University of St Augustine for Health Sciences Reviews of Doctorates in Physical Therapy

  • 7 Reviews
  • St. Augustine (FL)
  • Annual Tuition: $17,864
0% of 7 students said this degree improved their career prospects
86% of 7 students said they would recommend this program to others
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Reviews - Doctorates in Physical Therapy

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  • Reviewed: 1/1/2022
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"I’ve completed my didactic coursework at the University of St. Augustine (USA) and I felt compelled to write a full review / opinion piece as this is the largest health science school in the states that offers the DPT program and it's that time for new applicants. I’ve spent many hours writing this, so I hope you read through and get something out of it, but TLDR at the bottom. For anonymity purposes, I will not be revealing my campus location. I’ll start by addressing some old negative reviews on reddit and other forums, regarding a few things, mainly, a bad case of a mislabeled PA program that happened about a decade ago, disorganization, the ‘very expensive’ argument, and most recently, the school being a ‘mill program.’ As a disclaimer, I may have some inherent bias, seeing as I will soon be a USA alumni, though I will do my best to outline my likes and dislikes as truthfully as possible without making undue defenses about the school. To begin, there was mismanagement/miscommunication with this strangely titled PA, or as I understand, “Orthopedic Assistant” program about a decade ago back in 2011. However, it really doesn’t bear any meaning to the current DPT program. USA’s DPT program is widely known, reputable, the school’s main revenue source, and obviously CAPTE accredited (barring any new campus) – they’re making millions for Atlas Partners, and they won’t mess up their cash cow. There is no issue here and there has not been any other public class action legal matters with USA in a long time. In general, I’d say USA has a good track record aside from this one fluke. With regards to disorganization, I believe this was more an issue early in the integration of the DPT programs at various campuses. Now, the curriculum seems fairly streamlined, fine-tuned, and they are consistently looking for feedback with surveys, plus each cohort meets every term with the program director. Classes build on each other and overlap intentionally very well term by term. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s not terrible by any means. Forum posts such as [See link 1.] are now quite inaccurate and not current to how USA operates. Elephant in the room, it’s expensive – yes. As of writing this for any new attendees, tuition for the residential DPT is roughly $110k (San Marcos campus 125k). It’s a lot, and sure, there are publics for $60-90k and as low as 32k (UTEP), which I would always recommend taking instead, but USA hovers at the average cost of a private PT school in the nation (avg is ~113k as of this post). Basically, all privates are expensive. However, it’s not the worst, compared to something like NYU DPT at 155k or USC at 200k for tuition alone, USA isn’t outrageous. My opinion on debt: if you can graduate with no more than around 150k in total debt (undergrad + grad), then PT is a reasonable, within limits, financial decision. If you live frugally for a few years upon graduating, you can pay down loans rather quickly (this includes no stupid spending, no graduation gifts of nice cars, no Kenzo bags, and no traveling every month – referring to the girl on Millennial Money who was a USA grad – [See link 2]). If you already have 30-50k from undergrad, not getting assistance from parents, and are looking to attend USA or another 100k+ private school, I strongly suggest a different career path - or school if you are adamant with PT. You will likely be graduating with a total sum of over 200k in debt, which is absolutely crushing on a starting PT salary (~65-75k in most states). You’ll be paying that off for many years. Improve your application, work a part time job to save up money, and try to get into a cheaper public state school next year. I will say this, the best school is the cheapest school. USA is NOT worth the $110,000 price tag if you have the option of a different school that costs half or even ¾’s that amount. What has now become the most criticized topic of USA: the voluminous amounts of students passing through the program (See link 3). It is true, USA graduates the highest amount of DPT students in the entire nation, accounting for roughly 4% of all DPT graduates annually. There are both positives and negatives to this. Simply put, USA has a different academic and business model to most schools. Instead of diversifying into many undergraduate and graduate programs, they have developed a prominent academic niche in the rehabilitation and health science sector. Paris and Patla did not have the capital in 1979 to create a large-scale University for all fields, I also doubt they were interested in that anyways, so they instead decided to make it solely PT based, which later expanded to other health and rehabilitation sectors. The reality is, USA is a very small private school compared to most Universities, with a valuation of what I estimate to be around half a billion