MASTERS IN THE USA- Are you confused? Part 2

Sorry for the short hiatus people, but I am back with my first ever guest blog post by my fellow PT and a good friend Pulatsya Maliwad. He currently resides in charlottesville in the state of Virginia  and did a good job on going over his curriculum in the university of Pittsburgh. Here’s what he has to say-

Hi Friends,

First of all, I would like to thank my dear friend  Abhijit Minhas to provide me an opportunity to write a blog about my experience pursuing masters in physical therapy. A little about myself first, I am physical therapist and I have earned my masters degree of M.S.P.T. from University of Pittsburgh and B.P.T from M.S.University, India. I am here to share my experience pursuing M.S.P.T at the University of Pittsburgh.

As Abhijit has already mentioned in his blog, it is true that there are not many universities providing Masters in physical therapy course in USA, and as per my knowledge these are the available master’s courses-

1) University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

• Course – Master of science in Rehabilitation sciences

• Concentration – Musculoskeletal Physical therapy or Neuro-muscular physical therapy

2) MGH institute of health professionals, Boston, MA.

• Course – Master of science in physical therapy for international students

3) Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA.

• Course – Master of science in rehabilitation

4) Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

• Course – Master of Science in physical therapy.

My program at University of Pittsburgh in Musculoskeletal physical therapy is a 1 year course with 3 semester starting from August to July of the following year. This course is a little hectic as the school has tried to shrink a 4 semester course into 3 semester pattern and also it is a little expensive tuition wise . I finished my course in August 2011 and I paid almost 50,000 USD for a one year course (I apologies for the jaw drops). And I might be wrong but the university has already increase tuition fees by 5000 USD so far ( again I might be wrong, please contact university for accurate information). Yes, the tuition is a little steep but it is worth the money. The things that I learned in the area of physical therapy in this course, I wouldn’t have learnt anywhere else. Basically, the musculoskeletal course is more leaned towards Manual therapy techniques in physical therapy but that is not the only thing it entails. I also had one neuro-muscular subject which taught me how to get approximate area of brain damage or level of spinal cord injury just by knowing patient’s symptoms. Yes I know what I am writing, but that is true. Many Neuromuscular masters PT’s will say that is not a big deal  but as an Orthopedic PT, it simplified a very complex topic I always had a tough time wrapping my head around. Well getting back to my favorite topic, Orthopedic course is basically divided into three major divisions – Upper extremity, Lower extremity and Spine. (I think that wasn’t very hard to guess!!!!)

1) Upper extremity

The part of Upper extremity is covered in the last semester. The course covers basic anatomy and bio mechanics of shoulder, elbow and wrist. Then it leads to common disorders of every joint and pathology behind it  followed by  the treatment part which majorly includes postural correction (Abhijit has already discussed this part very effectively), exercises and manual therapy. Now, whenever I heard about manual therapy in India, I always thought of Mulligan or Mckenzie. But that is far from the complete picture. There are different schools of thoughts and not all of them are supported by evidence which is a big deal in USA. So most of the techniques I learned were from different concepts and were all evidence based.

2) Lower extremity

This part is taught by Dr. Fitzgerald – a Knee genius. He has spent all his life in research for knee rehabilitation. His midterm exams still wake me up at night but all in all he was a great guy and his knowledge is amazing. He teaches only knee joint and for hip and ankle joint he either calls a specialist to teach or asks his teaching assistance. Once again, the course includes same stuff as UE like basic anatomy and bio mechanics leading to discussing different conditions and treatment options. One of the most interesting thing I learned was different patho-mechanics during daily activities and sports leading to injuries. This course covers common outpatient injuries but does not include orthopedic inpatient population found in hospital i.e total hip or knee replacement, fracture cases or congenital deformities etc.

