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Physical Therapy

Sanford Coyote Sports Center Room A375A
414 E. Clark St.
Vermillion, SD 57069

Office Hours

Monday - Friday
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


College Dean

Welcome to the Department of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is the science of healing and art of caring. Professionals in this field are focused on prevention, health promotion, management of disability and restoration of function following disease, injury or loss of function. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients reach their maximum performance potential while learning to live within the limits of their capabilities. 

At USD, our faculty are experienced professionals who bring real-world experience to the classroom. As board-certified clinical specialists in sports, orthopedics, geriatrics, neurology and other subdisciplines, they understand the nuanced demands and opportunities of physical therapy and bring that insight to their research and their classrooms. Our students gain invaluable hands-on experience through clinical education and research opportunities, and they have access to state-of-the-art facilities here on campus. With a person-centered and evidence-based approach to their work, our students graduate ready to enter the physical therapy profession and deliver the highest quality care to their patients.

Join our community of movement experts, researchers and care teams in the USD Department of Physical Therapy.


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Meet the Department

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Physical Therapy. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in healthy aging, running-related injuries, motor control, behavioral neuroscience, assistive technology and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Patti Berg-Poppe

Patti Berg-Poppe

Chair, Physical Therapy/Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matt Dewald

Matt Dewald

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jed Droge

Jed Droge

Assistant Professor


Orthopaedic Physical Therapy
Bio Image for Faculty Member Becca Jordre

Becca Jordre

Bio Image for Faculty Member Joy Karges

Joy Karges

Coord-Academic , Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Adam Ladwig

Adam Ladwig

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matthew Leedom

Matthew Leedom

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tanya Liu

Tanya Liu

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kory Zimney

Kory Zimney

Assoc Dean, Health Sciences/Associate Professor

Known for Excellence

At USD, you'll find a high quality educational experience strengthened by our faculty's research and creative scholarship. See what makes our department exceptional.

Department Opportunities

Explore the variety of opportunities and resources available to physical therapy students.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the facilities and centers that contribute to your education in the Department of Physical Therapy.
The exterior of the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

Teaching and Research Laboratory

Located in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center on USD's campus in Vermillion, the Teaching and Research Laboratory is a centralized location for occupational therapy, physical therapy, kinesiology and sport management, and sports medicine programs. There are collaborative spaces for the various programs, as well as state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and clinical spaces that facilitate hands-on learning.

Exterior of Lee Medical Building during the day.

Interprofessional Health Education Center

Learn to become an interprofessional team in real-world settings.

A person working with a USD student physical therapist.

The Region's Leader in Health Care Education

USD is home to the only comprehensive health sciences school and medical school in the state. This advantage offers our students the unique opportunity to learn and train alongside peers in a variety of disciplines, equipping them with the collaborative experiences they need to be effective members of their future patients' care teams.


We are also proud to have strong relationships with the region's leading health care providers. These partnerships offer our students invaluable opportunities for developing professional connections, getting hands-on experiences and serving their communities early in their education.

A person working with a USD student physical therapist.

A Community of Learners

At USD, our physical therapy department is a community. We maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio so our students receive a high quality education from professors who know their names and want to help them succeed. Our department offers personalized advising so our students can find support as they reach for their goals. The classrooms in which students learn are right down the hall from their professors' offices. From the structure of our classes to the setup of our building, we have designed the physical therapy program to focus on student success and facilitate a tight-knit community.


Student Gaining Hands-On Experience Working With a Patient Inside a Clinic.

A Person-Centered Approach to Care

Physical therapists work directly with patients to help improve their quality of life. At USD, we recognize the importance of compassion in this type of care —  that's why we have built empathy into our curriculum. Our person-centered approach to physical therapy education equips our students with the skills they need not only to facilitate improved movement, but also to connect with patients and families and ensure the best communication possible.


Alumna Success Story

Success story Marit Johnson smiling.
USD's influence in my life has still been cultivating relationships with mentors that provide me direction and guide me to excellent research and researchers. I believe they prepared me well with understanding research evidence and how to keep thinking outside the box. I am not afraid to reach back to my former USD mentors for guidance even now. USD prepared me to never stop learning.

Marit E. Johnson, PT, MS, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Associate
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine 

Quality Educational Experiences

USD's physical therapy program has been accredited since 1993. Accreditation fosters quality educational experiences and helps to ensures that the program is taught by qualified faculty, has the resources it needs to support the curriculum, meets its mission, has acceptable student outcomes, and provides accurate information to the public.

The Department of Physical Therapy at USD 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:; website: If needing to contact the program/institution directly, please call 605-658-5999 or email

The University of South Dakota Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is committed to financial transparency.

CAPTE Financial Fact Sheet


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