Policy on Student Progression

Requirements for Graduation

The requirements for successful completion of the program are based on academic and professional expectations. Each student will be evaluated in terms of academic achievement, clinical abilities, and professional behaviors (self-assessment, faculty assessment and clinical instructor assessment). Requirements for graduation include:

  • Successful completion of all academic coursework
  • Passing grades on all practical and competency exams
  • Passing grades on all Qualifying Assessment exams
  • Successful completion of research procedures
  • Passing grades on all clinical education experiences
  • Successful completion of a case report or evidence-based practice manuscript
  • Demonstration of professional behaviors

GPA Requirements

Students are required to maintain an overall 3.0 GPA, as well as a 3.0 GPA at both UCSF and SFSU at all times while enrolled in the DPT program. Students are responsible for remaining aware of their GPA at all times, and to remain proactive in seeking academic support from their advisor and/or University resources when necessary. Should a student fall below this requirement, the student will be reviewed by the Academic Progress Committee and is subject to probation and/or dismissal from the program. Students will receive written notification of the actions and requirements of the Academic Progress Committee.


Grading Policy

Program students take graduate level courses and some upper division courses. Most are required; a few are elective. Courses are designed to meet the accreditation requirements as well as the standards for graduate education at both universities. When the course of study is completed according to the guidelines for performance, the student is eligible to take the professional licensure exam.

A summary of the guidelines for grading are provided here, but full details of each University’s grading policies can be found in the UCSF and SFSU catalogs. In the program students take courses within three major divisions:

  • UCSF School of Medicine
  • UCSF Graduate Division
  • SFSU College of Health and Social Sciences

The grading policies for each respective group are outlined below.

Courses in the UCSF School of Medicine

School of Medicine Courses: ANA 207, Path 135, Physio 121, Physio 122

Each instructor defines the method of assigning grades in the course, and the grading policy can be found in the course syllabus.

Courses taken in the UCSF School of Medicine are generally assigned one of the following grades:

  • A, B, C, D or F
  • P/NP = pass/not pass
  • S/U = satisfactory/unsatisfactory
  • CR/NC = credit/no credit
  • I = incomplete
  • W = withdraw

Courses in the UCSF Graduate Division &
SFSU College of Health and Social Sciences

UCSF courses: PT 100, 200, and 400 series
SFSU courses: PT 700, 800, and 900 series

Each instructor defines the method of assigning grades in the course, and the grading policy can be found in the course syllabus. However, generally, courses are assigned the following grades:

UCSF courses are graded on a 0 to 4 scale:

  • A (4.0) = 90 – 100%
  • B (3.0) = 80 – 89%
  • C (2.0) = 70 – 79%

SFSU courses are graded on a 0 to 4 scale (at SFSU, grades are issued with + and -):

  • A (4.0) = 93 – 100%
  • A- (3.7) = 90 – 92%
  • B+ (3.3) = 87 – 89%
  • B (3.0) = 83 – 86%
  • B- (2.7) = 80 – 82%
  • C+ (2.3) = 77 – 79%
  • C (2.0) = 73 – 76%

Some graduate courses will be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. Practical examinations are taken to test mastery of clinical reasoning and skills, and must be passed at 80% in order to pass the course. The exception includes PT 200, in which students must score at least a 70% in order to pass the exam.

Courses in Other Departments

Courses offered by faculty from other departments within each University are graded on a scale defined by the instructor consistent with the standards of other courses offered by the home department (including KIN 746).

Clinical Education Courses

Clinical education experiences are graded on a S/U and CR/NC basis. The full grading policy for clinical education experiences can be found in the Clinical Education Handbook.

Failing Grades

A student must receive a grade of “B” or better to satisfactorily pass a course. A “C” grade will count as credit, but the content may need to be repeated, as determined by the Academic Progress Committee. A student must retake a course that is graded as NP, U, NC or below a C.

Incomplete Grades

A student may receive an “Incomplete” grade only if s/he is in good academic standing and has personal problems or extenuating circumstances that prevent the student from completing the course. If this occurs, the course must be completed within one year or the “Incomplete” grade will become an F. Occasionally, exceptions may be made if the course is not offered again until the following year.

Withdrawal Grades

A “Withdrawal” grade is given if the student withdraws from a course in the pre-defined time period. A grade of “W” is posted on the student’s record. If the student remains in the program, s/he must re-enroll and pass the course in order to graduate from the program.


Professional Behaviors

Students enrolled in the DPT program understand and accept the importance of professional behavior; ethical standards; honesty; commitment to learning; good interpersonal communication skills; respect for classmates, faculty, community educators and guest speakers; effective use of time and resources; constructive integration of feedback; problem solving; critical thinking; and stress management. Students are expected to accept responsibility for learning these standards and being held accountable for their actions. These professional behaviors will be emphasized and expected of all students throughout their graduate studies in the classroom, the clinic, and the community.

