Feb 24, 2024  
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1 
    
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1

Physical Therapy, DPT


(Atlanta, Knoxville, and Nashville)

Mission

The mission of the South College Doctor of Physical Therapy program is to provide an innovative, career-focused education that develops Doctors of Physical Therapy who are highly skilled, mindful, and empathetic care providers, who are passionate lifelong learners, who are servant leaders in their local community, and who are highly engaged in their professional and broader health care communities. Graduates will be equipped to deliver exemplary care in a multidisciplinary, team-oriented, and value-based healthcare environment.

Philosophy

The School of Physical Therapy is committed to the development of future Doctors of Physical Therapy, ready to meet the demands of clinical practice in the 21st century with exemplary entry-level skills, marked professionalism, and compassion.

The DPT program is designed for the delivery of a contemporary and evidence-based curriculum using faculty and contributors that are dedicated educators, clinicians, researchers, and leaders in the physical therapy profession. Faculty and contributors facilitate student learning and professional growth with student-centered active learning experiences, modeled clinical and scholarly excellence and steadfast professionalism. Using a blended learning model, our curriculum combines the best aspects of online learning activities and interactions, hands-on laboratory intensive sessions, and collaborative clinical education experiences into an innovative and dynamic learning experience. In so doing, we will transform physical therapy education, improve scalability and access to DPT education, increase flexibility for traditional and nontraditional learners, increase the level of active learning in courses, and seek to achieve quality student experiences and outcomes. Our graduates will be prepared for skillful, mindful and compassionate clinical practice, lifelong learning and professional development, and selfless service to their community and profession.

Program Goals/Outcomes

The South College School of Physical Therapy will deliver an accredited DPT program that embraces the core values of the profession. The program has the following goals:

Program Goals

  • Goal 1: Demonstrate a commitment to service and leadership in the institution, the community, and the profession. 
  • Goal 2: Enroll a student body that results in graduates who support the demand for physical therapists and rehabilitation services at the local, regional, and national levels.
  • Goal 3: Efficiently develop competent career-focused physical therapists through engaging and effective academic and clinical learning experiences.

Faculty Goals

  • Goal 1: Role model servant leadership and professional responsibility to the institution, the community, and professional organizations.
  • Goal 2: Integrate engaging and effective teaching strategies and technologies that support the program’s mission, enhance student learning, and optimize outcomes.
  • Goal 3: The collective faculty demonstrate commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and clinical practice.

Student/Graduate Goals

  • Goal 1: Demonstrate a commitment to evidence-based practice and professional growth through lifelong learning, critical inquiry, and mindful practice.
  • Goal 2: Function in a professional, caring, ethical, and culturally competent manner, with a demonstrated advocacy towards the patient, community, and profession.

Program Overview

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is designed for students desiring to complete advanced studies in physical therapy. Students must possess strong analytical reasoning, cognitive, and affective skills demonstrating competency, flexibility, responsibility, and critical thinking skills to facilitate problem solving. The program requires successful completion of 135 total quarter credit hours. The structured curriculum requires courses in foundational sciences, clinical sciences, and physical therapy patient and practice management. The accelerated curriculum is delivered in eight consecutive quarters over a period of 24 months.

The DPT curriculum is delivered via a hybrid, or blended, learning model that incorporates best practices for online, onsite, and clinical education principles into an innovative, accelerated, and challenging curriculum. Current evidence regarding the use of technology and distance learning philosophies serves as a foundation for the curriculum. Our emphasis on adult learning principles and an active learning environment are reflective of contemporary educational theory and practice. Faculty for the School of Physical Therapy use traditional and systems-based approaches to organize a sequential, lock-step curriculum for all enrolled students. Didactic education delivered in a blended learning format is conducted during quarters 1-4, the first 3 weeks of quarter 5, and quarter 6. Each academic quarter consists of 9-10 weeks of distance education and 2-3 weeks of onsite lab immersion instruction. From a traditional perspective, most of the biological and physical sciences are taught during the early academic quarters and provide the foundation for clinical science and physical therapy science courses that are taught concurrently or subsequently. From a system-based perspective, clinical and physical therapy sciences are addressed as regional and age-specific courses for the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, pulmonary, integumentary, endocrine, and genitourinary systems.

