NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Maureen Becker at the Governor’s State of the State address at the CSI Center for the Arts earlier this month

The College of Staten Island (CSI) was officially registered as a Doctoral-degree-granting institution in New York State on February 5, when Governor Andrew M. Cuomo approved the amendment to the long-range Master Plan of The City University of New York (CUNY). The completion of the three-year process from proposal-to-signature now allows CSI to join the ranks of Hunter and City colleges as the only CUNY campuses other than The Graduate Center to confer doctoral degrees on its students. 

Since 2006, students who were studying for their Doctoral of Physical Therapy (DPT) at CSI were officially earning their degrees from The Graduate Center, CUNY. As of September 2014, when the first DPT cohort at CSI enrolls, students will study and receive their degrees solely from CSI.  

“This is a momentous occasion for the College of Staten Island, with profound implications for the future,” commented Dr. William J. Fritz, Interim President of CSI. “I am very proud of the academic excellence of CSI and gratified by the confidence placed in the future of the College and the University by Governor Andrew Cuomo.” 

“The College of Staten Island being awarded doctoral-granting status speaks volumes to the academic rigor of our curriculum and the expertise of our faculty,” commented Dr. Fred Naider, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

Upon learning that the New York Board of Regents had approved this status change in the College’s formal registration, Dr. Alex Chigogidze, Dean of Science and Technology and Professor of Mathematics at CSI commented, “I cannot overstate the significance of this achievement. CSI is now a doctoral-granting institution. This means that the College can grant doctoral degrees not only in Physical Therapy, but in other fields as well. We are now the only senior college within CUNY that offers a truly full spectrum of courses and programs, spanning from college-readiness courses to doctoral programs. Philosophically speaking, we are now complete.” The change in registration also changes the College’s ranking category with the Middle States accrediting body.  

Dr. Maureen Becker, Acting Chair of the Physical Therapy Department and Director of Clinical Education, who was present during Governor Cuomo’s signing of the amendment, was beaming during the announcement.  

“We have been working toward this for three years,” she said, expressing pride in the work that CSI has accomplished.  “This is a historic event for CSI.”

CSI will also be one of the very few college or universities nationwide that will offer programs for students “from high school to career,” as Dr. Becker puts it.  The College offers college-readiness programs, and grants associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s, post-master’s certificates, and now doctoral degrees to its students. “We are able to nurture long-lasting relationships with our students that will last them through their entire college careers.” 

As the program has worked since its inception, all coursework and study occurs on the College of Staten Island campus, allowing all students full-time access to the expertise of the faculty. The Fall 2014 cohort of admitted DPT students will continue with the same model; however, their degrees will be issued from the College of Staten Island and not The Graduate Center. 

The Doctoral of Physical Therapy is a clinical program that prepares students to become clinician-scientists who can competently apply research to clinical practice, perform all aspects of physical therapy (PT) practice, and perform clinical research. Students who have graduated with their DPT degrees have gone on to work in many of the area hospitals and health facilities, senior residences, or have even opened their own practices. 

The three-year DPT program includes 34 weeks of clinical internships and is highly competitive—this year’s cohort studying at CSI contains 20 students out of 135 applicants—although that number may now rise. The number of full-time faculty in the Physical Therapy program has already risen to seven with the hiring of new faculty to offset the expected increase in applicants. 

 “CSI’s Physical Therapy and Nursing programs have always been some of the best in the city,” remarked Becker, adding that CSI currently has 240 clinical contracts with nearly 700 hospitals and health facilities for clinical internships. 

Graduates of the program have gone on to research PhDs, and become teachers, hospital directors, and owners of private practices. “Everywhere you may be in Staten Island, if you are in a health care facility, chances are you are receiving treatment from a graduate of the College of Staten Island.” 

The DPT program at CSI will host an open house on April 18 at 2:30pm in the Physical Therapy Building (5N), Room 217 at 2800 Victory Boulevard. Contact the Physical Therapy Department at 718.982.3153 for more information. Faculty members and students will be available to discuss the program and answer questions, as well as provide tours of the facility.  Admission is based upon a cumulative review of GPA, GRE scores, recommendations letters, and interviews. A Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Psychology, or Exercise Science is preferred, with no Master’s degree required.