Guidelines for Doctoral Programs
"The physical therapist (PT) provides services aimed at preventing the onset and/or slowing the progression of conditions resulting from injury, disease, and other causes. The physical therapist provides these services to people of all ages who have functional conditions resulting from back and neck injuries, sprains/strains and fractures, arthritis, burns, amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, birth defects such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida, injuries related to work and sports, and others" (The American Physical Therapy Association).
Although many of the 120,000 practicing PTs work in hospitals, nearly 80 percent of PTs practice in outpatient clinics or offices, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing, extended care, home, education or research centers, schools, hospices, industrial, workplace, or other occupational environments, fitness centers and sports training facilities.
Physical therapists attain their skills through extensive academic and clinical education. There are 142 accredited professional (entry-level) DPT programs; the length of the majority of these programs has been extended beyond the traditional two-year masters program. The final or culminating clinical education experience is typically extended beyond the average of 15 weeks; some are 1 year in length. There are currently 234 PTA programs across the country.
Admission into physical therapy programs is most often based on prerequisite course work, an interview, and essay. In addition, most programs also require direct observation of the field through internships or volunteer work (anywhere from 20 – 100 hours).
Addresses of accredited physical therapy programs are available online from The American Physical Therapy Association. Because the requirements for physical therapy programs are so diverse, it is best to contact at least 10 different programs and learn their specific requirements. If you have decided physical therapy is your career of choice, take note of the list below.
Things to plan for:
- Research schools of interest
- Take required classes for schools of choice
- Apply through PTCAS
- Observe physical therapists in the workplace
- Plan to take the GRE and note the various deadlines for the GRE. Most students who apply for acceptance in the fall semester after graduation take the entrance exam in the spring-summer of their junior year.
- Note each prospective school's application deadline
Online courses: Some professional schools do not accept online science courses, especially those with online labs. It is the student's responsibility to check the requirements for each school to which they are applying.
Most Doctoral Physical Therapy Programs Require:
Course Rubric & Number
|Biology (1 year)||BIOL 117 & BIOL 118|
|Chemistry (1 year)||CHEM 107 & CHEM 108
CHEM 111 & CHEM 341
You MUST choose one sequence. You may NOT switch between sequences. Also, CHEM 107 MUST be taken in the fall semester and CHEM 108 in the spring semester.
|Human Anatomy & Physiology (1 year)||BIOL 251 & BIOL 347 (or BIOL 252)|
|Physics (1 year)||PHYS 121 & PHYS 122 (or PHYS 131 & PHYS 132)|
|Psychology (1 semester)||PSYC 111|
|Statistics (1 semester)||MATH 147 or MATH 148 or PSYC 243|
|English (1 year)||Any two courses in the following departments: English (ENG), Rhetoric (RHET), Writing (WRIT), Creative Writing (CW) or Comparative Literature (COLI).|
Additional requirements may include some of the following courses. The lists of requirements below are by no means all inclusive. Please contact the schools you are interested in applying to or review the prerequisite requirements on each school's admissions websites. Click here for an up to date listing of accredited physical therapy programs.
Additional requirements/recommendations may include:
|Subject||Course Rubric and Number|
|Additional Psychology (1 year)||PSYC 220 or PSYC 223|
|Calculus (1 semester)||MATH 224 & 225 (formerly MATH 221)|
|Organic Chemistry (1 semester)||CHEM 231|
|Cell Biology (1 semester)||BIOL 311|
|Research Methods (1 semester)||HDEV 300, PSYC 344 or SOC 305|
|Social Science (at least 1 semester)||Any course from a social science department (ie: ANTH, ECON, GEOG, HIST or SOC).|
|Humanities (at least 1 semester)||Any course from a Humanities Department (ie: COLI, ENG, PHIL)|
|Human Development (at least 1 semester)||Any HDEV course|
|Computers (1 semester)||Any CS course|
For more information about Physical Therapy Programs, contact:
American Physical Therapy Association
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-1488