Physical therapy training with a student.

Physical Therapy

Become a movement expert who improves their patients' quality of life. In our physical therapy program, you'll gain hands-on clinical experience and develop a person-centered approach to care, so you are ready to provide high-quality, evidence-based services that make healing possible.

Improve the human experience

Physical therapy is the science of healing and art of caring, with the goal of helping patients reach their maximum performance potential while learning to live within the limits of their capabilities. At USD, we take a person-centered and evidence-based approach to your physical therapy education. You will learn from board-certified clinical specialists in sports, orthopedics, geriatrics and neurology, and you'll get personalized academic and career assistance from a core faculty advisor dedicated to your success.

Some of the experiences that may be available to you include presenting research at national conferences, assisting physical therapy faculty in treating Division I athletes and gaining hundreds of hours of clinical education. These experiences set you up to graduate with the hands-on experiences and confidence you need to deliver the highest quality care to your patients. Plus, as a student in the School of Health Sciences, you'll study and practice alongside students from a variety of disciplines, which will prepare you to be a collaborative member of your future patients' care teams.

Follow your passion for helping others as you learn about prevention, health promotion, the management of disability and the restoration of function as a physical therapy student at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Physical Therapy (DPT)

  Vermillion Main Campus

Through this program, you will experience an enriching education with an emphasis on compassion and evidence-based care. Outside the classroom, you'll undergo five full-time clinical experiences, along with integrated one-day clinicals throughout the curriculum, preparing you to be a confident professional who is ready for the challenges and opportunities of a career in physical therapy.

View Admissions Requirements

Physical Therapy (B.S./DPT)

Concurrent Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

The accelerated 3+3 program joins biology and physical therapy together. You will pursue a B.S. in biology with a specialization in human dynamics, counting 29 credit hours of your first year of the doctoral degree in physical therapy (DPT) toward the final (fourth) year of your undergraduate degree. You will complete 91 credits of undergraduate coursework (including PT program pre-requisites) before matriculating to the DPT program.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Start Your Application Today

This graduate program utilizes a specialized CAS online application to complete the admissions process. To learn more about this program's unique application process, requirements and program deadlines, visit Specialty Graduate Program Applications.

Additional requirements exist for international applicants. For more information, visit International Admission Requirements. 


Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in physical therapy.
Physical therapy students and their teacher observing a patient in the classroom.

Physical Therapy

Our department develops scholars, practitioners and life-long learners who provide evidence-based physical therapy services throughout patients' lives. Under the instruction and mentorship of expert faculty, our students gain the practical knowledge, hands-on experience and confidence they need to thrive as team members and leaders in physical therapy.

Faculty & Staff

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
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 Kory Zimney

Kory Zimney

Assoc Dean-Health Sciences
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matt Dewald

Matt Dewald

Assistant 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
USD Physical Therapy student stretching out a a patient

Learn and Serve Through Clinical Education

Over the course of the program, you'll complete five full-time clinical experiences along with integrated one-day clinicals throughout the curriculum. We have contracts with more than 200 clinical sites in various settings, including hospitals, schools, private and hospital-based outpatient clinics, VA facilities, rehab facilities and skilled nursing facilities. We partner with clinical sites in 25 states and also have an international clinical site available in Australia. 

These clinical experiences prepare you to excel in a challenging and complex health care environment. You'll graduate with the confidence and practical experience you need to thrive as a physical therapist.
A person working with a USD student physical therapist.

Become the Leader Your Patients Need

Your future patients have complex health care needs that extend beyond a single area of expertise. They should have an expert, compassionate care team that can work together to help them live healthy, fulfilling lives.

At USD, we prepare you not only to thrive in your unique career path, but also to collaborate effectively with health care professionals from a variety of fields. With the state's only comprehensive health sciences school and medical school, USD offers a learning environment that mirrors the health care industry – bringing you and your peers together to learn, study and practice as coordinated teams. You'll graduate with the skills, knowledge and connections you need to make holistic healing possible.
Students Gaining Hands-On Experience Working With Patients Inside a Clinic.

Jumpstart your Career

The PACE-I Scholars Program is just what you need. With over $18,000 in financial assistance and hands-on training with kids, this program will set you on the right path in early intervention. 

Learn More

Tuition and Fees for the 2024-2025 Academic Year

Tuition - Graduate Student
South Dakota resident 
(all credits other than clinical education)
$340.15 per credit
(clinical education credits)
$470.45 per credit
Non-resident Allied Health
(all PHTH credits other than clinical education credits)
$888.10 per credit
(ANAT and PHAR credits only)
$654.05 per credit
General activity fee $55.30 per credit (other than clinical education)
Lab/STEM fee $42.35 per ANAT credit
School of Health Sciences Discipline fee $103.50 per PHTH credit (other than clinical education)
Liability insurance fee $11.00 each fall semester  

Estimated Program Total (126 Credits)*

Includes tuition, fees, and other program costs for the entire professional program.

South Dakota Resident $68,745
Non-Resident $120,572

*Number of credits are subject to change.

Vaccinations and Background Estimates

  • Hepatitis B vaccination (first year only if student has not had it) - approximately $59 for each of the three vaccinations in the series and approximately $40 for the titer
  • Tuberculosis (PPD) blood test - $65
  • Influenza vaccination - $35 annually
  • Tetanus/pertussis (Tdap) vaccination - $48
  • Background check - $100
  • Background check - $58 update annually


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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