Clinical education is conducted during an 8-week clinical experience in quarter 5, a 12-week intermediate clinical experience in quarter 7, and an 11-week terminal clinical experience in quarter 8. These final two experiences are often combined into a single, 23-week, clinical internship. Each student is exposed to a variety of clinical settings during these experiences, which may include outpatient, acute care, subacute care, neuro rehabilitation, skilled nursing, home care, industrial, and pediatric facilities. While the emphasis remains on development of strong entry-level skills as a generalist PT, this variety of exposures provides each student with an appreciation for the breadth of specialties within the PT profession, the multitude of clinical presentations and disorders within each specialty, and role of PT in the management of these patients/clients. Additionally, this variety provides the students with clinical experiences that best prepare the student for national licensure.

Program Accreditation Status

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at South College Knoxville Campus is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; telephone: 703-706-3245; email: accreditation@apta.org; website: http://www.capteonline.org. To file a complaint with CAPTE, contact them directly by phone or email. If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 865-251-1753 or email akoszalinski@south.edu.

South College Atlanta Campus is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. On December 1,2022, the program submitted an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in the professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, through achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress towards accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

Graduation from a physical therapist [assistant] education program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 3030 Potomac Ave., Suite 100, Alexandria, Virginia 22305-3085; phone; 703-706-3245; accreditation@apta.org is necessary for eligibility to sit for the licensure examination, which is required in all states. Candidacy is considered to be an accredited status, as such the credits and degree earned from a program with Candidacy status are considered, by CAPTE, to be from an accredited program. Therefore, students in the charter (first) class should be eligible to take the licensure exam even if CAPTE withholds accreditation at the end of the candidacy period. That said, it is up to each state licensing agency, not CAPTE, to determine who is eligible for licensure. Information on licensing requirements should be directed to the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT; www.fsbpt.org) or specific state boards (a list of state boards and contact information is available on FSBPT’s website.

South College Nashville is seeking accreditation of a new physical therapist education program from CAPTE. The program is planning to submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage, on December 01, 2023. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status. Achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status is required prior to implementation of the professional phase of the program; therefore, no students may be enrolled in professional courses until Candidate for Accreditation status has been achieved. Further, though achievement of Candidate for Accreditation status signifies satisfactory progress toward accreditation, it does not assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

Physical Therapist Licensure

Licensure as a Physical Therapist is regulated by individual states and typically overseen by a State Board of Physical Therapy. All 50 states require graduation from a CAPTE accredited program as well as passing the NPTE in order to obtain a license and practice as a Physical Therapist.  The South College DPT program is a CAPTE accredited program which aims to prepare graduates to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).  Some states have unique licensure requirements. For example, a jurisprudence exam is required in some states to test the graduate’s knowledge of state laws, rules, and practice acts that govern physical therapy practice. Some require satisfactory background checks.  These unique requirements are not associated with preparation in the South College program.  The following link provides contact information for individual state licensing authorities: https://www.fsbpt.org/FreeResources/LicensingAuthoritiesContactInformation.aspx

Graduates of the DPT Program are encouraged to take state and nationally recognized licensing examinations as soon after graduation as possible. Further information regarding the NPTE, jurisprudence exams, and state licensure can be obtained at http://www.fsbpt.com/.

Program Admission and Prerequisites

Students applying to the DPT Program should have the requisite skills and demonstrated potential to navigate the academic rigors of an accelerated and hybrid model of DPT education. Students should be mature adult learners with the ability, initiative, and flexibility to learn and work independently and collectively in online, onsite, and clinical environments. Additionally, students should have a reasonable level of technology literacy prior to the start of classes. These demonstrable attributes prepare students for the demands of a challenging blended-learning curriculum and a dynamic profession.

