Campus: San Francisco State University -- April 03, 2002
SFSU, UCSF team up to offer new joint doctoral program
in physical therapy science and meet work force demand
San Francisco State University and University of California, San Francisco,
now offer a joint doctorate in physical therapy science, becoming the
first public institutions in California to provide such an educational
The doctoral program will meet industry demands by preparing physical
therapists as clinical researchers, patient care specialists and educators.
The two universities now offer a master's degree in physical therapy
and the program has been successful -- U.S. News and World Report consistently
ranks it as one of the top 15 in the country. Over the years professors
saw a growing number of students who wanted to pursue a doctorate. Already
the program is attracting applicants with a desire to earn a doctorate.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges recently approved the
joint doctoral program. Four students, comprised mostly of experienced
clinicians already practicing in the field, are expected to begin classes
"SFSU is now the only California State University campus with a
doctoral program in physical therapy," said Marsha Melnick, SFSU's
graduate program director. "We will be a model in establishing
future physical therapy doctoral programs in the other state programs."
Nancy Byl, UCSF's director of the graduate physical therapy science
program, is equally optimistic about the establishment of the joint
"This doctoral degree represents the only opportunity for California
leaders in physical therapy to pursue doctoralstudies in physical therapy
withina publicinstitution," Byl said. "This program is appropriatenot
only for experienced professionals in the field of physical therapy,
but also for recent graduates with a master's degree who would like
to pursue leadership in education, clinical practice and clinical research."
The program will take 27 to 36 months to complete depending on the applicant's
education. Students will develop specialization in areas such as neuroscience,
anatomy, gerontology, neurology, pediatrics, orthopedics, health policy
The impact of the doctoral program will be far reaching, particularly
in terms of research. Physical therapy science has long needed researchers
to investigate clinical efficacy and provide evidence for the practice
and SFSU/UCSF graduates are expected to fill those roles. Graduates
are also likely to assume greater responsibility as academics, clinicians,
clinical researchers and rehabilitation managers.
"We know there is a need for physical therapists holding a doctorate
degree. Many physical therapy programs have openings for faculty and
many teaching hospitals have physical therapists performing research,"
said Melnick. "We believe a number of our students will go into
In 1990, both schools partnered to provide an advanced degree in physical
therapy, becoming the first joint master's degree program between the
CSU and UC systems. As one program, jointly administered by the two
systems, each institution plays a vital role in the academic process.
"SFSU is already involved in analysis of gross motor movements
such as gait, turning, stair climbing and sitting balance while UCSF
will concentrate on upper extremity movements such as writing and computer
keyboarding," Melnick said.
The doctoral program will begin later this month. Both campuses will
house faculty, facilities and classrooms. State-of-the-art motion analysis
equipment will be available as well as balance equipment for evaluation,
research and treatment.
This is the second of two doctoral programs now offered at SFSU. The
first joint doctorate degree, in special education, was established
35 years ago in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley.