Physical Therapy

College of Health and Human Services
Dean: Donald P. Zingale

Physical Therapy Program
GYM 205
Fax: 415-338-0907
Web site:

Director: Marsha Melnick
San Francisco State Program

Director, Joint Graduate Program: Nancy Byl
University of California, San Francisco

Program Director: N. Byl, 374 Parnassus

Graduate Coordinators: M. Melnick, N. Byl


Professors—Byl, Hallum, Melnick

Associate Professor—Radtka, Wanek

Assistant Professors—Arriaga, Richards, Topp


M.S. in Physical Therapy

Program Scope

The graduate program in physical therapy leads to the Master of Science in Physical Therapy and prepares the student to sit for licensure as a physical therapist. This degree is offered jointly with the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco campus. The curriculum prepares clinician-scholars who can assume leadership roles as physical therapy clinicians, clinical educators, clinical researchers, and managers. The program emphasizes a strong theoretical foundation in basic, medical, and applied sciences with the application of creative problem solving to mitigate disability, optimize function, and maintain positive health. The 27-month program (including summer quarters) consists of 64 semester units of academic course work, laboratory studies, clinical clerkships, and participation in research projects. Students must pass a patient problem-related comprehensive examination during their final semester. Courses are held at both San Francisco State University and the University of California, San Francisco; however, students do not travel between campuses during any single day. Clinical clerkships occur at affiliated agencies throughout California but are primarily located in the northern and central regions of the state.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for physical therapists is very good with graduates employed in acute and rehabilitation hospitals, private practice, outpatient clinics, schools, community agencies, and academic programs.


Admission to Program

Thirty-two students are admitted to the program each June. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and meet all general admissions requirements for graduate study at both San Francisco State University and the University of California, San Francisco. Any major is acceptable providing the applicant has completed the following program prerequisites before entry. Survey chemistry and physics courses or a combined anatomy and physiology course are not acceptable. Students who do not have a strong science background should take additional science courses to demonstrate an ability to succeed in science-based course work. Students at SFSU are advised to take PT 300 when entering the junior year.

Basic Courses Units
General Chemistry with laboratories 10
General Physics with laboratories 8
Human or Comparative Anatomy with laboratory 3
Human Physiology with laboratory 4
General Microbiology/Cell Biology/Histology 3
Social/Psychological Sciences
Abnormal Psychology or 3
Psychology of the Disabled
Applied Sciences
Kinesiology 3
Introduction to Statistics with Computer Applications 3
Highly Recommended
Introductory course in Physical Therapy (PT 300 at SFSU) 3
Organic Chemistry 3
Exercise Physiology 3
Motor Learning or Motor Development 3
Developmental Psychology 3
Introduction to Computers (if not incorporated in Statistics class) 3
Neuroscience 3

To be eligible for consideration, applicants must also:

Application Process

Students must submit preliminary applications by 5:00 p.m. of the first Monday in November of the year prior to desired entry (i.e., by November, 2000 for admission in June, 2001). Preliminary application materials are available each July from the Graduate Program in Physical Therapy, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA 94143. The initial application materials must be submitted to UCSF.

Following preliminary evaluation, 80–100 applicants will be invited to interview. Students who are offered an interview will be required to submit SFSU application materials at the time of the interview. Those materials will be provided to each student prior to interview time. Following an interview and an assessment of writing skills, thirty-two students will be accepted for admission to the Physical Therapy Program.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Students must meet the first level of proficiency in written English as a condition of admission to the Physical Therapy Program. Evaluation of writing skills will be based upon an essay written at the time of the applicant's scheduled interview. The second level of written English proficiency will be demonstrated through papers and manuscripts prepared during the student's final semester in the M.P.T. program.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students may be considered for advancement to candidacy for the Master of Physical Therapy after completing the equivalent of 30 semester units, and following the adviser's approval of the student's proposed courses for an area of emphasis. The student may then formally request advancement to candidacy by filing a Graduate Approved Program.

Culminating Experience

Students will participate in a research project guided by a faculty member and complete a proposal and manuscript on one aspect of that research. As a culminating experience, students must successfully complete a written comprehensive examination.

Program Course Work

Courses shown with quarter-unit values are taken at the University of California, San Francisco. Courses shown with semester-unit values are assigned to San Francisco State University. At San Francisco State University, courses numbering 700 or higher are graduate courses. At the University of California, San Francisco, courses with numbers between 100 and 199 are at the upper division level; courses with numbers between 200 and 399 are graduate courses.

Program Units
Basic Sciences
PT 200 Neuromusculoskeletal Anatomy   6
PHYS 120 Mammalian Physiology   3
PHYS 125 Mammalian Physiology   2.5
ANAT 207 Neuroscience for Physical Therapists   5
Medical Sciences
MED 170.12 Introduction to Geriatric Medicine   2
PT 110 Pathophysiology of Disease: Orthopedics   2
PT 111 Pathophysiology of Disease: Neurology   2
PT 112 Pathophysiology of Disease: Pediatrics   1
PT 210 Therapeutic Pharmacology and Therapeutic Radiology   2
PT 700 Comprehensive Physical Therapy Management 3  
PATH 135.01 Pathology   3
Applied Social Sciences
PT 735 Psychosocial Aspects of Physical Disability 3  
PT 736 Ecological and Organizational Issues of Rehabilitation 3  
PT 704 Education, Learning, and Memory in Physical Therapy 2  
PT 705 Administration and Organization in Physical Therapy 2  
PT 252 Research Seminar I   1
PT 253 Research Seminar II   1
PT 254 Research Seminar III   1
PT 730 Scientific Inquiry and Research Design 3  
Select at least one of the following:
  PT 890 Research Seminar in Physical Therapy 3  
  PT 250 Research Methods II   2
  PT 899 Independent Study 1-3  
  PT 206 Independent Study   1-3
Physical Therapy Sciences
PT 201 Clinical Kinesiology and Physical Therapy Assessment   3
PT 202 Principles of Therapeutic Modalities   3
PT 701 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology I 4  
PT 702 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology II 3  
PT 703 Assessment of Pathological Movement 2  
PT 710 Neurological Pathokinesiology I 4  
PT 711 Neurological Pathokinesiology II 3  
PT 720 Cardiopulmonary Pathokinesiology I 2  
PT 800–1,2,3 Clinical Clerkships I, II, III (Clerkships are 40 hrs/week during second and third summers) 0  
Advanced course work in physical therapy and health electives, on advisement

9.5       to      14

Minimum total semester unit equivalent 64
and Master's Written Comprehensive Examination

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