Have questions about the Stefani Doctor of Physical Therapy program at USM?

We've answered many common questions below.

If you still need assistance, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].edu or 913-758-4398.


How do I apply to the DPT program at USM?

All applicants to the DPT program at USM must apply through the PTCAS system website at ptcas.org.

What is PTCAS?

The Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) is a service of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). PTCAS allows applicants to use a single application and one set of materials to apply to multiple PT programs. Instructions for applying are available at PTCAS. PTCAS usually begins taking applications on July 1. More information can be found on the PTCAS website at ptcas.org.

How does the application process work?

You must go to the PTCAS website at ptcas.org, create a user account, review the application instructions and checklists carefully, and complete the online application. After your application is complete, it will be forwarded to the school(s) you have designated. We recommend that you apply well in advance of the deadline. In addition to fees you pay to PTCAS, USM requires an application fee in the amount of $35 paid directly to the University of Saint Mary, paid after you first apply through PTCAS.

Highly competitive applicants will be invited for an on-campus interview and for other onsite activities to be held in early spring. Admission into the USM DPT Program is competitive. Completion of the listed prerequisites does not guarantee admission into the program.

What are the Fundamental Requirements for Admission?

Our summarized admission requirements are as follows: You must have a baccalaureate degree, must take our prerequisite courses, must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you must take and report your GRE scores (our program's PTCAS GRE code is 0465), you must observe at least 2 different types of physical therapy, you must write an autobiographical sketch, and if you are ranked high enough in our ranking system, you must participate in an interview during an onsite visit.

After I submit my application to PTCAS, how long will it take to find out if I am accepted?

After you submit your PTCAS application, the staff will verify your coursework and other application details. This means that this program will receive your application 3-5 weeks after you submit it to PTCAS. Once we receive your application, we review it to make sure you meet our minimum admissions criteria. The admissions committee will meet in late February to consider applicants who will be invited to an interview in March.

What are the costs to apply?

PTCAS charges application fees based on the number of schools to which you apply. Typically, fees start at $140 and increase by $40 for each additional school to which to apply. Please refer to the PTCAS website at ptcas.org/Fees for more information on these fees as fees will change over time. In addition, USM charges a $35 application fee that you pay directly to USM after you have applied through PTCAS.

I go to a college or university other than USM. How can I find out if the classes I am taking will count for the prerequisites?

First review our list of prerequisite courses. Notice that the right hand column identifies the types of courses that are preferred. If you are still unsure after reading the types of courses we prefer, you can compare the course descriptions of the courses we list in the center column (see our academic catalog) and if these descriptions are a good match with the courses you have taken, it is likely that your course will be accepted. If you are still unsure, email us ([email protected]) the course description and course syllabus of the course you want us to evaluate.

What is the minimum required GRE score?

We don't require a specific minimum GRE score. Your scores are compared against the scores submitted by other competing students and you are awarded points based on this comparison. The GRE is considered along with your overall GPA, your interview scores, observation hours, your autobiographical sketch, and other admissions materials. However, to be competitive, we recommend at least a score of 1000 on the combined verbal/quantitative portion and at least a 4.0 score on the analytic/writing portion of the GRE.

When should I take the GRE?

We recommend taking the GRE at least two months prior to the application deadline date.

How do I report my GRE scores?

When requesting ETS to report your GRE scores to us, you must use our program's PTCAS GRE code: 0465. It is very important that you use the correct code and failure to use the correct codes may significantly delay our consideration of your application.

If I take the GRE and don't do as well as I'd like, should I retake it?

This is a decision you'll need to make, considering your other qualifications, the costs of the GRE, and the amount of time you can allocate to studying for the GRE. If you do retake the examination, we use the scores from the best overall attempt.

I've heard it's difficult to get in to your program. What are my chances of being admitted?

Last year, we had approximately three to four qualified applications for each available seat in the class. A qualified applicant is someone who has successfully met all the listed admissions requirements and submitted his/her materials before the posted deadline.

I am not a Kansas resident. How will that impact my chances of being accepted?

We do not use a preference system. We use a system based on qualifications and personal characteristics.

My overall GPA is below a 3.0. Can I still apply?

We require a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 but recommend a GPA near 3.5 to be competitive. Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 are not considered.

I have not yet completed all the prerequisites. Can I still apply?

Yes, as long as you will meet all admissions requirements by May of the year of entry. Your GPA will be calculated without grades from the classes you have not yet taken.

I am a high school student who is considering USM. How do I find out more about the USM DPT program?

Start by visiting and reading through our website and read all about physical therapy at APTA’s website.

How many people apply each year?

The number of applicants changes from year to year. Three hundred or more is typical.

What are my chances of getting in?

Your chances of acceptance depends on several factors such as the total number of applicants, the total number of highly qualified applicants, your personal position among the applicants (ranking due to GPA and GRE), how well you write, and the quality of your interpersonal skills.

When will I know if I'm accepted?

Most students are notified of acceptance sometime in April. Some students may be given an option to be on an alternate list for notification if a seat becomes available. Please realize that we will not reveal your position on the alternate list.

Can I speak to a faculty member or tour the facilities?