  1. ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: In order to be considered for admission to the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at South College, the following criteria must be met:
    • Complete a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution prior to classes beginning. Admission may be granted pending completion of the degree.
    • Complete all required prerequisite courses with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) and prerequisite course GPA of 3.00 or greater on a 4.00 scale.
      • Grades below “C-” in prerequisite courses will not be accepted.
      • If a prerequisite course is repeated, the credit hours assigned to the course may be counted only once in fulfilling the required number of hours. The prerequisite GPA will be determined using the highest course grade achieved; however, both grades will be calculated into the cumulative GPA.
      • If cumulative GPA is less than 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, an applicant may still be eligible for admission if a cumulative GPA of greater than 3.50 has been achieved over the last 60 semester or 90 quarter hour credits of coursework.
    • Submission of two (2) references; one from a licensed physical therapist and one from someone of the applicant’s choice. References cannot consist of family, friends, clergy, or politicians.
    • Completion of a minimum of fifty (50) hours of volunteer or work experience with a licensed physical therapist is recommended, but not required.
    • For all applicants for whom English is not their first language or those who have completed a degree and prerequisite courses in a foreign country, demonstration of English language proficiency is required through completion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
    • Successful completion of an admission interview. Applicants are selected for interviews based on a holistic evaluation of their application and supporting documents.
    • Ability to fulfill the Technical Standards for admission outlined on the DPT website.
    • Complete an approved Criminal Background Check (CBC) prior to matriculation.
  2. ADMISSION PREREQUISITES:*
    • Biology with laboratory recommended (8 quarter hours/6 semester hours);
    • General Chemistry with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours);
    • General Physics with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours);
    • Human Anatomy and Physiology with laboratory (12 quarter hours/8 semester hours)**;
    • Statistics (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours);
    • General Psychology (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours)
    • Upper Level Psychology (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours)
    • English Composition or Writing (4.5 quarter hours/3 semester hours).

*See Accepted Courses for Program Prerequisites included on the DPT website.

**Applicants must complete Anatomy and Physiology courses within the last 5 years prior to application or demonstrate ongoing work experiences that have kept this knowledge current (e.g. physical therapist assistant, athletic trainer, etc.). All remaining letter-graded prerequisite coursework is acceptable no matter when the coursework was completed. However, we strongly recommend that applicants take refresher courses as needed to fully prepare themselves for our accelerated DPT program.

State Authorization

South College seeks to make available all online programs/courses to residents of Tennessee and other states, and to allow completion of required clinical or practical experiences in those states. The program works through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) process and with states directly to ensure that when authorization or licensure is necessary, required approvals are secured (such as California where South College is approved as an Out-Of-State Registered Institution). Tennessee is a member of SARA and South College is an approved SARA institution. As such, we adhere to a set of national standards for interstate offering of post-secondary distance education courses and programs. SARA also covers all interstate placements in clinical or practical situations among SARA member states, no matter the nature of the main program. However, not all states are SARA members. While we do monitor the laws in each state, authorization of distance education is a dynamic environment and prospective students should check this site often for updates. It is the student’s responsibility to understand current circumstances or special requirements in their state of residence. Please see the South College Doctor of Physical Therapy webpage and click on Admission for more information.

As the DPT program is an academic program that leads to a professional license required in many states, it is highly recommended that applicants first seek guidance from the appropriate licensing agency in their home state BEFORE beginning the academic program located outside of the state. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the appropriate licensing board in his/her home state to confirm whether a South College program will meet the requirements for licensure in that state. The following link provides contact information for state licensing authorities: https://www.fsbpt.org/FreeResources/LicensingAuthoritiesContactInformation.aspx.

Advanced Placement and Transfer Credit

All courses required for the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program, both didactic and clinical, must be completed at South College. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program at South College does not grant advanced placement, credit for experiential learning, or transfer credits from another program or institution.

Background Checks and Drug Testing

Criminal background checks and drug testing are becoming mandatory at medical institutions as a requirement of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Individuals working in health care facilities often must consent to and be cleared to work through criminal background investigations and/or drug screenings. This is also a common policy/requirement in many physical therapy corporate entities and individual clinics.

In order to ensure patient safety and security, South College requires a criminal background check prior to any applicant being admitted. An additional background check and/or drug testing may be required prior to beginning clinical experiences in year two of the program. Applicants should be aware that a prior criminal background could restrict the ability to obtain professional state licensure. Acceptance into a South College program does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain such licensure.

