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Doctor of Physical TherapyProspective Students

Prospective Students

Admission Requirements and Candidate Selection

Admission Requirements and Candidate Selection

Each year the DPT program accepts about 40 students. They start the program in late May and move through the semesters as a cohort to graduate in May, three years later.

The application process is through Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS). See detailed information http://aptaapps.apta.org/ptcas/ProgramDetails.aspx?Seqn=5218

Requirements for Admissions

Course Work Semester Credit Hours Completed Within the Past
Statistics 3 10 years
General Biology (not bontany) with Lab 8 10 years
General Chemistry With Lab 8 10 years
Human Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 8 5 years
General Physics with Lab 8 10 years
Psychology 3 10 years
  • Complete the Graduate Records Exam with a score of at least 148 each on the verbal and quantitative sections and 3.5 on the writing section.
  • Submit a written essay and answer the ODU-specific question
  • Provide three letters of recommendation including one from a physical therapist.
  • ODU's DPT program requires a total of 40 volunteer hours. The hours can be paid or volunteer. These hours MUST be completed in at least TWO (2) distinctly different PT clinics or settings (treating different patient populations). Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.
  • Complete an ODU graduate admissions application in addition to the PTCAS application. https://www.odu.edu/admission/graduate Please note that you do not need to re-submit transcripts, essay, references or volunteer hours to ODU as we will receive those from PTCAS. If you are accepted to ODU and you decide to attend, then by late May we will ask for an official transcript showing that you have completed your undergraduate degree.

Candidate Selection

The Admissions Committee uses a combination of factors including undergraduate GPA, prerequisite GPA, GRE scores, written essay score, references and completion of work/volunteer experiences to rank applicants on a point system. Because there will be numerous applicants with similar total points, additional factors may be considered related to creating a student body of diverse backgrounds and with a high possibility of success. Additional factors that may be considered include: gender; race/ethnicity military service; undergraduate institution and area of study; participation in intercollegiate athletics or similar intense activity while carrying a full course load; volunteer/service activities; number of times student took/retook science courses or GREs to improve results; whether applicant took anatomy and physiology at a 4-year institution or community college; and whether applicant is from the local metropolitan area.

Application Process

Submit on-line applications to both:

  1. Physical Therapy PT Centralized Application Service (PTCAS www.ptcas.org)
  2. Old Dominion University (ODU) (www.odu.edu/admission/graduate)

Please note that because you will submit supplemental materials such as references and essay directly to PTCAS you do not need to submit these again with the separate ODU application.

Transcripts for coursework and/or degree completed must be sent to PTCAS and not to ODU. Applicants who have not completed a degree and all prerequisite coursework by the time of application will be expected to have a sensible plan for completing everything before the start of the DPT program in May.

Provide evidence of completing at least 40 hours of work in a Physical Therapy setting by completing the form in PTCAS. The hours can be paid or volunteer. These hours MUST be completed in TWO (2) distinctly different PT settings. Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Technical Standards

These technical standards describe essential functions needed to complete the educational program and perform the job of a physical therapist. An individual not possessing one or more of these capabilities will not be admitted to the program unless reasonable accommodations can be made that allow the person to perform all required tasks within a standard period of time used in the profession. Applicants are not required to disclose the nature of a disability(ies) to the Admissions Committee; however, any applicant with questions about these technical requirements is encouraged to discuss the issue with the University's Disability Services (757) 683-4655. Deficiencies in knowledge, skill, judgment, integrity, character, professional attitude or demeanor which may jeopardize patient care and/or safety may be grounds for course/internship failure and possible dismissal from the Program.

Applicants/Students admitted to the DPT program must possess aptitudes, abilities, and skills in the following five areas:

1. Observation

Students must be able to observe and identify anatomic structures and be able to visually distinguish different tissues in a limited time period. A student must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal as well as verbal signals. Specific vision-related requirements include, but are not limited to the following abilities: skin integrity; visualizing and discriminating findings on x-rays and other imaging tests; reading written and illustrated material; observing demonstrations in the classroom, including projected slides and overheads; observing and differentiating changes in body movement; observing anatomic structures; discriminating numbers and patterns associated with diagnostic instruments and tests, such as sphygmomanometers and electrocardiograms, and using instruments competently, such as stethoscope, monofilaments, etc.