dollars. The positives are that the school has a large focus on constantly improving, funding, and streamlining the DPT program. In other Universities, the DPT program makes up a small portion of revenue and staff in proportion. With the ability for USA professors to teach the same class three times per year, they can obtain 3x the amount of feedback and better the curriculum for the next cohorts to come. This can also be seen in a positive light for students looking to be accepted into a PT school. More seats need to be filled, which means more opportunities to get accepted. The unappealing perspective this creates on the school is the negative disposition of opportunities for students who are not as diligent about their studies to get admitted to the program. More lax admissions have been thought to signify a less competitive school. Cheating is another issue with the high number of students concentrated in a single program, though I will address my thoughts on that later. Ultimately, I believe that it’s not solely the school that makes the student academically successful, but also the student’s own willingness and work ethic to succeed. Side story, I went to a ‘party school’ in undergrad, but quickly realized it’s only a party school if you chose to make it one. There were many students at my undergraduate university studying into the late hours of the night, obtaining 4.0 GPA’s. Likewise, any student can make Harvard or Stanford a party school if that is their prerogative. What I’m getting at is, just because there are some sub-par students that get admitted, will not make you a sub-par clinician or the school a sub-par university. It is entirely up to you to chose to succeed. In the end, all students from every accredited PT program must pass the boards examination to obtain their PT license. If you pass your boards examination, you’ve proven competency, and the school you attended has little bearing on your prospects or skills as a clinician. It’s up to you to decide how far you want to excel in the field. There is an argument for saturating the market, but the truth is, it’s not just USA, but every new PT program that is now being added. There is now emerging the new trend of 2 year accelerated hybrid PT programs, being advertised everywhere on IG and FB which cut an entire year of education but leave the burden of tuition at the same price as a 3 year, whilst using the awful US News Top PT Schools as their evidence of a successful program. If you ask me, that is truly the new plague of PT program saturation. PT program saturation is not the fault of USA alone, but of every school that is deciding to add the curriculum or start up these new 2-year pop-ups. The monster isn’t USA, the monster is the ~260 programs that now exist in the nation. You cannot blame a gridlock or traffic jam on one car alone. If you believe that the field is saturated, then I implore you to seek out different opportunities or careers in the healthcare field. Now that these are addressed, I’ll get to what I think about the school. I believe that all professors want you to succeed and truly care about the education you’re paying for, and they know you’re paying a lot. Many professors who taught me were ABPTS Specialists, Fellows, authors, or held other titles such as CHT. All the professors are very well trained and knowledgeable with years of experience in the field. As you may have heard, it’s a manual therapy driven school, which is accurate. The campuses itself aren’t really a typical college campus, but more so an office building space. The campus I went to was very high-tech, up-to-date, and generally felt like a very clean and professional environment, sort of like those Hollywood laboratory sets that look picture perfect. All equipment was high end: one of our classrooms had 18 displays and 4 flat screen TVs alone, all labs have modular hydraulic metal treatment tables (no cheap wooden massage tables from 15 years ago), plenty of models available on hand…etc. It at least feels like you get what you’re paying for, even though you’re still overpaying. And trust me, if I had the option, I’d use wooden treatment tables to save 40 grand on tuition, but unfortunately, I didn’t have that option. One thing to note, you will almost never use the flashy equipment you see on the advertisements. The Anatomage table? Used that in only two class sessions over the entire 2-year didactic program. The SIM lab with that fancy two-way mirror and viewing room? Used that only one time at the beginning of the program. Same was said from the OT class, that ADL simulation room with the driving seat? They never used it. It’s all just icing on the cake for students and parents of the students to see. The flashy items are purchased to sell you, not to educate you. One thing I do greatly applaud the school for was their amazing gross anatomy wet lab. When I began the program, our entire cohort got the opportunity to dissect 8 different cadavers, 4 of which were entirely new and untouched. This is something most DPT students do not get in regular universities since it’s the MD students that get to work most with the cadavers. Of the things I felt my tuition was truly paying for, the professors and the anatomy wet lab were on the top of my list. The school handled COVID very well. At no point did the program halt or get delayed, as