Yes, you can call the department at 913-758-4398 where you will reach our administrative assistants. They can transfer a call to a faculty member or you can leave a message to be called by a faculty member later if faculty members are not available when you call. You can schedule a visit by filling in this form.

You can request more information here, and you can send an email request directly to the DPT program via this address: [email protected].

Can I reapply if I'm not accepted this year?

Yes. Re-applicants are welcome and are often stronger candidates the second year. However, we recommend that you do everything you can to strengthen your application the second time around. It is useful to increase your GPA, improve your GRE scores, become a better writer and thinker, learn what service to humanity means to you, and work on becoming an excellent interpersonal communicator. To reapply you must repeat the application process.

Do I need 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 and we must have your transcript information from those courses in time to include you in our applicant analyses. This might mean that you will not be evaluated soon enough to be a competitive applicant because, if we do not have your grade data, we cannot include you in our full analysis.

Should I repeat courses that I earned a C in?

Whether to repeat courses depends on your overall record. It generally won’t work to repeat classes to try to inch your GPA up because the impact of a few courses on your overall GPA is small once you have over 100 hours of classwork. If you have generally 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.

How are failed courses and repeated courses calculated?

Repeated courses are included in GPAs. All repeated courses are included, even if they are later repeated for a higher grade or excluded from the GPA on the transcript. Failed courses are included in GPAs. All failed courses are included, even if they are later repeated for a higher grade or excluded from the GPA on the transcript.

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 generally should be completed within the last 10 years. This is especially needed for prerequisite courses whose information is essential to your ability to perform well in DPT school. For example: Anatomy and Physiology.

How many hours of observation in physical therapy are required?

It is recommended that applicants obtain 40 hours of observation in a Physical Therapy setting(s). The hours can be paid or volunteer. We recommend viewing several settings so that you understand the breath of physical therapy and the options available within the profession. We recommend experiences at these types of settings: acute care (hospital), rehabilitation (transitional or day rehabilitation), short or long term care (nursing homes or assisted living), pediatric clinics, outpatient clinics, wound care specialty care centers, or home health. Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist and confirmed by a therapist.

When does the academic program begin, and end?

The Program begins with orientation near the end of May and class begins on the first Monday in June. Students are not admitted into the curriculum at any other time. The Program is made up of highly structured course sequences, which are integrated into a summer semester, fall semester, and spring semester in each of three consecutive years. Graduation is in May of the last (9th semester) typically on the Saturday following finals week.

What are 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. 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.

How much will the USM DPT program cost?

Visit our Cost and Financial Aid page to review program costs, as well as financial aid and payment plan options.

Can I work while I'm in physical therapy school?

We are not in favor of any student working while in school. Academic standards are high, you have much to learn and master, and the consequences of poor academic performance can include dismissal from the program.

Can I go to physical therapy school part-time?

No. The program at the University of Saint Mary is designed for the full-time student and is currently designed to be completed in 3 years as a full time student.

When are the clinical internships scheduled?

We have four clinical internships and each one is 8 weeks in duration. They occur during semesters 5, 6, 7, and 9.

Do I need a car for clinical affiliations?

It is strongly recommended to have one available for traveling to clinical sites.

Where do students live?

Many students live in apartments in the area surrounding the University. Many students live in Kansas City, a 30-minute drive from Leavenworth. Occasionally a student requests to live in the campus dorms. We send information about housing to students who are accepted. Students who are already on campus in the second year of the physical therapy program can sometimes help beginning students with information about housing. Students who live in Kansas City often carpool to save money on transportation.

Who decides where I go to clinics?

Decisions are made by the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) after allowing students to select their top three choices. The Director of Clinical Education may also consult with the faculty, the clinical sites, as well as with the students before making a final decision. There are times when you may get your first choice and it is possible that on occasion you may not get any of your choices.

Can you help me find a roommate?

Admitted physical therapy students seeking roommates can confirm with the program so that their name and contact information can be placed on a list with others who are interested in seeking roommates. The program distributes these names to students seeking roommates.

Are room and board provided at the distant clinical sites?

The amount of assistance offered by various clinical sites varies considerably. Students are expected to assume responsibility for living expenses associated with their clinical education, including finding appropriate housing for their distant clinical internships. Although we cannot guarantee that clinics will be able to assist you in finding a place to live, in practice clinical sites are often the best place to start when obtaining information about places to stay.

Where are your clinical internship sites?

We have many sites in the general vicinity of Kansas City, Leavenworth, and in surrounding cities. The majority of sites are clustered in the Midwest but we have internships across the United States. Students are welcome to provide the names of clinical sites to the program to investigate as potentially appropriate sites to add to the clinical sites we already have.

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. The licensure examination is a national examination used by all states and is administered on computer, much like the GRE. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) administers the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE).

Can the public, clinicians, and students register concerns or complaints about the educational program?

Yes. The Department Chair should be notified immediately about any concerns and complaints ([email protected]; 913-758-6190). If the issue is restricted to clinical education the Director of Clinical Education ([email protected]) can be notified in addition to the Chair. If the Department Chair has not adequately addressed a situation that requires further attention, the Provost of the university can be contacted. In the event that the issue remains unresolved, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education can be contacted at 703-706-3245 or at [email protected], but please realize that CAPTE has guidelines in place to handle complaints as described on their website.