Southern California University of Health Sciences
16200 Amber Valley Drive Whittier CA 90604 United States

Per CAPTE: "This program has begun the process toward accreditation by submitting an Application for Candidacy. A review of the Application for Candidacy is scheduled and a determination on candidacy is anticipated prior to their stated matriculation date. Submission of an Application for Candidacy 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."

Should the program not obtain Candidate for Accreditation status and not be eligible to admit students, applicants to the program will not be refunded the PTCAS application fee paid to apply to the program.

Program Description


Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) Doctor of Physical Therapy Program offers a unique blend of remote learning with on-campus experiences over 8 terms of didactic and experiential learning. All didactic content will be delivered online, and all lab skills will be delivered on-ground weekly, meaning students only need to come to campus two days a week. 

Graduates of the program will be excellent professionals who can provide patient/client-centered care and thrive in a curriculum guided by a clinical framework for learning, integration of knowledge for practice with patient care skills, wellness, and evidence-based care, delivered in an environment focused on equity and imbued with kindness.



Full-time program

Credit hours: 119

8 terms, 2 years and 8 months

Bachelors degree required + prerequisites

GRE is optional

Holistic admission

Clinical framework for learning



Classroom learning and skills practice are combined to improve understanding. Students are involved in skills content from the first day. With skills content closely following basic knowledge content, students will be better able to master skills by applying learning in a clinical experience. 


Students engage in clinical activities to improve practice quality and advance evidence-based care at SCU's University Health Center and other clinical experience sites. SCU Health provides a wide variety of care to over 35,000 patients per year. Clinical experience sites are in California and other states, so out-of-state students also may have the opportunity to choose clinical experiences to fit their practice goals.


SynDavers and 3D4Medical virtual anatomy software help students view the intricacies of the human body. Echo360 lecture capture and Draw It to Know It help students study and learn. The Force Sensing Table Technology assists with the development of manual skills.


Gain experience that books cannot teach, and that technology cannot replicate, by having the opportunity to learn in a cadaver lab.


Interact with students from other programs while in interprofessional (IPE) coursework, so you can learn and excel side-by-side. SCU's groundbreaking IPE model combines curriculum, clinic, community, and clubs to help students develop a broader base of knowledge and gain a deeper appreciation for different perspectives on care.


Academic history is balanced by personal traits that reflect those needed within the healthcare environment and by skills and background characteristics to provide an opportunity for admission of students with a wide variety of strengths. This process promotes a learning community that can learn together and from each other, as we all focus on developing excellence while celebrating differences. 




General Questions about the SCU Program:

Q: How can I learn more about the program?

A: Register for SCU's monthly virtual information sessions through the website or email


Q: What is the number of students per class (cohort)?

A: 50.


Q: Can the program be taken part-time?

A: No, the program is accredited to deliver the curriculum on a full-time basis. It is also recommended that you avoid work while in the program. 


Q: Can the program be taken online?

A: Yes, partially. The program has blended learning, meaning that 42% of the curriculum is designed to be delivered online while the skills and laboratory portions are delivered in person 2 days per week. Clinical experiences are not online, and students are expected to be on-ground at the rotation sites. Long-term clinical experiences are a minimum of 35 hours per week, with total hours per week dependent on each specific site.


Q: What type of physical therapy settings will graduates be able to practice in?

A: Graduates are generalist practitioners and are licensed to practice in any setting that is appropriate for physical therapy services. Some of the settings graduates can practice in are outpatient facilities focusing on orthopedics and/or sports or neurorehabilitation. Other areas such as acute care, ICU, emergency departments, skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation, and inpatient pediatrics are examples of inpatient settings. Other more specialized areas include outpatient pediatrics, school-based pediatrics, pelvic health, wellness, performance enhancement, and integrated health.


Q: What degree is earned after completion of the program?

A: The degree offered is the Doctor of Physical Therapy or DPT. 


Q: Does the DPT program offer night classes?

A: Most coursework takes place during the day, but there may be some night classes needed. 


Q: Does SCU's DPT program offer areas of specialty?