2. Communication

Students must be able to relate effectively and sensitively with peers, patients/clients and faculty. A student must be able to communicate clearly with and observe patients in order to elicit information, describe accurately changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive verbal as well as nonverbal communications. Communication includes not only speech but also reading and writing. 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 health care team. Specific requirements include but are not limited to the following abilities: communicating rapidly and clearly with the medical team on rounds; eliciting a thorough history from patients; and communicating complex findings in appropriate terms to patients and to various members of the health care team (fellow students, physicians, nurses, aides, therapists, social workers, and others). Students must learn to recognize and respond promptly and appropriately to emotional communications such as sadness, worry, agitation, and lack of comprehension. Each student must be able to read and to record observations and plans legibly, efficiently and accurately in documents such as the patient record. Students must be able to prepare and communicate concise but complete summaries of individual encounters. Students must be able to complete forms according to directions in a complete and timely fashion.

3. Sensory and Motor Coordination or Function

Students must have sufficient sensory function to palpate (touch/feel) pulses and body tissues, feel resistance to movement, discern hot and cold, and auscultate (listen) lungs and heart. A student must have adequate gross motor function (movement, strength, balance and coordination) to perform such tasks as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, lifting people's limbs, assistance with transfers and gait, moving and positioning patients. A student must have adequate fine motor function to manipulate instruments such as a sphygmanometer, goniometer, and therapeutic modality equipment. Students must be able to respond promptly to urgencies within the hospital or clinic, and must not hinder the ability of co-workers to provide prompt care.

4. Intellectual-Conceptual Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, judgment, numerical recognition and synthesis. Problem solving, a critical skill demanded of physical therapists, requires all of these intellectual abilities, and must be performed quickly, especially in emergency situations. Students must be able to identify significant findings from history, physical examination, and laboratory data and graphs, provide a reasoned explanation for likely therapy, recalling and retaining information in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating treatment and plans is essential. Good judgment in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic planning is essential; students must be able to identify and communicate the limits of their knowledge to others when appropriate.

5. Behavioral Attributes

Empathy, integrity, honesty, concern for others, good interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are required. Students must possess the emotional health required for full use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities, and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with peers, patients/clients and faculty. At times, this requires the ability to be aware of and appropriately react to one's own immediate emotional responses. For example, students must maintain a professional demeanor and organization in the face of long hours and personal fatigue, dissatisfied patients, and tired colleagues. Students must be able to develop professional relationships with patients, providing comfort and reassurance when appropriate while protecting patient confidentiality. Students must possess adequate endurance to tolerate physically taxing workloads and to function effectively under stress. Students must be able to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Students are expected to accept appropriate suggestions and criticism and if necessary, respond by modification of behavior.

Old Dominion University's Nondiscrimination Statement

It is the policy of Old Dominion University to provide equal employment, educational and social opportunities for all persons, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, veteran status, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation or genetic information.

Tuition and Financial Support


We are a state-supported institution, and tuition rates may change yearly, depending on the state budget, inflation, and other factors. Up to date tuition rates can be found at www.odu.edu/admission/costs-tuition/tuition and a tuition calculator can be accessed at blue.odu.edu/admissions/calculator/?acad_level=graduate. The program consists of 117 credit hours spread over seven semesters. The in-state tuition rate for fall, 2016 is $478 per credit hour. The out-of-state tuition rate for fall, 2016 is $1,195 per credit hour. There are also university and program fees. Physical Therapy students pay a $150 lab fee for the fall and spring semesters of the first two years of the program. This helps defray the cost of supplies and the use of standardized patients.


Other expenses include the cost of books, which can be as high as $1000 per a semester. Also, there are related costs for lab coats, dissection materials, and Physical Therapy tools (stethoscope, goniometer). Students are also expected to bear the cost of travel to clinical sites and their living expenses for the time they are at Old Dominion University attending the Program.

Financial Support

ODU's School of Rehabilitation Sciences offers the Maihafer scholarship for assistance to an exceptional second-year student. There may be opportunities for students to work on funded research projects or other faculty projects. A number of students have obtained part time work on campus assisting people with their exercise programs at the recreation center.

The Financial Aid Office (www.odu.edu/admission/financial-aid/) can provide information about Old Dominion University sponsored or Virginia State sponsored scholarships. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA at www.apta.org/) can provide students with general information about scholarship sources available for physical therapy students. The Web is another good resource to use to investigate scholarship sources.

Notice to those wishing to apply for financial aid: Financial aid for the summer session is included in aid packages for the previous academic year. Therefore, be certain to apply for financial aid for this academic year, even if you are not currently enrolled in classes. Please see your financial aid officer for guidance.

ODU Financial Aid
FAFSA on the Web (Free Application For Federal Student Aid)

We recommend that first year students do not work so that they can focus on the demands of an intensive graduate program. Once a student has successfully completed two semesters, he or she will be in a better position to judge whether a part-time job will fit around the school schedule.

What about 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. Contracts vary, so 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. Be certain that there will be other therapists available to you for consultation when you need it and that the patient population treated has a variety of health problems. There will be plenty of time for you to specialize later in your career.


