Physical Therapy: First Online Doctorate is Offered.

Physical therapy is a high growth area in the healthcare field. Those who have a degree in physical therapy may want to continue their education and go back to school and earn their doctorate. The University of South Dakota has now come up with a unique online program to facilitate a doctorate in physical therapy.

USD will now offer an online transitional doctorate of physical therapy degree (tDPT) through the School of Health Sciences.

This is the first online doctoral program in the South Dakota Regental System, according to USD's Web site. There are 21 other online-only tDPT programs in the U.S., said Patrick Cross, USD tDPT program director and assistant professor.

There are 15 students, five from South Dakota, expected to enroll in classes this fall for the 25-credit hour program. Students from six states were accepted, and the program is designed to last for five semesters.

Beth Vilhauer, a physical therapist in Sioux Falls and mom, said the program allows her to continue practicing at her clinic while increasing education in her field.

"Best of all worlds, continue to do what I love to do, to be a mom, to be a clinician, to contribute to my profession and to my city and to grow professionally," Vilhauer said.

The new online degree was built from curricular models by the American Physical Therapy Association and includes unique elements, such as a focus on rural health, Cross said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for physical therapists should grow much faster than average over the next few years. Now is a great time to earn your physical therapy degree online and get started in a hot career.

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