A: The SCU DPT, like all DPT programs, must provide generalist training, which covers all basic aspects of physical therapy. However, we offer two elective courses during the program to provide additional education in an area you may choose to specialize in. Specialization is a process that occurs after graduation and licensure (sometimes without a break), when you are qualified to enter a residency program. We hope to offer residency programs in the future here at SCU for Orthopedics, Sports, and Integrative Health. Other specializations will also be considered.


Q: Will I be eligible to sit for the National Physical Therapy Exam and apply for licensure when I complete the program?

A: All CAPTE accredited programs meet the educational requirements for graduates to sit for the licensure exam. This exam is the National Physical Therapy Exam (NPTE). Graduating from this program allows you to select the state you want to become licensed in and complete the exam for licensure. A state law exam is also required for licensure and is taken with the NPTE. The Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) ( and the Physical Therapy Board of California ( collaborate within California to provide the state and national exams. Further information on the law exam content may be found on the state board for physical therapy in your preferred state or through the FSBPT. Since we are a new program, we will need to be reviewed by CAPTE just prior to starting the program to know if we are CAPTE accredited. 


Q: What is a Clinical Framework for Learning? How will that help me?

A: A clinical framework for learning is a list of tasks that a physical therapist does in daily practice. Examples include 1) completing a patient interview, 2) performing an examination, or 3) developing a plan of care (and implementing it). We have twelve of these tasks that promote better understanding from day one. These tasks will help guide learning, so you can experience why we teach what we do. Furthermore, we will use those tasks in the application of knowledge and in assessing your progress. You will know what is needed and how to do it before you apply it full-time in your clinical experiences.


Q: How long is the program?

A: The program is 8 terms, or 2 years and 8 months long.


Admissions questions:


Q: Is it possible for me to come and see the campus and talk with an advisor? 

A: Yes, you can speak with the PT Admissions Advisor or email Campus tours can be scheduled. There are no on campus appointments available. 


Q: Is preference given to students from California?

A: No, state of origin is not considered in the application process. 


Q: My GPA is low but I want to be a physical therapist. What do you recommend?

A: SCU's holistic admission process provides for three admission areas. Academics is only one of them, so having strength in the areas of personal traits or skills and background characteristics can help. You may also improve your academic portfolio by submitting a strong GRE score (not an admissions requirement). 


Q: If I have a Master's degree, how is that considered in the application process?

A: When reviewing applications, the Master's degree is considered an advanced degree and is a strong supplement to the Bachelor's degree (the minimum degree required). We will still require the prerequisite courses; however, MA or MS courses may have a favorable impact on your GPAs and should be entered into your PTCAS application. 


Q: Can you explain what PT clinical observation/experience is required? 

A: The minimum requirement is 40 hours of work in a physical therapy clinic, to learn about physical therapy and its application. These hours must be split among at least 2 different settings, for example, orthopedic, pediatric, neurologic, hospital inpatient, skilled nursing facility, etc. You may volunteer or work to obtain these physical therapy hours, but remember, you are there to determine whether this career is a fit for you.


Q: I am having trouble getting PT observation/experience hours in an acute setting. Do you know whom I might contact?

A: Call your local hospital and ask to speak with someone in the Department of Rehabilitation or Department of Physical Therapy or drop in at a physical therapy location near you to speak with a physical therapist.


Q: When do my PT clinical observation/experience hours need to be completed?

A: Verification of completed PT observation/experience hours must be submitted through PTCAS with your other application contentExperience hours must be complete before we can consider you for an interview, so completing them as early as possible is best.[JB3] November 30, 2023 is the last date to submit these hours in order to qualify for January 2024 start. 


Q: Should I send the letters verifying my experience in a PT observation/experience to the university?

A: No, hours must be input as part of your PTCAS application, along with required verification information. Make sure you speak with your PT supervisors to request they use the PTCAS letters of verification or letters of reference in time to complete your application by the deadline. 


Q: When should I take the GRE?

A: SCU does not require the GRE. However, if you have taken the GRE, please submit your scores on your PTCAS application. 