Most DPT students live in apartments in the area surrounding the University. ODU runs a housing office to assist students in finding suitable housing: www.odu.edu/life/housing/off-campus-housing

Second and third year students can also provide help to incoming students. For students accepted into the Program more detailed information on housing is given in the March orientation session, and you may ask for your name and contact details to be added to a list of students interested in seeking roommates.

Please note that students also assume responsibility for living expenses and finding room and board while attending a clinical site that is not close to campus. The circumstances differ across clinical sites, with some able to offer room and board, while others offer some assistance or no help in locating accommodation.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Physical Therapy?
Physical Therapy is the treatment of physical dysfunction or injury by use of therapeutic exercise and the application of modalities, intended to restore or facilitate normal function or development. Visit the American Physical Therapy Association (www.apta.org) for more information about Physical Therapy.

What are the prospects for employment upon graduation?

The job outlook for physical therapists is good and is projected to remain strong in the foreseeable future. Graduates of Old Dominion University's DPT program are highly sought-after by local health care employers.


What are my chances of getting in?

This depends on the quality of your application and the number of applications that are received. Over 600 individuals applied for the 40 spots in the class.

What GPA do I need?

A minimum 3.0 GPA is needed to apply, although successful applicants have a higher GPA. The average GPA for overall course work for the last class admitted was 3.6.

What score do I need on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

The recommended scores required on the GRE are 148 on both Verbal and Quantitative sections and 3.5 on the writing. However, the average GRE scores for our admitted students are generally : Verbal = 154 - 156 and Quantitative = 152 - 154. We would like to see a 4 on the writing section of the test. Please contact your own university's testing center or Educational Testing Services (www.ets.org/gre) for more information about dates and fees for taking the GRE

What is ODU's Designated Institution (DI) Code for the GRE?

The DI specifically for the DPT program at ODU is 7800.

Who should write my references?

You will need 3 references. One must be from a physical therapist. Other references can be health care professionals who have observed you in a patient care environment or college instructors or employers.

When will I know if I'm accepted.

Applications are due October 1st. We will begin notifying students of their acceptance status in late November/early December with hopes of notifying everyone by mid-January. Some students may be given an option to be on an alternate list for notification if a seat becomes available.

When can I speak to a faculty member?

We have information sessions for prospective students held virtually and in person throughout the academic year. You are welcome to attend any of these sessions to find out more about our program, meet a faculty member and ask questions. You are also welcome to attend an information session regarding the Doctor in Physical Therapy Program held in early August each year. This session is open to the public and provides an opportunity to meet faculty and students, tour the facilities, find out about the program and get your questions answered. To sign up for any information session, please click here.

What do I do if I have questions regarding filling out the application?

Please call our main office at (757) 683-4519 and Administrative Assistant Nadine White, or email her at nswhite@odu.edu. If she is unable to answer your question she will forward your call or e-mail to someone who can.

Can I re-apply if I'm not accepted this year?

Yes. Re-applicants are welcome and are often stronger candidates the second year. We recommend you set-up an advising session with a faculty member for advice on how to strengthen your application. Call (757) 683-4519 to set up an appointment.


What coursework needs to be completed before attending your DPT program?

You will need to complete a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution in order to be eligible for our DPT program. You will also need to complete all prerequisite courses as listed below:

Course Work Semester Credit Hours Completed Within the Past
Statistics 3 10 years
General Biology 8 10 years
General Chemistry With Lab 8 10 years
Human Anatomy and Physiology 8 5 years
General Physics with Lab 8 10 years
Psyschology 3 10 years

Do I need to have completed my bachelor's degree and all prerequisite courses before I can apply?

No, but it must be possible for you to complete your bachelor's degree and all course work before the start date of the program (last week in June). Students lacking more than 12 semester hours of prerequisite courses by the end of the fall semester of the year prior to intended entry are not considered eligible to apply.

Do I need to take an introductory course of Kinesiology?

This course is recommended, but not required as a prerequisite for the DPT degree. This course is offered at most four year colleges that offer degrees in Health and Physical Education and/or Sports Medicine. Old Dominion University offers this course through the Human Movement Sciences department (EXSC 417). The course may also be titled "Biomechanics" or "Applied Anatomy and Kinesiology." Norfolk State University also offers biomechanics/kinesiology.

Should I repeat courses that I made a C in?

Whether to repeat courses depends on your overall record. It generally won't work to repeat a lot of classes to try to inch your GPA up. If you have pretty 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. If you are unsure, contact us for advisement.

Can I take all the required courses at a Community College?

