SHRS will offer physical therapy and physician assistant programs in online/in-person hybrid

The School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences is expanding access to its No. 1 ranked doctor of physical therapy program and its master of science in physician assistant studies by offering each program in a hybrid online/in-person format.

Pitt is among the first higher education institutions to bring these degree options online, according to a news release from SHRS, which will allow students from across the U.S. to study and train in their own communities and to benefit from a lower cost of attendance.

“While educational excellence has always been an integral part of our school's success, we are now finding innovative ways to make our programs more accessible and more affordable,” said Anthony Delitto, dean of SHRS.

These new programs mark the third and fourth that the school has launched in collaboration with Noodle, an online learning network. Previously, SHRS worked with Noodle to develop its online master of science in health informatics and the doctor of clinical science in occupational therapy programs.

The new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) hybrid option is an expansion of SHRS’ long-standing residential program, currently ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report.

“One of the goals of developing the hybrid option is to offer DPT education to students who might be limited by financial costs, an inability to relocate or family commitments,” said Kim Nixon-Cave, director of the DPT hybrid offering

Students will complete 42 weeks of full-time clinical experiences in or near their home communities which, Cave said, will hopefully encourage graduates from the program to stay in these areas and increase access to PT services in regions that are typically underserved. Hybrid students will be required to travel to the University of Pittsburgh each term for several immersive laboratory sessions.

Additionally, the length of the entire DPT program has been shortened to seven terms, or a little over two years, providing students further time and cost savings.

Students in the two-year Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) Hybrid Program will have the opportunity for clinical placements within a network of more than 2,000 health care settings located throughout the country. The PAS-Hybrid program will soon be applying for provisional accreditation from the ARC-PA, and it will only commence if accredited.

Pitt PT’s hybrid offering will make use of the same curriculum and plan of study as the residential DPT program. Hybrid students will participate in asynchronous and synchronous online learning activities and will come to Pittsburgh twice per term to learn and practice the hands-on and clinical decision-making skills required of physical therapists.

Students could start applying for the DPT program on June 15. Pitt will accept 30 students into the DPT hybrid format this fall and up to 90 hybrid students each fall, starting with the 2022 cohort.

The physician assistant hybrid program is currently accepting applications for the fall 2022 semester, with 100 students expected in the initial cohort.