3) Spine

This is my favorite part. At University of Pittsburgh, the spine is covered in two semesters.Cervical and thoracic spine in the last semester and Lumbar spine in the first semester.  These semesters deepened my understanding regarding bio mechanics of the spine. Honestly speaking, after my B.P.T. and mulligan workshop I knew only few treatments for low back pain – Short wave diathermy, Back extension exercises and Mulligan MWM’s. Sometimes I had no idea why I was even giving those treatments. But the course empowered me to perform better, more through assessment of patients with back pain complain and decide which treatment will get rid of the cause of pain. So in simple words, I learned to treat cause of pain instead of treating a symptom.

So this is just a brief review about what is covered in the orthopedic physical therapy track of the course. Other than these there were other subjects like

1) Falls and balance dysfunction (small portion covered in Musculoskeletal PT program but a major subject for Neuro PT program) covering causes of falls, different test for falls risk and treatment options.

2) Research subject including how to do a research, types of research and crazy mathematics about data.

3) Case presentations (kind of boring sometimes), and also an options to get one elective course for which I took cardio-pulmonary physical therapy (as I was always interested in pulmonary drainage techniques and have done them in hospitals in India. In USA they have respiratory therapist for it so mostly we don’t need to worry about suctioning or draining patient’s lungs).

I hope my blog will provide you with a brief idea about the M.S.P.T. course  offered at University of Pittsburgh, and if anyone has question please put it in comment box and I will try my best to answer your questions. One again thank you Abhijit for inviting me to write a blog and I would like to wish you good luck for your new endeavor.

Thank you

Poolatsya Maliwad PT



Pulatsya Maliwad

I would like to thank Pulatsya for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute a very informative blog in this series. You can reach him at Hang tight while I try to get other great PT’s to write their experiences in this series.

Pursue excellence-

Abhijit Minhas PT


12 thoughts on “MASTERS IN THE USA- Are you confused? Part 2”

  1. Dr M Prasad Naik B.P.T. , M.P.T( Sports)

    This is good information for Physiotherapy.
    I am PG doing in India , College of physiotherapy, SVIMS, Tirupati.
    I am interested in any SPORTS fellow ship courses in UK , please send me details.
    Why because of I am sports medicine doing in PG.

  2. First of all i am happy to know that i heard a physiotherapist say that he is really happy and contended about his profession since we in india generally dont find physiotherapists being appreciated or respected for what they do and the pay scales are soo less that is actually degrading the value of the profession.i am doing my masters in exercise science majoring exercise physiology in USA and i am a BPT student from india…so kindly let me know if its really worth doing it here

    1. So you are already in the US? If so, isn’t it too late to think about doing it since you are already doing it now? Irrespective, even though exercise science will not directly help you with physical therapy there is a great deal one can Learn from the course. My opinion- worth it!! State of the profession in India is a topic for another day though I agree with you it’s not as pretty as in the US but not as bad as it is portrayed always.

  3. i am Ashar completed my bachelor plan to pursue my masters in united states, problem i am suffering is that GRE ! is it possible to get visa without GRE?

  4. Poolatsya Maliwad

    @ Ashar – GRE should not be an issue with visa but do not forget to check with university for admission requirements for the course you are interested in. GRE is mostly a mandatory requirement for most of the courses. Still you can confirm it with university.
    @ sujal – Welcome to USA
    Also guys I learned new information about MSPT course through my friends. There is one more course available at university of Indianapolis. Course name is master in health sciences and has orthopaedic and Neuro concentration. Course length is 2 years.

  5. hello , I am bhupender (MPT neuro ) from india I want to pursue neurro related course in usa or any other place .coul d you provide me relevant information for this

  6. Poolatsya Maliwad

    Hi Bhupender,
    As per my knowledge, there are only two universities providing Masters in Neuro. University of Pittsburgh and university of Indianapolis.
    I do not have much idea about other countries. But one thing you can do is looking for certification in Neuro and at some countries they are available just as seminar/workshop instead of full course.

  7. Abhijit Very interested articles you have posted. It is a pleasure to see you work with patients up close-and-personal. Truly you give your 100% everyday all day, and the excellent comments I have heard from patients shows how much you are respected in the field and as an individual.

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