Q: Do I have to complete all prerequisite courses before submitting my application?

A: No. All prerequisite courses must be completed by Dec 15, 2023, with an official transcript. Missing prerequisites may be taken through the SCU Accelerated Science Courses, which can be completed in 5 weeks. 


Q: Do you have an early decision process?

A: Students are offered conditional acceptance on a rolling basis, so it is beneficial to get your application completed as early as possible.


Q: Can I transfer into your DPT program from another DPT program?

A: No, we do not accept transfers and there is no advanced standing.


Q: Is a deposit required upon admission?

A: Yes, if admitted, a $500.00 deposit is required to hold a place in the program. The deposit is non-refundable. It will be applied to program expenses during the first semester of the program.


Q: Will I be required to complete a background check?

A: Yes. All students admitted to the DPT program are required to complete a criminal background check prior to matriculation into the program. Background checks are important as a prior criminal record may negatively impact a student's ability to obtain licensure or complete a clinical experience at specific sites. Certain convictions may prevent students from sitting for the licensure exam, and thus may result in SCU rescinding your admission notification. If applicable, we encourage you to check with the appropriate state licensing board(s) to determine whether your background may be a barrier to future licensing. Some facilities require recent background checks or drug screens, so depending on the site selection, students may need an additional background check or drug screen. 


Q: What are holistic admissions?

A: Holistic admission is a process that provides for admission beyond just academic strength. SCU's holistic admissions include two additional categories of strength: personal traits, and skills and background characteristics. Personal traits are behaviors that are found in healthcare workers, such as good communication, empathy, teamwork, ethical and clinical reasoning, and decision-making. Skills focus more on language or life skills that may supplement academics, such as language proficiency. Training those that speak other languages allows for more healthcare workers who can provide better care, since care is improved if we can deliver it in the language of our patients. Background characteristics are life experiences, including economic, educational, or environmental factors that each of us must face as we grow. Sometimes, book learning may be supplemented by life experiences. Applicants with matching values to the program and SCU are also viewed as a better fit for the program during the holistic review. All decisions on holistic admissions will be made using a custom rubric. Program faculty and the Program Director will determine candidate qualifications both on their applications and during interviews. 


Q: How are interviews determined?

Interviews are by invitation, based on your PTCAS application. Invitations to interview will be sent to those with applications that are strong in all areas of admissions (academics, personal traits, and skills and background characteristics). More information about the interviews will be included in the invitation email, but all interviews will be completed online.


Financial Aid/Scholarships:

Q: Is Financial Aid available for the program?

A: Low-interest loans are available to qualified applicants. Limited scholarships may be offered through the SCU Office of Financial Aid.


Q: How do I apply for Financial Aid?

A: The PT Admissions advisor will give instructions to the offered students and financial aid will assist once the FAFSA is complete. 


Q: Will the tuition increase each year while in the program?

A: No, SCU does not increase tuition each year once you have started; whatever the program cost is once a student matriculates, the cost will remain the same throughout their time in the program. 


Q: What scholarships are available to support physical therapy education?

A: Information is available on the APTA website (

Program offers a guaranteed freshman admission pathway?
Dual Degrees
Will the professional (entry-level) PT program offer a satellite or branch campus to applicants during the upcoming admissions cycle?
Admission Interviews
Program conducts interviews as part of the admissions process?
Additional information about interviews

Interviews are by invitation.  Specific dates and times of interviews and more information are provided in the invitation email.  Interviews will use a multiple mini interview model, but will be completed entirely online.

Is a Deposit Required for Accepted Applicants?
Total cumulative deposit
Additional Information about Deposit
Students who are offered a seat in the program will have 14 days to submit their deposit.  Wait-listed will have 72 hours to submit a deposit.
Deposit is applied toward tuition when you enroll.
Deposit Refundable?
Deposits collected on a rolling basis after offer of admission made?
Total Cost of Education for In-State Students
Total Cost of Education for out of State Students
Incoming Class Profile
Anticipated Size of the Next Entering Class
Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) Status
Program housed at a Minority-Serving Institution No