Health Insurance

All Doctor of Physical Therapy students are required to carry health insurance (including hospitalization) throughout the entire program. It is the responsibility of the student to purchase health insurance and provide proof of insurance. Health concerns should be addressed with your primary care provider. South College does not have student health facilities, but we do have an agreement with Cherokee Health Systems to provide services to our students living in Knoxville or attending onsite lab intensives. Students are financially responsible for any services rendered by Cherokee. Once matriculated into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, students must show compliance with the health policy including personal health insurance coverage within one month of the start of classes. Failure to do so may result in being liable for dismissal from the program. Students must re-certify their health status (including proof of health insurance) prior to beginning the clinical year (year 2) of the program. Students may not engage in clinical activities until compliance has been met.

Immunizations

Prior to entering the South College Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, students must submit health provider proof of a health examination and updated information of immunization health certificate indicating TB testing results and HBV immunization series.

Specific related requirements include:

  1. Provide proof of personal health insurance throughout the entire program;
  2. Provide proof of a satisfactory and current physical examination;
  3. Provide proof of TB Tine Test (positive results will require the student to receive a chest x-ray and further evaluation);
  4. Provide proof of Hepatitis B vaccine and positive Hep B Ab;
  5. Provide proof of MMR vaccine or immunity;
  6. Provide Varicella history or vaccination;
  7. Influenza vaccine (required annually to be given during influenza season: October through May);
  8. Provide proof of Tetanus, Diphtheria, & Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine within the last 10 years; and,
  9. Provide proof of Polio vaccine series (3 doses OR date of last booster OR immunization as an adult).

Prior to entering the clinical phase (year 2) of the program, students must again update their immunization and health certificate and provide proof of the following:

  1. Provide proof of current BLS certification obtained through the American Heart Association;
  2. Provide proof of updated annual TB PPD or tine test;
  3. Provide proof of blood-borne pathogen orientation course; and
  4. Provide proof of current personal health insurance, throughout the clinical year.

Computer Requirement

Students are required to have a personal laptop computer and a mobile device (i.e., tablet, iPad). Minimum requirements and specifications are listed in the DPT Student Handbook.

Technical Standards

South College does not discriminate on the basis of disability in education programs and activities pursuant to the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Rehabilitation Acts Amendments of 1974 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Please refer to the Disability Services Policy published in the South College Catalog and the Student Handbook for complete information.

Physical therapy is a mentally, physically, and psychologically demanding profession. Throughout the DPT curriculum, students acquire the foundation of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors that are necessary for a successful career as a physical therapist. Technical standards reflect those abilities that a physical therapist must possess for safe and effective clinical practice. Prospective and current students must meet the following technical requirements with or without reasonable accommodation for admission, progression, and graduation in the DPT Program.

General Abilities

The student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner. In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.

Observational Ability

The candidate is expected to observe the patient accurately and assess health, illness, movement and functional capacity. Inherent in this observation process is the use of the senses and sufficient motor capability to carry out the necessary assessment activities.  These expectations apply to virtual and in person experiences.

Communication Ability

Communication includes speech, language (verbal and non-verbal), reading, writing, and computer literacy. Students should possess the capability to engage in effective and empathetic communication with patients, enabling them to extract information about mood and activities while also discerning non-verbal cues. This involves being sensitive and conveying compassion. Physical Therapy education presents exceptional challenges in the volume and breadth of required reading and the necessity to impart information to others. Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English with all members of the healthcare team.

Interpersonal, Behavioral, and Professional Attributes

Ethical conduct is a fundamental aspect of their educational journey that students must consistently demonstrate. Students should have the emotional and psychological capacity to fully utilize their intellectual capabilities, exercise sound judgment, and promptly fulfill all duties related to the practice of Physical Therapy. Additionally, they must cultivate mature, sensitive, and productive relationships with patients, caregivers, and healthcare teams. Students should also demonstrate the adaptability and flexibility to perform efficiently and effectively in high-pressure situations with both physical and mentally challenging workloads. It’s crucial for students to excel with physically and mentally demanding workloads and operate efficiently under pressure. Necessary personal qualities include a genuine concern for others, integrity, accountability, and self-motivation.