they were easily able to transition to an online setting since they had experience from their flex programs. When we did slowly return to class, we were given extensive PPE (gloves, masks, face shields) that were required to be worn. We never had any serious COVID outbreaks in the school. Overall, classes aren’t bad. Some are more challenging than others, though relatively few truly difficult and demanding courses exist. After finishing this program, I can say with confidence that I had more challenging courses in my undergraduate Bachelors of Exercise Science program at a state university. In terms of overall workload, the 6-7 classes per term seems daunting, however, you don’t have to put too many hours outside of class for most classes when there aren’t exams or practicals. Many classes are informally known by students (and professors) as backburner classes: a class that you don’t need to either place any focus on until 2-4 days before the upcoming exam or be consistent with keeping up in content. Also, a good chunk of the classes in the USA curriculum are simply busy-work courses wherein you do not really learn much material. For example, in term 6, the Administration, Geriatrics, and Wellness courses are blatant filler courses that have no substantial learning purpose and are just there as credit fillers and assignment churners. Much to my surprise, the program is also very light in written assignments and essays. On average, most papers I had to write were only 1-2 pages in length. The longest paper I wrote in the program, individually, was about 4 pages. Seeing as this was a doctoral program, I was awed but thankful that I never had to write a single double-digit page paper by myself, though we did have a few group papers in double digits. In the average week with no upcoming exams, you can expect to comfortably study for 1-2 hours outside of class and have ample time available for leisure, exercise, and social activities. When an exam comes for a class, I shifted focus shifts towards that one class 3-5 days before the exam. I assume that’s how most of my cohort and I have work through each term. No, you won’t be spending 8 hours per day for the next 2 years studying. 1-2 hours per day outside of class with no exams coming up, and 3-5 hours per day 2-3 days before an exam, should generally get you a passing grade (excluding heavy courses like anatomy and biomechanics where keeping up with material is fairly vital). The information they present seems slightly dated, especially MSK, old images and pictures used back in the 90s and early 2000s during the Paris and Patla days, but they still give you the most recent clinical practice guidelines. For the price I am paying, I wish they had slightly more up to date material, even if it is just visually. With everything said, I believe the school prepares you well to become a competent clinician when you graduate. Clinical internships are where USA still hasn’t perfectly fit the mold yet. You can expect to be placed in a completely remote location, a setting that you did not want, or be placed at the very last minute. With COVID, we even have students that have had placements cancelled last minute (though this isn’t necessarily the fault of USA). Unfortunately, you really have no official say in the matter and it’s up to the school and clinical coordinator staff to place you. Generally speaking, you will be placed, and you will graduate on time, this isn’t something to worry about unless you’re very picky and decline the options they give you. I say, just take what you get, it’s only a temporary move. The next thing I’ll say is that the school does not want you to fail or flunk out. They have several tactics to actually help keep you in. My overall opinion on the difficulty of the program, as mentioned before, is that it was much easier than I anticipated. Not that it did not have it’s challenging or stressful moments, but I expected far more arduous and challenging work from a doctorate program. Most courses are weighted to having 50-60% of the course be in exam and quizzes, 20-40% in practicals, and the rest of the grade be miscellaneous assignments. In general, most students pass the practicals with an A, and they are simply grade boosters and allow for worse grades in the written/didactic exams. I managed to get through the program without failing a single practical, and in most practicals I received an A. The professors are generally lenient and only take a modest amount of points off for errors. Failure typically only occurs in an autofail setting (safety or major error). With each practical, only a handful of students have had this happen to them. During my final MSK practical, I completely blanked on a manipulation that I missed in my studies, but still passed with an A. Practicals are more there to psychologically stress you and psych you out to study, but the reality is, you will pass most practicals with ease and will find yourself saying it wasn’t that bad. If you do the math, getting an A on the practicals and completing all the assignments with good grades, you’re given plenty of leeway to do bad on the exams. There is no passing grade requirement for didactic exams or final exams, just the overall grade. There was not a single point in the curriculum where I was in a pass or fail situation for a class based on a final exam. In