer DPT programs for physical therapy students. These programs offer more advanced clinical programs and clinical internships and allow the graduate to hold a doctorate degree on completion of the program. All California DPTs are accredited by CAPTE and all students can undertake the National Physical Therapy Exam on completion of their studies. Because they are state universities, the tuition fees are governed by the California State University Board of Trustees and are system wide. Tution fees for the DPT at any CSU in 2012 are $8074 per semester. Most DPT programs in California run for 8-9 semesters and offer 30-35 weeks of clinical internships within these semesters. The average number of students accepted into the DPT programs in California is 32 however there are usually many more applicants than this so study hard!!

For those who are completing a Masters Degree this year, California State Universities will offer a postprofessional transitional DPT to act as a bridging course and allow the graduate to hold a DPT upon completion. This postprofessional program usually involves 9-12months of further studies.

The path to becoming a physical therapist is a long and challenging one, however the DPT programs, now offered by California State Universities will ease the transition to practice and is the way of the future.

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