Motor/Psychomotor Ability

Students must possess sufficient motor function to conduct examination procedures and interventions considered standards of physical therapy practice.  Students must be able to execute movements required to provide general and therapeutic care.  Students must have the motor and psychomotor ability to direct or execute immediate care to an ill or injured patient during an emergency consistent with the physical therapy practice act. 

Critical Thinking Ability

The candidate is expected to have the ability to develop and refine problem-solving skills. This includes the ability to measure, calculate, analyze and synthesize objective as well as subjective data and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation and clinical judgment. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of structures. Students must have the ability to use computers for searching, recording, storing, retrieving, and communicating information.

Accommodations

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. However, it is the responsibility of the student to notify South College in writing with medical documentation from their provider, and verbally if there is any reason why the abilities and/or expectations described cannot be met. Students will review these technical standards during the final stage of admission to the program and attest to their ability to perform these skills.

Students who indicate verbally and in writing (with medical documentation) that they cannot meet one or more of these requirements will be reviewed by South College to determine what, if any reasonable accommodations might be possible to facilitate successful completion of the degree requirements if admitted to the program.

Applicants who cannot complete these tasks, even with reasonable accommodation, are not eligible for admission. Any previously made offer of admission may be withdrawn if it becomes apparent that the student cannot complete essential tasks even with accommodation, or that the accommodations needed are not reasonable and would cause undue hardship to the institution, or that fulfilling the functions would create a significant risk of harm to the health or safety of others. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding these technical standards, please contact the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Students with documented disabilities are entitled to receive approved accommodations or modifications, auxiliary aids, or appropriate academic adjustments that will enable them to participate in and benefit from all educational programs and activities of the College.  All accommodations, modifications, and services are provided on a case-by-case basis and may vary depending on the needs of the student and his/her classes (online, on ground, or both).  Reasonable accommodation refers to ways in which the College can assist students with disabilities to accomplish learning activities. Reasonable accommodation does not mean that students with disabilities will be exempt from completing certain tasks. Applicants who cannot complete essential program tasks, even with reasonable accommodation, are not eligible for admission. Any previously made offer of admission may be withdrawn if it becomes apparent that the student cannot complete essential tasks even with accommodation, or that the accommodations needed are not reasonable and would cause undue hardship to the institution, or that fulfilling the functions would create a significant risk of harm to the health or safety of others. Certain aspects of the academic program may be considered essential as designed.  Accommodations which create a fundamental change of an essential element of the program will not be granted.  Students may receive the same or similar accommodations in other areas of the program where the accommodation does not create a fundamental change to an essential program element.

Steps for requesting, continuing, and/or waiving accommodations can be found in the DPT Student Handbook (Section 5.20.0 - Services for Students with Disabilities).

South College does not discriminate on the basis of disability in education programs and activities pursuant to the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Rehabilitation Acts Amendments of 1974 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. Inquiries and charges of violations concerning these acts should be directed to the designated Disability Services Coordinator at the campus.

Estimated Program Costs (2023-2024)

Tuition ($11,975 per quarter X 8 quarters) = $95,800
Technology Fee ($295 per quarter X 8 quarters) = $ 2,360
Textbooks, Clinical Apps, Licensure Prep Materials = $ 2,500 b
Physical Therapy Professional Equipment = $ 180 c
APTA Student Membership ($80 per year) X 2 years = $ 160
State Chapter Student Membership ($0-$10 per year) X 2 years = $ 20 d
Supplemental Application Fee = $ 60
Graduation Fee = $ 300
PTCAS Application Fee (for application to one DPT Program) = $ 155 e
Housing Costs for Onsite Lab Intensives ($50 X 90 training days) = $ 4,500 f,g
Total Estimated Costs for DPT Program = $106,035

Notes:

a These are estimated costs for the entire program. Tuition, fees, and costs are subject to change. Tuition for in-state and out-of-state residents is the same.

b Estimated costs for textbooks and tablet clinical applications are based on current course requirements.

c Physical therapy equipment costs include a student kit consisting of common clinical exam instruments, gait belt, and exercise mat.  A portable treatment table is highly recommended for personal practice.

d Rates vary depending on state of residence (generally range from $0 - $10 per year).

e This includes a base fee to PTCAS and an application to one DPT program.  Each additional program applied to adds $60 per program to your PTCAS fees.