There are many good reasons students graduating from a four-year institution take some courses at a Community College. However, an academic record with science course work completed at a four-year institution will be perceived as being more rigorous, especially if the student's university offers the science courses but the student chose to go to a Community College.

I didn't do well early in my scholastic career, will that count against me?

Yes. If you feel that there were extenuating circumstances, it might be worthwhile for you to attach a brief letter to your application explaining your situation which resulted in low grades during part of your academic career.

If I repeat a course, do I get the higher grade or are the grades averaged?

The two grades are averaged together.

I graduated a long time ago; will I have to retake any course work?

Your undergraduate degree may have been completed at any time. Anatomy and physiology course work must have been completed within the last five years, while the rest of the prerequisite courses must have been completed within the last 10 years. If this affects you, we recommend that you contact the Program to set up an advising appointment to determine your specific situation.

How many hours of volunteer work in physical therapy are required?

ODU's DPT program requires a total of 40 volunteer hours. The hours can be paid or volunteer. These hours MUST be completed in at least TWO (2) distinctly different PT clinics or settings (treating different patient populations). Volunteer hours must be under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist.

Timeline Activity

October 1st

Application Deadline

Summer l (starts last week of May)


Fall l


Last weekend in September

White Coat Ceremony

Spring l


Summer ll (1st 8 week session)

Clinical Internship l

Fall ll


Spring ll


Summer lll

Clinical Internship ll

Fall lll


Spring lll

Clinical internship lII

Early May*


Can I go to P.T. School part-time?

No. The program at Old Dominion University is designed for a full-time student to be continuously enrolled for 3 years.


When do I go to clinic?

Students are introduced to the clinic early in the Program. The first year includes structured "clinics" with standardized patients at Eastern Virginia Medical School. A standardized patient is a healthy individual who is trained to portray signs and symptoms of a patient. The "clinics" are videotaped, and students receive both written and verbal feedback on their clinical performance. The first full-time clinical experience occurs in the summer of the first year and is for eight weeks. This first-time experience is often in an acute care environment and tries to maximize the student's experiences in the classroom from the first year. During the second academic year students evaluate and treat community volunteers with neurological disorders as well as standardized patients from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Students participate in clinical problem-solving video/discussion groups led by faculty and local clinicians. In the second summer of the Program students spend twelve weeks in full-time clinical practice. The final third year spring semester affords the student fourteen more weeks of full-time clinical education prior to graduation.

Where are the clinics located?

We place students in many facilities in the entire Tidewater area as well as all over the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition we have many clinical sites in the southeastern region, and a few more distant sites in Utah, California, Oregon, Arizona, and even Alaska and Hawaii.

Do I need a car for clinical affiliations?

While a car is not required, it is strongly recommended to have one available for traveling to part-time clinical sites as well as to full-time sites.

Who decides where I go to clinics?

After consulting with you about your goals and needs, the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) will make full-time clinical assignments. The Director of Clinical Education makes these clinical assignments in consultation with the faculty, the clinical sites, as well as the student. The DCE is responsible for placing all students in all full-time clinical experiences and the total number of placements exceeds 200 each year. All students are required to successfully complete 5 full-time clinical experiences including acute care, inpatient adult rehabilitation and orthopedics.


Are there any special features of the ODU DPT curriculum?

Special features of the DPT program at ODU include:

  • Emphasis on active learning and clinical problem solving
  • Class sizes of 40 with multiple instructors and teaching assistants for each lab
  • Use of Standardized Patients to fine-tune clinical skills and patient-therapist relationship before engaging in clinical practice
  • Clinical internships with experienced clinical instructors to guide your development
  • Patient volunteers come to the lab for direct interaction with students
  • Local Community service learning activities at the Norfolk Senior Center
  • International service learning opportunity through a spring break study abroad trip (limited enrollment)
  • ODU Monarch Physical Therapy, an on-campus clinic, is available for full and part-time clinical experiences as well as volunteer hours.
  • PhD program in Kinesiology and Rehabilitation is housed in the Department, and PhD students who are already licensed physical therapists assist in teaching classes.

Can I take course work in one of the physical therapy specialties as part of the curriculum?

In the fall of the third year, a topics course allows you to explore an area of particular interest to you, such as sports PT, wound care, or pediatric gait assessment. The third year clinical internships may also be targeted to a specialty area.


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.

Is there a licensure examination?

Yes, there is. There is a national examination used by all states and is administered on computer, much like the GREs. The passing score varies from state to state and each state may have additional requirements as determined by the individual state's practice act.

How do ODU graduates do on the licensure exam?

The mean score for ODU graduates is above the state and national averages. The first-time pass rate is generally 95 to 97%, with an overall pass rate of 100%.

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