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Four St. Catherine graduate programs in 2014 U.S. News graduate school rankings

Students conduct clinicals in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at St. Catherine University, in this file photo.
Students conduct clinicals in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at St. Catherine University, in this file photo.
Photo by Andy Ferron.

St. Catherine University’s graduate programs in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and social work (a joint program with the University of St. Thomas) were among graduate school programs across the nation that were part of U.S. News and World Report’s “2014 Best Graduate Schools” rankings.

The four programs are among more than a dozen master’s degrees and clinical doctorates offered through the University’s Graduate College.


According to U.S. News, “All the health rankings are based solely on the results of peer assessment surveys sent to deans, other administrators, and/or faculty at accredited degree programs or schools in each discipline. All schools surveyed in a discipline were sent the same number of surveys.”

Surveys were conducted during fall 2010 for the 2011 rankings of master's in nursing programs. Surveys rating occupational therapy, physical therapy and social work graduate programs were conducted in fall 2011.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is among the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health’s (HSSH) signature programs and has attracted award-winning practitioners. Standing at No. 28, the program is the highest ranked OT graduate program in Minnesota, according to the U.S. News rankings.

In April, HSSH Dean Penelope Moyers will receive the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Award of Merit, the highest award given by the association.  In addition, St. Kate’s alumna Virginia Stoffel ’77 will deliver a speech as the association’s incoming president at its annual conference in San Diego.

St. Catherine honored Kathleen Matuska, Ph.D., program director of the Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy, with its highest faculty award in September 2012. She was given the Bonnie Jean Kelly and Joan Kelly Faculty Excellence Award for her scholarly achievements. 

In addition, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy John Fleming, Ed.D., OTR/L, was named the 2012 Occupational Therapist of the Year by the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) and Professor Kristine Haertl, Ph.D., was named a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

The addition of Haertl’s name to the Roster of Fellows brings the number of AOTA Fellows currently working at the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health to six. No other Department of Occupational Therapy in the Midwest employs as many Fellows as St. Catherine University.

Physical Therapy

St. Kate’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program (ranked No. 86 nationally) is among the most competitive in the state. The DPT program at St. Kate’s integrates basic sciences and professional practice to prepare students with skills, knowledge and confidence to lead and influence in the profession.

In 2011, St. Catherine University completed the second largest anatomy lab in Minnesota, second only to one at the University of Minnesota.

In addition, students participate in community work and learning opportunities with social service agencies and clinics in the Twin Cities, and third-year students have an immersion experience to serve and explore the health needs of an economically impoverished community either in the Twin Cities, in communities outside of Minnesota or at partner sites abroad.

The University’s DPT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education and works in association with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the Minnesota Chapter of APTA and the Minnesota State Board of Physical Therapy, as well as the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy.

Students graduating from the St. Kate’s DPT program have a 100 percent employment rate (three-year average).


St. Catherine’s Henrietta Schmoll School of Health is the only institution in Minnesota that offers nursing programs at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctorate level and is ranked No. 166 by U.S. News.

Relationship-centered learning that utilizes state-of-the-art simulation labs and evidence-based practice prepares St. Catherine students to be practice-ready, culturally sensitive patient advocates.

Among the University’s highly regarded alumnae are the 2012 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year for Women’s Health, Karen Sonnenburg ’03, MAHS ’12. Nominated by three of her peers at Family Birth Place, a labor, delivery and postpartum unit at St. Francis Regional Medical Center, she was honored as a leader in integrative health and for the creation of a water-birth program.

Responding to the growing need for collaboration among healthcare disciplines, the University has launched several Inter-professional Education Project (IPE) collaborations, including one with Carondelet Village, adjacent to the St. Paul campus, in January 2013. The pilot project is designed to combine the expertise from multiple healthcare professions to improve health outcomes in geriatric care.

Students in the course — at both the undergraduate and graduate level — represent six different healthcare fields, including baccalaureate nursing, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work.

Social work

Social work degrees are offered through a joint program with the University of St. Thomas.

 Preparing students for ethical social work practice and leadership with diverse populations, the Master’s in Social Work program (No. 52) is grounded in the principles of dignity and respect for all people.

The program focuses on clinical social work practice with individuals, families and small groups.  Based in the liberal arts, the curriculum teaches students to think critically as they develop and implement clinical interventions, evaluate client outcomes and integrate comprehensive perspectives.

March 15, 2013 by Julie Michener

See also: Healthcare