Students will be asked to perform a self-assessment of professional behaviors during the program. Evaluation of professional behaviors will also be integrated into the clinical evaluation process. If a student displays any unprofessional behaviors, s/he will be at risk of dismissal from the program. The achievement of professionalism is as important as maintaining high academic performance. Students must use caution and apply standards of safety to avoid injury to themselves or patients. The use of drugs and alcohol while attending classes or clinical experiences will not be tolerated.

General professional behaviors expected of students include:

  • Demonstrates a receptive attitude towards suggestions, feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Uses suggestions to make appropriate changes in performance and/or behavior.
  • Uses discretion when discussing confidential information.
  • Demonstrates flexibility in accommodating unforeseen conditions or circumstances.
  • Offers assistance to others when appropriate.
  • Conveys appropriate self-confidence through verbal and nonverbal behavior.
  • Recognizes own limitations by asking for guidance and assistance when needed.
  • Demonstrates initiative to increase skills and knowledge by using appropriate resources.
  • Manages personal affairs in a manner that does not interfere with professional responsibilities.
  • Uses appropriate verbal and nonverbal communication skills with others.
  • Demonstrates respect, courtesy, and consideration for the rights and dignity of others.
  • Maintains a professional appearance and demeanor.
  • Manages and prioritizes tasks to meet responsibilities.
  • Accepts responsibility for personal mistakes and does not blame others or continually offer excuses.

Professional behaviors are demonstrated by:

  • Complying with University and PT program policies and procedures.
  • Exhibiting professional behaviors in accordance with the APTA Code of Ethics.
  • Meeting the requirements of all course instructors.
  • Solving problems through appropriate channels in an efficient and congenial manner.
  • Demonstrating professional behavior during all clinical affiliations.

If a student does not meet these expectations, s/he will be required to meet with the Academic Progress Committee.


Evaluation of Professional Behaviors

If a student does not meet the professional behavior standards outlined in the Professional Behavior policy above, the student will be presented to the Academic Progress Committee. Students who are having difficulty with professional behaviors will be asked to seek mentoring/counseling. Unprofessional behaviors can serve as a reason for dismissal from the program, independent of grades.


Grade Appeals

Grievances are not the same as disagreements. Students cannot grieve grades merely because they disagree with the grade. However, a student who feels the grade posted on his/her transcript is not a fair representation of the work completed may request review by the instructor. The request must be made during the quarter/semester of attendance or immediately following the quarter/semester in which the grade was assigned. If the instructor and the student can work out an agreement, a petition for a grade change will be submitted. If agreement is not reached, the student should consult the formal SFSU Grade Appeal Practices and Procedures for SFSU courses or the following steps for UCSF courses:

  1. A student may request the instructor enlist a “second opinion” in a timely manner from a faculty member with expertise in the evaluation of the course or experience. Examples of such a “second opinion” are when a course instructor asks another faculty member to review the grading of an examination or a site director asks the experience director to review the student’s evaluations.
  2. If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome of step (1), the student may only further appeal the grade in the following instances:
    1. The evaluation or grade constitutes as an act of discrimination.
    2. The student’s academic freedom was infringed upon. (An example of possible infringement of academic freedom would be a faculty member grading a student lower based not on the student’s performance but rather upon the student’s expression of opinions or academic positions that differed from that of the faculty member’s opinions or positions.)
  3. A grievance of an alleged act of discrimination as expressed through a summary evaluation or grade will follow the Divisional Procedure for Student Grievance in Academic Affairs.
  4. A grievance of an alleged infringement of academic freedom as expressed through a summary evaluation or grade will be reviewed by the Dean of the Graduate Division and/or an appointed designate.

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to follow the student conduct and non-plagiarism standards cited in the UCSF Policy on Student Conduct & Discipline and the SFSU Bulletin. As members of an established profession, the program faculty and students will adhere to the APTA Code of Ethics. Any violation of that code is subject to disciplinary action by the Academic Review Committee up to and including dismissal from the program. Students are expected to work independently and honestly on all examinations and report those who appear to be cheating.


Academic Probation

Academic Performance

If a student earns a GPA below a 3.0 at either UCSF or SFSU, or in combination:

  1. The student will be placed on academic probation at the affected campus and in the program. The Financial Aid Office will be notified and a hold will be placed on the student’s registration for the following term.
  2. The student will be reviewed by the Academic Progress Committee and a recommendation will be made.
  3. The student will be required to meet with his/her advisor to determine what assistance is needed to bring the GPA up to a 3.0.
  4. The student will be offered the option to arrange for counseling if needed through UCSF Student Health Services. Students may also arrange for counseling for academic skill-building through the SFSU Student Testing Center or the UCSF Learning Resource Services Office.
  5. The student will be required to obtain an A in an equivalent number of course units for which s/he received a C. The student may need to consider whether it is necessary to take extra coursework on the campus in which s/he has dropped below a 3.0 GPA.
  6. Courses graded D, F, U, NC or NP must be retaken. Courses are often only offered once per year, which may delay a student’s advancement in the program.
  7. The student must make reasonable progress towards achieving a 3.0 GPA in the following term after dropping below a 3.0 GPA. If a student is unable to raise his/her GPA after one quarter/semester, the student’s progress will be reviewed by the Academic Progress Committee and recommendations will be made regarding next steps.
  8. The student must demonstrate satisfactory completion of all of the first year courses with a 3.0 GPA at both UCSF and SFSU in order to be eligible to begin full-time summer clinical experiences.

