Apr 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Physical Therapy Department

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Department Chairperson: Patti Berg-Poppe, PT, Ph.D.

Department of Physical Therapy
Sanford Coyote Sports Center, A385
Phone: 605-658-5999
Fax: 605-658-5637


Click on any of the following programs for information:


Professor Emeritus:

Richard Ekstrom, PT, D.Sc., Rocky Mountain University.
Roy Osborn, PT, M.S., D.P.T., University of North Dakota.
Lana Svien, PT, Ph.D., University of Nebraska Medical Center.


Patti Berg-Poppe, Department Chairperson, MPT, Ph.D.,  University of South Dakota. Specialization: Pediatric Physical Therapy, Motor Control and Motor Learning. 
Becca Jordre, D.P.T, Ph.D., GCS, Duke University - DPT., University of South Dakota - Ph.D. Specialization: Geriatrics.
Joy Karges, PT, Ed.D., University of South Dakota. Specialization: Clinical Education.

Associate Professor: 

Kory Zimney, D.P.T, Ph.D. Des Moines University - DPT, Nova Southwestern University - Ph.D. Specialization: Chronic Pain.

Assistant Professors:

Matthew Dewald, D.P.T, University of South Dakota. Specialization: Sports and Orthopedic Physical Therapy.
Jed Droge, D.P.T., University of Nebraska Medical Center. Specialization: Rural and Orthopedic Physical Therapy. 
Adam Ladwig, D.P.T, Ph.D., University of South Dakota. Specialization: Rural/General Practice.
Matthew Leedom, DPT, NCS, Creighton University. Specialization: Neuro Rehabilitation
Hsin-yi (Tanya) Liu, D.P.T., Ph.D. University of Pittsburg - Ph.D., Northeastern University - D.P.T. Specialization: Pediatric Physical Therapy and Assistive Technology.


Doctor of Physical Therapy  

Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

Program Description

The University of South Dakota Physical Therapy Department offers a graduate level program for individuals seeking entry-level professional education. Physical Therapy is concerned with the prevention of disability and the restoration of function following disease, injury, or loss of function. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients reach their maximum performance potential. Physical therapy, the science of healing and art of caring, involves evaluation, treatment planning, performance of tests and measures, client education, consultative services, and supervision of support personnel.

The American Physical Therapy Association Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education accredits the University of South Dakota Physical Therapy Department. The mission of the University of South Dakota Physical Therapy Department is to develop scholars, practitioners, and life-long learners who provide evidence based physical therapist services throughout the patient lifespan and demonstrate leadership within rural and medically underserved practice environments.


Specific prerequisite courses are required. The prerequisite course work needed is (this sample is based upon the University of South Dakota curriculum):

Biology (for majors)  8 semester credit hours (2 courses, each with lab)
Chemistry (for majors) 8 semester credit hours (2 courses, each with lab)
Physics    8 semester credit hours (2 courses, each with lab)
Statistics   3 semester credit hours
General Psychology  3 semester credit hours
Developmental Psychology 3 semester credit hours
Abnormal Psychology 3 semester credit hours
Human Anatomy* 3 semester credit hours
Human Physiology*   3 semester credit hours (1 course with lab)

*Or a combined Human Anatomy/Physiology course with a minimum of 6 credit hours with lab taken over 2 semesters.

  • Overall Cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better (as calculated by PTCAS), based on a 4.0 scale
  • Prerequisite GPA of 3.2 or better (includes only prerequisite coursework - as calculated by PTCAS), based on a 4.0 scale
  • GRE General test *The GRE General Test at Home will be accepted through fall 2022. 
  • Completion of personal statements
  • Physical Therapy Observation and/or experience (minimum of 50 hours verified through PTCAS)
  • Personal interview with the USD Physical Therapy Department by invitation
  • Applicants must successfully complete a criminal background check upon acceptance
  • Additional requirements exist for international students and applicants with degrees from other countries.

Accelerated DPT Program: Biology, B.S.-Human Dynamics Specialization with DPT standard program  

3+3 PROGRAM OPTION (by application to the program through PTCAS).

This program is available, by application, to eligible University of South Dakota students in the Biology, B.S.- Human Dynamics specialization.

Students pursuing a B.S. in Biology with specialization in Human Dynamics through the 3+3 option are eligible to apply for admissions to the USD DPT Program if they meet the following criteria:

  1. enrolled in the B.S. in Biology with specialization in Human Dynamics undergraduate program;
  2. earn 91 curriculum path undergraduate credits by the end of the junior year;
  3. meet all major, distribution, general education, and testing requirements in accord with institutional and regental policies, guidelines, and requirements by the end of the junior year;
  4. receive a letter of recommendation from a professor teaching in the Biology, BS, Human Dynamics specialization attesting not only to the student’s intellectual strengths, but specifically addressing the student’s maturity, work ethic, and overall readiness for graduate school; (in addition to the recommendation required as part of the standard PT admissions process);
  5. complete the standard application for admission to the PT Program through PTCAS.

Students interested in this 3+3 program should work with an advisor to develop their letter of interest as early as the beginning of the third undergraduate semester. If a 3+3 program applicant moderately deviates from these requirements, and demonstrates evidence of extraordinary character, leadership, and maturity, the Physical Therapy program reserves the right to make an exception and grant admission in that case.

Students who do not gain competitive admission to the PT program through the 3+3 supplement 12 credits of upper division BIOL credits and 17 credits of other electives in their final year, earning their Human Dynamics specialization at the end of the 4th year. These students are eligible for reapplication along a traditional 4+3 timeline, using guidelines established and published for the admissions cycle.

[key word search: 3+3 or 3 plus 3 program]

Application Deadline

Applications for admission are available through the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) a service of the American Physical Therapy Association. PTCAS will allow applicants to use a single Web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple physical therapist education programs. Please visit http://www.ptcas.org for application instructions. Preferred Admission deadline is in September and Final Admission deadline is in December in the year prior to the fall entrance. Please contact the Department of Physical Therapy for verification of current requirements.

In order to complete your Graduate School application to the University of South Dakota, you must submit a $35 application fee, in addition to the PTCAS fee. The USD Graduate Application Fee cannot be waived or deferred and it is nonrefundable. The fee can be paid on the USD Deposits and Fees website.

  • Preferred application deadline: September 15
  • Final deadline: December 1

Student Learning Outcomes for Physical Therapy (D.P.T.)

  1. The Program will provide an entry level, professional graduate program with an intensive curriculum leading to a Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree and successful state licensure.  
  2. Students/graduates will demonstrate skills in the provision of interprofessional, patient-centered care within medically underserved and rural clinic environments.  
  3. Students/graduates will demonstrate personal and professional growth and development that draws on leadership opportunities, ethical behavior, and a commitment to service.  
  4. Students/graduates will appropriately use evidence to inform practice and scholarly endeavors and to develop lifelong learning behaviors. 



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