Estimated lodging costs apply to students commuting to Knoxville for onsite Lab Intensives.  This estimate includes Orientation, 6 Lab Intensives, and Graduation Week activities for a total of 86 required training days.  An additional 4 days are included should the student be required to remain after a Lab Intensive session for remedial training and retesting.

g Students are required to make their own lodging arrangements for Lab Intensive sessions.  Knoxville provides many lodging options for students.  Block room pricing is available at one are hotel starting at $89/night single or double occupancy.  Several extended stay hotels are available in the area for as low as $55/night single or double occupancy.  Additionally, many students rent vacation homes with 6-7 other classmates for as low as $20/night per student.  Most students pay less than $50/night for lodging.

Payment of Tuition and Fees

All charges are due and payable on or before the registration date for each quarter. Circumstances that prevent a student from adhering to these dates should be discussed with the Business Office. Students attending South College under a grant or loan should confer with the Financial Aid Department concerning the payment of fees. Students attending the college under the G.I. Bill® should discuss payment of school fees with the Director of Financial Aid. Tuition and fees are subject to change at the end of any quarter. Failure to make proper payments, unless otherwise cleared with the Business Office, will result in dismissal from the college.

Grades will not be issued, degrees granted, or transcripts furnished until all financial obligations have been satisfied and all college property returned.

Academic Calendar

The Doctor of Physical Therapy academic calendar may vary from the institutional calendar. Information will be provided to Physical Therapy students both in-person and via the DPT Student Resource page in Canvas.

School of Physical Therapy Grading System

Academic Course Grading: Course directors/faculty determine the grades for each course with specific requirements defined within the course syllabus. Evaluation methods assess student achievement of specific educational learning objectives, and in a broader sense, their communication skills and professional behaviors. The means by which a final grade is computed may include, but are not limited to, written examinations, practical examinations, skill checks, oral presentations, written assignments, laboratory exercises, online class participation, clinical participation, and clinical performance. All didactic courses are graded with a letter grade of A, B, C, F, or I.

Where objective testing is used, scores and grades are correlated as follows:

Grade Quality Points Range
A 4.00 90.00 - 100
B 3.00 80.00 - 89.99
C 2.00 70.00 - 79.99
F 0.00 69.99 and below
I *** Incomplete

Clinical Education Course Grading: Clinical faculty use the Physical Therapist Clinical Performance Instrument (PT CPI) to formally assess student performance during clinical education experiences. At a minimum, clinical faculty will provide students with a mid-term and final assessment of their performance. All clinical education courses (DPT 6530, DPT 6720, and DPT 6820) are graded as PASS or FAIL. Students must “Pass” all clinical education courses to progress within the program. Student grades will be determined by the Director of Clinical Education based on 1) mid-term and final PT CPI assessments, 2) verbal or written input from the clinical faculty, 3) a review of student assignments, and 4) collaboration with core faculty as needed.

Minimum Requirements for Progression

Successful progression in the DPT program requires each student to earn a minimum acceptable grade for all academic and clinical education courses, maintain minimum standards for quarter and cumulative grade point averages (GPA), and exhibit appropriate professional behaviors throughout the program. Specific requirements for progression are detailed below:

  • Academic and Clinical Course Grade Requirement:  Students must achieve a final grade of “C” or higher (i.e., ≥ 70%) for all academic courses and “Pass” for all clinical courses to progress to the next academic quarter.

  • Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement: Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to graduate from the DPT program. Allowances will be made in the first year of the program for students with GPA below 3.0.  At the end of Quarter 1, students with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.5 will be placed on academic probation.  Students between 2.51 and 2.99 will be given an academic warning. Students receiving a failing course grade anytime during the program will be dismissed regardless of their GPA. 