Clinical Education Experiences

  1. At times, a student may need extra time to successfully complete a clinical experience. The length of time will be determined by the Director of Clinical Education (DCE) in consultation with the clinical instructor and/or Academic Progress Committee.
  2. Each student must successfully pass each part-time and full-time clinical experience in order to be eligible for graduation from the program. Any student who fails a part-time or full-time experience will be placed on academic probation.
  3. If a student fails a part-time experience, the student will retake the experience at the earliest time possible. A student may not proceed to the full-time clinical experiences until the part-time experience is passed satisfactorily. If a part-time experience is failed a second time, the student’s case will be referred to the Academic Progress Committee who will determine if the student may continue in the program.
  4. If a student has a 3.0 GPA but fails a clinical experience:
    1. The student will be required to retake the failed experience at a site selected by the DCE.
    2. The student will be required to retake the failed experience within a reasonable timeframe balanced with their academic schedule, determined and arranged by the DCE. Given that some classroom coursework requires clinical experience, a student may be required to delay enrolling in subsequent coursework until successful completion of the requisite clinical experience. The time required to satisfactorily make-up the failed experience may vary from one week to sixteen weeks, depending on the reason for failure.
    3. The student will be subject to dismissal if a clinical experience is failed a second time.
  5. If a student fails one part-time experience and one full-time experience:
    1. The student will be subject to dismissal, as determined by the Academic Progress Committee.

Professional Behaviors

If a student has a 3.0 GPA but fails to meet professional behavior expectations:

  1. The situation must be reviewed by the Academic Progress Committee.
  2. The student may be given the opportunity for remediation and counseling if the unprofessional behaviors were initially observed in the classroom setting.
  3. The student may be asked to develop a plan of action to modify inappropriate behaviors and demonstrate honest, sensitive and caring behaviors typical of a health professional.

Dismissal from the Program

A student will be subject to dismissal from the program if:

  1. The student earns less than a 3.0 overall GPA and receives a grade of “C” or lower in two or more of the following classes:
    1. PT 200A,B,C Neuromusculoskeletal Anatomy
    2. PT 201A,B PT Assessment
    3. PT 113A, 113B Physiology
    4. Path 135 General Pathology
    5. KIN 746 Clinical Exercise Physiology
    6. PT 706 Structure, Function and Motion in Physical Therapy
  2. The student earns less than a 3.0 overall GPA and receives a grade of “C” or lower in two or more of the following classes:
    1. PT 720 Cardiopulmonary Pathokinesiology I
    2. PT 710 Neurological Pathokinesiology I
    3. PT 711 Neurological Pathokinesiology II
    4. PT 741 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology I
    5. PT 742 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology II
    6. PT 743 Musculoskeletal Pathokinesiology III
  3. The student receives a grade of “D” or “F” in any of the required coursework (unless unusual circumstances are present and the overall GPA is above a 3.0).
  4. The student has not achieved a 3.0 GPA on each campus (UCSF and SFSU) by the end of the spring quarter/semester of the first year after having been placed on Academic Probation from an earlier term.
  5. The student fails two of the four full-time clinical experiences.
  6. The student fails a full-time clinical experience twice.
  7. The student fails a part-time and a full-time clinical experience.
  8. The student is on probation for unprofessional behavior and fails a clinical experience or does not receive a “B” grade or higher in a required course.
  9. The student receives two faculty reviews reporting unprofessional behaviors.
  10. The student fails to provide transcript information on all courses taken at other colleges and universities.
  11. The student fails to tell the truth (lying).
  12. The student does not achieve one or more of the ten professional generic behaviors required at an entry level.
  13. The student does not achieve a satisfactory score on any of the Qualifying Assessment exams.
  14. The student does not meet the writing requirement for graduate studies.
  15. The student uses private property belonging to a community facility or the University for personal business.

Withdrawal or Leave of Absence from the Program

If extenuating circumstances necessitate that a student withdraw from the program and the student is otherwise in good standing in all academic coursework, the student may request a withdrawal or a leave of absence with reinstatement the following year. This request must be approved in advance by the Program Director(s) and the University Registrar.


Progression & Dismissal Appeals

After following the established procedures, should a student wish to appeal decisions regarding progression or dismissal, s/he should consult with either the Dean of the SFSU College of Health and Social Sciences or the Dean of the UCSF Graduate Division. After these informal procedures for grievances and appeals have been exhausted, formal grievance procedures may be initiated. The student should refer to the UCSF Divisional Procedure for Student Grievance in Academic Affairs or the SFSU Student Grievance Procedures.