all honestly, many students slack on finals, because they calculate their current grade, see that they only need a 40% on the final exam, and don’t bother studying for that final exam at all. The university has a hidden agenda of requiring minimum weighing of practicals in all courses (20% I believe), so students have a less likely chance to flunk out and buffers against bad written exam grades. In addition, another artificial GPA booster tactic that the school employs is a skewed grading system. Per the system, you’re given a wide 0.5% rounding to the next letter grade (i.e. a 89.50 is an A). More significantly, there are no minuses in USA’s grading system, only pluses (i.e a B+ does exist, but a B- does not). I finished didactics with about a 3.5, however, had I been given minuses where deserved, my GPA would have more realistically been a 3.2-3.3. Since this is a doctorate program, I believe a much more stringent grading policy should have been followed. As it stands, I believe the pass rate for classes overall is far too high compared to the work students are putting in. The Residential DPT Program at USA is overall well didactically coordinated, and professors care for your success. The terms are built to synergize and build onto each other. The school doesn’t sacrifice quality for quantity but does allow for some sub-par students to slip through due to the sheer number of seats that need to be filled. I did not find the program to be extremely challenging and encountered harder courses in my undergraduate degree at a state university. Though not stress free, I expected a tougher program. The most difficult terms for me were 2 and 4, though I felt I learned the most content term 1. I would not recommend attending if you will graduate with over 150k in student loans and plan to work in a 65k average new grad starting salary area - unless you have a very specific plan of living frugally and quickly reducing loan debt. The best school is always the cheapest CAPTE accredited school you are offered acceptance to. Good luck!"
Bailey Shealy
  • Reviewed: 2/14/2018
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is a small two building institution that is perfect for the individual who loves small town universities. While class sizes are considered large for a graduate program, your individual needs are always valued and attended to. The professors are some of the most well-rounded people I have ever met and they truly see you as a future colleague rather than a student. The program itself is challenging as any graduate program should be. But USA offers so many services, such as tutoring or even counseling to ensure that you feel prepared as a future professional. The one thing that I believe sets the University of St. Augustine apart from other Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs is the level of stress they put on professionalism. This is an aspect that I think is greatly overlooked when applying to graduate school, but an aspect that is one of the most important as a future professional (in your field of choice). Students graduate with superior reputations and are often times offered jobs before reaching graduation. At the University of St. Augustine, a proper education is guaranteed, and it doesn't hurt to be five minutes from the beach either."
Jerome Malimban
  • Reviewed: 11/12/2014
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"Pros: Small class size helps with getting quality time with the professors. The surrounding neighborhood feels safe during the day and night. Cons: Cost of living is pretty expensive."
Jerome Malimban
  • Reviewed: 11/12/2014
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"The class size is small and you get a good amount of quality time with the professors. The cons are the cost of living around the area could be expensive. It helps to have a roommate."
Jennifer Brisson
  • Reviewed: 11/23/2013
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"The University of Saint Augustine is a great school with friendly faculty and staff. The program is academically challenging and offers plenty of practical exams to ensure that you graduate as an excellent clinician. But make no mistake, the program is tough because it is accelerated."
Monica Delizo
  • Reviewed: 7/7/2013
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"This school is true to its word on being an accelerated program. However, it feels very rushed and impersonal. Being here has sucked the life out of me and depleted my inner spark. Coming to this school will make even the smartest student feel inadequate and dumb. Not at all what I was hoping for in a graduate program."
Romalyn Patummas
  • Reviewed: 4/17/2013
  • Degree: Physical Therapy
"The physical therapy program has provided me with a wealth of knowledge. The professors and faculty really care about the students and share their clinical application to every topic. The professors are passionate and share their love of the field with students. Although the program is academically challenging and accelerated, the education I have received has given me the foundation and knowlege to become a great physical therapist one day. I highly recommend this program. I am confident that I will be given the tools to continue being a lifelong learner and compassionate and knowledgeable physical therapist in the future."