At the end of Quarter 2:

  • Students placed on probation after Quarter 1 will have the following conditions based on their cumulative GPA at the end of Quarter 2:  
    • GPA < 2.7 will be dismissed from the program  
    • GPA between 2.7 - 2.99 will continue on probation and be allowed to progress into Quarter 3.
    • GPA > 3.0 and probation status will be removed.  
  • Students given academic warning after Quarter 1 will have the following conditions based on Cumulative GPA at end of Quarter 2:  
    • GPA < 2.7 will be subject to dismissal.  
    • GPA between 2.7 - 2.99 will be placed on probation and be allowed to progress into Quarter 3.   
    • GPA > 3.0 will continue in good standing without academic warning  

At the end of Quarter 3:

  • Students on probation who do not increase their cumulative GPA to > 3.0 will have their academic progress reviewed and will be subject to dismissal.  
  • Students with cumulative GPA < 3.0 without prior academic warning or probation will be placed on probation and will have 1 academic Quarter to raise their GPA to > 3.0. 

Students must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at the end of Quarter 4 and all subsequent quarters thereafter to progress in the program.  Students with GPA’s that fall below 3.0 at any time point in the program after Quarter 4 will not be permitted to progress to their next clinical experience. Their academic record will be reviewed by program administration and will be subject to dismissal from the program.   

Students dismissed from the program at any time may appeal this dismissal. and will follow the procedures for appeal as defined in the DPT Student Handbook. 

  • Professional Behavior Requirement: Students must display appropriate professional behaviors during all academic and clinical education courses. These are requisite behaviors for any student or licensed physical therapist and necessary for successful clinical practice.  Any incident of violation of the South College Student Conduct Standards and Regulations, the South College Honor Code, or the School of Physical Therapy Code of Professional Conduct will be reviewed by the program for recommendations for subsequent actions and may include dismissal from the program.  

Student performance is evaluated at the completion of each academic term to determine if academic and clinical standards are met. Students that achieve or surpass these minimum standards will be allowed to progress in the program. Students with extenuating circumstances may be permitted to continue in the program at the discretion of the Program Director. 

Once the final course grades are posted, any student who does not meet the minimum requirements for progression may be placed on academic probation, withdrawn, or dismissed from the program in accordance with this handbook. 

Academic and Professional Probation

A student is placed on academic or professional probation for any of the following conditions: 

  • Cumulative GPA of less than 2.50 at the end of the 1st quarter or below 3.0 for quarters 2 or 3 as described in the Minimum Requirements for Progression section. 
  • Violation of the South College Student Conduct Standards and Regulations, the South College Honor Code, or the School of Physical Therapy Code of Professional Conduct to a degree that does not warrant academic dismissal. 

The student is notified in writing by the Program Director informing them they are placed on probation. The written communication requires the student to meet with their academic coach to develop a remediation plan that supports them in the area(s) of the academic difficulty and defines requirements to remove probation status. Included within this remediation plan may be regular meetings with the academic coach. 

To remove probation status, the student must:

  • Achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 by the end of the term following being placed on probation.  Students who do not achieve a 3.00 cumulative GPA by the following quarter who report extenuating circumstances may be given an administrative override by the Program Director and permitted to progress in the program. 
  • Demonstrate corrective action and a consistent pattern of professional behaviors consistent with the South College Student Conduct Standards and Regulations, the South College Honor Code, and the School of Physical Therapy Code of Professional Conduct. Conduct is evaluated by the Academic Standing and Progression Committee/Program Director before probationary status is removed.   

The student is not allowed to be on probation for more than one quarter unless circumstances warrant an administrative override by the Program Director.  A second issue relating to probation will likely result in dismissal from the program. The Program Director will notify the student and Registrar of this academic dismissal action in writing. 

Academic Dismissal

Students who fail to achieve the expectations for progression as stated in the policies and procedures will be dismissed. Academic dismissal will occur upon any one of the following: 

The Dean may order the dismissal of a student where the student fails to achieve the expectations for progression. Academic dismissal may occur upon the occurrence of any one of the following grounds.

