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California State University, Long Beach
Department of Physical Therapy
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History of physical therapist education at CSULB

The Department of Physical Therapy was established in June, 1967 as the first physical therapy education program in the CSU. The first class in the program graduated in 1968. At the time of its formation, the program was unique as it was neither affiliated with a medical school nor major teaching hospital. The curriculum was a traditional design offered to both Bachelor students (BSPT) and to college graduates seeking a certificate in physical therapy. In 1972, the certificate program was discontinued.

In the late 1970s, the program began to plan transitioning to the postbaccalaureate entry-level degree. The MPT proposal was approved by the CSU Chancellor in November, 1997 and implemented in fall, 1998. The charter MPT class completed their terminal internships in summer, 2001.

The proposal for the Doctor of Physical Therapy degree received approval by CSULB, the CSU Chancellor and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The final approval, from WASC, was awarded on January 10, 2012. The first class of DPT students matriculated in summer, 2012, being the first entry-level doctorate offered in the CSU system.

Current Program

California State University, Long Beach offers an entry-level physical therapy professional curriculum that leads to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree.The first DPT class began studies in June, 2012 and graduated in 2015. The last MPT class entered in fall, 2011 and graduated in 2014.

Approximately 32-36 students are matriculated each year, taking classes as a cohort for 3 years. Class size is 32-36 for lecture and 16-18 for labs. The 3-year curriculum begins with foundational science courses, the mastery of which is critical for success in the following clinical science courses. A doctoral project of research under the direction of faculty is required. Clinical experiences include two 6-week summer affiliations, between years 1 and 2 and between years 2 and 3, a pro-bono classroom clinic in the second year of the program and 24 weeks of internship in the last year of the program.


To prepare entry-level physical therapists who are highly-valued professionals with exemplary skills, to add to the body of physical therapy knowledge, and to serve the university and community..


To graduate clinical doctorate physical therapists who are highly-valued professionals who practice autonomously in a highly diverse community. Graduates will provide care in consideration of scientific evidence and will assume social responsibility in their communities.

Matriculation/Employment information

All 33 of the students who began the MPT curriculum in Fall, 2008 graduated with their class in 2010, passed their subsequent clinical internships and are in process of taking the licensing examination. All graduates passing the licensing examination who have applied for employment as physical therapists are employed as physical therapists.

Due to budget constraints only 16 students were accepted into the MPT class of 2014 in fall, 2011. The 2014 MPT class had 563 applicants of which 42 were offered a position in the class. 16 accepted and are matriculated.

35 students were accepted into the DPT class of 2015 and were admitted in summer, 2012.