First hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy degree offered at the U

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated that this hybrid program was the first of its kind; however, the College of Nursing currently offers five Doctor of Nursing Practice tracks which students also complete through a mix of synchronous, asynchronous, on-campus visits, and distance options.

 

Yes, you read that correctly. The University of Utah’s Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in partnership with University Connected Learning are planning to offer a doctorate that can be earned primarily online by students living anywhere. This innovative hybrid offering is one of just a few at the U, and will welcome the first cohort of 50 students in May 2023, pending accreditation approval.

This hybrid Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) pathway will allow students from rural areas and around the country to obtain a degree by completing didactic education online; participating in weekly, synchronous live sessions; and coming to campus for 11 mandatory in-person lab intensives. This hybrid program has great potential to reach groups traditionally underrepresented in the physical therapy profession.

The Physical Therapy Program offered through the U’s College of Health is one of the premier programs in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 13 in the nation and among the top five of public institutions offering the degree. Program graduates boast a 99% first-time pass rate on the national licensure examination.

“This program builds on our unique position as an academic medical center,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., CEO of University of Utah Health. “As one of only a dozen institutions nationwide able to offer a program like this, we are in the unique position to leverage the resources and knowledge of a state university and a top-tier hospital system. Additionally, this program will enhance our ability to recruit and retain diverse faculty, staff and students.”

The hybrid DPT option offers the same curriculum as the accredited program that can be found at the in-person locations on the Salt Lake City campus as well as the recently expanded location at Utah Tech University in St. George, Utah. The two in-person locations and the hybrid program will all require the same application process, admissions standards, prerequisites requirements, curriculum, instructors and clinical requirements all leading to the same degree. Accreditation for the hybrid program is pending and plans are underway to achieve this well ahead of the first cohort’s planned May 2023 start date.

“At University Connected Learning our goal is to ensure we are able to deliver an innovative, equitable learning experience for each student regardless of the type of educational pathway they choose,” said Deborah Keyek-Franssen, associate vice president and dean of University Connected Learning. “We are proud to be able to support the creation of a vibrant and viable program that will serve the region and reflect the excellence of the department, college and university.”

This program is coming online as Utah and the Mountain West experience a persistent shortage of physical therapists in the workforce. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists’ employment is projected to grow by 21% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Tuition for this hybrid DPT pathway has been set at a flat rate of $95,000. Learn more and apply here.