  • A student receives a grade less than “C” in any academic course or a “Fail” in any clinical course.  
  • A student withdraws from any course during the term, therefore, not successfully completing all required courses for a given quarter, unless an alternate degree plan has been approved.
  • Cumulative GPA is less than 2.7 at the end of Quarter 2 and thereafter in the DPT program.  
  • Violation of the South College Student Conduct Standards and Regulations, the South College Honor Code, or the School of Physical Therapy Code of Professional Conduct.  
  • Inability to be removed from probation status in the time frames established in the DPT Student Handbook.  
  • Any determination by the Program Director, School of Physical Therapy or DPT Faculty that the student is unfit for clinical practice as a physical therapist or is otherwise not meeting the requirements of the School of Physical Therapy and South College. 

The student is notified of this academic dismissal in writing and informed of the appeal procedure. 

Appeal of academic dismissal is heard and decided by the Academic Standing and Progression Committee, and a recommendation submitted to the Program Director of the School of Physical Therapy. The Program Director may accept or reject the recommendation of the Committee, and provide the decision in writing to the student. If unsuccessful in the appeal of the dismissal, the student may submit an appeal to the Dean of Academic and Student Services within three business days of receipt of the decision.  Should that appeal be denied by the Dean, the student may submit a final appeal to the Chief Academic Officer (CAO) within three business days of receipt of the decision. The decision of the CAO is final and not subject to further appeal. Students with a final dismissal from the School of Physical Therapy may reapply for admission through the regular admissions process, unless an alternative process/arrangement is deemed appropriate by the DPT Dean (see paragraph below). 

In certain cases, dismissed students may be offered to decelerate or be admitted to the next admissions class and restart the program.  This alternative to reapplying to the program through the formal admissions process is offered on a case-by-case basis and subject to the decision of the Program Director and Dean after evaluation of the student’s performance to date.  Should a student be readmitted or decelerated through this process, a reinstatement/deceleration plan will be developed prior to the student restarting the program.  This plan will outline what courses the student must audit versus what courses must be repeated for grade as a regularly enrolled student. The reinstatement plan typically requires all courses in which the student earned a “C” or lower to be repeated for grade.  Students can elect to repeat all courses should they so desire. NOTE - audited courses do not replace previous course grades nor do they count towards credit hours enrolled for a given quarter. Therefore, the student should consult with the Financial Aid Department to determine how the reinstatement/deceleration plan affects their aid package. Courses repeated for credit will replace the previous grade and impact GPA. Readmitted or decelerated students must achieve the minimally accepted GPA at the conclusion of their first quarter in which they return to the program as described in the Minimum Requirements for Progression section. 

Graduation Requirements

In order for a student to graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, the student must be in a good academic and professional standing, have had satisfactory progress in all quarters of the academic program, and satisfactorily complete the following:

  1. Successfully complete the required 135 quarter credit hours of academic and clinical education course work.
  2. Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.00 or above.
  3. Achieve a letter grade of “C” (70%) or better in all academic courses.
  4. Successfully complete and “Pass” all clinical education courses.
  5. Achieve entry-level competence as a physical therapist, as demonstrated on the Clinical Internship Evaluation Tool (CIET).
  6. Exhibit professional behaviors consistent with clinical practice as described in the Ten Professional Abilities, APTA Core Values, and the Code of Ethics for the Physical Therapist within the DPT Student Handbook.
  7. Complete all required South College and DPT Program documents in preparation for graduation.
  8. Honor all professional and financial obligations to South College as published in the South College and DPT Program Handbooks, and as specified in any written communications from the School’s administrators.

South College reserves the right, and the student, by the act of matriculation, concedes to give South College the right to require withdrawal at any time the college deems it necessary to safeguard the standards of scholarship, conduct, and compliance with regulations, or for such other reasons deemed appropriate by South College as set forth in the South College Student Handbook, DPT Student Handbook, and/or the South College Catalog.

Doctor of Physical Therapy Curriculum

The South College Doctor of Physical Therapy program requires successful completion of 135 total quarter credit hours that are delivered in eight consecutive quarters over a period of 24 months. The curriculum is dynamic and will be modified over time in keeping with best educational practices and in response to regular assessment and evaluation processes.

The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is offered at the Knoxville, Nashville, and Atlanta campuses

Curriculum Quarters: