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Health & Medicine Profile

Distinguished by the personal attention it provides its students, Sacred Heart University (SHU) is known for its commitment to academic excellence, Division I athletics, cutting-edge technology, and community service. With programs in the College of Health Professions and College of Nursing at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral levels, this dynamic university is an innovative presence within Catholic higher education.

Physical therapy
Sacred Heart’s clinical doctorate (Doctor of Physical Therapy, or D.P.T.) is rated the top physical therapy program in Connecticut and among the top five in New England by U.S.News & World Report. Qualified SHU undergraduates may complete an undergraduate degree and the D.P.T. within six years after being admitted into the program as incoming freshmen; 3+3 students major in exercise science, psychology, or biology as undergraduates. The physical therapy program is fully accredited at both the state and national levels, and students are prepared to sit for physical therapist licensing examinations throughout the United States.

Athletic training
CAATE-accredited, the Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training includes six semesters of clinical experience. Completion of the program leads to eligibility to take the Board of Certification (BOC) examination, and graduates are prepared to pursue careers or graduate programs in athletic training or other related health fields.

Exercise science
The Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science program at SHU has a career-specific, focused approach, ensuring that students are prepared to continue their studies or pursue employment in diverse fields within the exercise science umbrella. Students may also pursue a 3+2 accelerated program into the University’s M.S. in Exercise Science and Nutrition program.

Occupational therapy
Sacred Heart University offers a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, and undergraduate students may be admitted as incoming freshmen into a 4+2 program leading to both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. SHU’s program prepares students for clinical practice and is highly unique; the curriculum utilizes a systems and developmental approach and strongly reflects a philosophy of humanism, service to others, and community-based practice.

The nursing program at Sacred Heart University places personal attention and interaction between the faculty and student as a major focus. With faculty members serving as advisors throughout the four years of study, students are assisted in developing critical-thinking skills as well as professional knowledge, skills, and values. Upon graduation, students earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and are eligible to take the Registered Nurse Licensure Examination (NCLEX), as well as apply to any Master of Science in Nursing program throughout the country, including the programs at Sacred Heart University.

Health science
Bachelor of Science in Health Science students pursue a pre-professional track that supports students aspiring to professional health care careers in fields such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical, dental, and many more allied health–related fields. Students complete their degrees with the foundational courses for graduate school and a keen understanding of the health care manager’s role in administration of health care facilities.

Speech-language pathology
Both the undergraduate minor and master’s degree options at SHU offer a curriculum that employs case studies, cooperative learning, clinical education, and laboratory experiences. The minor in speech-language pathology, along with foundational and recommended courses, prepares students to enter graduate programs in speech-language pathology or audiology. Sacred Heart University is one of the few universities, and the only one in Connecticut, that offers SLP, OT, PT, and education degrees, creating the unique opportunity for students to work with colleagues in allied professions prior to graduation.

Pre-medical advisement program
Sacred Heart University offers a  pre-med program that is strongly rooted in both the humanities and the sciences while remaining dedicated to academic rigor and nurturing altruism through service. In addition to course work and guidance in choosing the appropriate undergraduate major, pre-med advisors assist with planning and applying to medical school and host workshops each semester. Pre-med students also take advantage of the many practical experience opportunities that Sacred Heart University has to offer, such as volunteer work, internships, special fellowship programs, connections with esteemed M.D. alumni, and relevant cultural experiences.

Key Distinctions

Construction is underway on Sacred Heart University’s new state-of-the-art Center for Healthcare Education building, featuring a medical gym, audiology suite, motion analysis and human performance labs, an immersive acute care simulation lab with video and data capture capability, a simulated outpatient suite, high-fidelity manikins or actors playing roles, a home-care suite, an expanded human anatomy lab, and many more learning resources featuring the latest technaology. The multi-professional educational clinic will allow future students to collaborate on cases with students in other health professional disciplines to ensure they are prepared for the kind of interactions they will experience when they begin to work in professional health care settings.

SHU offers a comprehensive range of clinical sites, including on-campus facilities such as the Physical Therapy Clinic and Athletic Training facility; community settings; and hospitals such as internationally recognized Yale-New Haven Hospital and Norwalk Hospital, a major teaching affiliate of the Yale University School of Medicine.

SHU’s special global programs for health profession students include short-term study abroad, mission and service learning, and clinical experiences. International opportunities foster global health awareness and cultural competence and expose students to issues of social justice and health care development. Current locations include Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Uganda.


LOCATION: New England campus in Fairfield, Connecticut


AFFILIATION: Four-year, private, coeducational Catholic university

STANDARD: Competitive


STUDENT GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION: 50 states and 27 countries

ENROLLMENT: 1,290 fall 2015 freshmen; 8,300 total undergraduate and graduate students; 91% of freshmen living on campus

ACADEMICS: More than 60 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the Welch College of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, Farrington College of Education, College of Health Professions, and College of Nursing